U.S., Mexico May Place Armed Air Marshals on Cross-Border Flights

The United States and Mexico are looking into whether armed U.S. federal air marshals could be deployed on commercial cross-border flights, Reuters reports citing a document seen by Reuters and a Mexico official.

Since Donald Trump became President of the U.S., officials from both countries have said that Mexico has tried to improve cooperation with the United States. Mexico wants to convince Trump to take a softer stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA.

About 15 years ago, in 2003, Mexico agreed to place Mexican security agents on certain flights but emphasized that it would never allow U.S. officials on board its commercial airlines. However, according to the official Mexican document, officials from both countries agreed this month to study the convenience of negotiating an agreement for the deployment of Federal Air Marshals on commercial flights.

The Foreign Ministry of Mexico confirmed that the government is evaluating the potential benefits of the plan. According to the ministry, no agreement has yet been reached. Allowing U.S. officials to carry arms would be the hardest part of the negotiations. The reason for that is that the use of weapons by foreigners in Mexico is a sensitive issue.

In order to prevent militant attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security places sharp-shooters on domestic and international commercial flight to and from the U.S. According to the Mexican official, it is still not known whether the air marshals would fly on just U.S.-bound flights, Mexico-bound flights, or both. The official also said that the date when the agreement could be struck or come into effect is also not known.

The two countries have agreed to several other security measures to tackle transnational criminal organizations, the document reveals. Mexico and the United States plan to create a bilateral investigative body for probing international criminal groups, as well as to negotiate a maritime drug seizures treaty and use ships and radars for specific operations. There are also plans to deepen efforts to eradicate opium and marijuana plantations. Identification of specific transnational criminal organizations, mapping their business models in U.S. and Mexico and designing a joint operational strategy to combat them has also been agreed.

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