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Homeland Security

1998 Congressional Hearings

Statement of
Donnie Marshall
Acting Deputy Administrator
Drug Enforcement Administration
before the 
House Government Reform and Oversight Committee
Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and
Criminal Justice
March 12, 1998
Mr. Chairman, Members of the subcommittee: I appreciate the
opportunity to appear today to discuss drug trafficking in South
America and the Caribbean. First, I would like to sincerely thank
you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of the subcommittee for your
continued support of DEA and its programs, both internationally
and on the homefront. You have continually showed your support by
traveling within the United States, South America, and the
Caribbean, to see first hand the devastation caused by the poison
that flows from the drug producing and transit regions to the
streets of our country.
The international drug syndicates operating throughout our
hemisphere are resourceful, adaptable and extremely powerful.
These syndicates have an unprecedented level of sophistication
and they are far more powerful and influential than any organized
crime enterprise preceding them. Traditional organized crime,
operating within the United States from the turn of the century
to the present, simply cannot compare to the Colombian and
Mexican organizations operating in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
Today's international crime syndicates have at their disposal an
arsenal of technology, weapons and allies -- corrupted law
enforcement and government officials -- enabling them to dominate
the illegal drug market in ways we never thought possible. These
modem day drug syndicate leaders oversee a multi-billion dollar
cocaine and heroin industry which affects every aspect of
American life.
The drug lords, in Colombia and Mexico, who mastermind trans-
global organizations, are responsible for all facets of the drug
trade, and are almost immune to conventional law enforcement
strategies. Any effective program must address the threat they
pose in a hemispheric approach. The drug traffickers' control the
drug trade from the jungles of South America, to the trans-
shipment corridors in the Caribbean and Central America, to the
streets of almost every city and town in America. Their army of
workers is responsible for logistical support -- transporting the
drugs, arranging for storage, renting a fleet of cars and using
cell phones and faxes to ensure the smooth operations of the
syndicates. All the business decisions regarding the shipment and
sale of drugs, as well as the laundering of proceeds, are made
from headquarters locations in South America, far away from our
city streets.
The South American Source Zone
The vast majority of the cocaine entering the United States
continues to come from the source countries of Colombia, Bolivia,
and Peru. Heroin produced in Colombia represented 52% of the
heroin seized in the United States last year. For nearly two
decades, crime groups from Colombia ruled the drug trade with an
iron fist, exponentially increasing their profit margins by
controlling the entire seamless continuum of the cocaine trade,
from coca leaf production in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia to
cocaine hydrochloride (HCI) production in processing centers in
Colombia, to the wholesale distribution of cocaine on the streets
of the United States.
Colombian traffickers continue to dominate the movement of
cocaine from the jungles of Bolivia and Peru to the large cocaine
HC1 conversion factories in Southern Colombia. An estimated 15%
of the world's coca leaf is grown in Colombia and the vast
majority of the cocaine base and cocaine HC1 is produced in
laboratories throughout Colombia. Many of these activities take
place in the southern rain forests and eastern lowlands of
Colombia. Most of the coca cultivation in Colombia occurs in the
Departments of Guaviare, Caqueta, and Putumayo. Also, cultivation
occurs in areas of high insurgency that are effectively beyond
the control of the Colombian Government. Cocaine conversion labs
range from small "'family" operations to large facilities,
employing dozens of workers. Once the cocaine HC1 is
manufactured, it is either shipped via maritime or aircraft to
traffickers in Mexico, or shipped through the Caribbean corridor,
including the Bahamian Island chain, to U.S. entry points in
Puerto Rico, Miami and New York City.
Colombian traffickers, due to increased law enforcement pressure
in South America and the Caribbean, were forced to turn to
experienced Mexican drug smugglers to move their products into
the United States. Initially, these Mexican organizations
received payment for their services in the form of cocaine,
rather than cash, exponentially increasing their profits. The
Mexican organizations now control virtually all cocaine sold in
the western half of the United States and, for the first time,
DEA is seeing a concerted effort on the part of the Mexican
traffickers to expand into the lucrative east coast markets.
