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WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Mexican Attorney General Jorge Madrazo today signed a letter setting up a procedure to enhance cooperation in sensitive cross border law enforcement activities.

On June 8, 1998, Presidents Clinton and Zedillo, at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session for Drugs, endorsed the efforts of their respective Attorneys General to further strengthen the bilateral process for law enforcement consultation and collaboration. Today's letter, signed at a ceremony in Brownsville, Texas, reflects the actions they have taken.

The United States and Mexico share a common 2,000 mile land border, combine to form one of the largest trade partnerships in the world, and are intrinsically linked by culture, history, and geography. Recognizing this unique set of circumstances, the two Attorneys General, in their joint letter, acknowledged that "[o]ur two nations share a strong interest in cooperating against our common enemies, the drug traffickers, money launderers and other criminals and criminal organizations, and in developing coordinated means of investigating and prosecuting these criminals with due respect for each other's sovereignty."

To advance the common objectives of both countries, the Attorneys General are committed to:

Enhanced communications regarding sensitive cross border law enforcement activities, consistent with legal constraints and security concerns;

Prior consultations of significant domestic and third country law enforcement activities, where supportive and feasible; and,

Joint training among law enforcement agencies to foster a greater understanding of the legal system and law enforcement procedures in each country.

The commitments in the letter of the Attorneys General will build upon previous joint law enforcement successes attained by U.S. Mexico cooperative relations, including:

An unprecedented 11 Mexican nationals have been found extraditable by Mexico. These individuals are currently in the custody of Mexican authorities, awaiting the completion of their appeals process.

Twenty three fugitives were returned from Mexico to the U.S. last year based upon extradition and deportation mechanisms a record number of fugitives returned from Mexico. A similar number was returned from the U.S. to Mexico.

Last month, Mexico arrested two of the largest methamphetamine traffickers in the world, Luis and Jesus Amezcua. Although these individuals were initially arrested on Mexican charges (the drug charges were subsequently dismissed), the Amezcuas are now being held in Mexico pending the extradition proceedings on U.S. charges. A third brother, Adan Amezcua, was apprehended in Mexico, and the U.S. has provided the Mexican authorities with evidence to support money laundering charges in Mexico.

Mexico has sought the extradition of Emilio and Gabriel Valdez Mainero, and Alfredo Hodoyan, significant drug traffickers associated with the Tijuana based Arellano Felix Organization, and the U.S. has successfully obtained the judgment of extradition. They have not yet been surrendered because they must await the appellate process on the extraditions and serve their sentences in the U.S. The two governments have also shared substantial information to investigate, prosecute, and prepare effective extradition requests for these individuals.

The U.S. is currently seeking the extradition of Arturo "Kitti" Paez, a lead enforcer for the Arellano Felix Organization, and Mexico has declared him extraditable, pending the appellate (amparo) process.

The U.S. with the assistance and cooperation of Mexico through information sharing mechanisms is prosecuting the Logan Heights gang case in the San Diego area. The members of this street gang were used by the Arellano Felix Organization to commit murders and other violent acts on both sides of the border. Under the bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and Mexico's Organized Crime Law, Mexico has transferred cooperating witnesses from prison in Mexico to the U.S. to testify in U.S. criminal proceedings.

Reno and Madrazo, on November 13, 1997, signed a protocol to the existing Extradition Treaty authorizing the temporary surrender of persons for trial purposes and their return after prosecution to complete the sentence against them in the country of their initial conviction.

Bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico has established vetting and staffing procedures within Mexican law enforcement agencies which have increased confidence in the integrity of the system and proceedings in Mexico.

The U.S. and Mexico, in February 1998, issued the first ever Bi National Drug Strategy addressing issues of extradition, mutual legal assistance, information sharing, illicit diversion of precursor and essential chemicals, money laundering, and asset forfeiture.

"Today's letter builds upon the previous cooperative efforts and forges an enhanced law enforcement relationship between our two countries for the future," said Reno.

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