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Homeland Security

27 February 2003

U.S. Drug Czar Offers Overview of U.S. Drug Policy in Western Hemisphere

(Says 2003 will be "a pivotal year" for regional counter-drug
strategy) (6140)
The United States now has "an unprecedented opportunity in cooperation
with allied nations" to achieve "a long-term reduction in the supply
of illegal drugs" because leaders throughout the Western Hemisphere
"are acutely aware" that drug-funded terrorism "is the greatest threat
to national security and stability," says John Walters, director of
the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Testifying before Congress on February 27, Walters provided a succinct
overview of the illicit drug situation and U.S. counter-drug policy in
the hemisphere, with an emphasis on U.S. initiatives to reduce
domestic demand for illicit drugs and U.S. counter-drug assistance to
regional governments. The threat of illegal drugs to the United States
"remains high, although we have made some significant progress in
reducing the number of U.S. [drug] users, and there is encouraging
news from Colombia and Mexico, the two key drug-producing and -transit
countries in the hemisphere," he told legislators.
Walters cited Guatemala and Haiti as two nations that have "failed
demonstrably during the past year to meet their obligations under
international counternarcotics agreements," which would normally
result in both countries being decertified as cooperative partners in
the war on drugs. He noted, however, that President Bush has
determined that provision of U.S. assistance to Guatemala and Haiti in
fiscal year 2003 "is vital to the national interests of the United
States," and for this reason, both countries have been granted a
waiver in order to permit continued U.S. aid.
The United States, in conjunction with its regional partners, aims to
identify and exploit the vulnerabilities of the illicit drug trade,
Walters said. He explained that U.S. authorities work closely with
their counterparts in Colombia and elsewhere to eradicate coca fields,
interdict illegal drug shipments, and seize the assets of drug
kingpins, while also arresting key figures in illegal drug
organizations.
"Because nearly all U.S.-consumed cocaine is manufactured in or passes
through Colombia and virtually all of Colombia's heroin production
ends up in the U.S., we focus on it as a center of gravity for our
strategy to counter the cocaine industry," he said. In addition,
Walters observed that "the U.S. strategy for dealing with Colombian
heroin is focused on attacking the transportation and organizational
net -- interdicting the movement, logistical transshipment, and
funding of the product."
He also praised Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's determination to
confront the drug problem, and pointed to the growing success of joint
U.S.-Colombian counter-drug operations. "President Uribe implemented
organizational attack [on drug traffickers] with an unprecedented
amount of arrests and extraditions -- 26 since August 2002," Walters
said. "Many of the major trafficker cases have resulted in joint or
coordinated U.S.-Colombian investigations."
Countries bordering the United States are of great concern as well,
Walters indicated, particularly with regard to homeland-security
issues. Mexico, he suggested, is a case in point. "The United States
and Mexico have greatly improved their ability to cooperate against
drugs," he said. "The Mexican Attorney General's Office and the
military services are targeting the leadership of all major
drug-trafficking organizations, with the goal of disrupting their
production, transport, and sale of drugs. Last year, Mexican
authorities continued to achieve impressive results in arresting
leaders of major drug-trafficking organizations."
Moreover, "the Mexican Attorney General's Office and Mexican military
services continued efforts to strengthen their institutions and root
out corruption within their ranks," Walters reported. "President Fox
and members of his Cabinet unveiled an ambitious National Drug Control
Plan in early November that called upon Mexican society and
institutions to wage a frontal assault against all aspects of the drug
problem, including production, trafficking, and consumption."
Yet "despite these efforts, Mexico remains a major transit country for
cocaine entering the United States," he said. And "while Mexico
produces less than five percent of the world's opium poppy,
geographical proximity to the United States allows cultivators to
supply a disproportionately large share of the U.S. heroin market,"
Walters continued. "Today, after nearly two decades, Mexican
organizations have steadily consolidated their position and influence
in the U.S. illicit drug trade."
