President Zedillo has declared illegal drugs Mexico's number one
national security threat, and is taking strong measures to combat this threat,
in close cooperation with the United States. This past week, Mexico committed
an additional $400-$500 million to purchase planes, ships, radar, and other law
enforcement equipment, including high tech X-rays for use on both their
southern and northern borders. In addition, Mexico recently announced the
establishment of the new Federal Preventive Police, a carefully-selected,
highly-trained and well-paid national uniformed force empowered to arrest
suspects involved in drug-related crimes.
Last year, Mexico eradicated over 9,500 hectares of opium and
9,500 hectares of marijuana, second only to Columbia. During the previous three
years, Mexico had the highest combined total opium and marijuana eradication in
the world. Mexico also seized 22.6 metric tons of cocaine, 121 kilos of heroin,
1,062 metric tons of marijuana, and 96 kilos of methamphetamine (more than
double the 1997 methamphetamine total). In all but cocaine, seizures are up
from prior years.
Last year, Mexico arrested international methamphetamine
kingpins Jesus and Luis Amezcua. Mexican authorities also aided in
investigations and arrests involving other trafficking organizations, including
the Amado Carrillo Fuentes and Arrellano Felix organizations.
For the first time ever, Mexico introduced a screening process
for new hires in their counter-narcotics institutions, as well as periodic
in-service checks for assigned personnel. The exposure of senior officials
engaged in corrupt actions reflects the success of these efforts.
Mexico has criminalized money laundering under President
Zedillo, and has enacted an organized crime law. Mexico has also adopted new
and expanded law enforcement tools to fight drugs -- allowing wiretaps,
informants, witness protection, and plea-bargaining. Mexico's chemical control
laws have improved. Once fully implemented, they will be as effective as any in
Under President Zedillo, Mexico has for the first time
extradited Mexican nationals to the United States. In 1998, 12 criminal
suspects were extradited to the United States, including three Mexican
nationals, one of whom is a drug trafficker accused of murdering a Border
Patrol agent. More criminal suspects have been approved for extradition by the
executive branch. In 1998, Mexico was third in the number of extraditions or
deportations to the United States, behind only Canada and Thailand.
The American people have recognized that we have a fundamental
responsibility to reduce demand for illegal drugs. And the people of Mexico
have recognized that ending the drug trade is both a national security and a
public health imperative for their country. In 1998, the first bilateral
U.S.-Mexico Demand Reduction Conference was held in El Paso, Texas.
Mexico and the United States are in the process of establishing
a series of performance measures by which both nations can evaluate and monitor
progress; no other nations are as far along in this essential process. This
past year, Mexican authorities cooperated with the U.S. Department of Justice
on multiple case investigations, including the Amado Carrillo Fuentes,
Arrellano Felix organiztion and the Logan Heights Street Gang investigations.
The United States and Mexico also cooperate against drug smuggling by air, with
Mexico approving 85% of U.S. detection and monitoring overflights that support
the law enforcement agencies of both nations. Our close cooperation also
extends to training of law enforcement officials.
Experience demonstrates that enforcement effectiveness is best
achieved through close bilateral cooperation. That is the path the United
States and Mexico are committed to pursue. The drug trafficking problem facing
our countries, however, is enormous, so we must recognize that achieving our
shared counter-narcotics goals will take time.