1996 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

Questions for the record from the September 12, 1996 joint hearing on interdiction before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, and the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

Chairman Coble’s Questions


2. Dr. Brown, former director of your office, stated that hardcore drug use is a "chronic, relapsing disorder" with a large percentage of users failing to respond to drug treatment.

  1. Do you think it is a wise use of Federal money to continue to provide treatment to hardcore drug abusers who continue to relapse time after time?
  2. Do you think treatment money could be better spent in other ways which are more effective in controlling drug abuse?


Drug addiction is indeed a chronic, relapsing disorder which can be treated effectively. The key to understanding drug treatment is recognizing that relapse often occurs just as it does for some other chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes. For example, data from the recent Treatment Episodes Data Set (TEDS) (National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services: Treatment Episode Data Set. Advance Report Number 12, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1997) indicate that:

Significant benefits accrue to society at the point of an addict’s entry into treatment; drug use, criminal activity, and infectious disease transmission are sharply reduced. For example, the National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study (NTIES) (SAMHSA, 1996) determined the persistent (i.e., 12-month follow up) effects of substance treatment on predominantly poor, inner-city populations as follows:

Preliminary data from another recently completed study complement the findings from TEDS and NTIES. NIDA recently held a briefing on findings from the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study (DATOS). DATOS studied approximately 10,000 clients from 99 treatment programs covering four treatment modalities: outpatient methadone treatment; long-term residential; outpatient drug-free; and short-term inpatient. Some of the key findings from DATOS include:

Recent research has shown that drug treatment is cost effective. In California the CALDATA study (Evaluating Recovery Services: The California Drug and Alcohol Treatment Assessment. National Opinion Research Center and Lewin-VHI, 1994) found that the substance abuse treatment returned approximately $7 for every $1 spent. In 1992, the cost of treating approximately 150,000 individuals was $200 million; the benefits received during treatment and in the first year afterward (e.g., reduced criminal activity, increased employment, reduced health care costs) totaled approximately $1.5 billion in savings. A 1994 study by RAND (Controlling Cocaine: Supply Versus Demand Programs. RAND 1994) found that drug treatment was 7 times as cost effective in reducing cocaine consumption as domestic law enforcement, 11 times as cost effective as interdiction, and 23 times as cost effective as source country control.

In summary, we believe that drug treatment for chronic hardcore users is a wise use of federal money and that money spent on treatment for chronic hardcore users is cost effective in controlling drug use and its consequences.


3.a. The Office of National Drug Control Policy Transit Zone Study illustrates that a $500 million increase in drug interdiction would result in disrupting 130 more tons of cocaine bound for the U.S. annually. This represents 43 percent of the 300 tons of cocaine annually consumed in our country. The study then concludes that this funding increase would be ineffective in controlling drug use.

Do you believe that such a large reduction in the cocaine supply, and the inevitable increase in the price of cocaine, would have no appreciable effect on cocaine consumption?


As the findings of the Transit Zone Study clearly state,

...The tonnage of cocaine that could be potentially affected by more resources in the transit zone is not substantial. The study estimates that 812 total metric tons moved in the transit zone in 1994. This level reflects cocaine destined both for the U.S. and other consuming nations. About 560 tons were successfully moved (i.e., not disrupted) in 1994. This estimate is reduced to 470 tons under the $200 million option and 430 tons under the $500 million option. Given that the U.S. cocaine consumption is less than 300 tons, the impact of the additional resources in the transit zone does not seem significant enough to affect U.S. drug use. And, under (the researcher’s) definition of a disruption, not all the tonnage affected by increased disruption in the transit zone would be lost to consumption. Some of the drugs stay in the pipeline for subsequent movement out of the source countries to one of the consuming nations.

Based on the study, it appears that the current drug strategy, with its emphasis on the controlled shift from the transit zone to source countries, remains viable. The impact of an increase of $500 million in interdiction would not be cost effective. The ultimate impact on the price of cocaine and cocaine consumption would not be worth the investment. Instead, investment in source country programs, prevention efforts, and drug treatment would be more cost effective, especially since other drugs can easily and cheaply replace cocaine, specifically methamphetamine.