Although he conceded that Mexican and U.S. officials differ in their
approach to extradition and to evidence required for establishing
probable cause for indictment, Walters predicted that "better
coordination among Mexican federal entities involved in investigations
of money laundering and diversion of precursor and essential chemicals
[for producing illegal drugs] will help promote successful
prosecutions of criminals involved in these activities and serve as
deterrents to future use of Mexican territory for such crimes."
Canada, the other country bordering the United States, "is a primary
source of pseudoephedrine," Walters said. "There is an alarming
increase in the amount of pseudoephedrine diverted from Canadian
sources to clandestine drug laboratories in the United States, where
it is used to make methamphetamine." The chief difficulty, he argued,
is that "Canada, for the most part, has not regulated the sale and
distribution of precursor chemicals." U.S. law-enforcement authorities
"are also concerned with increasing amounts of high-potency marijuana
exported to the United States" from Canada, he said.
The countries of the Andean Ridge present unique challenges, as well.
Peru and Bolivia had achieved dramatic success in reducing coca
cultivation from 1995-2001, but, as Walters noted, "cultivation is
beginning to increase again" in both countries. "Although less than
two percent of the cocaine seized in the U.S. is identified as coming
from Peru and Bolivia, the resurgence of coca and the illegal groups,
including the Shining Path [terrorist organization] in Peru, are
threats to regional stability and cause for concern," he said.
While confirming that Ecuador "is still a major transit country for
illegal drugs, arms and precursors," Walters expressed optimism about
positive signals from newly-elected Ecuadoran President Lucio
Gutierrez. Gutierrez "has recognized the threat from drugs and has
pledged to help the U.S. counter trafficking through Ecuador," he
said. By contrast, Venezuela's situation is becoming worse, he
suggested. "Venezuela is another major transit country for illegal
drugs, allowing about 100 metric tons of cocaine to flow through its
borders en route to the U.S. or Europe," Walters said. "Its political
problems have created a haven for narco-terrorists to operate with
impunity."
In conclusion, Walters argued that the availability of illegal drugs
in the United States can be seriously reduced "by focusing efforts on
vulnerabilities of the drug-supply systems in Colombia and Mexico,"
while also assisting counter-drug measures in other regional
countries.
The year 2003 "promises to be a pivotal year for our strategy against
drugs, both in the consumption in the U.S. and the supply of drugs
from the Western Hemisphere," he told lawmakers. "It will also be
pivotal in how we are perceived by our friends in the region,
particularly the leadership in Colombia and Mexico that are making
politically difficult choices and suffering from difficult economic
conditions. We must continue to support them."
Following is the text of Walters' remarks, as prepared for delivery:
(begin text)
Testimony of John P. Walters
Director of National Drug Control Strategy
Before the House Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
"Overview of U.S. Policy Toward the Western Hemisphere"
February 27, 2003
Chairman Ballenger, Ranking Member Menendez, and distinguished
committee members, it is a pleasure to provide you an overview of the
threat drug trafficking poses to the Western Hemisphere and to discuss
the counter-narcotics efforts of the United States and our Western
Hemisphere partners. We will also review the certification process and
the deficiencies that led to the decertification of Guatemala and
Haiti. Thank you for your strong and steadfast support for the fight
against drugs, the social destruction they engender, and the terrorism
they subsidize.
We believe that this year we have an unprecedented opportunity in
cooperation with allied nations to cause a long-term reduction in the
supply of illegal drugs. Our optimism is based on the strong anti-drug
positions taken by the leadership of nearly all the countries in this
hemisphere. There is a clear realization throughout the hemisphere
that illegal drug production inevitably leads to poverty, corruption,
and violence; and that no country is better off with drugs than
without them. Perhaps more importantly, leaders in this hemisphere are
acutely aware that terrorism is the greatest current threat to
national security and stability. They also understand that drug
trafficking finances terror. Terror that is visited on poor Colombian
peasant families who, at gunpoint, have to give up their children to
join the narco-terrorist organization, the FARC. Children soldiers
impressed into service to produce poison to ship to our children. FARC
terrorists who last year at the town of BojayŠ killed more than 115
innocent civilians while fighting to wrest control of a drug-transit
corridor. The same terrorists from the FARC who recently ruthlessly
killed one American and took three others hostage in a
coca-cultivating area and drug-mobility corridor when their
observation aircraft crash-landed due to mechanical problems. It is
not just Colombia, but all the nations in this hemisphere, who face
the true threat that drug trafficking presents.
