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U.S. law enforcement will train local and state police officers from Mexico as part of the next phase of the two countries’ joint fight against transnational drug cartels, a U.S. State Department official said Wednesday.

U.S. agencies have been training Mexican federal police on both sides of the border for several years. However, William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, said it is clear that local forces face the most concentrated violence, especially in northern Mexico, and are in the most need of training.

“If we do not address these problems cooperatively today, we will be addressing them on our own front doorsteps in five years,” Brownfield said.

Mexico received $327 million for police training in fiscal 2009 from the U.S. State Department through Merida, placing it behind only Afghanistan and Iraq in total funds received for police training from the departments of State or Defense, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office in April.

Source: Christopher Sherman for the Associated Press.

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