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Mexico cooperates with us (?)

By Madeleine Albright, Janet Reno and Barry McCaffrey

Last month, President Clinton certified Mexico as an ally in the international fight against drugs. We believe that this decision was correct and that Mexico's senior leadership is strongly cooperating with the United States in this fight.

In considering Mexican certification, it is important to remain focused on the legal standard of cooperation and the public policy rationale for these standards. The linchpin of cooperation is a guarantee of common commitments and partnership. We believe Mexico has made significant progress in recent years and meets the standard under the law.

Mexican officials at all levels work closely with their U.S. counterparts across a full spectrum of counterdrug activities. Under President Ernesto Zedillo's leadership, Mexico has named combating narco-trafficking as Mexico's "No. 1 national security priority."

In 1995-97, Mexico eradicated more opium and marijuana than any other country. In 1998, Mexico seized 22.6 metric tons of cocaine, 121 kilos of heroin, 1,062 metric tons of marijuana and 96 kilos of methamphetamine. Net Mexican marijuana production also dropped by more than 70 percent.
The United States coordinates regularly with Mexico on counterdrug surveillance flights. The U.S. conducts more cooperative money laundering investigations with Mexico than we do with any other nation in the world.

Mexico also has committed up to $500 million to deploy advanced technologies to thwart drug smuggling. It has expanded the tools available to law enforcement to investigate drug crimes, allowing for the first time the use of wiretaps, informants, witness protection and plea bargains. In addition, Mexico has criminalized money laundering.

As Mexico's domestic drug addiction problems have grown, our common efforts have been broadened to include demand reduction programs such as prevention and treatment. Mexico also has joined the United States in developing a set of 147 specific performance measures to evaluate each nation's progress in implementing the comprehensive U.S-Mexico binational drug strategy adopted early in 1998. Mexico is the first nation to agree to such a common set of benchmarks.

Nevertheless, serious problems remain. In a report released in February, the Mexican government has itself recognized that in Mexico "crime is increasingly violent and better organized," that "impunity and inefficiency are found in law enforcement" and that "the administration of justice is inadequate." Sixty percent of the cocaine sold on American streets comes through Mexico, even while Mexico's cocaine seizures sharply declined last year. Despite the Mexican government's having entered numerous orders of extradition, Mexican courts have prevented the extradition of any Mexican nationals on major drug-trafficking charges.

Mexico also must continue to confront pervasive corruption driven by the enormous illicit wealth of the drug kingpins. Zedillo has demonstrated the political will necessary to tackle this challenge by putting in place netting systems to screen counterdrug police and by undertaking a number of high level prosecutions and arrests, including the conviction of former drug czar Gen. Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo.

Ultimately, the interest of the United States is strengthened by cooperating with Mexico. After all, criminal elements don't respect national boundaries; they use borders as shields to avoid detection, capture and prosecution. Major international drug kingpins rarely set foot on our soil; they rely instead on global markets to move their deadly merchandise and launder their illicit gains. Unless we act in partnership with other nations, these kingpins will remain largely beyond the reach of law enforcement.

As we confront the enormous common danger that drugs pose to Mexico and the United States, it serves the vital interests of both to remain steadfast in our course of cooperation. We can fight this scourge together, or we can duplicate efforts, fail to communicate and yield a key strategic advantage to narco-traffickers.

President Clinton's decision to certify Mexico is right for the national interests of the American people, just as President Zedillo's decision to work with the United States on drug enforcement is in the best interest of the Mexican people.

Madeleine Albright is U.S. Secretary of State; Janet Reno is U.S. Attorney General; Barry McCaffrey is director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.


By Tom Murlowski, Associate Director, November Coalition

The most horrifying statement in the press release (above) by Albright, Reno and McCaffery is their proud statement that Mexico has agreed to expand law enforcement powers: i.e.­­"First time use of wiretaps, informants, witness protection and plea bargains".

Have these people been living on a different planet? All the injustices and misery these tactics have heaped on our own people, and we're just going to happily export them to the rest of the world? How many more innocent citizens will have their lives destroyed by overzealous Mexican enforcers eager to curry favor with the superpower to the north?

Meanwhile, current policies will continue to flood our borders with drugs, corrupt our governments, destroy our families, and trample what's left of The Bill Of Rights. Same song; different verse. See below . . .

DEA chief warns Senate about Mexican drug lords

The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Thomas Constantine, has warned that Mexican drug trafficking organizations pose "the worst criminal threat to the United States that I have seen in nearly 40 years in law enforcement."

Speaking just before the Clinton administration deadline for Mexican certification as 'drug war allies', Constantine sketched a bleak picture in testimony before the U.S. Senate. Because of the huge profits of the black market in illegal drugs, "organized crime figures in Mexico have at their disposal an army of personnel, an arsenal of weapons and the finest technology that money can buy," Constantine said.

U.S. ends corruption probe due to 'foreign policy concerns'

The Clinton administration has ended an investigation into money laundering by drug traffickers in Mexico. As the trail seemingly led to top political figures, including Mexico's Defense Minister, Gen. Enrique Cervantes, U.S. officials ordered the operations immediately shut down with no explanation.

Mexican banks plead guilty in drug case

Two Mexican banks charged in a U.S. undercover investigation targeting cocaine cartels in Colombia and Mexico have agreed to plead guilty and pay millions of dollars in fines.

The banks, Bancomer and Banca Serfin, named by the U.S. Customs Service in the undercover investigation known as "Operation Casablanca," reached an agreement with U.S. prosecutors that will keep several top officials out of jail.

The 30-month undercover Customs probe has been the largest money-laundering investigation in U.S. history. It resulted in the arrest of more than 160 persons and the seizure of more than $50 million in illicit drug profits.

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