THE DRUG THREAT AND THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTER-DRUG OBJECTIVES
The threat of illegal drugs to the U.S. remains high, although we have
made some significant progress in reducing the number of U.S. users
and there is encouraging news from Colombia and Mexico, the two key
drug-producing and -transit countries in this hemisphere. The news is
not so good from Canada, where it has become necessary to take
stronger action to stem the flow of high-potency marijuana from there.
It was also not good in 2002 for two transit countries in the Western
Hemisphere, Guatemala and Haiti. The U.S. listed these two countries
as having failed demonstrably during the past year to meet their
obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.
The drug trade costs the U.S. over $160 billion annually in lost
productivity and damages, and is responsible for almost 20,000
drug-induced deaths a year. Aside from domestic consequences, the
illegal drug trade fuels violence, terrorism and corruption abroad.
Drug trafficking in this hemisphere contributes to the destabilization
of democratic governments and their economies. Drug production and
trafficking provides around $300-$500 million per year to illegal
armed groups in Colombia. These well-financed narco-terrorists pose a
threat to U.S. interests and stability in Colombia and the entire
Andean region.
The president's goals in addressing this threat are to reduce U.S.
drug consumption 10 percent by 2004 and 25 percent by 2007. Our
strategy is to achieve these goals through prevention, treatment, and
market disruption.
NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL STRATEGY
Demand Reduction
Reducing the demand for drugs, preventing our children from starting
drug use, and providing treatment to get current abusers off drugs are
critical to reach the president's goals. Our budgets for prevention
and treatment have risen significantly and now exceed what we spend on
international supply reduction. Prevention and treatment are critical
strategic pillars that are at the heart of solving the illegal drug
problem.
Recent data from the University of Michigan's "Monitoring the Future"
survey show the first significant downturn in youth drug use in nearly
a decade, with reduced drug use noted among 8th-, 10th-, and
12th-graders. Despite our substantial drug-prevention efforts, some
six million Americans meet the clinical criteria for needing drug
treatment. The overwhelming majority of these users fail to recognize
their need for treatment. Recognizing this problem, President Bush
announced his treatment initiative that requests $600 million over
three years to provide drug treatment to individuals otherwise unable
to obtain access to services. People in need of treatment will receive
an evidence-based assessment of their treatment need and will be
issued vouchers for appropriate services to be provided by an
organization referred by the state.
Market Disruption
Another key objective is to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the
United States and thereby make them less potent, less available, and
more expensive. We know that when drugs are less available, fewer
young people will begin using them. We approach supply reduction as a
problem in disrupting and destroying the drug production and delivery
system. Our plan is to identify and attack areas of vulnerability so
drug production is a high-risk enterprise for farmers, so major
criminals and transporters understand that they are likely to be
arrested and meaningfully punished, and so that losses from seizures
and increased costs for security, loading and unloading, bribery and
the other expenses of maintaining a criminal enterprise make it
unattractive to supply illegal drugs to U.S. consumers. The key
vulnerabilities of the cocaine industry are the cultivation phase
(coca eradication), elements of the transportation network (arrests,
extraditions, prosecutions, seizures, and forfeitures) and the major
trafficking organizations (arrests and seizures). The heroin and
marijuana industries have similar transit and organizational
vulnerabilities, but are less vulnerable than cocaine at the
cultivation phase. Synthetic drugs produced in this hemisphere by U.S.
and Mexican trafficking organizations, and precursors from Canada,
present a different set of challenges best addressed by law
enforcement and improved effectiveness in controlling precursor and
essential chemical distribution.
This strategy relies on high levels of cooperation from our allies in
the region where illegal drugs either originate, are processed, or
transit en route to markets in the U.S. Without their active support,
we could not effectively implement the policies and tactics to disrupt
the industry in those countries. The certification process is a way to
measure that cooperation.