3.b. Would not a $550 million increase in interdiction assets have additional benefits beyond the interdiction of cocaine, such as the interdiction of marijuana and heroin?


The Transit Zone Study discussed above focused specifically on cocaine flow, not the flow of heroin or marijuana. Intensified interdiction activity focusing on cocaine flow might, if properly supported by intelligence and analysis, have some effect on heroin shipped from Colombia since the source area is the same and some of the same routes and modes of transportation are used. But the bulk of the heroin and marijuana targeted for the U.S. are moved via methods that differ substantially. For example, heroin is most often transmitted via body carries and personal luggage. The interdiction improvements the transit zone study identifies, such as additional aircraft and ships in targeted zones, would have little or no impact on those drugs.


4.a. While the President cut your Office’s personnel by over 80 percent in 1993, he has recently approved a staff increase. How did the prior shortage of staff affect the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s efforts to reduce drug abuse?


When ONDCP staff were significantly reduced, the impact was great. Directing the policy for the United States’ coordinated response to the nation’s drug problem is enormously complex. Forty people was insufficient to coordinate the work of over 50 federal agencies responsible for implementing drug programs, to develop a strategy, and to meet the statutory responsibilities placed on the Office of National Drug Control Policy. While the few remaining professionals labored mightily, the centralized direction suffered as did the decentralized execution. In the end, there is no denying to some extent that quantity is a quality of its own. We expect that the National Drug Strategy will greatly benefit from the positive steps taken to rejuvenate the office, ONDCP intends to take advantage of this renewed trust to fulfill our duties and meet our responsibilities.


4.b. How much has your staff increased this year?


The staff has increased from the 44 employees on board in March 1996, to a current personnel strength of 119 positions.


4.c. Are the new positions permanent, or mostly temporary detailees from other parts of Federal government?


We are authorized 154 positions: 124 FTE and 30 military assignees. Currently, we have six FTEs occupied by temporary detailees from other parts of the Federal government, and 23 of the military assignees are in position.


4.d. Why did the President finally decide to increase your staff?


The President agreed to my request to seek supplemental appropriations from Congress to increase ONDCP’s staff to enable ONDCP to better implement its statutory responsibilities and revitalize our nation’s efforts to reduce drug use. We are grateful for the bi-partisan Congressional support.


5.a. Your transit zone study projects a long-term shift in the illicit drug transit mode of choice from aviation to maritime. Could you explain the reason for this change in transit modes?


As increased interdiction pressure is placed on one mode or route, traffickers respond by identifying and shifting to a mode or route where the probability of their success is perceived to be higher. The U.S. success in countering the air smuggling threat in the early 1990's and U.S. Southern Command’s superb successes against the Peru-Colombia air bridge is causing this shift from aviation to maritime. As the transportation mode shifts to maritime, targets become more numerous, harder to sort, tougher to monitor undetected, and especially hard to detect when hidden in bulk commercial cargo.


5.b. How does the Administration plan to address this expected shift in transportation modes?


Our strategy is to determine where the traffickers are most vulnerable, and apply coherent pressure. As U.S. emphasis is shifted, however, some level of deterrence must be maintained to keep traffickers from returning to previous methods. U.S. Southern Command has greatly improved intelligence, training, and operational support for source country maritime and riverine counterdrug operations. In addition, the movement of Headquarters Southern Command from Panama to Miami and the related Unified Command Plan (UCP) and National Interdiction Command and Control Plan (NICCP) changes will further enhance U.S. interagency and multi-lateral interdiction coordination and centralize DoD detection and monitoring responsibility for all of the north-south production areas and most major trafficking routes within the Western Hemisphere. This will strengthen our ability to detect changes in trafficker routes and methods and react accordingly.

Key to effective maritime interdiction is cued intelligence. Targets are more numerous, harder to sort, tougher to monitor undetected, and especially hard to detect when hidden in bulk commercial cargo. Good intelligence is not only key to tactical success, but also to determining the proper allocation of forces to respond to changes in trafficker routes and methods.

