CBP Canine Program Aids Government of Mexico
With the help of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Canine Program, the Government of Mexico now has one more weapon in its arsenal against the alarming wave of brutality that stems from the illegal drug trade. On Friday, Aug. 13, a group of 16 Mexican Customs canine teams that recently completed CBP-led training was recognized during a graduation ceremony at the Canine Center El Paso.
This was the last of three groups of canine teams to be trained by CBP. Under this training program, CBP was able to provide the Mexican government with 42 canine teams, five of which were certified as canine instructors, and an additional 8 dogs that will be paired with a handler and trained by the Mexican government. This capability allows the Mexican government to expand their program independent of CBP.
The canine graduation ceremony included a host of dignitaries to include CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, and Mexican Customs Administrator Juan Jose Bravo-Moises and other high ranking CBP and law enforcement officials.
Commissioner Bersin spoke in Spanish while offering his congratulations and words of encouragement to this latest group of program graduates.
"By sharing the skills and expertise we are on a new path of mutual respect and confidence," Bersin said. "This is a success story of the Merida initiative and it sends the right message."
In a joint effort to combat the threats of transnational narcotics trafficking and organized crime, the governments of the U.S., Mexico, and several Central American countries entered into a security partnership known as the "Merida Initiative." Through this collaborative endeavor, resources such as equipment, money, and training are being provided to assist in the battle against the illegal drug trade.
To support the Merida Initiative, CBP's Office of Training and Development and the CBP Canine Program agreed to provide the means to produce successful canine trainers and handler teams for the Mexican government. This plan would provide the Mexican government with additional assets at various Ports of Entry, specifically at locations along the United States and Mexico border. The canine trainers that successfully complete the course will afford the Mexican government a foundation of knowledge to independently establish and sustain an improved canine training course similar to that of the CBP Canine Program.
On Jan. 18 at the Canine Center El Paso, the first of three 11-week classes under the "Merida Initiative" began with Session I of the CBP-Mexico Aduanas Canine Training program. During the first six weeks of each session, trainer students from Mexico received a series of lectures and hands-on instruction in the principles and methodologies of canine training. During this initial training phase, several canines were trained to detect the odors of narcotics (heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana), currency, and firearms.
This combination is unique because it is not currently deployed within CBP. In this case, it is mission-specific to the Mexican government's needs. Once the canines were proficient in locating trained odors, the student handlers from Mexico arrived to receive five weeks of training with their new canine partners, while learning the basic fundamentals of canine detection work.
Although the training is physically demanding, the students are also required to meet the same academic standards set forth by the current CBP Canine Program and successfully complete a certification consisting of numerous searches with their assigned partner. At the end of each session, CBP Canine Instructors escorted the newly trained working dogs to Mexico City by way of a CBP P-3 aircraft operated by the Office of Air and Marine.
Several special guests and key-note speakers were in attendance at the graduation ceremony. These guests included:
- Alan Bersin, Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection
- Patricia Duffy, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Training and Development
- Mike Yaeger, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Congressional Affairs
- Charles Stallworth, Acting Assistant Commissioner, INA
- Clark Larson, Director, CBP Canine Program
- Juan Jose Bravo-Moises, Administrador General de Aduanas, Servicio de Administracion Tributaria
- Gustavo Rubio-Montiel, Administrador Central de Inspeccion Fiscal Aduanera
- Roberto Rodriguez-Hernandez, Consul General de Mexico
- Gil Kerlikowske, Director, National Drug Control Policy
- Silvestre Reyes, Member, U.S. House of Representatives