Oct 24, 2011

Mexico Drug War: U.S. advisory personnel behind the scenes in Mexico

From InSight Crime, a partial recap of publicly acknowledged U.S. advisory personnel behind the scenes in Mexico:

*More than 50 U.S. State Department personnel are reportedly facilitating the Merida Initiative inside Mexico. This is said to be more than double the old number of liaisons when U.S. assistance to Mexico's anti-trafficking effort was down around the $40-million-a-year level.

*Since July 20, 2009, hundreds of U.S. law enforcement officers have cycled through Mexico, teaching Mexican police in three-week shifts at a training center 450 miles south of the border.

*U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) personnel are in Mexico to help vet new military and federal police candidates and instruct Mexican Army special forces.

*NORTHCOM has reported steady sending of counter-insurgency training teams into Mexico, an average of 20 teams a year with 4 to 5 soldiers each, on short missions involving no field operations.

*U.S. military commanders are said to meet twice yearly with Mexican Army area commanders.

*In three Mexican states, elite anti-kidnap squads are trained by U.S. officers—and also by police specialists from Colombia.

*A stream of bi-national working groups moves through both countries.

*Allegations in the Mexican press that the U.S. had placed a special permanent intelligence official in Ciudad Juarez actually referred to an envisioned proposal, not an established fact.

*The U.S. has 12 consulates in Mexico, plus its massive main embassy in Mexico City, a block-wide fortress that is the largest U.S. embassy in Latin America. Three people connected to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez were murdered March 13, 2010, and a 500-person investigation effort then convened on the U.S. side of the border. When two ICE agents were attacked in northeast Mexico on February 15, 2011 (agent Jaime Zapata was killed; agent Victor Avila badly wounded), they were reportedly bringing security equipment to a consulate. U.S. reprisal for this attack came in the form of Operation Bombardier, working on U.S. soil against operatives of the attacking cartel, the Zetas, and bringing 676 arrests.

*An inanimate U.S. presence is also notable. In March 2011 it was acknowledged that for two years, at the request of the Mexican government, unmanned U.S. spy drones had been flying over Mexico, helping to track cartel gunmen.

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