CERTIFICATION: President Bush sent to Congress on January 31, 2003,
his annual report listing the major illicit drug-producing and
drug-transit countries (known as the "majors list"). In the same
report, he provided his determinations on which of these countries has
"failed demonstrably to make substantial efforts" during the previous
12 months to adhere to international counternarcotics agreements and
to take the counternarcotics measures specified in U.S. law.
This procedure is changed from prior years as a result of the passage
of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2002-2003
(P.L.107-228)(FRAA). Section 706 of the Act makes permanent the
"failed demonstrably" standard adopted last year for "majors list"
country certifications, and consolidates the identification of the
"majors list" countries with the certification process into a single
report. As in previous years, this year's certification determinations
required the president to consider each country's performance in areas
such as stemming illicit cultivation, extraditing drug traffickers,
and taking legal steps and law-enforcement measures to prevent and
punish public corruption that facilitates drug trafficking or impedes
prosecution of drug-related crimes. The president also had to consider
efforts taken by these countries to stop production and export of, and
reduce the domestic demand for, illegal drugs.
In his report, the president identified as major drug-transit or major
illicit drug-producing countries: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia,
Brazil, Burma, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador,
Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan,
Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The
president also reported to Congress his determinations that Burma,
Guatemala, and Haiti failed demonstrably, during the previous 12
months, to adhere to their obligations under international
counternarcotics agreements and to take the measures set forth in U.S.
law. The president determined, however, that provision of United
States assistance to Guatemala and Haiti in FY 2003 is vital to the
national interests of the United States. Therefore, under provisions
of the FRAA, these two countries will receive assistance,
notwithstanding their counternarcotics performance. The president did
not make this determination with respect to Burma.
ERADICATION: Aerial eradication of coca can be very effective in
attacking and disrupting the cocaine business. Once killed, a
replanted coca field takes 9-12 months to mature and provide its first
coca-leaf harvest. Moreover, coca is relatively expensive to replant.
Establishing a one-hectare (2.5-acre) field will cost between $1,300
and $2,200, depending on whether the field is replanted in an existing
field or if a new field is cleared from native rain forest. Once
mature, coca requires manual labor to pick it and tons of chemicals to
process it into coca base for shipment.
Poppy in the Western Hemisphere is cultivated in small fields, less
than 0.5 hectares where many locations may be unknown, and in rugged
high-mountain regions where weather prevents efficient aerial
eradication. The poppy plant is an annual that takes 4-6 months to
mature and can be replanted for about $5 worth of seed per hectare.
Thus, when a poppy field is eradicated, within days the glyphosate
eradication agent decomposes in the soil, and a new field can be
planted that will mature in a few months. Consequently, poppy fields
have to be eradicated many times annually to eliminate the crop
potential. Because of these difficulties, a significantly higher
investment of time, equipment, and personnel is required for aerial
eradication of poppy than for coca.
INTERDICTION: Illegal drugs are also vulnerable when being moved or
massed for shipment. Potential cocaine choke-points are the land and
air cross-Andean transport in Colombia, collection and transshipment
points in Colombia, and the Colombian coast where fast-boats depart.
ORGANIZATIONAL ATTACK: Another vulnerability of the drug industry is
its organization. Attacking the industry's leaders, their money and
their assets increases their costs, reduces their profits and
generally disrupts their operations.
REGIONAL ISSUES
GUATEMALA
Guatemala's overall counter-drug commitment deteriorated during 2002
and a heightened level of corruption impeded significant progress.
Guatemala remains a major drug-transit country for South American
cocaine and heroin en route to the United States and Europe, and in
2002, large shipments of drugs regularly moved through Guatemala by
air, road, and sea with very little law-enforcement intervention.
Cocaine seizures decreased by more than 40 percent and were far below
historic averages. The historic problems of widespread corruption,
acute lack of resources, poor leadership, and frequent personnel
turnover in law enforcement and other Government of Guatemala (GOG)
agencies continue to plague the GOG and negatively affect their
ability to deal with narco-trafficking and organized crime. The
National Civilian Police's Anti-Narcotics Operations Department (DOAN)
was eliminated due to frequent corruption scandals. Police stole twice
the quantity of drugs that they officially seized and they were
identified with drug-related extrajudicial executions of both
narco-traffickers and civilians.
