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T-NSIAD-98-129, Mar. 18, 1998 (12 pages). Drug Control: Status of Counternarcotics Efforts in Mexico, by Benjamin F. Nelson, Director, International Relations and Trade Issues, before the National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice Subcommittee, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, and Senate International Narcotics Control Caucus. [Text]

Mexico remains a primary source of heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine and is the main route to transport cocaine to the United States. The Mexican government has taken steps that could lead to the extradition of drug criminals to the United States and has passed new laws on organized crime, money laundering, and chemical control. It has also instituted reforms in law enforcement agencies and has expanded the role of the military in counternarcotics activities to reduce corruption--the most significant obstacle to combating drug trafficking. It is too early, however, to determine the impact of these measures. No Mexican national has actually been surrendered to the United States on drug charges, new laws are not fully implemented, and building competent judicial and law enforcement institutions continues to be a major challenge. U.S. military assistance to Mexico, which has totaled $76 million since 1996, has been of limited effectiveness in combatting the drug problem, in part because U.S. helicopters sent to Mexico have lacked adequate spare parts and could not operate at altitudes where opium poppies are grown.