To meet this challenge in the eastern Caribbean the Customs service has begun Operation Gateway which features expanded maritime and air enforcement, heightened cargo examinations, and more frequent small vessel searches. The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting Operation Frontier Shield which is designed to detect and intercept maritime traffic along the approaches to Puerto Rico. JIATF-East is conducting operations to counter the go-fast boat threat in the western Caribbean, as well as coordinating with JIATF-West to conduct coordinated operations in the eastern Pacific to counter maritime smuggling in that region. The United States Interdiction Coordinator, Admiral Robert Kramek, is overseeing these and other interdiction operations to insure they are coordinated and make optimum use of our limited assets based on the current threat.

The State Department, in conjunction with the Coast Guard, is negotiating and implementing bilateral counternarcotics agreements with countries in the Caribbean Basin. These agreements assist the small nations of the Caribbean in protecting their sovereignty from the criminal smuggling organizations and help to deny maritime traffickers safe havens among the numerous independent countries in the region.

As a result of the President’s recent trip to Barbados and the Caribbean Summit, a comprehensive Plan of Action for enhancing justice and security in the region has been developed. ONDCP will be working closely with the Department of State and other departments and agencies to implement the numerous drug related initiatives included in the Caribbean Summit Action Plan: maritime interdiction training; increased operational capability; and information sharing.

The U.S. is also cooperating with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the European Union in implementing the Action Plan developed from last year’s regional meeting on Drug Control Cooperation in the Caribbean. The Action Plan includes proposals to develop regional coast guards similar to the Regional Security System currently operating in the East Caribbean and to develop a regional maritime agreement to support interdiction operational coordination among the Caribbean nations.


6.a. Dr. Brown also reported that the price of cocaine declined from 1988 to 1993. What has been the trend in the price of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana since 1992?


Generally, the prices for cocaine and heroin have been on a downward trend. The price for marijuana has varied more, first rising from 1992 through 1994, then dropping substantially in 1995 and into 1996.

The attached graphics illustrate the price changes for cocaine, heroin and marijuana for the period 1981 though 1996. They are based on an analysis of DEA’s STRIDE (System To Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence) program data. The data are analyzed for ONDCP by Abt, Inc. under the ONDCP research and data evaluation contract.


6.b. Did this decrease in price correspond to an increase in supply, as fundamental economic law would suggest?


All else being equal, a decrease in price can occur because of a drop in demand, or an increase in supply, or both. In the case of cocaine, the decline in price may reflect a softening of demand. Since the mid-1980s, the number of cocaine users has dropped by about 75 percent. The problem is that hardcore use has remained unchanged, and these users account for most of the cocaine consumed. Therefore, it is difficult to state with absolute certainty that the drop in price is due to a decrease in demand. On the supply side, total cocaine cultivation exceeds U.S. demand by a factor of three; the excess production is used to compensate for losses (e.g., seizures, eradication) and to satisfy demand in other markets (e.g., Europe). Changes in demand may best explain the observed change in price, but much more extensive analysis is needed.


7. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is required to certify the adequacy of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s level of counternarcotics effort. Can you explain why the Network’s spending on drug investigations fell from 80 percent of this Treasury Department agency’s budget to 50 percent of the agency’s budget over the last four years?


The overall level of effort devoted to drug control activities by FinCEN has not significantly changed in recent years. With ONDCP’s concurrence, each National Drug Control Agency formulates a methodology for reporting its drug budget. Initially, FinCEN budget staff assumed that 80 percent of the agency’s total budget would be a fair representation of their drug control efforts. After collecting some additional data and analyzing this question further, the FinCEN budget staff determined that 50 percent was a more accurate estimate. This difference represents a change in how the drug budget is actually analyzed. It does not indicate any change in program activity.


8. Once drugs are smuggled into the country, how successful are law enforcement officials in seizing them?


In the United States there is no comprehensive system similar to the crime data collection required for the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) or the National Crime Survey that statistically accounts for law enforcement drug seizures by state and local authorities.

