A joint research project between the Woodrow Wilson Center's Mexico Institute and the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute has concludes that binational efforts to stop organized crime and the exploding violence in Mexico have made positive advances but could fail to adequately address the challenge unless cooperation is significantly deepened and expanded.

"Leaders in the U.S. and Mexico have set the right tone by emphasizing greater cooperation in dealing with the scourge of organized crime, but cooperation has been slow to take root in the trenches. Efforts to disrupt the flow of firearms and money laundering in the U.S. and to reform Mexico's justice system are lagging way behind," said Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a co-editor of the report.

David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute and a co-editor of the report, said, "It is vital to have a serious conversation about drug policy in the United States. Efforts to stem the demand for illegal narcotics have been timid at best, and this is what drives the drug trade. We need to think out-of-the-box about how we address drug policy in this country and its impacts on Mexico and other countries in the region."

"There is no magic bullet for stemming the tide of violence in Mexico or the demand for drugs in the United States that drives this," said Eric Olson, Senior Associate at the Wilson Center, and co-editor of the report. "We need a comprehensive approach that makes progress on several fronts at the same time–addressing addiction in the United States, building solid law enforcement and judicial institutions in Mexico, and encouraging law enforcement cooperation to disrupt the finances and operations of the traffickers. So far the rhetoric of cooperation far exceeds the reality of efforts on the ground."

The findings are part of a year-long study of key binational security issues contained in a new publication that was presented at a book launch at the Woodrow Wilson Center on October 22. Copies of Shared Responsibility: U.S.-Mexico Policy Options for Confronting Organized Crime are available on the project's website at www.wilsoncenter.org/securitycooperation.

One section of the report analyzes the way drug trafficking networks are organized in Mexico, Central America, and the United States, and the strategies pursued by the governments to address these. The remaining chapters look in detail at policy options to deal with arms trafficking, money laundering, demand-reduction, police reform, judicial reform, military cooperation, intelligence sharing, and the protection of journalists.

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