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Merida Initiative Delivers Additional Helicopter for Counter Narcotics Efforts

Mexico City, December 20, 2010 – The United States Department of State announced today the delivery of a Bell 412 helicopter to the Government of Mexico’s Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA). The helicopter, valued at $11 million, marks the eighth and final Merida Initiative aircraft delivery to SEDENA and will complement SEDENA’s current air fleet by expanding operations, allowing for rapid response and increased mobility of SEDENA forces, increasing access to remote and hard to reach regions, and expanding interdiction operations to target illicit activities.

U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual said, “SEDENA is a key actor in confronting organized crime. This delivery affirms the commitment of the United States to support the important role of SEDENA to build an environment of security in Mexico. SEDENA’s capabilities give Mexico’s civil authorities time and space to strengthen the rule of law for all Mexicans.”

Under the Merida Initiative, the United States has delivered more than $343 million in equipment and training to date with plans to deliver an estimated additional $495 million in equipment and training by the end of 2011.

The Government of Mexico has committed tremendous resources to combating transnational criminal organizations, and the support delivered by the U.S. today under the Merida Initiative will serve to strengthen the shared goals of citizen safety, security, and respect for the rule of law.