Most data concerning drug seizures by state and local law enforcement agencies stem from arrests reported by the UCR. In the National Crime Survey, drug law violations are not counted as index crimes because such violations frequently involve the willful possession and distribution of drugs, and are less likely to emerge from survey data.

DEA and ONDCP are each assessing this matter with a view toward development of ways to aggregate seizure data on a state-by-state basis. Beyond the federal system there is limited measurement capability for collecting seizure data. Drug flow measurement in the U.S. is a key issue that ONDCP is addressing in the development of the new performance measurement system.


9.a. I have been informed that the use of heroin has been rising throughout the country. Can you discuss this alarming trend?


The U.S. heroin addict population is 600,000 and appears to be rising. There is a significant increase in new addicts, particularly among those who have been cocaine or crack users for years. In many ways, the cocaine problem has become a "gateway" to heroin, both for new abusers seeking to sustain their "high", and due to established cocaine distribution networks in the U.S. It is still true that most heroin users are older, long-term drug users, but our sources indicate that more teenagers, young adults, middle-aged, working class people and suburban residents are starting to use heroin. New users are of particular concern because heroin use spreads among friends and peers. There is continuing controversy about whether the U.S. is experiencing an upsurge in heroin use. Current indicators are sufficient cause for vigilance, but an analysis does not conclude that we are yet faced with a new epidemic.


9. b. What is the President’s new heroin strategy and has it been successful in reversing this trend?


The world’s supply of heroin is increasingly rapidly, much of it produced in areas where the U.S. has little access or influence. Also, heroin trafficking organizations are comparatively decentralized, diversified and difficult to work against both for intelligence collection and law enforcement operations. Reduction in domestic heroin use depends primarily on domestic prevention, treatment, and enforcement programs; however, international programs can provide important support to our domestic efforts.

Heroin abuse, trafficking, production, and associated money laundering is a world-wide threat. Our strategy is to engage and promote international cooperation that will unify threatened nations around the globe against the traffickers. In some Southeast Asian countries, particularly Thailand, our cooperative efforts have been successful in disrupting the heroin flow. However, we have much work to do to reverse the upward trend in global heroin supply. Over the long term, we must work with major producing countries to limit cultivation and production while continuing to attack criminal organizations involved in bringing the drug to the United States.

PDD #44 embodies our international heroin strategy and was released in November, 1995. Major tenants include:

Our primary strategy (as described above) is to engage and promote international cooperation that will unify threatened nations around the globe against heroin traffickers. Over the long-term, we must work with major producing countries, whenever possible without undermining other important U.S. interests of advancing democracy and human rights, to limit cultivation and production while continuing to attack criminal organizations involved in bringing this drug to the U.S. We must aggressively use the certification process to promote cooperation and focus on those countries that pose a direct threat to the U.S. Our heroin strategy relies largely on international cooperation and coordinated domestic law-enforcement efforts, drug treatment for chronic drug users, and prevention efforts aimed at new users.

An effective program of enforcement, education and treatment is one way to reverse the trend of heroin use. Heroin is not the behavior of the very young. Their more immediate problems are underage use of pot, alcohol, and tobacco. These are gateway behaviors -- behaviors that must be prevented or delayed, if we are to prevent adult addictive behavior with marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

ONDCP, in conjunction with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Education, have worked closely with Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) to develop and publicize the Partnership’s new anti-heroin campaign. Despite the best efforts of prevention and education, some young people do use drugs and move on to heroin. For them, treatment is essential to shrink the population of addicted chronic heroin users.

As a result of the Administration’s effort, today there are 852 approved maintenance and detoxification programs, 149 of which have been approved for LAAM (levo-alpha-acetylmethadol hydrochloride) as well as Methadone -- up from 700 programs in 1994.

Representative Clement’s questions


1. Why should we continue to provide money for counter-narcotics activities in the three principal source countries, plus Mexico, when they are unwilling to commit a fair share of their own resources?


