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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DoD to extend five-year global counternarcotics program

As revealed on the "U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor" website last week, the U.S. Department of Defense intends to extend a five-year $15 billion global counternarcotics program that is due to expire in 2012. The "Special Notice" released on August 2nd by the DoD Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office (CNTPO) advises potential contractors that the U.S. Government is seeking to issue a "follow-on procurement" to extend the program, and is seeking information regarding the "capabilities, capacity and qualifications of interested prime contractors."

In 2007, five prime contractors were awarded a multiple award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (MAIDIQ) contract to "provide the necessary goods and services required by DoD CNTPO to support [counternarcotics & counter-narcoterrorism] missions of DoD, [other government agencies], partner nations and State and local authorities." The contractors are: Blackwater Lodge & Training Center, Inc.; Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems; ARINC Engineering Services, LLC; Raytheon Technical Service Company; and Northrop Grumman/TASC, Inc.

The extended program would again be granted for a five-year period, beginning on or about June 1, 2012, and would continue to support the CNTPO's mission to "disrupt, deter, and defeat the threat to national security posed by illicit trafficking in drugs, small arms and explosives, precursor chemicals, people, and illicitly-gained and laundered money. Support shall be provided in the following major functional areas: Training; Operations and Logistics; Program Support; and Command, Control, Communications, Information, Detection & Monitoring (C3IDM)."

Specific details about the extended program have not been released, but the announcement did include four attachments (attachments 2-5) detailing projects anticipated under the follow-on contract. While the current scope of work for the MAIDIQ contracts focuses on Colombia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the follow-on contracts also would also include Mexico, as outlined in the anticipated projects documents.

Though not specified, funding for these contracts is likely to flow out of DoD's Section 1004 Counter-Drug Assistance account. Some anticipated projects relevant to Latin America, divided by "major functional areas," are:


  • Conduct advance driver training for selected personnel within the Armed Forces of Mexico (CONUS).
  • Provide UH-60 and Schweizer 333 or OH-58 pilot training and UH-60 mechanics non-rated crewmembers (NRCM) training for crew members of the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security (SSP).
  • Train up to forty eight (48) personnel to command and pilot Bell 206 helicopters for Mexico.
  • Develop and deliver curriculum, provide all necessary personnel, equipment and materials, and conduct Night Vision Goggle (NVG) Helicopter Pilot/Crew Chief Flight Training for Mexico.


  • Provide a Contractor-Owned/Contractor-Operated airborne ISR platform based in Bogota, CO in support of USSOUTHCOM Counternarcotics missions.
  • Provide UH-1 and OH-58A maintenance, spare parts, maintenance support, maintenance training, and maintenance Quality Assurance (QA) for Colombian Military (COLMIL) personnel.
  • Operate and maintain a deployed squadron of MQ-9 unmanned air vehicles.


  • Produce a report on best practices (tactics, techniques and procedures) for finding, tracking and apprehending self-propelled, semi-submersible water craft.
  • Provide subject matter experts in counter-threat finance topics to assist in all-source / financial crimes analysis for Combatant Commands.
  • Perform an engineering assessment of the material condition of the airframes, avionics systems, power plants, and mission systems (EO/IR and Radar) of C-26 Fairchild Metroliner aircraft located in Mexico.
  • Provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Information Technology (OIT) with support required to field an array of detection and inspection technologies that support interdicting contraband by conducting demonstrations, evaluations and writing technical reports.
  • Perform an Electrical Load Analysis (ELA) and fuel systems analysis to evaluate the condition of all electrical circuits and electrical systems on four (4) Mexican Government-owned C-26 Fairchild Metroliner aircraft.
  • Provide counsel, training and media analysis to officials of the Colombian Government with counterdrug responsibilities.


