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Joint Statement Outlines Clear Path Toward Historic Northern Triangle Compact

Release Date: 
February 22, 2019

en español

On February 20, 2019, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen and Northern Triangle security ministers in San Salvador, El Salvador formalized the development of a “regional compact” and action plan aimed at addressing the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis of irregular migration and the formation of migrant caravans.

By pairing new initiatives with existing efforts, the Joint Statement seeks to address the “root causes” of irregular migration in order to address the challenges at their source, outlining a clear path toward a formal and first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Cooperation—or “regional compact”—between U.S. and Northern Triangle security ministries.  Secretary Nielsen called for such a “compact” last summer and hopes it will also include participation from Mexico. The final compact would cover four distinct areas of collaboration:

  • Combatting Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling
  • Countering Organized Crime and Gangs
  • Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing
  • Strengthening Border Security

Watch Secretary Nielsen’s Closing Remarks at the 4th Northern Triangle Security Ministers Meeting

Joint Statement

The Department of Homeland Security of the United States of America, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security of the Republic of El Salvador, the Ministry of Government of the Republic of Guatemala, and the Secretariat of Security of the Republic of Honduras (hereafter referred to as the "Participants") have a strong partnership, rooted in a joint commitment to achieve a stable Central America and to enhance the safety and security of our countries.

With the intent of strengthening the Participants' well-established relationship and restating their intentions to move forward jointly, this Joint Statement is set forth to inform negotiations on a Memorandum of Cooperation the Participants, including other interagency partners, intend to negotiate and sign on March 27, 2019. Additionally, the Participants intend to negotiate and sign an Action Plan that develops objectives, mechanisms, and the necessary programs for the implementation of each of the Memorandum of Cooperation's focus areas.

The Memorandum of Cooperation is expected to outline a mechanism for annual meetings at the executive and technical levels that pays attention to four focus areas: Combatting Human Trafficking/Migrant Smuggling, Countering Organized Crime and Gangs, Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing, and Strengthening Border Security.

Within these four focus areas, the intent is to emphasize the following initiatives in the Memorandum of Cooperation and Action Plan:

Combatting Human Trafficking/ Migrant Smuggling

The Participants intend the Memorandum of Cooperation and Action Plan to address their joint intention to build capacity in the region to detect, deter, and dismantle human trafficking and smuggling organizations, targeting their finances, logistics, communications platforms, and related criminal activity.

Initiatives and Programs

  • Expand operations to target human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Northern Triangle and the United States.
  • Increase the collection of biometric data of individuals who cross borders in the Northern Triangle countries without valid documents.
  • Develop criteria for the exchange of strategic information on high-risk migration flows, such as caravans, within each countries' legal frameworks.
  • Develop a program to analyze and identify fraudulent identity documents used by migrants to enter and transit El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  • Expand long and short-term messaging campaigns to directly refute messaging utilized by smuggling organizations to recruit migrants.

Countering Organized Crime and Gangs

The Participants intend to build law enforcement capacity in the Northern Triangle to combat transnational criminal organizations, and other crimes that drive violence in the region.

Initiatives and Programs

  • Develop and present a comprehensive proposal to harmonize the region's laws related to combating gangs, organized crime, and human trafficking and smuggling.
  • Increase the exchange of information related to transnational organized crime and the people who participate in and/or benefit from human smuggling.
  • Increase investigative focus on aviation, land, and maritime pathways used by transnational criminal organizations and gangs.

Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing

The Participants intend the Memorandum of Cooperation and Action Plan to address their joint intention to expand the use of consolidated shared communication platforms, using these systems to track criminals along with their networks and finances, and promote the production of advance information and targeting to better inform law enforcement operations and prevent potential threats from transiting the region unimpeded.

Initiatives and Programs

  • Consider establishing and developing an action protocol for the exchange of information through the Joint Border Intelligence Group (GCIF).
  • Align technology platforms to meet information sharing and operational needs.
  • Enhance the utilization of the GCIF as a regional model for information exchange.
  • Implement Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) systems with connectivity to U.S. databases in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  • Expand Joint Security Program (JSP) operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  • Pursue Foreign Electronic Cargo Data Exchange Program arrangements between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and the United States to improve analysis of cargo data and identify shipments that are high-risk for narcotics smuggling or other threats.

Strengthening Border Security

The Participants intend to improve the ability of the regional land and aviation agency security services to patrol and monitor borders, detect and respond to threats along borders, and secure ports, border regions between ports, and maritime spaces throughout the region.

Initiatives and Programs

  • Increase to the extent possible the number, training, oversight, and integration of border police units or of border security units in the Northern Triangle.
  • Improve the ability of border security units.
  • Complete and update border risk assessments.
  • Develop mechanisms to improve cross-border communications.

Signed at San Salvador, in duplicate, on February 20, 2019, in English and Spanish.

Last Published Date: February 25, 2019
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