Contractors may train Mexican drug forces
The U.S. and Mexican governments are expected Monday to announce an anti-drug package that will probably involve hiring private U.S. military contractors to train...
WASHINGTON — The U.S. and Mexican governments are expected Monday to announce an anti-drug package that will probably involve hiring private U.S. military contractors to train Mexican troops on the use of new technologies and equipment, senior U.S. officials said.
The government's use of private contractors has been controversial, especially since a deadly incident involving contractors last month in Iraq.
The counternarcotics plan calls for increasing U.S. anti-drug aid to Mexico, now estimated at $44 million a year, to $1.4 billion over two to three years, said officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. It is expected to be announced simultaneously by President Bush in Washington and President Felipe Calderón in Mexico City. It will cap seven months of talks carried out in response to spreading drug violence, considered by many the biggest threat to Mexican security.
A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the plan "a quantum leap forward, partly because Mexico is willing to take that risk to build a new relationship."
The assistance is designed to train Mexican law enforcement officials to more effectively take on drug traffickers equipped with advanced weapons, high-tech communications gear and aircraft.
The aid package will complement Mexico's annual budget of $7 billion to tackle organized crime. The aid package includes $50 million for Central America, to be distributed among the region's seven countries. The bulk of the money will likely go to Guatemala and El Salvador, where some of the most violent transnational gangs are strong, U.S. officials said.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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