  • Provide, deliver, assemble/install and provide training for a trans-border microwave communications system (voice, data, and video) for exchange of illicit drug trafficking activity information between U.S. and Mexico security agencies.
  • Provide support in procuring, assembling, integrating, deploying, installing, maintaining, and conducting operator training for Multi-Domain Awareness (MDA) System in support of Joint Task Force-North operations.
  • Select, install, test and operate a communications and signals intelligence system on an existing Beech King Air B-350 based out of Colombia, SA.
  • Procure and install radio encryption modules on fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft in Bogota, CO.
  • Provide a contractor-owned/contractor-operated aircraft with mission systems (COMINT/SIGINT/DF, EO/IR, and SATCOM) in support of USSOUTHCOM Counternarcotics missions.
  • Provide the Government with a Technology Demonstration of a field-proven MALE UAS that supports Detection and Monitoring involved with Counter Illicit Trafficking operations in the United States Southern Command Area of Focus.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coca cultivation in Colombia 2010

Last week, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, released new data about coca cultivation in Colombia in 2010. According to the new estimates by the U.S. Government, "Colombia is holding the line against coca cultivation after major decreases in 2007 and 2008." In other words, coca cultivation in Colombia has hardly changed since 2008, when cultivation declined from 167,000 hectares under production in 2007 to 119,000 hectares in 2008. In 2010, 116,000 hectares were under cultivation -- a zero percent change from 2009 to 2010 and still more than the recent lows in 2003 and 2004, when only 113,850 and 114,100 hectares of coca were under cultivation.

(Click for larger image)

The U.S. government has yet to release coca cultivation estimates or Bolivia and Peru in 2010. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), however, puts out another series of estimates based on a somewhat different methodology and is expected to release its 2010 numbers later this week. While the Office of National Drug Control Policy claims that coca cultivation is "holding the line" in Colombia, the UNODC data, according to reports leaked in early May, show a further decrease to 59,000 hectares -- half the U.S. estimate. UN estimates for Bolivia and Peru will likely show an increase in cultivation in both countries, potentially resulting in an increase in overall coca cultivation in the Andean region, despite Colombia's zero change.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

U.S.-Mexico Relations: President Calderon's Frustration

On Tuesday, El Universal, one of Mexico City's leading newspapers, published an interview with Mexican President Felipe Calderón, in which he expressed his frustrations with U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. The cables discussed the shortcomings of Mexico's intelligence services, the conduct of its army in the fight against drug cartels, and the inability of Mexican authorities to work together to topple the cartels. One January 2010 cable read,"Mexican security institutions are often locked in a zero-sum competition in which one agency's success is viewed as another's failure, information is closely guarded, and joint operations are all but unheard of."

Calderón's remarks came just a week after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata was killed in an ambush on a road in north central San Luis Potosi state.

In the past 24 hours, three steps have been taken to reduce the tensions between the Mexican and U.S. governments. Mexico's Army captured Julián Zapata Espinoza, the main Zetas suspect in the death of ICE Special Agent Zapata; President Obama spoke with President Calderón and thanked him for Mexican efforts to bring to justice those responsible for Zapata's death; and it was announced that President Calderón will travel to Washington to meet with President Obama next week (March 2 & 3) to discuss the bilateral relationship between the Mexico and the United States.

Here's a translation of an excerpt of the interview with President Calderón:

Is the topic of security going through a rough spot with the United States?
It has always been complex and especially with this topic. Both President Bush and President Obama were willing to cooperate on this, but evidently cooperation on an institutional level has ended up being notoriously insufficient.

What do the Americans need to cooperate on?
In reducing drug consumption, they haven't reduced it. And secondly, in stopping the flow of arms, and they haven't reduced it, but instead it's increased.

What is your opinion about the cables exposed by WikiLeaks?
The ambassadors or whoever wrote those cables exaggerated. They always want to carry out their own agendas in front of their own bosses, and they have caused a lot of damage because of the stories they tell and that, in truth, they distort. There are so many cases of this that it isn't worth talking about.

Can you cite a particular cable?
The ones that talked about the lack of coordination between the different agencies. I don't have to tell the U.S. Ambassador how many times I met with the security cabinet; the truth is that it is none of his business. I do not accept nor do I tolerate any type of intervention. But his ignorance has translated into a distortion of what is happening in Mexico and it has caused an impact and an irritation in our own team.

