I've been critical of the Mérida Initiative, but the following is a more positive component. There is actually a grant competition to bolster the Mexican public defender system, which was extensively reformed in 2008. The idea is to get public defenders used to an accusatory system.
The goal of this project is to assist the IFDP make the administrative changes necessary for its altered responsibilities under an accusatory system, and to assist the IFDPs attorneys become effective in their roles in the reformed system. INLs support for IFDP and its responsibilities as an integral aspect of an accusatory criminal justice system will bolster accountability and public confidence in Mexico's federal criminal justice institutions. This program is intended as a three-year project with a funding ceiling of up to $6,000,000 (six million dollars) during the three-year period, pending funding availability. Up to $2,000,000 will be available for the first year, with the possibility of funding at similar levels on an annual basis for two more years. There is the possibility of continued funding beyond three years based upon performance and availability of funds.
This type of effort will likely pay greater benefits--and certainly more bang for the buck--than guns and helicopters.