Monday, November 7, 2011
U.S. has drug commandos throughout Central America, says New York Times
FAST teams work with "specially vetted units of local security forces that they train and mentor," says the Times. "Begun in 2005, the program now has five squads, each with 10 agents. Many are military veterans. The Pentagon has provided most of their training and equipment, and they routinely fly on military aircraft." The paper reports that FAST commandos have gone on at least 15 Central American missions. Arrests of criminal suspects are made by local law enforcement officials, since U.S. agents generally have no extra-territorial authority.
According to today's article, the U.S. government believes there is a clear connection between drug trafficking and international terrorism. But one expert quoted by the Times predicted that FAST will not be able to stop the narcotics trade in Central America, because most countries there lack "capable (governmental) institutions."
Mexico, which receives very significant financial and military equipment aid from the United States under the Mérida Initiative and similar bi-lateral agreements, has refused the commando squads, reports the Times.
More on the Mérida Initiative.
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