Wednesday, March 9, 2011

$1.4 Billion Merida Initiative Murky, Hard To Track

Human rights activists make numerous complaints against 50,000 American-trained Mexican soldiers funded by Congress; 1,700 special forces troopers trained by U.S. Army have deserted

Mexico City - There is no qualitative or hard-numbered report available. Just how many have deserted - and to where exactly they defected - is unknown.

Figures obtained from the Mexican defense secretariat are vague, the true numbers classified. Congressional Research Service reports are equally vague.

Mexican Army officials have no way of accounting for the whereabouts of elite special forces soldiers trained as snipers, survivalists, intelligence analysts and rapid reaction specialists, according to a news report printed in “El Milenio,” a newspaper. There is no program to track the deserters; the information is classified, in any case, according to defense officials.

The most that is known is that some special forces types – no one knows exactly how many or what their names are - went to work for Los Zetas, a particularly violent cartel of enforcers who started off working for the Gulf Cartel of drug smugglers, then branched out to their own operations in money laundering, human smuggling of workers and sex slaves, illegal weapons, and trans-border trafficking in narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana.

According to official statements, the Mexican Army “lost track” of these elite cadre. What is known is that they have taken control of the Tamaulipas border with Texas at such key spots as Reynosa, Hidalgo, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros. They also "lost track" of the weapons they were issued at U.S. taxpayers' expense, and of the weapons obtained with the full knowledge of the U.S. BATFE through straw purchases from U.S. gun stores and smuggled back into Mexico.

According to numerous reports aired in the Mexican press, those who deserted may have possessed security information obtained from U.S.-Mexican cooperation programs. What happened to the weapons thus furnished is also an unknown factor.

They control the highways that lead to the industrial heartland of the Mexican republic, often setting up checkpoints that look officia, and waylaying unsuspecting travelers. An attack on two ICE agents resulted in the death of one of the agents who were attached to the Consulate here; numerous American tourists have been attacked and killed as they traveled. Bands of illegal immigrants headed for the U.S. are often captured, enslaved, and put into the employ of the soldiers on the other side of the U.S. border, their relatives held hostage in Mexico to ensure their continued cooperation in cultivation of marijuana, transport of illegal dollars back into Mexico, and the remittance of their pay days to banks in this nation.

In spite of more than a billion dollars spent by U.S. taxpayers, thousands upon thousands of elite troops trained by the U.S. Army, and a particularly vicious war on drugs, the killing and terror persists.

No matter that since the Merida Initiative began to fund 50,000 military troops deployed in the war against drugs in 2006 and military pay has been increased by 115% during that period, the truth is that almost 40,000 people have been killed in violent confrontations with the cartels since President Felipe Calderon took office in the same year.

What scanty information is available was furnished by the Federal Institute for Access to Information (IFAI) following a request by the newspaper.

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