U.S. Anti-Drug Aid Slow To Arrive In Mexico


“Drug money” and cartel weapons seized by the Mexican Federales and the DEA

​Promised security help from the United States for Mexico’s drug war, including helicopters and scanners for contraband detection, has been held up by bureaucratic red tape and is slow in arriving, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Ken Ellingwood reports in the Los Angeles Times.

The GAO examination said that just $26 million, or 2 percent of the nearly $1.3 billion appropriated for security aid, had been spent by the end of September.
The multi-year Merida Initiative is intended to help Mexican officials, who are locked in a bloody three-year offensive against illegal drug cartels. The Mexicans have complained that the promised American help has been too slow to reach them.

Photo: Diego Fernández
Your tax dollars at work: Mexican troops taking suspected “drug smuggler” into detention in Michoacán

​​The report from the GAO, Congress’ investigative arm, agrees. “Few programs have been delivered and limited funding has been expended to date,” the report concludes.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton promised during a March visit to Mexico to speed up delivery of the equipment. According to GAO, Clinton’s push succeeded in expediting the delivery of five Bell BH-412 helicopters, scheduled to arrive before the end of the year.
So far in 2009, the U.S. has supplied 26 armored vehicles, 30 scanners and five vans outfitted with X-rays. Still on order are an unspecified number of Black Hawk helicopters, which generally take 12 to 18 months to build, according to the report.
Then-President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced the Merida Initiative back on October 2007, 10 months after Calderon’s military-led crackdown on drug cartels.
Thursday’s GAO report led to calls in D.C. for more urgent action to help Mexico’s drug war.