U.S.-Mexico Strategic Dialogue on Disrupting Transnational Criminal Organizations

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Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan delivers remarks at the Second U.S.-Mexico Strategic Dialogue on Disrupting Transnational Criminal Organizations at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on December 14, 2017.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan delivers remarks at the Second U.S.-Mexico Strategic Dialogue on Disrupting Transnational Criminal Organizations at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on December 14, 2017. (State Department photo)

U.S.-Mexico Strategic Dialogue on Disrupting Transnational Criminal Organizations

On December 14, the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security convened the second high-level dialogue with their Mexican counterparts to continue discussion on strategies to disrupt transnational criminal organizations. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan delivered remarks underscoring the increasingly complex threats we face today and the need for a closely coordinated response by the United States and Mexico.

"Today’s conversations build upon the very productive meetings Secretary Tillerson had in Mexico in February and in Washington in May on broadening our security cooperation to confront Transnational criminal organizations. It’s clear that we have a reliable partner in Mexico. We continue to advance our shared goal of developing new ways to disrupt transnational criminal organizations and the networks of criminal activity they perpetuate. We are strengthening cooperation with Mexico to interdict illegal transports, find and punish criminals involved in these organizations, and cut off their sources of funding."

-Deputy Secretary Sullivan

The Deputy Secretary also discussed the grave problem posed by drugs and their connection to transnational crime on both sides of the border. “According to preliminary figures, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdose last year. The death toll from synthetic opioids alone claimed more lives than both heroin and prescription painkillers. Many of our Mexican neighbors have fallen victim to drug-related violence as well,” he said has he underscored the need for close cooperation on to tackle this problem that has no regard for international borders.  Close collaboration is the only way we can tackle a problem that has no regard for international borders.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan also took a moment to highlight our extensive bilateral law enforcement relationship noting that 11 U.S. law enforcement agencies are represented in the U.S. embassy and consulates across Mexico to work closely with their Mexican state and federal counterparts. Through the Merida Initiative, he shared, the United States is providing Mexico with the tools to more effectively eradicate opium poppy and support enhanced border security. “Through this collaborative strategy, we are seeing progress. In 2016, Mexican law enforcement seized more than 13,000 kilograms of cocaine and more than 26,000 kilograms of methamphetamine destined for the United States. In addition, the Mexican Government has successfully destroyed over 136 clandestine drug laboratories. Our cooperation is making citizens on both sides of our border safer,” he shared.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan underscored the need to implement new approaches that seek to improve information sharing and legal cooperation, ultimately denying revenue and seizing the assets of transnational criminal organizations. The Deputy Secretary said, “Transnational criminal organizations are far less effective at carrying out illicit activities when their sources of revenue are dismantled. By cutting off these funding mechanisms, transnational criminal organizations will lose their ability to corrupt institutions, buy sophisticated weapons, and maintain their criminal infrastructure.” 

To this end, the Deputy Secretary also highlighted the need to address the drug problem in the United States and reduce the demand that creates a thriving market for transnational crime organizations. Deputy Secretary Sullivan highlighted President Trump’s commitment  to addressing the opioid epidemic in the United States’ and the President’s launch of a commission to explore ways to better understand and address the federal response to this epidemic as well as determine the most efficacious way to move forward. “To facilitate these efforts,” he shared, “the administration has committed more than $1 billion so that we can battle addiction and fight the opioid crisis here at home. By drying up the market for illegal drugs, we will more effectively fight transnational criminal organizations and the industries that prop them up.”

The Deputy Secretary reiterated the United States' gratitude for its strong bilateral relationship with Mexico. He concluded, “We will continue to maintain and grow our strong partnership with Mexico on this critical issue, as on so many others.”

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.

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