U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Mexico

Mexico demonstrated a strong commitment to work with the United States to preempt terrorist activity and entry through our shared border. There were no known international terrorists residing or operating in Mexico, and no terrorist incidents have occurred on or originated from its territory. Mexico represented primarily a terrorist transit threat, and our bilateral efforts focused squarely on minimizing that threat.

Counterterrorism cooperation steadily increased through the end of the Fox administration. President Calderon entered office on December 1, committed to prioritizing national security. U.S. law enforcement agencies enjoyed particularly strong relationships with the Center for National Security Investigations (CISEN), the Attorney General's Office (PGR), and the National Migration Institute (INM). Mexico worked with the United States to enhance aviation, border, maritime, and transportation security, secure critical infrastructure, and combat terrorism financing.

The Mexican government further professionalized federal law enforcement institutions, restructured and strengthened the institutions directly responsible for fighting organized crime, and developed tools under the framework of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) to better address national security threats.

The March 2005 launch of the SPP, which consists of ten security-related goals within its Security Pillar, institutionalized mechanisms for information exchange across agencies and levels of our respective governments. While a solid foundation has been built, we are working towards further cooperation and information sharing.

Mexico continued to make steady progress on border security projects focused on counterterrorism and alien smuggling. Mexico acknowledged and responded thoughtfully to U.S. reports concerning terrorist transit and the smuggling of aliens who may raise terrorism concerns. Cooperation between the United States and Mexico was especially positive in alien smuggling initiatives along Mexico's northern and southern borders. Initiatives included exchanges of information on and screening of individuals suspected of cooperation with terrorist organizations as well as smugglers whose activities presented terrorist concerns. This cooperation led to the deployment of the Operation Against Smugglers Initiative on Safety and Security (OASSIS) system, which allowed Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials to share real-time information regarding ongoing alien smuggling investigations in a systemized fashion. OASISS enhanced the ability to prosecute alien smugglers and human traffickers on both sides of the border and to avoid situations where smugglers responsible for life-threatening behavior (even deaths) on one side of the border could evade justice by escaping to the other side. The U.S. Government would like to see more cooperative efforts to identify smuggling organizations operating along Mexico's southern border that may raise terrorism concerns.

An ongoing issue of strategic concern was the continued exploitation of smuggling channels traversing the U.S.-Mexico border and the lack of enforcement along the southern Mexican border with Guatemala and Belize. The southern border, in particular, could be vulnerable to the movement of terrorists. In the wake of increasing narcotics-related border violence, bilateral cooperation on border security issues has increased.

The Mexican government coordinated with the United States on information sharing of air passenger data. The United States was also planning to support Mexico's plans to develop a national center for migratory alerts, which would coordinate information drawn from various other agencies to alert officials of possible suspect entries into Mexico.

Mexico and the United States began negotiations on programs designed to deter terrorists from using Mexico's seaports to ship illicit materials, detect nuclear or radioactive materials if shipped via sea cargo, and interdict harmful material before it could be used against the United States or U.S. allies. The cooperative effort will include installation of specialized equipment to screen cargo containers for nuclear or other radioactive materials.

Despite excellent U.S.-Mexico cooperation, money laundering remained a significant problem. The United States and the new Mexican government are discussing the dedication of greater resources to combating it. The underlying legal framework remained inadequate, and the establishment of a specific Mexican penal charge against money laundering connected to terrorism is needed. Both chambers of the Mexican legislature have passed legislation outlawing terrorist financing and associated money laundering; the two bills must still be consolidated in conference. The Mexican government notably deployed a task force to the Mexico City airport that included elements from the Agencia Federal de Investigacion (Federal Investigative Agency), Mexican Customs, and prosecuting attorneys from the PGR's anti-money laundering criminal prosecution section.

The Mexican Armed Forces continued to expand its counterterrorism capabilities. The Secretariat of the Navy improved maritime air surveillance by returning to service two of three E-2C Hawkeye command and control aircraft and acquiring more MI-17 helicopters. This capability related directly to efforts to secure key national strategic facilities, including those related to oil production in the Bay of Campeche. It remains difficult to accurately assess Mexican Army counterterrorism capabilities because the U.S. and Mexican Armed Forces had limited interoperability in counterterrorism.

The U.S.-Mexico Border Security and Public Safety Working Group, formed in March, has become another important tool for bilateral cooperation, establishing protocols between both governments to respond cooperatively at a local level to critical incidents and emergencies along the border. It remains in the pilot stage. The United States was able to further develop its border security relationship with the Government of Mexico through training programs, which focused on using non-intrusive inspection equipment, detecting weapons of mass destruction, and identifying fraudulent documents.


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