White House prepares “Plan Mexico” drug war package

Mexican officials say the US has committed to giving their administration $1 billion over the next two years to fight drug trafficking. Carlos Rico, Mexico’s undersecretary for North American affairs, said the “Joint Strategy to Combat Organized Crime”—which would have to be approved by the US Congress—would be similar in scope to the multi-year, multi-billion-dollar Plan Colombia. US lawmakers say that President Bush is expected to call for an emergency appropriation to get the funding approved this fall. “We are going to have some hurdles in Congress,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX). “But at the end of the day, this will get done.” US Drug Czar John P. Walters also said an announcement is forthcoming, but the White House has not publicly released details.

Congressional aides said the money will go toward training and equipment, but there will be no US military presence in Mexico as there has been in Colombia. “They talk about Plan Colombia,” Rico said. “Here, we have the operational capacity to do it ourselves… This is not a ‘Plan Mexico.'” (Washington Post, Oct. 5) (Which of course really means, yes it’s a Plan Mexico.)

Meanwhile, the Mexican National Defense Secretariat announced that federal army troops in armored vehicles mounted with machine guns had a shoot-out with presumed narco-traffickers guarding a warehouse in the Gulf Coast city of Tampico Oct. 5. There were no casualties, but seven men were arrested and ten tons of cocaine confiscated. (Milenio, Oct. 5)

See our last post on Mexico and the narco wars.