Mounties to help Mexicans battle drug wars

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- The Mounties will play a role in Mexico's fight against violent drug cartels, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Sunday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/08/2009 (4798 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — The Mounties will play a role in Mexico’s fight against violent drug cartels, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Sunday.

He made the announcement as he arrived for a Three Amigos summit in a country sideswiped by war between rival gangs.

The RCMP will offer a variety of training programs to hundreds of Mexican federal police, ranging from rookie recruits to senior officers.

The program size is modest — just $400,000 from a $15-million-a-year fund created in the 2009 budget to fight crime in the Americas.

But the Harper government says it’s responding to specific demands from Mexico, and is prepared to do more.

“We’ve received these requests from Mexico,” said one government official. “This is sort of a first phase. We’ll continue to work with them to see what other requests we have.”

The gesture comes at a low point in Canada-Mexico relations, with Mexicans angered by new travel rules Canada imposed on them.

Harper was to discuss the pledge in a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon later Sunday. The two leaders then planned to have supper with U.S. President Barack Obama to kick off the two-day summit. The Mounties will offer tips on interviewing techniques for entry-level police; mid-level officers will learn about money-laundering, undercover tactics, and child exploitation; and senior officers will hear about crisis management, public relations and dealing with civilian leaders.

The announcement comes as Mexico conducts a major overhaul of its justice system, switching from an inquisitorial system dominated by paper submissions to an adversarial one like Canada’s, where the prosecution and defence square off in a courtroom.

The shift will force police to change the way they gather evidence and prepare for trials. It is designed to help police cope with an escalating drug war.

An estimated 6,000 people died last year in a conflict that has seen scores of civilians, police and civic leaders murdered by drug cartels.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced the move in a press release it distributed on the flight to Guadalajara.

The government is eager to move past a dispute that has soured the normally harmonious ties between the countries. Mexicans were incensed last month when Canada announced it would bar visitors from that country unless they had tourist visas. The move was seen as an insulting slight from a neighbour and major trading partner.

It has also caused anxiety among Mexican travellers — especially those outside Mexico City who worry about mailing their passport to the Canadian embassy and getting it back on time.

— The Canadian Press

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