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March 25, 1998

S.J.Res. 42 - Disapproving the President's Certification that Mexico
Has Fully Cooperated with U.S. Anti-Drug Efforts

(Coverdell (R) GA and 3 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes S.J.Res. 42, which would disapprove the President's certification of Mexico as a cooperative partner in U.S. counternarcotics efforts. This resolution would be counterproductive to U.S. interests and would have negative consequences for U.S. counternarcotics cooperation with Mexico.

A decision to reverse the President's certification decision would send a strong signal of U.S. loss of confidence in the Mexican Government's efforts and lack of U.S. political will to cooperate meaningfully with Mexico. Mexico's assistance and cooperation is critical to the success of our own National Drug Strategy and to our ability to combat transnational crime.

On February 26, 1998, the President certified that Mexico and 21 other countries cooperated fully with the United States, or took adequate steps on their own to combat production and trafficking of illicit drugs and money laundering. The President's decision to certify Mexico's counternarcotics efforts was based on an objective review of Mexico's accomplishments across the full range of counternarcotics actions called for in the 1988 UN Drug Convention and in the "Declaration of the U.S.-Mexico Alliance Against Drugs" announced by Presidents Clinton and Zedillo in May 1997.

Mexican President Zedillo has demonstrated a firm determination to confront drug trafficking and organized crime, as well as to curb drug-related corruption. In 1997, Mexico took concrete steps to begin implementing important legal reforms passed in 1996, particularly the establishment of specialized units to investigate organized crime and money laundering. New screening procedures for law enforcement agents have increased professionalism and the level of trust and cooperation with U.S. agencies. In December, the Mexican Congress passed a comprehensive chemical control bill, which when reinforced by strong law enforcement actions and good cooperation with the United States and other countries, will help to stem the diversion of chemicals to illicit drug production. The interdiction of cocaine has also increased significantly. Mexico further reduced net production of heroin and marijuana through sustained pressure on cultivators, particularly through the Government's eradication program.

The United States and Mexico have continued to make progress in strengthening the relationships between our agencies. This cooperation has yielded practical results, including approval by the two governments of record numbers of extraditions in both directions. Mexico approved the extradition of five Mexican nationals sought on drug-related charges; while these individuals are resisting the extradition action in court, these cases constitute a major advance in cooperation in the return of fugitives. The Administration is working closely with Mexico, through formal fora such as the High-Level Contact Group on Narcotics Control, and through day-to-day cooperation at operational levels. Cooperation will be guided by the U.S.-Mexico Binational Drug Control Strategy, which was released in February of this year.