Bush Asks Congress for $1.4 Billion to Fight Drugs in Mexico
President Bush asked Congress on Monday to approve a $1.4 billion aid package over the next three years to help the Mexican government fight narcotics traffickers, who have unleashed a bloody underworld war that has left more than 4,000 dead across Mexico in the last two years.
The plan calls for the United States to give Mexico $500 million over the next 12 months to provide training for the police and tools to dismantle drug cartels, including helicopters, surveillance planes, drug-sniffing dogs and software to track cases.
An additional $50 million would go to Central American countries for the same purposes.
The United States would also provide advisers to help vet police recruits, establish a witness protection program and set up citizen-complaint offices to cut down on the endemic corruption in Mexican police forces, State Department officials said.
Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said the initiative was intended to bolster the administration of President Felipe Calderón as it continues an unprecedented crackdown on organized crime.
Since taking office in December, Mr. Calderón has sent tens of thousands of troops into towns once controlled by drug cartels to restore order; extradited several well-known drug kingpins to the United States for prosecution; and stepped up seizures of cocaine, guns and illicit cash. The result has been a violent backlash from criminal organizations.