Carlos Rico, a visiting fellow for Latin American Affairs at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, has passed away.

Rico had recently joined the institute, and was doing research on U.S.-Mexico relations. As Mexico"s former undersecretary for North America, he played a key role in the development of the Merida Initiative, a partnership between the United States and Mexico and other Central American countries to help control drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime.

"Ambassador Rico"s expertise as a diplomat, scholar and public policy practitioner will be greatly missed," said institute founding director Ambassador Edward Djerejian. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family during this difficult time."

Rico was also a special adviser to the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston, and had held several other key diplomatic posts, including ambassador to Israel. His death was officially announced by Mexican President Felipe Calderón.