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Defense Secretary Perry Sees Greater Role for Military in Mexico's Counternarcotics Efforts


December 1995

Returning from an October 23 meeting with Mexican Minister of National Defense General Enrique Cervantes, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said the military forces of both countries should increase coordination on anti-drug efforts at the U.S.-Mexico border (Christopher Parent, "Perry Presses for Improved Counternarcotics Effort With Mexico," Inside the Pentagon, November 2, 1995, p. 1).

"We're already working together in [drug trafficking] but maybe we could work together more effectively," Perry said during an interview with a Mexican television station. "We discussed ways of sharing information and data. In Mexico, as in the United States, drug enforcement is not [sic] the responsibility between the Attorney General and the Justice Department. But in both countries the military has unique resources -- airplanes, ships, intelligence collection assistance -- and they use the resources to help the law enforcement agencies and we can help each other ."

Cooperation with Mexico is a major issue in the FY 1996 defense authorization bill. The House National Security Committee has requested that Mexico be placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), which supervises counterdrug operations in countries in Central and South America, or the U.S. Atlantic Command (LANTCOM), which is responsible for the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and part of the Pacific. Both commands were established by a Joint Chiefs of Staff strategy for Defense Department anti-drug activities called for in 1989 legislation.