A plan by the Mexican government to create a National Gendarmerie staffed with Army and Navy personnel to better assert law and order over violence-plagued parts of the country has whittled down to a plan to create a new division within the Federal Police in 2014.
The Coast Guard conducted a 2 week deployment of a small unmanned aerial vehicle onboard the National Security Cutter USCG Bertholf, logging more than 90 hours of flight time, the service announced earlier this month.
An annual report on drug trafficking and consumption warns that a maritime route for smuggling heroin from southwest Asia via East and West African ports may be gaining in prominence. Maritime smuggling "poses a particularly knotty challenge for the authorities," given the large quantities that transit across oceans in container ships and even small boats.
The Coast Guard has started a portfolio review of its capabilities compared to its missions in light of a shrinking budget, said the service's second in command before a June 26 House panel. The review, which is being conducted with the Office of Management and Budget and the Homeland Security Department, will establish "given levels of funding, what we will be able to do and what we will not be able to do," said Vice Commandant Vice Adm. John Currier.
Details of the plan remain limited, but a number of skeptics have emerged. Some have questioned how different the new force will be from simply using the military itself--they could just be "soldiers in grey uniforms who lack real police training," a March report (.pdf) from the International Crisis Group said.
The Obama administration has no objection in principle to a Mexican government policy change to centralize contact with the United States over counternarcotics efforts, but how to implement that change remains unresolved, a State Department official told a May 23 House panel.
The poll results come as new Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has shifted the emphasis of federal state anti-crime efforts to reducing street violence, an approach different than that of predecessor Felipe Calderón, who favored military-led confrontation with transnational criminal organizations. During Calderón's tenure, drug-cartel violence claimed more than an estimated 70,000 lives, although murders may have diminished somewhat in 2012 and this year.
Opium production and trade in Afghanistan is likely to grow after the United States and allied troops draw down the Afghanistan War, a report from the EastWest Institute says. But there is an opportunity for the United States and Russia to collaborate in support of counternarcotics efforts, which they share an interest in, the report says.
The White House's annual drug control strategy emphasizes efforts along the border to disrupt the drug trade but also the ability of traffickers to adapt to law enforcement measures. Cartels have found their way around law enforcement obstacles through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft and international mail, says the Office of National Drug Control Policy strategy (.pdf), released April 24.
Meth lab incidents have declined in states that banned over-the-counter pseudoephedrine, and a new Government Accountability Office report says the available information shows no major drawbacks for consumers and healthcare providers. Pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold and allergy medications, is a precursor chemical for methamphetamine production.