The inauguration of President Calderon in December 2006 ushered in an era of renewed cooperation between the United States and Mexico. Our common goal – to reduce drug trafficking and related violence – has helped the U.S. and Mexico establish an extremely strong and productive bilateral counternarcotics relationship. Key to this relationship is the Merida Initiative.

President Calderon has taken a courageous stand against the transnational criminals currently threatening Mexico and is helping to end drug-fueled violence by attacking criminal organizations, disrupting smuggling routes, and controlling precursors and raw materials necessary for illegal drugs. Great progress has been made through institutional reform programs such as prohibiting the use and trade of pseudoephedrine (methamphetamine precursor) and removing 21 of 37 designated high-value criminal targets.

Mexico has also significantly increased its bilateral cooperation with the U.S. to address the reduction of drug consumption on both sides of our common border: the U.S.-Mexico Binational Demand Reduction Conference convened in 2010 and 2011 to focus our efforts on several key initiatives that have engendered increased dialogue, information exchanges and sharing of best practices in the areas of prevention, integrated communities, and alternatives to incarceration for substance abusers.

The Government of Mexico has taken a proactive approach towards dismantling the drug cartels and has determined that it is unacceptable to end violence through criminal organization concessions. Drug cartels have caused over 40,000 deaths from when the Calderon administration’s initiative began in 2006 and mid-2011. The deaths are primarily the result of criminal organizations at war with one another for control of transportation routes and entry points into the United States.

Mexico’s struggle is about imposing the rule of law over areas of key importance to well-armed and well-financed criminal organizations. Until those organizations are dismantled they will retain the capacity to engage in widespread violence.

Mexico is also a cultivator of poppy and marijuana and a producer of heroin.


  2012 2011
Hectares under cultivation 10,500 12,000
Potential pure production (metric tons) 26 30


  2012 2011
Hectares under cultivation 11,500 12,000
Potential Production Unavailable Unavailable

* Marijuana yields for Mexico have not been accomplished in many years so production potential cannot be estimated.

Mexico is a key ally. As President Obama noted during President Calderon’s visit, the importance of our continued collaboration with the Government of Mexico cannot be overstated. President Calderon’s heroic efforts to directly confront violent criminal elements are leading to real results in disrupting transnational crime.

Merida Initiative

Under the Merida Initiative -- a historic program of cooperation between the United States and Mexico that acknowledges shared responsibilities to counter the drug-fueled violence that threatens citizens on both sides of the border -- the United States is currently providing technical expertise and assistance to Mexico for police professionalization, prosecutorial capacity building, judicial and prison reform, justice sector institution building, information technology enhancement, infrastructure development, and border security. Fully supported by the Obama Administration, the Merida Initiative also has wide bipartisan support in Congress, which has appropriated $1.4 billion in support of Mexico. Because of the nature of the initial equipment requirements – air transportation platforms, for example – a long lead time was built into the procurement and delivery process. More than one-third of a billion dollars worth of equipment and assistance had been delivered to Mexican government agencies through the end of 2010, with approximately another $500 million scheduled for delivery in 2011.

Total and Projected Deliveries: Equipment, Training, and Technical Assistance (Note: in millions of $USD)


Program Area Total Deliveries (end of CY10) Goal (CY11) Total Potential Deliveries (end of CY11)
Aviation (aircraft and spare parts) 181 202.7 383.7
Aviation (capacity building) -- 35 35
Information Technology 58 179 237
Non-intrusive Inspection Equipment (NIIE) 16.8 80.9 97.7
Security Equipment for Law Enforcement 3.6 10.8 14.4
Anti-Corruption 2.4 10.3 12.7
Forensics 1.5 10.3 11.8
Canines 2.4 14.1 16.5
Prisons 0.6 7 7.6
Special & Vetted Units 0.9 4.5 5.4
Drug Demand Reduction 2.9 27.2 30.1
Human Rights/Culture of Lawfulness 1 3.1 4.1
Capacity Building (non-aviation) 85 55 140
Total 356.1 639.9 996

Mexico has taken the lead in directly confronting transnational criminal organizations that threaten its national security. For example, the Merida Initiative delivered three Black Hawk UH-60M helicopters to the Government of Mexico’s Federal Police (SSP). The helicopters, valued at $64 million, mark the first Merida Initiative aviation delivery to the SSP and will complement the SSP’s current air fleet by expanding law enforcement operations, allowing for rapid response and increased mobility of law enforcement personnel, provide access to remote and hard to reach regions, and expanding interdiction operations to target illicit activities.

