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Cablegate: Mexico Country Terrorism Report 2009

DE RUEHME #0026/01 0061737
O 061737Z JAN 10




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF STATE 109980

1. No known international terrorist organizations have an
operational presence in Mexico and no terrorist incidents targeting
U.S. interests/personnel have occurred on or originated from Mexican
territory. Mexico continues to confront well-armed, organized
crime elements in several regions of the country and traditional hot
spots for narcotics trafficking have seen record levels of violence.
Small and weak anti-social groups perpetrated isolated acts of
vandalism with the intention of disrupting commercial stability and
raising awareness of their cause. Although no international
terrorist organizations have sought to use Mexico as a haven for
operations, the organized crime syndicates and the consequent
security problems on the border pose a vulnerability that could
allow for a future terrorist transit point into the U.S. The
Mexican Government remains a highly committed partner and shows no
sign of complacency in its fight against organized crime and remains
vigilant against domestic and international terrorist threats.

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2. Although incidents of domestic terrorism have not increased over
the past year, Mexico received threats from a previously active
group and witnessed the emergence of a new element. El Ejercito
Popular Revolucionario (EPR) dissolved talks with the Government of
Mexico in April and threatened to reemploy violent measures to force
a response to its demands for a government investigation into the
disappearance of two of its members. In 2007, it launched two
attacks on petroleum pipelines. In 2009, no acts of terrorism were
attributed to the EPR. From May to August, the animal liberation
front, ALF, claimed responsibility for attacking banks and
commercial sites throughout Mexico's capital city using propane tank
bombs. Three bombs were discovered unexploded, while another three
caused property damage but no casualties.

3. Levels of organized crime and narcotics violence rose
significantly in the traditional hot spots along the border and in
marijuana cultivation regions. Cartels increasingly use
military-style terrorist tactics to intimidate Mexican security
forces and establish dominance in specific regions. In June, the
Michoacan-based La Familia organization carried out a series of
retaliatory attacks that killed 12 federal police personnel in
response to the apprehension of a high-level drug trafficker. The
speed, precision, and tactics used by several groups indicated that
the actions were well coordinated and the perpetrators well trained.
The state of Chihuahua experienced an increase in
narcotics-related deaths as rival cartels used sophisticated
communications procedures and military weaponry to target and
assassinate rival cartel members. There is no apparent evidence of
ties between Mexican organized crime syndicates and international
terrorist groups. The violence attributed to organized crime groups
on the border, however, continues to strain Mexico's law enforcement
capacities creating potential vulnerabilities in terms of terrorist
exploitation seeking access to the U.S through Mexico.

4. Currently, there is no indication that terrorist organizations
are using Mexico as a conduit for illicit activities. Nevertheless,
Mexico's still nascent capacity to counter money laundering suggests
a potential vulnerability. The Mexican Attorney General's (PGR)
Organized Crime Division's (SIEDO) money laundering unit
investigates and prosecutes money laundering crimes in Mexico with
mixed results. The majority of its investigations are linked to
organized crime and drug proceeds. Currently, drug proceeds in
Mexico are laundered primarily in the form of bulk currency
movements or through currency exchange houses, such as casas de
cambio and smaller centros cambiarios. In order to combat the
illegal movement of funds, Mexican financial institutions typically
follow international standards such as "know your customer" and due
diligence advocated by the Financial Action Task Force (FAFT)
Recommendations. These institutions also terminate the accounts of
individuals and entities identified on international country lists
such as the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) Specially
Designated National and Blocked Persons List. Furthermore, Mexican
financial institutions follow the Ley de Institciones de Crdito,
Artculo 115, Disposicisn 68 y 41 (Law of Credit Institutions,
Article 115, Sub article 68 and 41) as ordered by the Mexican
Treasury and supervised by the CNBV or Comisisn Nacional Bancaria y
de Valores (National Bank and Securities Commission). This law
requires banks to consult recognized international and country lists
of individuals involved in terrorism or other illicit activities and
submit a "suspicious activities report" within 24 hours to the
Mexican Department of Treasury's Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF)
on the activities of any individual on that list.

5. The Government of Mexico has stepped up efforts to improve
interagency coordination as part of its campaign to combat crime and
prevent terrorism. It has created a national database known as
Plataforma Mexico designed to promote greater information exchange
and overall interoperability across Mexico's numerous and disparate
police entities. Tactical Intelligence Operations Units (UNITO)
represent a new Government of Mexico mechanism that brings together
all federal agencies in a given state to coordinate intelligence and

MEXICO 00000026 002 OF 002

operations. Command, control, communications, and computer centers
(also known as C-4 centers) located in several states vary in
capabilities from simple call centers to analytical cells that
produce analysis and support the development of operations. The
U.S. directly supports programs to help both the Secretariat for
Public Security (SSP) and the Attorney General's Office (PGR) train
federal investigators and facilitate greater operational
coordination and effectiveness.

6. The U.S. and the Government of Mexico worked together to address
a number of challenges in connection to Mexico's southern and
northern borders in 2009. The U.S. deployed two teams to Mexico's
southern border to conduct assessments. Its border with Guatemala
and Belize remains very porous and poses a vulnerability in terms of
serving as potential terrorist transit point. The U.S. is working
with the Government of Mexico to address resource requirements and
offer some best practices applied effectively at other ports of
entry. The U.S. and the Government of Mexico agreed to coordinate
actions at the northern border ports of entry in order to obstruct
the flow of illegal arms and currency across the U.S./Mexico border.
Pilot programs in Nogales and Eagle Pass are proving to be
successful by increasing the number of vehicles inspected while
lowering the wait time at the border crossing. The U.S. supported
the establishment of the Mexico Targeting Center, modeled after the
CBP National Targeting Center-Cargo (NTC-C) which should strengthen
Mexico's ability to target suspicious or illicit cargo entering or
leaving Mexico. The Advance Passenger Information system (APIS)
supports targeting efforts, increases information sharing, and
enhances intelligence capabilities in connection to efforts to
identify special interest aliens (SIA) at ports of entry. The U.S.
and the Government of Mexico also commenced the Joint Security
Program (JSP) for Travelers, a pilot program that promotes exchanges
of immigration officials as part of an effort to streamline the APIS
referral process, and seeks to identify and track suspected
terrorists, fugitives, or smugglers.

7. In June 2008, President Calderon signed into law a number of
security and justice reforms. The security reforms granted police
greater investigative authorities and facilitated the ability of law
enforcement officials to seize the assets of individuals implicated
in criminal activity. The justice reforms effected constitutional
changes that provide for a presumption of innocence in criminal and
civil prosecutions and allow for evidence-based oral trials
promoting greater transparency and more confidence in the judicial
system. The law provides for the identification of "control judges"
invested with the authority to issue expeditious warrants for
wiretaps or the arrest of targets of interest. Although these
measures are primarily aimed at organized crime groups, the
legislation also supports investigations against domestic or
international terrorists. The government has eight years to
implement the justice reform legislation adopted in 2008; to date,
implementation has been slow and uneven.

8. The U.S. and the Government of Mexico have worked closely to
implement a robust Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism Assistance
(ATA) program with associated funding levels expected to rise from
$503,000 in 2008 to $6 million in 2010. In 2009, ATA programs
provided training for 300 Mexican security officials in 18 courses
or seminars on matters ranging from VIP protection to digital
security and forensics.


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