Overview: Counterterrorism cooperation between Mexico and the United States remained strong in 2020. There was no credible evidence indicating international terrorist groups established bases in Mexico, worked directly with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States in 2020. Still, the U.S. government remains vigilant against possible targeting of U.S. interests or persons in Mexico by those inspired by international terrorist groups. The U.S. southern border remains vulnerable to terrorist transit, but to date there have been no confirmed cases of a successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil by a terrorist who gained entry to the United States from Mexico.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Mexico in 2020. Still, many loosely organized violent anarchist groups continue to pose a domestic terror threat in Mexico. In particular, an active Mexican ecological violent extremist group called Individualistas Tendiendo a lo Salvaje, or Individuals Tending to the Wild, placed numerous rudimentary timed explosive devices in commercial centers in 2018 and 2019.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no changes to Mexico’s counterterrorism legislation in the past year. Still, a December reform to Mexico’s National Security Law regulating the interaction between Mexican officials and foreign agents could potentially slow information exchanges on law enforcement matters, including counterterrorism efforts. The government lacked adequate laws prohibiting material support to terrorists and relied on counterterrorism regimes in other countries to thwart potential threats. The Center for National Intelligence, housed within the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection, was the lead agency for detecting, deterring, and preventing terrorist threats in 2020. The Mexican Prosecutor General’s Office was the lead agency for investigating and prosecuting terrorism-related offenses. Impunity remained a problem, with extremely low rates of prosecution for all crimes.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Mexico is a member of FATF, as well as the GAFILAT, a FATF-style regional body. Mexico is also a cooperating and supporting nation of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and is an observer of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (or MONEYVAL), two FATF-style regional bodies. Its FIU, the Financial Intelligence Unit-Mexico (FIU-Mexico), is a member of the Egmont Group and proactively shared financial intelligence on shared threats with its U.S. Department of the Treasury counterpart, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (or FinCEN). There have been no significant updates since 2019. Mexico passed an asset forfeiture law in 2019, but to date Mexican prosecutors have not applied the stronger tools to seize assets of illicit origin in a terrorism case. The Mexican Congress worked on legislation granting the FIU-Mexico authority to place individuals on its domestic sanctions list (known as the Blocked Persons List) without a request from an international partner or judicial blocking order, but the legislation did not pass in 2020.
Countering Violent Extremism: There was no action in 2020 to establish official CVE policies, initiatives, or programs.
International and Regional Cooperation: On the occasion of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Mexico reiterated its commitment to combating terrorism amid a possible increase in terrorist recruitment and proliferation of violent extremist ideologies, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Mexico in 2020 participated in discussions aimed at promoting respect for human rights while countering terrorism.
Mexico is also a member of the OAS-CICTE. During the fall, the OAS-CICTE and Mexico partnered on a series of webinars on countering violent extremism.