Where there is a lack of coordination is between the United States' intelligence and security agencies. We see that the DEA, the CIA, and ICE always have a policy of passing the buck without getting results. The truth is that they don't coordinate with each other and they're rivals.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Podcast: Secretary Clinton's visit to Mexico

Upon Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's January 24-25 visit to Mexico, Adam talks to WOLA's Maureen Meyer about U.S. assistance, human rights, Mexico's struggle against drug-fueled violence, and the long leadup to the country's 2012 elections.

Subscribe to the "Just the Facts" podcast here and on iTunes. Thank you for listening.


Friday, December 17, 2010

In the Senate: The Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act of 2010

On December 7th, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the "Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act of 2010" (S.4011) in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. This piece of legislation is very similar to the House initiative sponsored by Congressman Elliot Engel (D-NY) and Connie Mack (R-FL) that was passed by the House of Representatives on December 8, 2009.

The purpose of the bipartisan bill is "to evaluate U.S. policies and programs aimed at reducing illicit drug supply and demand and recommend a multiyear counternarcotics strategy to address the escalating security crisis in the hemisphere fueled by the illicit narcotics trade." While the new piece of legislation in the Senate is very similar to the House's version, the second component, a recommendation for a multiyear interagency counternarcotics strategy for the Western Hemisphere, did not appear in the version passed by the House. This added component appears to come from S.3172, the "Counternarcotics and Citizen Security for the Americas Act of 2010" (PDF), which was introduced by Senators Menendez and John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) in March 2010.

The Senate version of the bill also allows more time for the formation of the Commission (60 days vs. 30 days) and provides more time for the production of a report that would detail the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Commission (18 months vs. 12 months). Yet, the new bill appropriates far less resources to the Commission to carry out its duties ($250,000 vs. $2,000,000).

According to Senator Menendez, "we need a comprehensive and smart policy that looks at both the supply and demand side of the issue -- domestic prevention and treatment programs, as well as a long-term multiyear counternarcotics strategy -- and that ultimately succeeds in turning around this epidemic of drugs and crime that is destroying families, communities, and undermining the rule of law both at home and abroad." Senator Lugar noted, "I am especially interested in efforts to bolster the role of the U.S. military and the intelligence community to help combat cartels headquartered in Mexico with reach in Central American countries, Venezuela and throughout the Region. New approaches might include ways to jointly deploy aviation, surveillance and intelligence assets where necessary."

Below is a summary of the bill from the press release on Senator Menendez's website. You can read the full text of S.4011 here.

  • The bill creates an independent commission which will be charged with reviewing and evaluating U.S. policy regarding illicit drug supply reduction and interdiction in the Western Hemisphere, along with foreign and domestic demand reduction policies and programs. The commission is also charged with identifying policy and program options to improve existing international and domestic counternarcotics policy;
  • The Commission will recommend a multiyear interagency counternarcotics strategy for the Western Hemisphere that describes the assistance required to achieve regional counternarcotics goals and a methodology for countering shifts in production and transit routes by producers and traffickers due to pressure from counternarcotics efforts;
  • The commission will be composed of 10 members – 2 executive branch employees appointed by the President and 2 appointed by each of the following congressional leaders: the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the House Minority Leader.
  • Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Success in Tijuana?

    On October 7th, Mexico's President Felipe Calderón called Tijuana a "clear example" that his four-year-long security strategy against drug cartels in Mexico has a solution. "Tijuana went from being a city seized by terror and focused only on questions of crime to a city motivated by hope and focused on being competitive," Calderón said. President Calderón made his assertion despite evidence that the number of homicides in 2010 was well on track to surpass last year's 695 murders, with 639 already in 2010.

    An October 16th article in the New York Times by Federico Campbell, agreed with President Calderón: "... now Tijuana is recovering. The violence has begun to subside, thanks to the local police and the Mexican military, as well as the capture last January of Teodoro García Simental, an infamous drug lord known as El Teo."

    And on October 18th, William Finnegan highlighted the tactics used by Tijuana's Secretary of Public Security Colonel Julian Leyzaola Perez to crack down on corruption in The New Yorker. The tactics described in the article are harsh, with torture, coercion, fear and impunity at their root. The article, though, contended that the harsh tactics appear to be working. People praise Leyzaola's tactics, and the Los Angeles Times called his work a "model for the kind of law enforcement muscle the Mexican government needs to battle organized crime." Finnegan writes, "In the drug wars that rack Mexico--the death toll over the past four years is approaching thirty thousand--Tijuana is an anomaly. It is a place where public security has actually improved."

