The Merida Initiative is an historic program of cooperation that acknowledges the shared responsibilities of the United States and Mexico to counter the drug-fueled violence that has threatened citizens on both sides of the border. The U.S. Congress has funded the Merida Initiative with wide bipartisan support, appropriating over $1.6 billion to Mexico. It is currently providing technical expertise and assistance to Mexico for police professionalization, judicial and prison reform, information technology enhancement, infrastructure development, border security, and the promotion of a culture of lawfulness.
Merida Initiative-supported programs currently underway:
- To ensure a shared security vision, U.S. and Mexican officials have been working together on multiple levels through regular meetings of a Bilateral Implementation Group. In August 2010 Mexican and U.S. officials opened a bilateral implementation office (“BIO/OBS”) in Mexico City that allows for daily exchanges between technical staffers from the U.S. and Mexico, with the purpose of fully implementing equipment transfer and training programs under the Merida Initiative. Officials from Mexico and the United States working in the BIO/OBS do not engage in intelligence or operational activities, they focus on Merida program implementation.
- Over 4,500 Federal Police have already completed training at Mexico’s Federal Police Academy in San Luis Potosí. Taught by law enforcement professionals from the U.S., Colombia, Spain, Canada, and the Czech Republic, the program includes criminal investigative techniques, evidence collection, crime scene preservation, and ethics.
- To assist Mexico in cracking down on trafficking in cash and contraband, non-intrusive inspection equipment (NIIE) is being provided to various agencies. Since the inception of the Merida Initiative, the United States has delivered more than $465 million in equipment and training, including $39.8 million in non-intrusive inspection equipment, with plans to deliver roughly $500 million more in additional equipment and training by the end of 2011, including an estimated $60 million in NIIE. Examples include:
- 38 ZBV Backscatter X-Ray Vans and accompanying Forward Scatter Trailers have been delivered. The vehicles inspect light commercial and private vehicles for weapons, drugs, explosives, chemicals and laundered money.
45 handheld ion scanner vapor tracers were provided to the Mexican Army by the US in September 2009 for $1.1 million. Ion scanners detect vapor traces from recently fired weapons and other illicit materials in commercial and private vehicles at highway and off-road checkpoints throughout Mexico.
10 mobile X-Ray inspection minivans were provided to the SSP in December 2009 for $1.2 million. The vans are used at checkpoints and during special operations to detect contraband found in commercial buses, light trucks, and private vehicles along Mexican highways.
2 Railroad Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) machines worth $3.5 million were delivered September 2010 to Mexican Customs. This equipment is used to detect weapons and drugs in cargo containers transiting ports of entry. This equipment is based on the most advanced gamma-ray technology and allows trained technicians to view the contents of rail cars while they remain in motion, allowing them to detect contraband, weapons, explosives and ammunition, or people without disturbing passengers, animals, products, or other contents.
The U.S. is providing equipment and funds for Mexico’s prison reform initiative. The federal penitentiary system now has a functional academy that has trained 1,869 new corrections officials in up-to-date techniques for holding, classifying and transporting prisoners. The U.S. has trained Mexican trainers in New Mexico and Colorado and has several corrections experts in Mexico collaborating with Mexican officials.
Merida funds are helping Mexican police and customs officials expand and improve canine teams used in the interdiction of narcotics, firearms, explosives, and other contraband. A robust canine program across three Mexican agencies effectively uses canines that have been trained by U.S. experts in interdicting narcotics, firearms, and ammunition. A total of 60 canine handlers have been trained and 114 canines have been donated to date.
The U.S. has delivered air support to supplement an aggressive Government of Mexico law enforcement strategy. To date, 8 Bell 412 helicopters have been delivered to SEDENA and 3 Blackhawk UH-60M helicopters have been delivered to the SSP with more deliveries to follow.
- More information: Department of State Merida Initiative Website
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