The U.S. government is turning to elite units of Mexican marines to go after drug cartel bosses in aggressive “capture or kill” missions, providing intelligence and training to bolster what officials say is Mexico’s most trustworthy and nimble force.
The effort includes more direct information-sharing and training than previously known, according to diplomats and law enforcement officials, and reflects a sense of urgency on the part of the U.S. government to find a professional partner to combat drug violence in Mexico that is seen as posing a threat to American security.
The U.S. government has long been wary of corruption among Mexican police and frustrated by the slow response of the Mexican army. The decision to rely on the marines has enabled that force to carry out the kind of rapid-strike operations undertaken by U.S. forces against Taliban leaders Afghanistan.
Based in the U.S. Embassy and in consulates in conflict zones along the border such as Matamoros, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration deliver “intelligence packages” about the location of drug bosses to the Mexican marines, who then charge into action, often within hours, sometimes capturing, sometimes killing their quarry in spectacular urban firefights.