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Cablegate: Cbp Helps Transform Mexican Customs

VZCZCXYZ0014
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHME #2462/01 2312105
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY ADA152EB MSI5507-695)
R 192105Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7968
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/HQ USNORTHCOM
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MEXICO 002462


SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KCRM SNAR MX
SUBJECT: CBP HELPS TRANSFORM MEXICAN CUSTOMS

1. (SBU) Summary. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Agency is a natural partner with Mexican Customs (Aduanas).
CBP plays an integral role in transforming Aduanas from a
revenue collection agency to a law enforcement entity capable
of preventing contraband from flowing across our common
border, tackling immigration and trade issues at its southern
border, and providing front-line border defense. End Summary

Transformation Did Not Begin with Merida

2. (SBU) Relations between CBP and Aduanas strengthened in
the aftermath of 9/11 with the development of the U.S. Mexico
Smart Border Accord (2002). The need for greater border
security placed increasing pressure upon trade and travel
infrastructure along the southwest border. In June 2005 the
governments of Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. implemented the
Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP). Under the auspices of
the SPP, Aduanas and CBP collaborated on programs to
strengthen security while facilitating the movement of people
and goods. By 2007, many of the key SPP deliverables were
either implemented or underway.

3. (SBU) In moving beyond the SPP framework, CBP and Aduanas
implemented the Bilateral Strategic Plan (BSP) in August
2007. Through the BSP, Mexico's Aduanas, CBP, and U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) established working
groups dedicated to strengthening law enforcement and
enhancing security, while improving trade partnerships,
promoting border efficiencies, and professionalizing border
law enforcement agencies. Merida Initiative (MI) funding has
complemented this initiative and has provided the resources
to accelerate Aduanas's transformation into a capable law
enforcement partner. Merida funds provides support to vet
Aduanas agents (using the same criteria applied to other
Mexican federal police forces), to purchase canine and
non-intrusive inspection equipment, and to share technical
advice and best practices so that Aduanas can be more closely
aligned with CBP.


More Than Money and Equipment

4. (SBU) CBP and Aduanas coordinate efforts to share
information and data, the life blood of effective joint
enforcement efforts. Under the BSP, CBP and Aduanas
coordinate inbound and outbound enforcement operations to
stop the flow of illegal arms and currency across the border.
Two successful pilot operations in Nogales and Eagle Pass
provided the necessary momentum to extend the plan to other
ports of entry before the end of FY2009. Additionally,
Aduanas just hired 1400 new and better trained agents and has
asked CBP to provide technical support, basic training, and
credibility assessment assistance. These activities are in
line with the BSP and supported with MI funding. (see Septel)


5. (SBU) The Southern Border Initiative provides further
impetus for cross-border coordination with Aduanas. Through
the initiative, two CBP teams are already coordinating with
their Aduanas counterparts to assess immigration and commerce
issues at Mexico's southern border. The teams will present a
report to the GOM by early fall.

6. (SBU) Aduanas is also developing the Mexican Targeting
Center modeled after the CBP National Targeting Center-Cargo
Facility. CBP and Aduanas coordinate information and
resources to target suspected high-risk shipments destined to
Mexico and in some case ultimately destined to the U.S.

7. (SBU) In support of the development of Aduanas targeting
capabilities, CBP and Aduanas developed the Mexican
Fellowship program under which two Aduanas agents are
assigned to the CBP National Targeting Center-Cargo to
collaborate with CBP in developing targeting rules, sharing
data and information, and building support for coordination
of targeting efforts for commerce arriving in Mexico.

8. (SBU) Finally, CBP plans to share with Aduanas the
Passenger Name Record (PNR) program, to complement the
Advance Passenger Information System (APIS). The PNR will
increase the information and intelligence sharing and
targeting capabilities on both sides of the border and be a
significant move forward for real time information sharing.

Long Road Ahead

9. (SBU) In its evolution from revenue collection to law
enforcement, Aduanas faces many challenges internally and
from both sides of the border. The GOM is in the process of
transforming its Federal Police force and investigators.
Aduanas is often considered an afterthought when it comes to
funding or inclusion into GOM sponsored law enforcement
programs and training. Currently, not all Aduanas agents
carry firearms nor are they authorized to arrest suspects at
the border. Aduanas relies heavily on the Fiscales, which
fall under Aduanas but maintain a high degree of operational
autonomy. Before the August 15 wholesale replacement of the
Fiscales corps, corruption was rampant. Aduanas is taking
steps to train its new force to assume the duties of the
Fiscales, as well as clean up internal corruption. But
progress will be slow, and difficulties, such as accrediting
personnel on extended exchange visits to the U.S., hurt the
effort to build capabilities and establish relationships
between U.S. and GOM officials. These issues only highlight
a few barriers and only represent a cross-section of issues
confronting Aduanas at this time.

10. (SBU) Comment. CBP and Aduanas share the common goal
of strengthening an already established relationship. CBP
recognizes that the only way to improve security at the
border is to develop Aduanas into a robust, professional law
enforcement agency. SPP, BSP, and MI programs each add to
this effort, but funding for key initiatives must be
sustained if Aduanas's transformation is to be completed. End
Comment.

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /

FEELEY

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