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U.S.-Mexico joint drug-fighting efforts to focus on training Mexican police: official

(Xinhua)

15:54, August 18, 2011

HOUSTON, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The next phase in the U.S.-Mexico joint fight against transnational drug cartels will focus on training Mexican police, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

William Brownfield, U.S. assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, said in the Texas border town of Laredo that local police forces, especially in northern Mexico, face the most concentrated violence and are in the most need of training.

"If we do not address these problems cooperatively today, we will be addressing them on our own front doorsteps in five years," Brownfield was quoted by local media as saying.

Under an agreement signed Wednesday by Brownfield, deputies from the sheriff's office in Webb County, Laredo, will travel to Mexico or Central American countries to help train their counterparts.

The agreement, the first of its kind the U.S. State Department has signed with a local law enforcement agency on the U.S.-Mexico border, is the latest step in the Merida Initiative.

The initiative outlines the U.S. partnership with Mexico and Central American countries in the fight against drug cartels and has committed 1.4 billion U.S. dollars since it's launch in 2008.

Mexico got 327 million U.S. dollars to train its police forces in 2009 from the U.S. State Department through the Merida Initiative, according to a April report by the Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the U.S. Congress.

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