POSTED: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 5:00pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 5:02pm
LAREDO, Texas — (AP) - Federal officials say the next phase in the joint U.S.-Mexico fight against transnational drug cartels will focus on training and equipping Mexican police at the state and local level.
William Brownfield, who is the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, said Wednesday that the latest step in the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative will allow Webb County sheriff's deputies to travel to Mexico or Central.
American countries to train law enforcement peers.
The agreement is a first for a local law enforcement agency on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Merida Initiative was launched in 2008.
Brownfield says it's clear that local forces face the most concentrated violence in the ongoing battle with cartels, especially in northern Mexico, and also are in the most need of training.