The Merida Initiative is an unprecedented partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering respect for human rights and the rule of law. Based on principles of common and shared responsibility, mutual trust, and respect for sovereign independence, the two countries’ efforts have built confidence that is transforming the bilateral relationship.
Enhancing Citizen Security
Under the Merida Initiative, the United States has a partnership with the Government of Mexico to disrupt organized criminal groups, institutionalize reforms to sustain the rule of law and support for human rights, create a 21st century border, and build strong and resilient communities. Bilateral efforts expand assistance to state level law enforcement and justice sector personnel; support democratic institutions, especially police, justice systems, and civil society organizations; expand our border focus beyond interdiction of contraband to include facilitating legitimate trade and travel; and build stable communities able to withstand the pressures of crime and violence.
Merida Programs and Activities
The U.S. Congress has appropriated $2.5 billion since the Merida Initiative began in Fiscal Year 2008. Some of the activities under the partnership include:
- Mexico’s implementation of comprehensive justice sector reforms is supported through training justice sector personnel, including: police, investigators, prosecutors, and defense counsel; correction systems development; judicial exchanges; and support to Mexican law schools –in support of Mexico’s on-going transition to a new accusatory criminal justice system.
- Police capacity building courses for Mexican law enforcement including crime investigation, criminal intelligence, professionalization, tactics and firearms, forensics, strategic analysis, and specialized training for anti-corruption, anti-gang, anti-trafficking in persons, anti-money laundering, and anti-kidnapping units.
- The establishment of anti-corruption programs that include vetting of police personnel, establishment of citizen-observer booths to inform and advise crime victims of their rights, and the creation of trained internal affairs units.
- Ongoing engagement with the Government of Mexico and civil society to promote the rule of law and build strong and resilient communities to increase the knowledge of, and respect for, human rights; to strengthen social networks and community cohesion; to address the needs of vulnerable populations (youth and victims of crime); and to increase community and government cooperation.
- Air mobility of Mexican police forces through the delivery of specialized aircraft and training for pilots and technicians to enable the Government of Mexico to confront criminal organizations that try to leverage difficult terrain.
- Training and equipment to enhance the Mexican government’s ability to detect illicit goods at internal checkpoints and ports of entry.
- Delivery of over 400 canines trained in the detection of narcotics, weapons, explosives, ammunition, currency, and human remains to Mexican federal agencies, including the Federal Police, the Office of the Attorney General, and Customs.
- Establishment of a secure, cross-border telecommunications system between ten U.S. and Mexican border sister cities to provide public security forces on both sides of the border with the capability to request and exchange information on active criminal investigations.
- Interagency task forces incorporating trained personnel from municipal and state police and state attorney general offices in key Mexican states to better share information, develop actionable intelligence, and foster greater coordination in law enforcement operations.
- Support for efforts by Mexican prisons working to achieve independent accreditation from the American Correctional Association (ACA). To date, 42 Mexican facilities are accredited by ACA.
- The establishment of Drug Treatment Courts across five Mexican states. These highly-specialized courts approach addiction as a public health issue and provide a viable alternative to incarceration for drug abusers.