The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is now allowing Mexican police to orchestrate cross-border drug raids from inside the United States.
Under the new program, Mexican agents travel secretly to the U.S. where, with intel and support from the DEA, they launch so-called “boomerang missions” against suspected drug traffickers back across the border.
The operations are yet another indication of the deteriorating security situation in Mexico. By staging operations from the U.S., both governments hope to avoid the cartel corruption that continues to plague the Mexican military. The campaign also skirts around the strict limitations Mexico puts on U.S. agents operating in the country.
The missions are part of the Obama administration’s growing campaign to crack down on Mexico’s violent drug cartels. The Times reported earlier this month that the CIA and the DEA have set up a least one intelligence base inside Mexico, and the U.S. military has been deploying Predator drones over drug production facilities and trafficking routes across the border.
The ramped up campaign represents a major shift in the U.S. drug war strategy, away from the top-down approach used to break up Colombia’s drug cartels in the 1990s. In Mexico, that strategy has resulted in the fractionalization of the cartels, leading to turf wars that have exacerbated the violence.
The Obama administration is now moving its focus to emphasise breaking up Mexico’s transnational organised crime networks, which reach deep into the United States. The new intelligence-heavy strategy is more akin to the counterterrorism and counternarcotics operations used to break up Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant Islamic groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.