Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2017, 15:40 GMT

2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Mexico

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 5 August 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Mexico, 5 August 2010, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Mexican government remained highly committed to the fight against organized crime and remained vigilant against domestic and international terrorist threats. No known international terrorist organizations had an operational presence in Mexico and no terrorist incidents targeting U.S. interests and personnel occurred on or originated from Mexican territory. Mexico continued to confront well-armed, organized crime elements in several regions of the country and traditional hot spots for narcotics trafficking saw record levels of violence.

Although incidents of domestic terrorism did not increase over the past year, Mexico received threats from a previously active group and witnessed the emergence of a new element. El Ejercito Popular Revolucionario (EPR) dissolved talks with the government in April and threatened to reemploy violent measures to force a response to its demands for a government investigation into the disappearance of two of its members. In 2009, no acts of terrorism were attributed to the EPR. From May to August, the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for attacking banks and commercial sites throughout Mexico City, using propane tank bombs. Three bombs were discovered unexploded, while another three caused property damage but no casualties.

Levels of organized crime and narcotics-related violence rose significantly in places along the U.S. border and in marijuana cultivation regions. Cartels increasingly used military-style terrorist tactics to attack security forces. There was no evidence of ties between Mexican organized crime syndicates and domestic or international terrorist groups. The violence attributed to organized crime groups on the border, however, continued to strain Mexico's law enforcement capacities, creating potential vulnerabilities that terrorists seeking access to the United States could exploit.

There was no indication that terrorist organizations used Mexico as a conduit for illicit activities. Nevertheless, Mexico's nascent capacity to counter money laundering suggested a potential vulnerability. The Mexican Attorney General's Organized Crime Division's money laundering unit investigated and prosecuted money laundering crimes in Mexico with mixed results. The majority of its investigations were linked to organized crime and drug proceeds. In order to combat the illegal movement of funds, Mexican financial institutions followed international standards advocated by the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations. These institutions also terminated the accounts of individuals and entities identified on international country lists such as the Office of Foreign Asset Control Specially Designated National and Blocked Persons List. Furthermore, Mexican financial institutions follow the Law of Credit Institutions, as ordered by the Mexican Treasury and supervised by the National Bank and Securities Commission. This law requires banks to consult international and country lists of individuals involved in terrorism or other illicit activities and submit a "suspicious activities report" within 24 hours to the Mexican Department of Treasury's Financial Intelligence Unit on the activities of any individual on that list.

Mexico stepped up efforts to improve interagency coordination as part of its campaign to combat crime and prevent terrorism. It has created a national database designed to promote greater information exchange and overall interoperability across Mexico's disparate police entities. Tactical Intelligence Operations Units brought together all federal agencies in a state to coordinate intelligence and operations. The United States directly supported programs to help both the Secretariat for Public Security and the Attorney General's Office train federal investigators and facilitate greater operational coordination and effectiveness.

The United States and Mexico worked together to address a number of challenges in connection with Mexico's southern and northern borders. The United States deployed two teams to Mexico's southern border to conduct assessments. Its border with Guatemala and Belize remained very porous and could serve as a potential terrorist transit point. The United States worked with Mexico to address resource requirements and offered some best practices applied at other ports of entry. The two countries agreed to coordinate actions at the northern border ports of entry in order to obstruct the flow of illegal arms and currency. The United States supported the establishment of the Mexico Targeting Center, modeled after the CBP National Targeting Center-Cargo, which should strengthen Mexico's ability to target suspicious or illicit cargo. The Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) supported targeting efforts, increased information sharing, and enhanced intelligence capabilities in connection with efforts to identify aliens who may raise terrorism concerns at ports of entry. The United States and Mexico also commenced the Joint Security Program for Travelers, a pilot program that promotes exchanges of immigration officials as part of an effort to streamline the APIS referral process and seeks to identify and track suspected terrorists, fugitives, or smugglers.

In June 2008, President Calderon signed into law a number of security and justice reforms. The security reforms granted police greater investigative authorities and facilitated the ability of law enforcement officials to seize the assets of individuals implicated in criminal activity. The justice reforms effected constitutional changes that provide for a presumption of innocence in criminal and civil prosecutions and allow for evidence-based trials promoting greater transparency and more confidence in the judicial system. Although these measures were primarily aimed at organized crime groups, the legislation also supports investigations against domestic or international terrorists. The government has eight years to implement the justice reform legislation. At year's end implementation had been slow and uneven.

The United States and Mexico worked closely to implement a strong Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program; ATA programs provided training for 300 Mexican security officials in 18 courses on matters ranging from VIP protection to digital security and forensics.

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