The Increasing Significance of the Caribbean
The Colombian trafficking organizations, presence and influence
in the Caribbean are overwhelming. The Caribbean has long been a
favorite smuggling route used by the Cali and Medellin crime
groups to smuggle thousands of tons of cocaine to the United
States. During the late 1970's and the 1980's, drug lords from
Medellin and Cali, Colombia established a labyrinth of smuggling
routes throughout the central Caribbean, including Haiti, the
Dominican Republic and the Bahamian Island chain to South
Florida, using a variety of smuggling techniques to transfer
their cocaine to U. S. markets. Smuggling scenarios included
airdrops of 500-700 kilograms in the Bahamian Island chain and
off the coast of Puerto Rico, mid-ocean boat-to-boat transfers of
500 to 2,000 kilograms, and the commercial shipment of multi-tons
of cocaine through the port of Miami.
Our focus on the Cali organization's command and control
functions in the U.S. enabled us to build formidable cases
against the Cali leaders, which allowed our Colombian
counterparts to accomplish the almost unimaginable-- the arrest
and incarceration of the entire infrastructure of the most
powerful crime group in history. Although Miguel Rodriguez
Orejeula and his confederates continue to direct a portion of
their operations from prison they are no longer able to maintain
control over this once monolithic giant. Now, independent groups
of traffickers from the Northern Valle dal Cauca, and splinter
groups from the Cali syndicate have risen to prominence and are
responsible for huge volumes of cocaine and heroin being shipped
to the United States through the Caribbean. These groups who have
replaced the highly structured, centrally controlled business
operations of the Cali group, tend to be smaller and less
organized, however, they continue to rely on fear and violence to
expand and control their trafficking empires. The exponential
increase in the flow of cocaine and heroin through the region has
brought a new wave of drug abuse and attendant violence to the
tranquil Caribbean.
The threat we now face in the Caribbean is constantly changing.
Mexican trafficking groups normally charge Colombian traffickers
50% of each shipment to transport their product through Mexico to
the U.S. Meanwhile, Puerto Rican and Dominican groups offer the
same service for as low as 20%. Thus, many Colombian groups,
particularly those who have risen to power since the Cali
syndicate's fall, have returned to traditional smuggling routes
in the Caribbean. This has resulted in larger shipments of
cocaine transiting the Caribbean. Seizures of 500 to 2,000
kilograms of cocaine are now common in and around Puerto Rico and
the Dominican Republic. As an example, in October 1996, 6.5
metric tons of cocaine was seized from the freighter Limerick,
after Cuban officials searched the vessel at our request. The
cocaine from the freighter was destined to be off-loaded in the
Bahamas where it would be transported to the U.S. by "go-fast"
The following traffickers are among the most wealthy and powerful
criminals operating in Colombia today:
Jairo Ivan Urdinola Grajales and his brother Julio Fabio Urdinola
Grajales head a major drug trafficking organization associated
with the so-called Northern Valle del Cauca drug trafficking
The Henao Montoya brothers, Arcangel de Jesus and Jose Orlando,
run trafficking operations out of the Northern Valle del Cauca
region. The Henao Montoyas run the most powerful of the various
independent trafficking groups that comprise the North Valle drug
syndicate. The major North Valle drug syndicate organizations are
poised to become among the most powerful drug trafficking groups
in Colombia. The Henao, Montoya organization has been closely
linked to the paramilitary group run by Carlos Castano, a major
cocaine trafficker in his own right.