The newly-created narcotics police (SAIA) has had some small successes
and has been very responsive to U.S. training and technical
assistance. The USG will work with the GOG on the professionalization
of the SAIA in order to enhance interdiction and eradication
operations. Particular emphasis will be on leadership, investigations,
and human-rights issues. There are also similar efforts to improve the
performance of the narcotics prosecutors and judges. Many of these
programs are regional in nature. The president provided a vital
national-interest certification to Guatemala because the suspension of
assistance to Guatemala would result in further deterioration of
precisely those Guatemalan institutions that are essential to
combating the influence of organized crime in Guatemala.
HAITI
The presidential determination listed nine specific counter-drug
actions that Haiti failed to take after being asked to do so by the
United States, among them introduction of anti-corruption legislation,
prosecution of drug-related public corruption, and enforcement of the
Haitian Central Bank's existing anti-money laundering guidelines. It
called Haiti "a significant transshipment point for drugs, primarily
cocaine, moving through the Caribbean from South America to the United
States." Haiti continued to have massive politicization of the
national police force, failed to commit additional resources to their
coast guard, and they did not increase the numbers of seizures and
arrests over those of prior years. In the case of Haiti as well, we
provided a vital national-interest waiver to enable assistance to
continue. This assistance is important in order to alleviate hunger,
increase access to education, combat environmental degradation, fight
the spread of HIV/AIDS and foster the development of civil society in
Haiti.
COLOMBIA
Because nearly all U.S.-consumed cocaine is manufactured in or passes
through Colombia and virtually all of Colombia's heroin production
ends up in the U.S., we focus on it as a center of gravity for our
strategy to counter the cocaine industry.
If Colombia sprays about 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of coca in
2003, it will be extremely difficult to motivate growers to continue
planting coca because so few of them will see any profit from their
efforts. Our strategy calls for returning to sprayed areas every six
to eight months to destroy any replanted crops before they can be
harvested. President Uribe is committed to coca eradication and has
demonstrated his desire to totally end the illegal drug industry in
Colombia. In fact, in the Putumayo department in southern Colombia,
after the massive spray campaign last year, we saw evidence that about
10 percent of the population had left the area because the coca
economy could no longer sustain it. However, to attain those spray
levels and maintain the necessary eradication pressure, it will be
necessary to position more spray assets in Colombia, perhaps 6-8 more.
The U.S. strategy for dealing with Colombian heroin is focused on
attacking the transportation and organizational net -- interdicting
the movement, logistical transshipment, and funding of the product.
The strategy's main elements are: increase intelligence collection of
the heroin traffickers and their transportation net; increase
Colombian National Police checkpoints on roads, Colombian Navy checks
on the rivers and Colombian military on international checkpoints;
expand drug-detection technology (x-ray machines) to all international
airports and seaports; and stand up a Heroin Task Force at the U.S.
Embassy in BogotŠ.
Aerial interdiction capacity in Colombia will increase dramatically
within the next few months as the Air Bridge Denial program goes back
into operation. Although most cocaine is now transported across the
Andes by land, we believe there is still a significant amount going by
air and that its interdiction will cause traffickers to take more
risks in seeking alternative routes than they presently do.
Maritime and littoral interdiction is promising because most cocaine
is shipped by fast-boat and then non-commercial maritime carrier. In
2002, the Colombian Navy seized the majority of the cocaine captured
in Colombia. DEA is working with the Coast Guard and the Colombian
National Police to stand up a substantial North Coast capacity by July
of this year. That should further improve results in 2003.
