Drug Control: Update on U.S.-Mexican Counternarcotics Efforts Page: 4 of 16
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Mexican government counternarcotics activities in 1998 have not been
without positive results. One of its major accomplishments was the arrest
of two major drug traffickers commonly known as the "Kings of
Methamphetamine." Although all drug-related charges against the two
have been dropped, both are still in jail and being held on U.S. extradition
warrants. The Mexican foreign ministry has approved the extradition of
one of the traffickers to the United States, but he has appealed the decision.
In addition, during 1998 the Organized Crime Unit of the Attorney General's
Office conducted a major operation in the Cancun area where four hotels
and other large properties allegedly belonging to drug traffickers
associated with the Juarez trafficking organization were seized. Mexico
also implemented its currency and suspicious transaction reporting
In addition, the Mexican government has proposed or undertaken a
number of new initiatives. For example, it has initiated an effort to prevent
illegal drugs from entering Mexico, announced a new counternarcotics
strategy and the creation of a national police force.
One of the major impediments to U.S. and Mexican counternarcotics
objectives is Mexican government corruption. Corruption remains
widespread within Mexican government institutions, including the criminal
justice system. According to one U.S. estimate, Mexican narcotics
traffickers spend as much as $6 billion a year to suborn government
officials at all levels. Recognizing the impact of corruption on law
enforcement agencies, the President of Mexico (1) expanded the role of the
military in counternarcotics activities and (2) introduced a screening
process for personnel working in certain law enforcement activities.
However, neither of these initiatives can be considered a panacea for the
narcotics-related problems confronting the United States and Mexico.
Since these initiatives, a number of senior military and screened personnel
were found to be either involved in or suspected of drug-related activities.
Since 1997, the Departments of State and Defense have provided the
government of Mexico with over $112 million worth of equipment, training,
and aviation spare parts for counternarcotics purposes. The major
assistance included UH-1H helicopters, C-26 aircraft, and two Knox-class
frigates purchased by the government of Mexico through the Foreign
Military Sales program. Last year I testified that some of the assistance
provided to the Mexican military was of limited usefulness due to
operational and logistical support problems. In the past year, the two
frigates have become operational. Unfortunately, the situation with the
GAO/T-NSIAD-99-86 Drug Control
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United States. General Accounting Office. Drug Control: Update on U.S.-Mexican Counternarcotics Efforts, text, February 24, 1999; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc290188/m1/4/: accessed August 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.