Diego Montoya Sanchez heads a North Valle trafficking
organization that transports cocaine base from Peru to Colombia
and produces multi-ton quantities of cocaine FICI for export to
the United States and Europe. DEA considers Montoya Sanchez to be
one of the most significant cocaine traffickers in Colombia
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are the United States I
southern most points of entry, and as such, provide an excellent
gateway for drugs destined for cities on the East Coast of the
United States. More importantly, Puerto Rico's commonwealth
status means that once a shipment of cocaine, whether smuggled by
maritime, air or commercial cargo, reaches Puerto Rico, it may
not be subjected to further United States Customs Service (USCS)
inspection en route to the continental U.S. Puerto Rico's 300-
mile coastline, the vast number of isolated cays and 6 million
square miles of open water between the U.S. and Colombia, make
the region difficult to patrol and make it ideal for land, sea
and air smuggling of drugs, weapons, illegal aliens and currency.
Puerto Rico is also a significant air and sea transportation port
in the Caribbean for travelers destined for the United States.
Puerto Rico has the third busiest seaport in North America and
the 14th busiest in the world. The traffickers' biggest asset is
the sheer volume of the commercial trade moving through the
region. More than 75 daily commercial flights arrive daily in the
United States from Puerto Rico. In January, 1998, the Caribbean
Division arrested two American Airline employees who were
employed at the Marin International Airport. DEA seized 200
kilograms of cocaine, $36,000 in U.S. currency and two loaded
Only 360 miles from Colombia's north coast and 80 miles from the
East Coast of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico is easily
reachable by twin engine aircraft hauling payloads of 500 to 700
kilograms of cocaine. The "go-fast" boats make their round trip
cocaine runs, to the southern coast of Puerto Rico, in less than
a day. Today, cocaine and heroin traffickers from Colombia have
transformed Puerto Rico into the largest staging area in the
Caribbean for smuggling Colombian cocaine and heroin into the
U.S. The rural areas in the central mountain range and the South
Coast provide the bases of operation for the command and control
functions of the Colombian syndicates.
DEA has identified the following organizations from Colombia that
have established a significant presence on the island of Puerto
Rico. The "cell" managers of these organizations coordinate and
monitor the flow of cocaine and heroin through the Caribbean
Corridor, with the final destination being the United States.
Transportation groups in Puerto Rico utilize a variety of methods
to move cocaine from Puerto Rico to the mainland. Smuggling
groups take advantage of the fact that cargo and baggage leaving
Puerto Rico for the United States is not subject to mandatory
USCS inspection. One frequently used method is to ship cocaine
via commercial aircraft, concealed either in cargo or personal
baggage. Baggage handlers easily load un-manifested cargo or
unaccompanied baggage onto aircraft, bound for Miami, New York,
and a variety of other destinations. The cargo is ultimately off-
loaded by complicit airline employees in destination cities.
Containerized cargo leaving Puerto Rico via commercial freighter
with sophisticated concealed compartments provides transportation
groups a method to move 500 to multi-thousand kilograms of
cocaine per shipment with relative low risk. Without specific
intelligence, the sheer volume of the commercial shipments and
freighter traffic makes interdiction extremely difficult. The
sophistication and compartmentalization of these groups lead law
enforcement to rely upon the interception of criminal
communications to provide critical information on specific drug
In previous testimony, DEA has identified Alberto Orlando-Gamboa,
Celeste Santana, and Angela Ayala-Martinez, as being major
trafficking groups operating throughout Puerto Rico. Through a
combined effort, DEA, FBI, and the USCS have successfully
targeted these networks.
Alberto Orlando-Gamboa, who is closely associated with the
Urdinola-Grajales family and other major Colombian North Coast
traffickers, controls his organization from Colombia and is
responsible for the distribution of thousands of kilograms of
cocaine in New York and New Jersey. Using multiple transportation
groups to smuggle cocaine into Puerto Rico and the Dominican
Republic, Orlandez-Gamboa conceals cocaine inside shipping
containers of fruits and vegetables being shipped to ports in the
United States. In March, 1997, principal members of this
organization were arrested. Over 600 kilograms of cocaine and $3
million in assets have been seized from Gamboa's cell managers in
Puerto Rico.