    This recent increase in coverage touting the successes of Tijuana's fight against the drug cartels was put into serious question over the weekend, after 13 people were killed execution-style at a drug rehabilitation clinic. The Sunday evening murders came one week after authorities seized and burned 134 tons of marijuana, seen as a major victory for local, state and federal police. After the killings in Tijuana, an unknown voice was heard over police radios saying "This is a taste of Juárez" and warning that one person will be killed for every ton of marijuana seized.

    According to the Finnegan's article in the New Yorker, Leyzaola's tactics to fight the cartels included replacing passive police commanders with army officers, telling the press that "if the cartels understand only the language of violence, then we are going to have to speak in their language and annihilate them." In addition to "annihilating" the cartels, Leyzaola worked to "purify" the Tijuana police force by arresting officers suspected of corruption and forcing the resignations of others, sometimes by torturing police officers until they confessed or provided names of corrupt officers.

    In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Nik Steinberg of Human Rights Watch wrote about the danger of promoting the tactics used in Tijuana as a solution to Mexico's security situation. "What's more, the Mexican military and police, whom Mr. Campbell praises for making Tijuana safer, have committed widespread human rights abuses, including more than 100 credible accusations of torture documented by Human Rights Watch, undermining the very security they were sent to restore."

    Steinberg notes that "Sadly, if anyone can lay claim to Tijuana it is the cartels, who have never lost control over their illicit trade." Sunday's executions in Tijuana adds to the evidence that, while harsh tactics may bring immediate, short-term results, they are just that: short-term. And until Mexico, and the United States, address the underlying factors driving violence, insecurity and the drug trade, the drug cartels will still be in control of the situation.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    US-Mexico Policy Challenges in Combating Organized Crime

    The Mexico Institute at the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute held a conference at the Woodrow Wilson Center on October 22 entitled "Shared Responsibility: U.S. - Mexico Policy Options for Confronting Organized Crime." The event coincided with the two organizations' release of a book of the same name, and discussed the U.S.-Mexico security relationship.

    The conference was divided into two panels:

    Panel I: "Policy Challenges in Mexico and the U.S."
    Panel II: "Geography of Drug Trafficking in Mexico, Central America, and the U.S."

    and included the following panelists and discussants:

    John Bailey on binational strategies for combating drug trafficking; José Díaz-Briseño on Mexican black tar heroin distribution networks in the U.S.; Steven Dudley on organized crime in Central America Dolia Estévez on protecting press freedom in an environment of violence and impunity; Doug Farah on money laundering and bulk cash transfers to Mexico; Daniel Sabet on Mexico's police forces and professionalization efforts;David Shirk on the geography of Mexico's drug trafficking organizations; Andrew Selee the Director of the Mexico Institute; David Shirk the Director of the Trans-Border Institute, University of San Diego; Eric L. Olson the Senior Associate for Security Programs at the Mexico Institute.

    The prominent theme of the discussions was the ultra-violent, politically savvy, adaptive nature of the drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in Mexico, and their ability to shift and accommodate different political and economic environments. This reality underscores the need for comprehensive policy options from both sides of the border to attack DTO violence at the root causes and methods as opposed to just responding to the spectacular levels of violence that capture media attention on both sides of the border.

    Under the larger headings, the panels discussed the major challenges ahead of achieving sustainable reform. These challenges include the inquisitorial vs. adversarial judicial model, a lack of intelligence cooperation, corrupt local police forces, public insecurity, poverty, violence against the press, and ineffective border security.

    Another major issue addressed at the conference was the controversial role of the military in Mexico's anti-drug strategy. Some of the Mexican public perceives the military as more trustworthy and aggressive than local police forces, which may increase levels of overall public security in the midst of DTO violence. David Shirk of the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute argued that, "The military [and the church] are the most respected institutions in Mexico." Conversely, others argue that increased military oversight in combating drug trafficking has left the institution open for increased corruption and impunity. Abigail Poe of the Center for International Policy (CIP) recently wrote a blog entry on Just the Facts outlining the major details of the Washington Office on Latin America's (WOLA) recent report, "Abused and Afraid in Ciudad Juarez", which details specific accounts of military abuse and human rights violations in Mexico.

