Good morning and thank you for inviting me here today. It is a pleasure to be in the company of individuals contributing to the professionalization of security forces throughout Mexico. Thank you for your dedication.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Governor Jorge Aristoteles Sandoval, Fiscal General Luis Carlos Najera, the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI), and my Embassy colleagues on their efforts to bring this training to fruition. Your collaboration on this course benefits our entire region.
There are 120 participants in this week’s course, representing Mexico City, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Yucatan, and Jalisco. You will receive unique instruction and specialized training in explosive investigation techniques, ranging from biometric evidence collection to interrogation strategies. Upon return to your home states, you will help lay the foundations for many new post blast investigation training opportunities across Mexico.
The journey that brought us here today began in June 2014, when a quorum of Mexican police and military personnel and investigators voted to establish the first international chapter of IABTI. I understand that this IABTI Mexican chapter will be launched later this week, congratulations to everyone involved.
A Mexican chapter of IABTI will empower the Mexican government to establish the first Mexico-based bomb technician testing and certification process. In-country certification will allow Mexico to cultivate a cadre of accredited experts, and further develop its Training-The-Trainer strategy.
Over the past year, the IABTI has been working with the Government of Mexico to prepare international certifications for bomb technicians. Doing so will enhance the professional credentials of law enforcement personnel as they move toward the new accusatory system in 2016.
It is no coincidence that we have been brought together here today. Strengthened international cooperation between the U.S. Government and the Government of Mexico has helped to build law enforcement capacity for seven years through the Merida Initiative.
The United States and Mexico continue to address security issues through assistance under the Merida Initiative. The U.S. Congress has appropriated more than $2 billion to build capacity and expertise since 2008. Our efforts will help to restore and sustain confidence in law enforcement institutions and allow our communities to feel safer.
A key ingredient of the Merida Initiative is the fostering of law enforcement relationship building. The relationships we have developed—as evidenced by our presence today—are setting an example of what can be achieved.
The location for this week’s training is also no coincidence. Attorney General Najera is a graduate of a Merida Initiative course on Post Blast Investigations. Fiscal Najera is a certified bomb technician, who has risen through the ranks and understands the effectiveness of interagency collaborations and police professionalization. Attorney General Najera has been a great partner in professionalizing Mexico’s security forces.
A recent case here in Jalisco illustrates the importance of the professionalization of security forces. In September 2014 security operation involving cooperation between the Fiscalia General, PGR and ATF resulted in the detention of four suspects and the dismantling of clandestine weapon manufacturing workshops.
The workshops’ manufactured guns had been sold to organized criminal organizations based in Michoacán and the Cartel de Jalisco New Generation. The detained suspects are also reported to be linked to the kidnapping of a federal congressman.
This case evinces the state of Jalisco’s commitment to capacity building, collaboration, and the professionalization of its justice sector personnel. It is testament to the powerful result that can be achieved through both police professionalization and collaboration between law enforcement officials. Organized crime goes beyond national borders. So too should our collaboration.
The U.S. government is proud to partner with Jalisco and the Mexican government. We will continue to support Mexico in its efforts to improve security for all of our citizens. We will also continue to work together to respond to the evolving threats posed by transnational criminal organizations.
Stabilizing the security situation across our region is a core component of our bilateral relationship. It is also central to our shared strategy of making the Americas even more competitive and attractive for investors. The United States remains a committed partner in this effort.
In closing, I would like to encourage each of you to take full advantage of all that will be offered to you this week. You have the world class instructors and training exercises.
The equipment gathered here for your training represents the latest technology, including robotics and x-ray machines for detection. Each of you will have the opportunity to discuss best worldwide practices to safeguard against accidental detonations and safe handling of explosives in the field. Make full use of them.
Learn as much as you can, ask every question you can think of, and network with your counterparts from other states. Take full advantage of the opportunities presented to you this week.
I wish each of you the best of luck in your training and appreciate your efforts to keep our communities prosperous and secure.