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US to Expand Training of Mexican Police to Fight Drug Cartels

Soldiers stand next to munitions, communications gear and a medieval style bascinet that were seized when a training camp was discovered after a firefight between Mexican army soldiers and gunmen in the woods near the town of Santa Gertrudis, Mexico. The Templar Knights, a new drug cartel that was created after it splintered from the La Familia cartel last March, has issued a code-of-conduct booklet for members saying it is fighting a war against tyranny and injustice. (AP Photo)

Soldiers stand next to munitions, communications gear and a medieval style bascinet that were seized when a training camp was discovered after a firefight between Mexican army soldiers and gunmen in the woods near the town of Santa Gertrudis, Mexico. The Templar Knights, a new drug cartel that was created after it splintered from the La Familia cartel last March, has issued a code-of-conduct booklet for members saying it is fighting a war against tyranny and injustice. (AP Photo)  (2011 AP)

Mexican police will be trained and equipped by counterparts in U.S. law enforcement as part of an expansion in the war against transnational drug cartels, federal officials said.

The focus will be on better preparing Mexican police officers at the state and local levels.

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 sheriff's deputies from Webb County, Texas, 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.

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Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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