    The panelists agreed that the Mexican and U.S. governments have already begun to implement policies that adhere to the idea of addressing the cartel violence via the "Four Pillar Strategy" and another binational efforts. The four pillars are (1) disrupting organized criminal groups; (2) institutionalizing the rule of law; (3) building a 21st century border; and (4) building strong and resilient communities.

    One of the major topics addressed at the conference was the need to build up Mexico's civilian institutional capacity to combat impunity and corruption within local armed forces. Recently, under the framework of the Merida Initiative, the U.S. government has received the consent of the Mexican government to station at least one U.S. intelligence official in Ciudad Juarez, the virtual epicenter of drug violence in Mexico. According to a Mileno editorial detailing U.S. presence in Ciudad Juarez:

    "The goal is to strengthen intelligence gathering and Mexican government agencies to establish links between Mexico and the United States to maximize real-time information and guiding the Mexican strategic and tactical operations, is based on the report."

    Despite such efforts, more policy options must be pursued. This includes addressing U.S. domestic consumption issues and improved financial system regulation to stop illicit flows and money laundering.

    To see the Milenio article discussing recently increased U.S. intelligence operatives presence in Ciudad Juarez, click here (Spanish). The actual text of the Ciudad Juarez Crime Fact Sheets is available in English at the bottom of the article.

    In the end, all of the panelists and discussants agreed that a "spirit of collaboration" between the United States and Mexico will be a major determining factor in how effectively and how soon the influence and violence of Mexican drug cartels can be diminished. They also agreed that the reforms will likely require long-term observation and attention, but that this is the only way to produce sustainable change in Mexico's drug wars.

    This post was written by CIP intern Allison Gilchrist

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    New Report: Abused and Afraid in Ciudad Juarez

    The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center (Center Prodh) released a new report today on human rights violations in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The report, "Abused and Afraid in Ciudad Juarez: An Analysis of Human Rights Violations by the Military in Mexico," focuses on human rights violations that occurred in Ciudad Juarez in the context of Joint Operation Chihuahua, which began in March 2008, and reviews the drug policies adopted by the Mexican government, with support from the U.S. government, to address the security crisis in Mexico.

    Here are a few statistics from the report:

    • As of June 2010, roughly 23,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since the beginning of President Felipe Calderón's administration in 2006.
    • In 2009 alone, more than 8,200 drug-related murders were reported. By June 2010, 6,200 people had been killed so far in the year.
    • More than half of the drug-related killings have occurred in the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Guerrero, and Baja California, but drug violence has touched upon every Mexican state and the Federal District in the past 3 1/2 years.
    • Since December 2006, SEDENA (Mexico's Department of Defense) has acknowledged it has received a total of 3,981 complaints of human rights abuses filed before the National Commission (prior to June 2010).
    • It is estimated that only 25% of crimes in Mexico are reported and only 2% result in a sentence.
    • In the introduction of the report, the authors write, "This report gives voice to some of the victims of the war against organized crime in Mexico: in particular, individuals who have been abused by the very security forces who are supposed to protect them." Five cases are described in the report involving acts of torture, forced disappearance and sexual harassment of women by Mexican soldiers deployed in Ciudad Juarez. Here is one of the cases:

      In August 2008, Roberto drove down the road to the company in Ciudad Juarez where he had worked on the night shift for 25 years. Before he got to work he was stopped at a military checkpoint. The soldiers took him out of his car, inspected it, and in a violent manner asked him questions. What was he doing out in his car at this hour? Where was he going? Why was he nervous? Although he tried to answer in the best way possible, the fear of what had happened to many other people in Ciudad Juarez made him nervous. After the soldiers searched the car, they showed him a packet of drugs [that Roberto did not recognize] and began another interrogation. Where did he get the drugs? Who had sold them to him? Roberto was not able to answer. He had never used drugs, bought or sold them — he was simply going to work.

