Friday, January 23, 2009

Mexican Armed Forces Will Manage Merida Initiative Planes

The equipment required an investment of $99 million dollars

by Notimex
Translation and notes by Kristin Bricker

Mexico - The Mexican Armed Forces will receive and manage the aircraft that the United States will hand over during the second half of 2009 under the Merida Iniciative.

This second shipment is in addition to another that includes bullet-proof vests, x-ray and Gamma-ray machines[1] to search shipments on the borders, and it will begin to arrive in Mexico in the first four months of this year.

The aircraft that will be delivered "in autumn" will be equipped with non-invasive inspection equipment, which will be regularly used by the Armed Forces, according to the United States ambassador.

Said equipment will be bought with USD$99 million that come from a US Defense Department Defense Security Cooperation Agency fund.

According to the United States embassy in Mexico, the equipment "will provide additional capacity to Mexico's efforts to secure the national territory, both land and water, and detect drug, money, and weapons contraband."

The specifics of the planes that will be delivered to Mexico are confidential for national security reasons (Chapter IV, Article 27, and Articles 13, 14, and 15 of the Federal Transparency and Access to Public Information Law).

The first package signed by both governments last December in the "Letter of Agreement" includes transfers of equipment, technology, and training for USD$197,175,000 and will arrive in Mexico within the first four months of 2009.

That first package is funded by the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Cooperation Fund, which has USD$263,500,000 in funds.

The embassy as well as the Foreign Relations Secretary stated that the funding includes non-intrusive inspection equipment, computer equipment, and applied technology for data-processing and -sharing.

It also includes telecommunication devices, contraband-detection canines, and training programs.

Armored vehicles, bullet-proof vests, safety helmets, communications and equipment, and polygraphs for confidentiality control will also be sent.

The Integrated Ballistics Identification System[2], computer equipment to automate judicial processes, the National Police Registry (with municipal information-sharing), and passport and fingerprint scanners are also part of the shipment.

The non-invasive inspection equipment are "mobile inspection units" equipped with x-ray and gamma-ray equipment, "ion scanners capable of identifying explosives and narcotics," and equipment that "analyzes the molecular composition and measures objects' density."[3]

Instruments of this nature are used, for example, in the El Paso and Nuevo Laredo, Texas, Customs for trailers loaded with merchandise. The inspection is completed in a matter of minutes, whereas before it would have taken days to search each unit.

Translators' notes:

1. Gamma-ray machines are similar to x-ray machines. The are used to scan cargo containers, boxcars, and other large shipping containers.

2. According to Wikipedia, "IBIS [the Integrated Ballistics Identification System] has been adopted as the platform of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Program, which is spearheaded by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The integration of technology into over 200 sites across the US facilitates sharing of information between different law enforcement groups. The rapid dissemination of ballistics information, in turn, allows for tracking of gun-specific information and connection of a particular firearm to multiple crimes irrespective of geographic location." This is part of the ATF's Operation Gunrunner, which AFT agents will be deployed to Mexico to manage. The information-sharing bears the fingerprints of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which calls for North American security "cooperation" and information-sharing.

3. Narco News has documented repeated abuses of ion scanners in the US and Mexico. Ion scanners produce false positives in approximately 90% of cases because they confuse hand sanitizers, over-the-counter medications, perfumes, and melanin (which is abundantly present in people with dark skin) with contraband. They are meant to provide a quick scan to detect contraband. A negative result means that further inspection is not necessary. A positive result means that further inspection by other means is necessary and DOES NOT in and of itself prove the presence of contraband. Ion scanners are abused in the US prison system, where prison visitors are rejected based solely on positive ion scanner results. Narco News reported claims that ion scanners have been used to justify warrant-less neighborhood-wide military raids in Michoacan, Mexico.

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