Celeste Santana for the last two years has controlled a
transportation group that uses a cadre of criminals employed at
the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico to
smuggle cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York. Members of
Santana's organization, employed as food service workers, baggage
handlers and maintenance workers, would transfer cocaine to
Santana's couriers boarding U.S. bound flights. This organization
has been responsible for transporting more than 3,000 kilograms
of cocaine to New York utilizing this method. In 1997, DEA
arrested seven members of this organization, and seized weapons
and $30,000 in U. S. currency. In addition, 51 kilograms of
cocaine were seized at the Marin International Airport in Puerto
Angela Ayala-Martinez runs what is widely considered the most
active poly-drug trafficking organization in Puerto Rico and
virtually controls the cocaine and heroin trafficking in the city
of Ponce. In May, 1997, the DEA Ponce Office, arrested 21 members
of this organization. Follow up investigation resulted in an
additional 44 members of this organization being indicted and
later arrested. This organization has been responsible for at
least 40 drug-related homicides and is considered one of the most
violent organizations operating in Puerto Rico.
The Role of the Dominican Republic
In the past, the Dominicans' role in illegal drug activity was
limited to being "pick up crews" and couriers who assisted the
Puerto Rican smugglers in their drug smuggling ventures. Much of
this has changed with the evolution of the drug trade over the
last three years. This new breed of Dominican trafficker
functions as smuggler, transporter, and wholesaler in many U.S.
cities on the East Coast. Smugglers from the Dominican Republic
have gained a notorious reputation for their disregard of human
life. They have been known to use a horrific diversionary tactic
of throwing illegal aliens overboard from a drug-carrying boat to
evade a pending U.S. Coast Guard boarding, knowing that the USCG
will halt their pursuit to rescue those thrown overboard.
Dominican transportation groups frequently utilize wooden hulled
boats with center consoles as their vessel of choice for
smuggling operations. These "yolas" are low profile which
enhances the traffickers' ability to thwart radar. These boats
have also been retrofitted with plastic fuel tanks in order to
extend their range. Boat crews rely on cellular telephone
communications rather than high frequency radios to further
enhance their security.
Trafficking groups continue to use "'go-fast" boats, fishing
vessels and pleasure craft to enhance their transportation
capabilities. The speed of the "go-fast" boats greatly assists
the traffickers in evading law enforcement. The other vessel
types are less attractive due to slow speed, although they do
have the advantage of easily concealing themselves among the
other legitimate vessel traffic in the region.
In the last year, criminals from the Dominican Republic have
emerged as the dominant force in the mid-level cocaine and heroin
trade on the East Coast of the U.S. Many new Colombian drug
syndicates have sought to pull back from the Cali syndicate's
traditional modus operandi of ruling a monolithic organization by
exercising complete control of the drug continuum: from the
cultivation and production to wholesale marketing of both heroin
and cocaine. Instead, they have chosen to franchise a significant
portion of their heroin and cocaine wholesale operations. The
Dominican trafficking groups, already firmly entrenched as low-
level cocaine and heroin wholesalers in the larger Northeastern
cities, were uniquely placed to assume a far more significant
role in this multi-billion dollar business.
Trust is the essential ingredient in forging a successful
business relationship in the drug underworld. It had already been
established between Dominican and Colombian traffickers through
relationships formed during hundreds of smuggling ventures in the
Caribbean and through their long established relationships in New
York, Newark, and Boston. Dominican groups are now a major force
all along the drug trade spectrum in major East Coast cities.
From Boston, Massachusetts to Charlotte, North Carolina, well
organized Dominican trafficking groups are controlling and
directing the sale of multi-hundred kilogram shipments of cocaine
and multi-kilogram quantities of heroin for the first time. Their
influence, however, has spread beyond the big city landscape into
the smaller cities and towns along the East Coast.
