Country Report on Terrorism 2013 - Chapter 2 - Mexico

Overview: The Mexican government remained vigilant against domestic and international terrorist threats in 2013. There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, and there is no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory. The Government of Mexico continued to strengthen law enforcement institutions and to disrupt and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations responsible for much of the violence in Mexico.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Mexico’s Congress passed a political reform in 2013 that, among other goals, aims to create a more independent federal investigative and prosecutorial body by increasing the autonomy of the Office of the Attorney General (PGR) from the President. The legislation seeks to amend Mexico’s Constitution and would require the approval of a simple majority of Mexican states to be implemented.
There are weaknesses in Mexico’s capacity to proactively investigate and detect terrorism-related activities. Specialized units exist within the PGR that focus on organized crime and money laundering, but Mexican authorities could improve cooperation with other government entities, such as the Mexican Finance Secretariat’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF).
CBP has mechanisms in place, in Mexico City, to verify and validate travel documents at the request of the Mexican government. Mexico is expanding its capacity to collect and store biometric information. On December 18, 2013, Mexican Immigration (INM) launched the Trusted Traveler Program (“Viajero Confiable,” its Global Entry Program equivalent). This program will enable Mexico to develop a list of trusted travelers, allowing them to focus more on the passengers about which they know the least. CBP assisted Mexico with the vetting of “Viajero Confiable” members, and Mexico assisted the United States on the vetting of Mexican citizens who applied for Global Entry. Mexico’s capacity to collect and share passenger name record (PNR) information is expanding. Mexican Customs has asked for CBP assistance with U.S. airline carriers to ensure compliance with SAT PNR requirements.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Government of Mexico continue to strengthen passenger information sharing. In support of U.S. efforts to identify and interdict illegitimate travel and travelers, the U.S. government provided training to local, state, and federal officials, as well as to bank investigators, on how to detect fraudulent U.S. and Mexican identity and travel documents.
Mexico participated in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. The goals of the ATA program in Mexico are to build border security capabilities; to prevent terrorists or terrorist organizations from operating and establishing safe havens, whether physical or virtual; and to build critical infrastructure protection capabilities. The ATA partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement continues to coordinate protection of national leadership training and cyber infrastructure security training.
On May 30, 2013, Manssor Arbabsiar was sentenced in a federal court in New York City to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty for his role in a plot by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. The Government of Mexico assisted the United States in its investigation of Arbabsiar, which led to his arrest in September 2011.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Mexico is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an observer of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval), and a non-observer special status member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. In 2013, the Financial Intelligence Unit of the National Banking Commission (UIF/CNBV) was working to finalize a law that would allow Mexico to freeze, without delay, funds directly or indirectly tied to terrorist financing. In October 2012, Mexico’s President signed long-awaited anti-money laundering legislation into law; as a result, the Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Operations with Illicit Resources, which went into effect on July 17, 2013, targets “vulnerable” transactions or activities that could be exploited for money laundering and terrorist financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:
Regional and International Cooperation: Mexico continued to work with the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) to implement a joint counterterrorism work plan, which includes nonproliferation and weapons of mass destruction interdiction. OAS/CICTE collaborated closely with the Export Control and Related Border Security Program on this initiative, and in 2013, the Committee funded multiple CICTE workshops in Mexico City focused on building awareness and best practices. In May, Mexico hosted the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism plenary in Mexico City.