Colombia, Peru, and Mexico expend significant resources of their own to fight illegal drugs. Peru has recently shown real progress in coca eradication. This is in addition to posting military and police elements in the coca producing regions in large measure to crack down on cocaine traffickers and large scale transporters. Colombia has heavily committed its military and national police to eradication and laboratory destruction efforts in territory that is frequently controlled by armed members of guerrilla or drug trafficking groups. Mexico holds the record for drug crop eradication which is largely accomplished by its military. Bolivia has also dedicated considerable military activity to programs to eradicate illegal coca.

We support counter-drug efforts in the three source countries and Mexico because it is in our interest to do so. Drugs pose a threat to all of the countries in this hemisphere, including the U.S. We must reduce the capacity of traffickers to make a profit while we reduce the demand for drugs, driven by the $49 billion the U.S. spends on illegal drugs. We must also reduce the capacity of traffickers to de-stabilize the source countries and Mexico, attack their economic systems, and increase health and social problems.


2. What can we do to ensure that counternarcotics are a top priority with the Mexican Government and to promote a closer cooperation with Mexico?


We believe that counterdrug efforts are a priority for Mexico. President Zedillo’s statement that drugs are the number one security threat faced by Mexico is a clear indication of the seriousness with which Mexico approaches counternarcotics, and Mexico’s actions over the past 12-18 months have reflected that seriousness. The well-publicized arrest of former INCD Director Gutierrez and removal of over 1,200 other officials underscores Zedillo’s determination to fight corruption. Drug crop reduction improved with eradication of 14,671 hectares of opium poppy and 22,769 hectares of cannabis. Police arrested 11,283 suspects on drug-related charges, including Juan Garcia Abrego, leader of the Gulf Cartel and one of the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted." Destruction of labs and runways increased throughout 1995. Seizures were also up: 23.8 mt of cocaine, 383 kg of heroin, 1015 mt of marijuana, 171.7 kg of methamphetamine, and 6.7 mt of ephedrine (methamphetamine precursor).

Promotion of closer counterdrug cooperation was the reason for establishing the US-Mexico High Level Contact Group on Narcotics Control (HLCG) in 1996. This group of cabinet-level officials of both governments met formally three times in 1996 and will meet three times in 1997. There is continuous communication between these meetings as well. The HLCG over the past 16 months has significantly advanced bilateral cooperation between the US and Mexico in controlling the abuse, production, shipment, and sale of illicit drugs, psychotropic substances, and other related crimes. The HLCG has improved not only technical-level cooperation, but has also improved the tenor of cooperation.

In early meetings, the HLCG determined that, given the apparent differences in national perspectives on the drug threat, the governments must first work to reach a common understanding of that threat. The HLCG accomplished this with the completion of the U.S. Mexico Bi National Drug Threat Assessment, which describes the threat posed to Mexico and the United States by drug trafficking and abuse, and provides an agreed upon set of facts for development of future cooperative efforts. This document was presented to President Zedillo and President Clinton during their May Summit in Mexico.

At that same meeting, the two presidents signed the Declaration of the Mexican-US Alliance Against Drugs. In it, the presidents instructed their governments to develop a common strategy and mutually reinforcing implementation plans to control drugs in a variety of specific ways. The Alliance calls for an integrated anti-drug approach which is broader than, but inclusive of, issues of particular concern as expressed by Members of Congress. The HLCG will be the coordinating mechanism for development of the Joint Counterdrug Strategy, to be completed by December 31, 1997.


3. Why was Colombia decertified this year, and what must Colombia do to be certified in [sic] 1997?


Colombia was decertified in 1996 due to corruption at the highest levels of government. Strong efforts at the tactical level in 1995 by the police, military, and prosecutors were undermined by a lack of political will to move forward on critical issues such as completing a maritime/ship boarding agreement; enacting laws strengthening money laundering statutes, lengthening prison sentences, and effecting asset forfeiture; increasing prison security; reinstating extradition of Colombian nationals; and attacking corruption. Additionally, cultivation of illicit crops increased by 3.2 percent despite eradication efforts, making Colombia the world’s second largest coca grower. Colombia remained the world’s leading producer and distributor of cocaine, and a major supplier marijuana. In 1995 Colombia surpassed Thailand to become the fifth largest producer of opium -- 65 metric tons.

