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Kempshall: U.S.-Mexico Counternarcotics Cooperation

Interviewee: Elizabeth Kempshall, Head, Drug Enforcement Administration, Arizona
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson
December 12, 2007

Mexico is the source of 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States. A new U.S. initiative proposes $1.4 billion to help the Mexican government combat organized crime. Yet there is already some collaboration between law enforcement agencies in the two countries. Elizabeth Kempshall, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Arizona, discusses her office's increased efforts to share intelligence with its Mexican counterpart. “We want to take out the entire organization,” she says, not just individual traffickers. She characterizes the relationship between her office and Mexican law enforcement as “much more robust” and says that intelligence sharing is “increasing every day.”

Corruption is endemic in the Mexican police and judiciary, which complicates any cooperation between U.S. and Mexican agencies. The Arizona DEA office works with its Mexico country office to determine who they should share information with, and what they should share. Kempshall declined to discuss the specific details of collaboration, but said that information is being shared in both directions, and called it an “incredible step forward.”

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