New England is overwhelmed with Dominican groups selling multiple
kilogram lots of cocaine and smaller amounts of heroin. For
example, DEA and the Hartford Connecticut Police Department
recently arrested 40 members of a Dominican trafficking group
responsible for the retail sale of thousands of heroin bags
brought into Hartford from New York City. In New Haven,
Connecticut, one Dominican trafficking group was responsible for
about 90% of all the heroin being sold in the area.
In Concord, New Hampshire, two investigations by DEA and state
and local agencies resulted in the arrest of 64 members of a
Dominican-controlled crack cocaine distribution organization.
These investigations revealed that one Dominican organization
moved to the remote area of Georgia, Vermont and established a
cocaine distribution network that had ties to another Dominican
organization in Syracuse, New York. Local departments throughout
the Northeast report that Dominican traffickers are moving into
towns of 60,000 to 70,000 people, inundating them with heroin and
cocaine. They are also participating in a variety of other crimes
ranging from robbery to muggings, virtually creating their own
crime wave.
This change is not unique to New England. The Philadelphia area
is saturated with Dominican traffickers looking to claim a larger
portion of that market, and the Washington-Baltimore area
routinely receives heroin shipments from New York - based
Dominican groups. In July, 1997, a group of Dominican traffickers
were arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, after an
investigation revealed they were transporting heroin from New
York City to supply guests at private rave parties in the
Charlotte area.
Haiti: Drug trafficking Crossroads of the Caribbean
Haiti is strategically located in the Central Caribbean,
occupying the Western half of the island of Hispaniola, which it
shares with the Dominican Republic. At 27,750 square kilometers,
the country is slightly larger than the state of Maryland. With
the Caribbean to the south, and the open Atlantic Ocean to the
north, Haiti is in an ideal position to facilitate the movement
of cocaine and heroin from Colombia to the U.S. The Port-Au-
Prince Country office in Haiti and the Santo Domingo Country
Office in the Dominican Republic represent DEA on the island of
Hispaniola. Just 80 miles from the East Coast of Hispaniola,
Puerto Rico is easily accessible by plane or boat.
The island of Hispaniola is just under 430 miles from Colombia's
most northern point, and easily accessible by twin engine
aircraft hauling payloads of 500 to 700 kilos of cocaine. While
smuggling drugs by sea is primarily accomplished by concealment
in commercial shipments, to Hispaniola, oceangoing " go-fast"
boats can make their cocaine runs to the Southern Coast of Haiti
and return, in less than a day. The two countries on the island,
Haiti and the Dominican Republic, share similar coastal features,
facilitating inter-island boat traffic.
As the case with the Dominican Republic, Haiti presents an ideal
location for staging and the transshipment of drugs. There is
effectively no border control between the two countries, allowing
essentially unimpeded traffic back and forth. The vast amount of
the South American drug traffic, which arrives in Haiti, is
transported across the porous border with the Dominican Republic,
and then on to Puerto Rico by Dominican transportation groups.
Once the heroin and cocaine reach the Dominican Republic,
Dominican groups take control over both smuggling the drugs into
the U.S. and carrying out an increasing percentage of wholesale
and some retail distribution along the East Coast. The Haitians
have made some significant seizures recently, however, to have a
maximum impact, it is critical that these seizures be used as the
linchpin to build cases against key Colombian and Haitian
traffickers. Once the DEA office in Port-au-Prince is fully
staffed, we will continue to work closely with the Haitian
National Police to build strong prosecutable cases against these
The easy access to the Dominican Republic, and the lack of an
effective legal system, has allowed Haiti to become a key link in
the transportation chain. Today, cocaine and heroin traffickers
from Colombia have enlisted the aid of traffickers and smugglers
from the Dominican Republic to deliver their product to market
and have placed an entire command and control infrastructure in
the Caribbean, including Haiti, to manage the movement of cocaine
throughout the Caribbean Corridor.
