Shared Responsibility: U.S.-Mexico Policy Options for Confronting Organized Crime

PR Newswire, 10/22/2010

A joint research project between the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute has concluded that binational efforts to stop organized crime and the exploding violence in Mexico have made positive advances but could fail to adequately address the challenge unless cooperation is significantly deepened and expanded.

“Leaders in the U.S. and Mexico have set the right tone by emphasizing greater cooperation in dealing with the scourge of organized crime, but cooperation has been slow to take root in the trenches.  Efforts to disrupt the flow of firearms and money laundering in the U.S. and to reform Mexico’s justice system are lagging way behind,” said Andrew Selee, Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. and a co-editor of the report.

David Shirk, Director of the Trans-Border Institute and a co-editor of the report, noted that “It is vital to have a serious conversation about drug policy in the United States.  Efforts to stem the demand for illegal narcotics have been timid at best, and this is what drives the drug trade.  We need to think out-of-the-box about how we address drug policy in this country and its impacts on Mexico and other countries in the region.”

“There is no magic bullet for stemming the tide of violence in Mexico or the demand for drugs in the United States that drives this,” emphasized Eric Olson, Senior Associate at the Wilson Center, and co-editor of the report. “We need a comprehensive approach that makes progress on several fronts at the same time – addressing addiction in the United States, building solid law enforcement and judicial institutions in Mexico, and encouraging law enforcement cooperation to disrupt the finances and operations of the traffickers. So far the rhetoric of cooperation far exceeds the reality of efforts on the ground.”

The findings are part of a year-long study of key binational security issues contained in a new publication that will be presented at the Woodrow Wilson Center on October 22nd from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. More details available at

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