President Uribe implemented an organizational attack with an
unprecedented amount of arrests and extraditions -- 26 since August
2002. Many of the major trafficker cases have resulted in joint or
coordinated U.S.-Colombian investigations. The Department of Justice
(DOJ) is working with the Colombian authorities to increase the
conviction and forfeiture rates in maritime cases. President Uribe has
also reformed Colombia's asset-forfeiture laws, reducing the time from
seizure to final forfeiture of trafficker assets that can then be made
available to the government. Our programs are focused as well on DOJ's
efforts to strengthen the criminal justice system through ongoing
training and technical support to the prosecutors and police
investigators, and through the development of specialized task force
units of police, prosecutors, and technical support in Human Rights,
Anti-Corruption, Narcotics, and Money Laundering/Asset Forfeiture
areas. In addition, the Department of Justice's Criminal Division
established the Bilateral Case Initiative, supported by a new
enforcement group at DEA, the Bilateral Case Initiative Group, which
develops significant international narcotics and money-laundering
cases for prosecution in the United States. These investigations are
conducted almost entirely outside of the United States, rely on
evidence derived through foreign police agencies and U.S. law
enforcement agencies overseas, and typically involve extraterritorial
application of U.S. drug and maritime law. The aim is to dismantle the
large organizations which threaten U.S. security, either by supplying
vast amounts of controlled substances to domestic trafficking groups,
or because of terrorism concerns. For example, this group has led the
effort to file indictments against groups that use narcotics
trafficking to fund their terrorist objectives, like elements of the
Colombia-based FARC and AUC, both Designated Foreign Terrorist
Organizations.
With new authorities from the U.S. Congress, it should be possible to
improve the quality of the information we provide to the Government of
Colombia to better target the leadership and the resources of the drug
industry. Our strategy also involves continued training and support to
the Colombian military and the National Police so that they can
provide a security environment in which it is possible for Colombia's
social development and judicial programs to operate. President Uribe
is also streamlining and reforming the Colombian military so that it
is more effective and professional and capable of capturing
narco-terrorist leaders or otherwise disrupting the command level of
the illegal armed groups in Colombia. The recently reorganized CD
Brigade has greater reach and effectiveness. It is able to operate
throughout Colombia with an improved capability to attack the
drug-industry leadership.
MEXICO
The United States and Mexico have greatly improved their ability to
cooperate against drugs. The Mexican Attorney General's Office (PGR)
and the military services are targeting the leadership of all major
drug-trafficking organizations, with the goal of disrupting their
production, transport, and sale of drugs. Last year Mexican
authorities continued to achieve impressive results in arresting
leaders of major drug-trafficking organizations. Mexico's interdiction
efforts focused on maritime and air drug movement on both coasts as
traffickers responded with fewer flights into Mexico, and smaller
airborne load sizes. Maritime shipment continued to account for most
of the cocaine shipped to Mexico, but both the number of seizures and
the size of a typical seizure declined in 2002.
The Mexican Attorney General's Office (PGR) and Mexican military
services continued efforts to strengthen their institutions and root
out corruption within their ranks. The PGR's Federal Investigative
Agency (AFI) and the National Drug Planning Center (CENDRO) have
developed more investigators to collect and analyze information on
drug trafficking and other organized crimes. These investigators use
document exploitation software (RAID) provided by the U.S. National
Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) together with computer hardware and
software provided by the U.S. Embassy's Narcotics Affairs Section. The
PGR and the Mexican Army waged aggressive eradication campaigns
through aerial spraying and manual eradication, respectively, against
marijuana and poppy crops in Mexico. President Fox and members of his
Cabinet unveiled an ambitious National Drug Control Plan in early
November that called upon Mexican society and institutions to wage a
frontal assault against all aspects of the drug problem, including
production, trafficking, and consumption.
Despite these efforts, Mexico remains a major transit country for
cocaine entering the United States. Approximately 70 percent of
cocaine reaching the United States passes through Mexico and waters
off the Pacific and Gulf coasts. The eastern Pacific, in particular,
remains a preferred transit route for smuggling cocaine from South
America to Mexico for further movement into the United States.
Additionally, for U.S. markets, Mexican criminal groups are the
predominant distributors of cocaine, Mexico-produced methamphetamine,
marijuana, and heroin. Most of the cocaine and much of the heroin,
methamphetamine, and marijuana available in domestic markets is
smuggled into the United States by Mexican drug organizations and
criminal groups via Southwest Border ports of entry (POEs), primarily
at Calexico, San Ysidro, Laredo, and El Paso.