DEA has identified the following major Colombian organizations
that are based in Haiti. In addition, several Haitian "splinter"
groups with direct ties to Colombia, have also been identified.
Fernando Alfonso Burgos-Martinez, a Colombian national, is the
primary cocaine facilitator in Haiti. He controls an organization
that manages the movement of approximately 1,000 kilograms of
cocaine per month. Burgos-Martinez uses his "legitimate"
businesses in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as fronts to cover
his drug trafficking activities. Burgos-Martinez tied to North
Coast Colombian traffickers, was indicted on January 15, 1997, in
the Southern District of Florida, for cocaine trafficking.
Although several members of his organization have been arrested,
Burgos-Martinez has not yet been apprehended.
Beaudouin Ketant, a Haitian national, has organized a broad
transportation and distribution network that smuggles cocaine
into the United States, through Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm
Beach, New York, and Chicago, utilizing a cadre of couriers
travelling by commercial aircraft and vessel. To facilitate the
entry of drugs into the United States, Ketant's organization has
corrupted personnel at the Miami and JFK international airports.
Ketant then has the smuggling proceeds laundered through front
companies and repatriated back to Haiti. Ketant is also believed
to be linked to Burgos-Martinez.
Fritz Charles Saint Hubert (a.k.a. Mona St. Hubert), a Haitian
national, and his brother Ives Saint Hubert smuggle cocaine from
Haiti to the United States. Both have ties to Colombian
traffickers, including Burgos-Martinez.
The Lure of the Bahamas
The Bahamian Island chain, which lies Northwest of the island of
Hispaniola and just Northeast of Cuba, has been a center for
smuggling contraband for centuries. During the heyday of the
Medellin Cartel, Carlos Lehder bought an entire island, Norman's
Cay, where he flew planes laden with hundreds of kilos of cocaine
to stage for entry into the United States.
The Bahamas remains a central conduit for air and maritime
shipments of drugs moving through the Western and Central
Caribbean to the Southeast United States. Two recent maritime
operations, resulting in the seizure of 4.3 metric tons of
cocaine, are indicative of the Colombian drug lords' return to
the Caribbean. On February 20, 1998, the Honduran vessel Nicole
departed Barranquilla, Colombia en route to Turks and Caicos
Islands. DEA confirmed that this vessel was originally named the
Lucent Star and had been involved with the off-loading of multi-
thousand kilograms of cocaine, off the coast of Haiti, in 1997.
The subsequent search of the vessel uncovered approximately 3,700
kilograms of cocaine. DEA also developed intelligence that the
Panamanian vessel Sea Star II was suspected of smuggling multi-
thousand kilograms of cocaine. On February 28, 1998, this vessel
docked in Freeport, Grand Bahama. The search of the vessel
uncovered approximately 2000 kilograms of cocaine.
Transportation groups located in the Bahamas utilize a variety of
methods to move cocaine from the islands to the United States.
Colombian traffickers air drop shipments of cocaine off the coast
of Jamaica, or utilize boat to boat transfers on open seas.
Jamaican and Bahamian transportation groups then use Jamaican
canoes to smuggle their payloads into the Bahama chain,
frequently using the territorial waters of Cuba to shield their
movements. The cocaine is then transferred to pleasure craft
which disappear into the inter-island boat traffic. Traffickers
also use twin-engine turbo-prop aircraft, with long range
capability and Global Positioning Systems, which pinpoint drop
zones and meeting spots in the middle of the ocean. Cellular
telephones are used to minimize their exposure to interdiction
assets and ensure the smooth transfer of their cargo of cocaine
for shipment onto the United States.
DEA is very concerned about the new containerized shipping port
facility in Freeport, Bahamas, which will function as a freight-
forwarding point for commercial cargo being sent to various ports
in the United States and Europe. The containers are not to be
opened while in Freeport, however, this creates a situation ripe
for opportunistic smuggling organizations to exploit. Even more
disturbing are current plans to make Freeport a free zone, which
will allow cargo legitimately shipped through the port to be
opened and merchandise to be removed or added while in port.