      Roberto was blindfolded, tied by the wrists and taken to an unknown location, that he experienced only by sounds, hard footsteps that came and went, questions from the soldiers, violent blows, and the screams of others being tortured.

      After three days of interrogations and beatings, they released him with a warning: "If anyone asks you what happened to you, tell them that you were kidnapped. Remember that we know where your family lives."

      "Abused and Afraid in Ciudad Juarez" concludes with this:

      While institutional strengthening has been part of the Mexican government's security strategy, the central element has clearly been the deployment of military-led security forces in counter-drug operations. This focus has failed to decreased drug-related violence in Mexico, while also resulting in a dramatic increase inhuman rights abuses.

      And offers the following recommendations:

      1. Effectively withdraw the military from public security tasks;
      2. Guarantee that human rights violations committed by members of the armed forces are investigated and prosecuted by civilian authorities;
      3. Strengthen Mexico's civil judicial system - the government needs to increase its efforts to implement fully the reforms passed in 2008 and enact measures to address the historic challenges in the system (such as corruption, lack of transparency and weak judicial institutions);
      4. Development of new systems of internal and external controls, or strengthening existing systems in the police corps, particularly at the state and local levels, are essential so that police officers receive a clear message that they will be sanctioned for any criminal behavior, including human rights abuses.

      Read the press release here.

      Download the report in English or Spanish.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    State Department releases and withholds aid to Mexico

    Just as the State Department is required to certify that Colombia's human rights performance is improving in order to free up a percentage of military aid in the foreign aid budget, the State Department must also report that Mexico's government has met certain human rights requirements in order to free up fifteen percent of military aid in the foreign aid budget for Mexico. As required by section 7045(e) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2009, the Secretary of State must report in writing that the Government of Mexico is continuing to:

    (A) improve the transparency and accountability of Federal police forces and to work with State and municipal authorities to improve the transparency and accountability of State and municipal police forces through mechanisms including police complaints commissions with authority and independence to receive complaints and carry out effective investigations;

    (B) conduct regular consultations with Mexican human rights organizations and other relevant Mexican civil society organizations on recommendations for the implementation of the Merida Initiative in accordance with Mexican and international law;

    (C) ensure that civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities are investigating and prosecuting, in accordance with Mexican and international law, members of the Federal police and military forces who have been credibly alleged to have violated internationally recognized human rights, and the Federal police and military forces are fully cooperating with the investigations; and

    (D) enforce the prohibition, in accordance with Mexican and international law, on the use of testimony obtained through torture or other ill-treatment.

    Last Friday, the Department of State released the report saying that the Mexican government has met the human rights requirements necessary to release $36 million in previously withheld Merida Initiative funds. These funds were initially appropriated by the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-32) and by the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Relate Programs Appropriations Act of 2010 (Division F of P.L. 111-117).

    At the same time it released $36 million in funds to Mexico, the Department of State also announced that $26 million in aid for Mexico appropriated in the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act would continue to be withheld until the Government of Mexico enhances the authority of the National Human Rights Commission, and limits the authority of military court cases involving abuse of civilians.

    In the FY2010 Supplemental, Congress appropriated $175,000,000 in International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds to Mexico for judicial reform, institution building, anti-corruption, and rule of law activities. It is unclear whether the State Department was legally required to withhold these funds, as section 7045(e) of the 2009 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act specifically says that the provision does not apply to assistance for judicial reform, institution building, anti-corruption and rule of law activities. However, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Mexico and Canada Roberta Jacobson made it clear that the State Department made "a policy decision - not a legal decision" to "wait on a portion of new funding because we think additional progress can be made."

    As brought up in the Washington Post last week, the decision to put the funds on hold "will have little practical effect, because U.S. and Mexican officials have barely begun planning how to spend it." The 2010 Supplemental also stipulates that these INCLE funds for Mexico "may be made available only after the Secretary of State submits a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing a coordinated, multi-year, interagency strategy to address the causes of drug-related violence and other organized criminal activity in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean." This report has yet to be submitted, therefore, the funds were technically already "on hold."