While Mexico produces less than five percent of the world's opium
poppy, geographical proximity to the United States allows cultivators
and processors to supply a disproportionately large share of the U.S.
heroin market. Although opium cultivation declined significantly in
Southern Mexico in 2002, we estimate Mexico has a production potential
of 11 metric tons of export quality (52% pure) black-tar heroin, most
or all of which goes to the United States. Marijuana grown in Mexico
provides a significant supplement to that grown by domestic
cultivators in the United States. Today, after nearly two decades,
Mexican organizations have steadily consolidated their position and
influence in the U.S. illicit drug trade.
U.S. drug-control programs in Mexico during FY 2003 are aimed at:
-- Assisting the GOM to dismantle drug cartels and disrupt drug
trafficking
-- Supporting the GOM's efforts to strengthen law-enforcement
institutions
-- Promoting anti-corruption reforms
We support Mexico's further strengthening of their federal
law-enforcement institutions, particularly the Special Investigative
Units and the tactical analysis capacity of the Federal Agency of
Investigations (AFI). Equally important is the transformation of the
Center for Drug Control (CENDRO) into an independent
intelligence-analysis organization under the Office of the Attorney
General.
Since the October 2001 ruling by the Mexican Supreme Court that a
person facing life imprisonment could not be extradited, extradition
has remained a thorny issue. Mexican Courts continue to deny
extraditions in high-profile cases or for technical reasons, but
increased attention to explaining discrepancies and closer
consultations have produced better understandings of the U.S. legal
system. Problems also remain over differences in the types of evidence
required to establish probable cause. Nonetheless, planned bilateral
meetings of prosecutors from both countries will help to expand mutual
understanding of the requirements of each other's justice systems and
promote greater sharing of evidence to help resolve this problem.
Better coordination among Mexican federal entities involved in
investigations of money laundering and diversion of precursor and
essential chemicals will help promote successful prosecutions of
criminals involved in these activities and serve as deterrents to
future use of Mexican territory for such crimes.
Neither the Mexican Defense Secretariat nor the PGR have sufficient
air assets to conduct interdiction, eradication, and reconnaissance
missions over the broad expanse of Mexican territory. As the GOM
develops and revises its interdiction plan to expand/enhance
operational capabilities to inspect vehicular traffic, pursue
suspicious aircraft and conduct reconnaissance missions, as well as
augment its capabilities to perform patrols along the border,
coordinate "end-game" activities, and transport quick response forces
to difficult-to-reach locations, we are coordinating with them to
determine how best to assist. Interdiction possibilities that merit
further exploration include establishing mobile check points, forward
placement of quick response forces, establishing non-intrusive
inspection capability at designated cross-border rail lines, and
providing mobile x-ray machines at high-volume airports.
Cooperation between the Mexican Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
resulting in drug seizures improved in 2002. However, the Mexican Navy
still lacks deep water and coastal CD patrol capacity. Remedying this
may be a long-term proposition. Therefore, we are currently working
with the Mexican Navy to provide training and share information.
President Fox approved the assignment of permanent Mexican liaison
officers at the Joint Interagency Task Force in Key West, Florida, and
the Domestic Interdiction Coordination Center in Riverside,
California. Additionally, in August 2002, the USCG and Mexican Navy
demonstrated for each other their respective drug interdiction methods
for stopping go-fast vessels. These cooperative efforts and the
conduct of joint post-seizure analysis activities produced positive
results during seizures in October and November 2002. The number and
effectiveness of these operations can be increased if the GOM
authorizes additional overflight and Remain Overnight (RON)/refueling
capability to Customs aircraft and agrees to enter into bilateral and
regional maritime agreements. In addition, recent maritime seizures in
the eastern Pacific clearly demonstrate the critical importance of
intelligence to identify limited targets in a vast ocean region.
DEA's Operation Knight Moves is an ambitious and important initiative
to improve human intelligence (HUMINT) that should result in more
successful and cost-effective interdiction and must be funded
appropriately.