Beyond Merida - The Four Pillars of Cooperation

The programs supporting the historic Merida Initiative are designed to counter the drug-fueled violence that has threatened citizens on both sides of the border. The strategic framework for implementing the myriad of Merida Initiative activities and programs is referred to as the Four Pillars, each of which pulls together Merida programs under strategic objectives. Taken together, these four objectives will strengthen both of our societies in the fight against organized crime and violence and will help drive the transformation of our bilateral security relationship.

PILLAR ONE – Disrupt Capacity of Organized Crime to Operate

Diminish the power of Mexican organized criminal groups by systematically capturing and incarcerating their leaders and by reducing drug trade revenues by interdicting drugs, stopping money laundering, and diminishing production. Through equipment, technology, aviation, and training, the Merida Initiative will support better investigations, more captures and arrests, successful prosecutions, and shipment interdiction.

PILLAR TWO – Institutionalize Capacity to Sustain Rule of Law

Enhance the capacity of Mexican public security, border, and judicial institutions to sustain the rule of law. Merida Initiative programs will strengthen the capabilities of key institutions to improve internal controls, further professionalize the military and police, reform corrections institutions, and implement justice sector reform.

PILLAR THREE – Create a 21st Century Border Structure

Facilitate legitimate commerce and movement of people while curtailing the illicit flow of drugs, people, arms, and cash. The Merida Initiative will provide the foundation for better infrastructure and technology to strengthen and modernize border security at northern and southern land crossings, ports, and airports. Professionalization programs will transfer new skills to the agencies managing the border and additional non-intrusive technologies will assist in the detection of criminal activities.

PILLAR FOUR – Build Strong and Resilient Communities

Strengthen communities by creating a culture of lawfulness and undercutting the lure and power of drug trafficking organizations. By implementing job creation programs, engaging youth in their communities, expanding social safety nets, and building community confidence in public institutions, Merida Initiative assistance will test new initiatives to strengthen Mexican communities against organized crime. One project conceived by ONDCP to support this pillar was an outgrowth of the 2010 U.S.-Mexico Binational Demand Reduction Conference held in Washington in February, 2010. At that conference, Mexico’s First Lady described national efforts to train drug abuse treatment providers and educators and other front-line personnel likely to come in contact with drug abusers through written material developed by Mexico in an inexpensive “toolkit.” ONDCP sponsored two two-day training pilot projects in El Paso, TX and in San Diego, CA, which incorporated the community-problem solving approach through the formation of anti-drug coalitions with the toolkit which primarily address individual, peer, and school risk factors. The training was designed for educators, community coalition members, health care professionals and practitioners, substance abuse service providers, and other community leaders.

Southwest Border

Since the Obama Administration launched the Southwest Border Initiative in March of 2009, the Federal Government has devoted an unprecedented amount of personnel, technology and infrastructure to secure the Southwest border. For almost two years, this historic, collaborative effort has resulted in major progress in weakening the transnational criminal organizations that threaten the safety of both our nations. The U.S. Government has seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, and 64 percent more weapons along the Southwest border, compared to the same period of time during the previous administration. The U.S. has also provided substantial funding to law enforcement partners in its High Intensity Drug Trafficking program areas to work with communities to stop drug use before it starts. Learn more about the Southwest Border Strategy.

Related Resources

The strategic partnership with Mexico is on the right track, and the intensive and unprecedented tempo of operational information sharing and exchange benefits both governments. More information can be found through interagency partner websites: