In an effort to assist Mexico in its immigration and customs law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security graduated the first ICE 10-week training class meant to sharpen Mexican authority’s ability to secure their homeland that has been ravaged by drug cartels.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton joined Mexican Secretary of Finance Ernesto Cordero Arroyo and Tax Administration Service and Customs Director Alfredo Gutiérrez Ortiz-Mena at the first-ever graduation of Mexican customs officials from an ICE-led federal investigator training course in North Charleston, S.C.
"Our efforts to crack down on criminal organizations and others who threaten the safety of our citizens and our economy require close cooperation between the United States and Mexico," said Napolitano. "Today's historic graduation of Mexican customs officials from this U.S.-led investigator training course reflects the unprecedented collaboration between our two nations to better combat transnational crime while facilitating legitimate travel and trade."
While Napolitano may see this as progress, others say it is a wolf in sheep’s clothes situation and Americans will never learn that giving away the nation’s secrets or train the potential mercenaries usually comes back to haunt America. (The Los Zetas drug cartel strongmen were originally trained by the U.S. military in North Carolina in counter-terrorism techniques for the Mexican military.)
"Are you %^&*$#* kidding me?" Let's train Mexican immigration officers on our laws and procedures and how to enforce immigration laws, thereby giving them valuable information on how to defeat what little protections we have left in place? And how many of these agents are in the employ of the Cartels? If not now, how soon after they get back home with a newly marketable skill will they approach the cartels and offer their services, for a price? That's tantamount to putting the fox in the henhouse,” says a veteran ICE agent John Sakelarides.
Working in coordination with Mexico, DHS continues with its quest to increase trans-border trade while trying to thwart border violence that undermines Mexico’s ability to speed up trade between the two countries.
"A well-functioning border is an opportunity for growth—it opens doors to commercial exchange, peace, progress and human development," said Mexican Secretary Cordero.
There were 24 men and women from Mexico's Tax Administration Service and Customs who participated in the inaugural law enforcement customs investigator training course conducted by ICE agents.
The federal course included rules in both Mexican and U.S. customs law, as well as training in numerous investigative techniques like, officer safety tactics and ethics to assist graduates to provide the agents with the tools and knowledge necessary to combat cross-border crime. Primary topics included money laundering, customs offenses and weapons and drug trafficking, the Mexican students worked in close coordination with ICE special agents and other U.S. law enforcement officials to master immigration law.
DHS reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to sharing border security responsibility with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón and their ability to secure the Southwest border and ensure the security of both nations through programs like the Mérida Initiative which former President George W. Bush sought as the cornerstone for U.S./Mexico security cooperation.
The brand new Mexican customs investigator training course is part of the Department of State-led initiative that is designed to provide assistance to Mexico and Central American countries in the form of building, training and providing equipment to better equip law enforcement agencies to complete their border security missions. The United States has set aside $1.4 billion in aid for Mexico through this initiative.
Secretary Napolitano and her Mexican counterparts have engaged in an unprecedented level of cooperation the past year. Their accomplishments included securing a number of bilateral agreements and declarations to bolster cooperation in the areas of enforcement, information and intelligence sharing, joint operations and trade facilitation along the Southwest border.
Under Napolitano, DHS has doubled the number of law enforcement personnel assigned to their Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BEST), multi-agency teams that collaborate to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations which pose significant threats to border security and coordinate intelligence sharing on both sides of the border.
As Southwest border violence continues to escalate, American lives are lost, U.S. law enforcement lives are in daily peril and cartels continue to demonstrate their ability to operate freely, DHS is hoping this new partnership with Mexico will alleviate the stranglehold the Mexican Mafia currently operates under in both countries.
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