Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

US and Mexican Cooperation: The Merida Initiative and Drug Trafficking

Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

US and Mexican Cooperation: The Merida Initiative and Drug Trafficking

Article excerpt

Introduction

In recent decades, Mexico has remained one of the world's key players in the global drug market. Mexico is the major supplier of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in the Americas (Seelke et al. 2011). As a result, Mexico is one of the most problematic countries in the region regarding illegal drugs being exported into the US through the Central America-Mexico corridor. The illegal drug trade causes severe violence in the country and threatens US border security. According to the US National Drug Intelligence Center:

Violent infighting among rival Mexican gangs, at least partially attributable to competition over control of lucrative crossing points along the Southwest Border, is occurring mainly on the Mexico side of the border. Criminal activity such as kidnappings and home invasion robberies directed against individuals involved in drug trafficking has been reported in some U .S. border communities (National Drug Treatment Assessment, 2011).

Although the violence in Mexico has generally declined since late 2011, analysts estimate that it may have claimed more than 70,000 lives between December 2006 and December 2013 (Seelke and Finklea, 2014). Thus, an increase in crime and violence among these groups over the control of drug smuggling routes along the US- Mexico border has made the drug trafficking problem even more serious and requires a permanent solution. According to Seelke (2010), drug trafficking is viewed as a major problem that poses a serious threat to the security of citizens and the US interests in Latin America. Since the production and trafficking of popular illicit drugs generates billions of dollars in black market profits, Mexican criminal organizations have engaged in illegal drug trafficking and threatened US national security. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service (2011), Mexican drug trafficking organizations control of illicit drug markets in the US and cooperation with US gangs is the main reason for the spillover of the drug related violence in Mexico to the US Indeed, the Department of Justice defines drug trafficking organizations as "the greatest organized crime threat to the US" (Seelke et al., 2011). Therefore, the US should come up with a specific policy to combat the illegal drug trade through the US-Mexico border to reduce drug - related violence in the country.

As a result of the increasing violence due to illegal drug trafficking along the US and Mexico border, U.S policymakers have created several counterdrug assistance programs for Mexico and Central America to combat drug trafficking and decrease drug related violence. However, these assistance programs did not stop either problem as they did not target the root of them. Therefore, the Mexican government under the former presidency of Felipe Calderon requested a higher level of cooperation and assistance from the US. In October 22, 2007, the US and Mexico announced the Merida Initiative.

The Merida Initiative was a multi-year plan for US assistance to Mexico and Central America to fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. Since December 2012, the Obama Administration and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto have continued US-Mexican security cooperation, which focuses on reducing violent crime in Mexico (Seelke and Finklea, 2014). From FY2008 to FY2014, Congress appropriated about $2.4 billion in the Merida Initiative assistance for Mexico, including some $194.2 million provided in the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Seelke and Finklea, 2014). In March 2014, the US delivered more than $1.2 billion of Merida Initiative assistance (Seelke and Finklea, 2014). For the fiscal year 2015, the Obama Administration asked for $115 million for Merida Initiative assistance (Seelke and Finklea, 2014). The policy was an important step towards the solution of the drug related violence and instability in the region. However, today there is debate over the success of this policy and its uneven implementation. …

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