Friday, October 22, 2010

Washington Is Elevating It's Presence in Juarez

Victor Hugo Michel, of Milenio (click here) has obtained a copy of a work plan prepared by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, outlining a number of steps which have already been implemented in the past few weeks in the Juarez-El Paso area, and some which are still to come. Other measures will have border-wide implications. The anti-narcotics section of the U.S. Embassy will be in charge of administering the program.

Make no mistake about it. this report is significant. It clarifies a number of things happening in Juarez in the past few weeks, such as the arrest of significant members of La Linea and threats against the U.S. Consulate, and it suggests a greatly beefed up effort is still in the works to deal with multiple security issues. For example, funds have been allocated by the pentagon to create a network of secure communications between Juarez and El Paso. Once implemented this will provide real-time operational capabilities based on real-time intelligence gathering on both sides of the border. This is completely new in the bilateral relationship. Among the other goodies in this package:

1. For the first time Washington is beginning operational cooperation with the Mexican government in its dealings with drug trafficking organizations. The approach is multi-dimensional. The U.S. government will begin sending intelligence advisors to Juarez; pentagon funds will assist the Mexican government in training, equipment, professional exchanges, and sharing of information. At least one DEA agent will be assigned to live in Juarez full time and train federal agents in intelligence techniques. A team of DEA agents will be on hand in El Paso.

2. Perhaps most important, Washington has given the Mexican federal security department access to its EPIC data base in El Paso on drug traffickers. This data base, owned by DEA, is global in scope, and is comprised of multiple data bases from about two dozen agencies. The data base has been in operation for about two decades now, and has been available for law enforcement officers in the United States, but not in Mexico.

3. U.S. intelligence specialists who work at EPIC and their counterparts in Juarez are in daily contact to exchange information, including methods of operation of cartel and other criminal gang operations. This has led to significant arrests on both sides of the border. The Center for Emergencies and Rapid Reaction (CERI), whose command was transferred earlier this year to the federal police, receives data from U.S. agencies based in EPIC to enable a more effective use of Mexican police.

"The objective is to strengthen the intelligence gathering capacity of the Mexican government and create links between U.S. and Mexican agencies to maximize the use of information in real time and guide Mexican strategic and tactical operations."

4. Kidnapping is also part of the effort. Special training has been given to elite units of the Federal Police and the Police of Chihuahua, with assistance from the National Police of Colombia.

The report indicates that "this pilot program is based on meetings of binational teams held in El Paso and Juarez in January and February 2010.

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