    The Mexican government responded to the State Department's decision by saying that it is working to improve human rights and that the U.S. government should work to speed up the implementation of the Merida Initiative. The Mexican Foreign Relations Department released a statement, which asserts that:

    Cooperation with the United States against transnational organized crime through the framework of the Merida Initiative is based on shared responsibility, mutual trust and respect for the jurisdiction of each country, not on unilateral plans for evaluating and conditions unacceptable to the government of Mexico.

    U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), however, issued a statement suggesting that the State Department report "falls short" of meeting the conditions required in the law.

    While I am encouraged by the willingness of Mexican authorities to discuss ways to improve accountability for violations of human rights, we have not yet seen evidence that abuses, particularly arbitrary arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings by the armed forces, are being effectively addressed. These are not the kind of results the conditions in the law require. A report like this that falls short doesn't help either country.

    This is the first time the State Department has withheld Merida Initiative funds due to human rights concerns, and some human rights groups and non-profits view it as a positive step. However, many groups believe that all funds should have been withheld, including the $36 million from the 2009 Supplemental and 2010 Foreign Operations Acts. According to Nik Steinberg of Human Rights Watch, "Mexico is simply not meeting the human rights requirements. ... There are widespread and systematic abuses by the military, for which they have total impunity."

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Details on delivered and pending Merida Initiative equipment and training

    On May 18, 2010, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), the Republican minority-party leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a detailed report evaluating U.S. aid to Mexico since the 2007 launch of the Mérida Initiative (download the PDF). This report included a very detailed table of aid that has been delivered, or is pending delivery, through the State Department's International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) program.

    We have added the information in these tables to the Just the Facts database (see equipment details for 2009 here and training details for 2009 and 2010 here). Below is a summary of some of the information provided in the report's tables.

    Top Ten Most Expensive Equipment to be Delivered to Mexico between 2009 and 2014

    • $150,000,000 for 3 CASA Aircraft to assist the Mexican Navy in maritime interdiction efforts (due to be delivered in Summer 2012)
    • $110,000,000 for 3 UH-60 Helicopters to assist the Mexican Navy in coastal operations (due to be delivered in 2014)
    • $76,500,000 for 3 UH-60 Helicopters for the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) - Federal Police (due to be delivered in 2010)
    • $66,000,000 for 5 Bell 412 Helicopters for the Mexican Army (delivered in 2009)
    • $50,000,000 for 1 CASA Aircraft to assist the Mexican Navy in maritime interdiction efforts (due to be delivered in Winter 2011)
    • $39,000,000 for 2 Bell 412 Helicopters for Mexican Army troop movement in support of counternarcotics operations (due to be delivered in 2010, estimated date of signed contract is August 2010)
    • $28,000,000 for Constanza Software for the Procuraduría General de Justicia (delivered in 2010)
    • $20,000,000 for Mobile Gamma Radiation Trucks. 18 are for the Secretariat of Public Security - Federal Police and 1 for the Mexican Army (due to be delivered in 2010)
    • $15,500,000 ISR Aircraft for the Secretariat of Public Security - Federal Police (due to be delivered in 2011)
    • $10,400,000 for 3 installed X-ray Portal Units for the Customs Agency

    Total Dollar Amounts of Pending and Delivered Equipment as of May 2010

    • Equipment

    • Total dollar amount of equipment pending delivery in 2010: $230,985,322
    • Total dollar amount of equipment due to be delivered from 2011-2014: $330,500,000

    This table appears in the Committee's report

    Total Equipment Pending and Delivered, by Recipient Unit:

    • $261,200,000 - Mexican Navy
    • $129,044,396 - Secretariat of Public Security - Federal Police
    • $106,575,711 - Mexican Army
    • $39,600,000 - National Migration Institute
    • $36,140,271 - Procuraduría General de Justicia
    • $26,101,277 - Customs Agency
    • $16,100,000 - National Security and Investigations Center
    • $6,238,744 - Secretariat of Communications

    U.S. Narcotics Affairs Section Capacity Building Events - Top recipient units, 2009 and 2010 combined

    • Secretariat of Public Security - Federal Police: 4,957 trainees (corrections, investigations, and policy & procedure courses)
    • State officials: 75 trainees (anti-kidnapping courses)
    • Customs Agency: 44 trainees (canine courses)