CANADA  
Canada is a primary source of pseudoephedrine. Within the last five
years, imports of pseudoephedrine into Canada have gone from about 30
metric tons to approximately 175 metric tons. There is an alarming
increase in the amount of pseudoephedrine diverted from Canadian
sources to clandestine drug laboratories in the United States, where
it is used to make methamphetamine. Canada, for the most part, has not
regulated the sale and distribution of precursor chemicals.
The regulations to restrict the availability of pseudoephedrine, which
the Government of Canada has just promulgated, need to be stronger.
Canadians need to take a closer look at who is importing these
substances and take a closer look at the legitimate uses that might be
supported in terms of these importers. In particular, we want them to
look at the conditions for sale, conditions for importation, and to
make sure that they're legitimate users.
We are also concerned with increasing amounts of high-potency
marijuana exported to the United States. Hydroponic hot-house
operations in Canada produce high THC-level cannabis, but the RCMP
reports that Vietnamese groups may have mastered organic methods that
rival the more technical systems. Moreover, Canadian law-enforcement
officials have seized a few aeroponic installations, where the roots
are suspended in midair and sprayed regularly with a fine midst of
nutrient-enriched water. While there are no official production
statistics, the RCMP estimates that 800 tons of cannabis are produced
each year. Authorities destroy over one million plants annually.
ANDEAN RIDGE
Peru and Bolivia reduced the cultivation of coca from 115,000 hectares
to 34,000 hectares and 48,000 hectares to 14,000 hectares,
respectively, from 1995 to 2001. However, in both countries
cultivation is beginning to increase again. What is most troubling is
the politicization of the coca industry in both countries and the
inability of the governments to face up to the challenge from groups
pursuing an illegal agenda. Although less than two percent of the
cocaine seized in the U.S. is identified as coming from Peru and
Bolivia, the resurgence of coca and the illegal groups, including the
Shining Path in Peru, are threats to regional stability and cause for
concern.
Ecuador continues to hold the line against cultivation but is still a
major transit country for illegal drugs, arms and precursors.
Newly-elected President Gutierrez has recognized the threat from drugs
and has pledged to help the U.S. counter trafficking through Ecuador.
He has also promised to honor our treaty for the use of Manta for
counter-drug flights in the region.
Venezuela is another major transit country for illegal drugs, allowing
about 100 metric tons of cocaine to flow through its borders en route
to the U.S. or Europe. Its political problems have created a haven for
narco-terrorists to operate with impunity.
CONCLUSION
We have an opportunity to seriously reduce the availability of illegal
drugs in this country by focusing efforts on vulnerabilities of the
drug-supply systems in Colombia and Mexico.
The inauguration of President Uribe launched a new level of Colombian
commitment and dedication to eliminating illicit coca production and
the income it provides for terrorists and international criminals.
President Uribe has committed resources at an unprecedented level that
has enabled Colombia to eradicate 17,000-20,000 hectares of coca each
month, weather and spray capacity permitting. This rate and the
credible threat to continue it indefinitely has the potential to
convince growers that coca production is not worth the risk, to reduce
replanting rates, to make it possible to destroy existing large-scale
coca production and to force producers to more isolated, more
expensive, and smaller plots. That will significantly reduce the
amount of cocaine available in the U.S. and will deprive associated
terrorist organizations of income. To accomplish these objectives, we
must help Colombia achieve the security it needs, provide aerial spray
capacity, and help with training and intelligence for law-enforcement
and interdiction forces. Similarly, we have an opportunity to help
President Fox as he continues his progress in reforming counter-drug
institutions, moving directly against the leadership of major
drug-trafficking organizations, and focusing disruption of drug
transportation into and through Mexico. Success in these areas will
make a difference in the availability of drugs in the United States.
This year promises to be a pivotal year for our strategy against
drugs, both in the consumption in the U.S. and the supply of drugs
from the Western Hemisphere. It will also be pivotal in how we are
perceived by our friends in the region, particularly the leadership in
Colombia and Mexico that are making politically difficult choices and
suffering from difficult economic conditions. We must continue to
support them. We must also continue to fund those strategies that are
working and keep the pressure up on all fronts. We will continue to
assess our efforts and report our progress to the Congress.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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