Miami's port of entry, which handles hundreds of thousands of
tons of commercial cargo, both through Miami International
Airport and the seaport, is ideal for smuggling large shipments
of cocaine into the United States. Tramp freighters, by the
hundred, tour the Caribbean, going island to island, picking up
and dropping off cargo. It is relatively simple for captains,
with the inclination, to stop mid-ocean and take on hundreds of
kilograms of cocaine and conceal them in false compartments or
take on commercial cargo at ports of call with cocaine already
concealed inside.
Once the cocaine arrives in Miami, the Colombian traffickers have
a two decade old transportation infrastructure, who work at the
air and seaports, to facilitate the off-loading and warehousing
of cocaine shipments. These traffickers frequently provide
transportation via tractor trailer or private vehicle to
Colombian cell heads on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
To counter the threat in the Northern Caribbean, the United
States government initiated Operation Bahamas and Turks and
Caicos (OPBAT) in 1982. This joint interdication operation
comprised of Bahamian law enforcement, DEA, USCS, U.S. Coast
Guard and Department of Defense is headquartered in Nassau,
Bahamas. OPBAT has had enormous success over the years, seizing
thousands of kilograms of cocaine and literally driving the
transportation groups working for the Cali syndicate out of the
Northern Caribbean.
A Hemispheric Law Enforcement Response
Over time, law enforcement in the U.S. has been able to counter
organized crime effectively, by attacking the command and control
systems of the syndicates through the use of court approved
intercepts. Successful cases against the leaders of international
drug trafficking groups most often originate from investigations
being conducted in the United States. Through what was originally
designated our Southwest Border Initiative, but has become a
strategy employed throughout the hemisphere, DEA and our
counterparts direct their resources against the communications
systems of the command and control functions of the organized
crime groups in both the Caribbean and South America. DEA's
enforcement operations in these efforts rely heavily on court-
authorized electronic surveillance interception orders.
In response to the threat posed in the Caribbean, DEA has
enhanced the Caribbean Field Division by 25 Special Agents. In
fiscal year 1997, the Caribbean Division arrested 652 defendants,
initiated 124 criminal cases and documented over $13 million in
asset seizures. In July, 1997, to disrupt the flow of drug
traffic in the Caribbean, DEA initiated operation Summer Storm
and Operation Blue Skies. Both operations are coordinated with
Caribbean law enforcement personnel and target air, land, and
maritime smuggling networks. In April, 19981 Operation Frontier
Lance will focus investigative resources on air and maritime
smuggling throughout the Southern and Northern areas of
Hispaniola in order to reduce the flow of traffic through Haiti
and the Dominican Republic.
A successful counterdrug strategy must incorporate an
interdiction component that receives critical, actionable
intelligence which is necessary to be successful. The vastness of
the Caribbean Corridor combined with the traffickers, use of
sophisticated hidden compartments in freighters, along with the
sheer volume and variety of commercial cargo flowing through the
Caribbean, make a meaningful interdiction program almost
completely dependent on quality intelligence. Our hemispheric
strategy relies upon court-ordered electronic surveillance that
allows us to support interdiction agencies with quality
intelligence. Over time, this strategy impairs a criminal
organization's ability to conduct business, leaving it even more
vulnerable to law enforcement strategies.
DEA remains committed to our primary goal of targeting and
arresting the most significant drug traffickers operating in the
world today. In order to meet this goal, it is essential that we
have trustworthy and competent agencies in the Caribbean, Mexico,
Central and South America working side by side with us. With the
assistance of our state and local partners domestically and our
counterparts in foreign governments, DEA will continue to build
cases against, and ultimately incarcerate, the leaders of these
sophisticated criminal syndicates that continue to distribute
their poison throughout the world.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today, Mr. Chairman. I
will be happy to respond to any questions you or the members of
the Subcommittee may have.

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