Since July, 81 U.S. law enforcement officers have gone to Mexico on three-week shifts to teach basic police skills to their Mexican counterparts, reports USA Today. The program, part of a $1.4 billion U.S. aid package for Mexico, marks a major escalation in American involvement in the drug war there. It’s a first for Mexico, where the government has historically been reluctant to allow U.S. agents or troops on its soil because of animosity that dates to the 1846-48 Mexican-American War.
“This is really historic,” said Noe Sánchez, academic director at the academy. “We’ve never had this kind of international cooperation before.” The program focuses on investigative skills such as interviewing witnesses, collecting evidence and performing surveillance for Mexico’s newly created Federal Police. The federal force and the Mexican military have played a greater role in anti-drug efforts than local police forces, which are often plagued by corruption and insufficient training. The U.S. instructors speak Spanish; they come from an array of agencies including the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as city police departments.