UNODC head urges Mexico to become "chokepoint" in regional drug trade

VIENNA, January 31 2007 (UNODC) - The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, today met with the Foreign Minister of Mexico, Patricia Espinosa-Cantellano, and expressed his Office's intention to increase its support for drug control and crime prevention in Central America and the Caribbean.

At a meeting with the Minister in Vienna, the UNODC Executive Director congratulated the Minister (previously Mexico's ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna) on her recent appointment and thanked her for her government's contribution to the budget of the UNODC office in Mexico City.

"Mexico faces significant challenges in combating drug trafficking. It is a transit country between major suppliers and major consumers of cocaine. I applaud the vigorous action taken by the new government to eradicate opium and cannabis and crack down on drug dealers. I urge Mexico to use its pivotal geo-strategic location to become a chokepoint in the regional drug trade," said Mr. Costa.

The UN drugs chief underlined his Office's active partnership with Mexico and its willingness to further expand technical assistance to help the Mexican authorities  tackle corruption, organized crime and human trafficking. 

Foreign Minister Espinosa-Cantellano observed that such assistance would be in line with the priorities of President Felipe Calderon who has pledged to reduce poverty and improve security, particularly through job creation, economic development and fighting crime.  

UNODC's work in Mexico in 2006 included supporting a government project, with strong private sector participation, on drug abuse and crime prevention, which was piloted in the state of Nuevo Leon, and helping to control the trade in precursor chemicals (used to make cocaine and heroin) between Mexico and Central American countries.

Mr. Costa briefed the Minister on UNODC's plans to focus greater attention on the relationship between drugs, crime and development in Central America and Caribbean, including the upcoming publication of two reports and a number of regional consultations.