The 1997 certification decision was based on Colombia’s overall counterdrug performance in 1996. We applaud the efforts of the police and military under the able leadership of General Serrano of the National Police and General Bedoya, Commander of the Armed Forces. Their joint operations, which began in April 1996, made tangible progress in damaging trafficker infrastructure through eradication and air, land, and riverine interdiction operations. These operations have allowed the government of Colombia to regain control over areas previously overrun by traffickers and narco-guerrillas, and are being expanded to other narco-infested areas. Nevertheless, the 32% increase in coca cultivation illustrates that the Samper Administration has not done enough to attack this ever-increasing illicit activity.

The police and military also participated in several major international operations that netted multi-ton cocaine seizures and the arrest of a major Cali trafficker. The government of Colombia finally came to terms with the United States government on a maritime/shipboarding agreement. Although it was not initialed until February 1, 1997, the majority of the work was accomplished in 1996. This agreement will facilitate counterdrug cooperation and interdiction at sea.

On the legislative front, progress was hard fought. The Colombian Congress passed an asset forfeiture bill in December, but only after tapes of the jailed traffickers talking with their lawyers on ways to bribe and/or intimidate members of Congress were made public. The bill containing key sentence enhancement and money laundering statutes was passed in March 1997. A bill was introduced to repeal the constitutional ban on extradition of Colombian nationals, but it was rendered useless by amendments and restrictions and withdrawn. The Samper Administration stated on various occasions that reinstating extradition was not a priority.

Results on the judicial front were disappointing. Major traffickers continued to receive exceedingly low sentences. The Rodriguez Orejuela brothers (Cali Mafia leaders) received sentences of only nine and ten years. The three Ochoa Vasquez brothers (from the Medellin Cartel) were all released in 1996, after serving an average of four years each. Prison security was lax in 1996 so traffickers continued to manage their business and influence government from behind bars, as the incident during the asset forfeiture bill debate illustrated.

Colombia did cooperate with the U.S. initiative to identify trafficker front companies and sanction those doing business with them. Additionally, the Colombian Banking Association implemented anti-money laundering regulations that were stricter than the law requires.

Prosecutor General Valdivieso continued to pursue cases alleging corruption against government officials up to and including President Samper. Several Members of Congress were jailed on corruption charges. The Minister of the Interior and the former Minister of Foreign Relations are currently under investigation, and the Attorney General was removed from office. Notably, the Colombian Congress exonerated President Samper in June 1996 of charges that he knowingly accepted Cali mafia money during the campaign, although the former Minister of Defense and Samper’s campaign treasurer are both currently serving jail terms for that same crime.

In 1998, the certification decision on Colombia will be based on progress in key areas: 1) the reinstatement of extradition of Colombian nationals; 2) the use of a safe, reasonably priced, granular herbicide for use in the eradication program to produce a reduction in illicit crop cultivation; 3) full implementation of the new laws on asset forfeiture, money laundering, and sentencing, and the agreement to suppress illicit traffic by sea; 4) increased security in the prisons to prevent traffickers from carrying out their operations from jail; and 5) bringing corrupt officials to justice.


4. What needs to be done to improve U.S.-Colombian counterdrug cooperation and coordination in light of decertification?


Decertification has not affected United States government commitment to support the people of Colombia who are working against the traffickers, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. We have continued our counterdrug programs and even achieved significant improvements in some areas. We persist in looking for ways to enhance cooperation.

The U.S. needs to ensure that support and cooperation continue with the entities with which we have a good working relationship, such as the police, military, and the prosecutors. In addition to continuing the tactical support to the police and military, the President also authorized a drawdown of $40 million in counterdrug equipment and training for the police and military. We should use a 614 waiver to free up the counterdrug-related Foreign Military Financing (FMF) that was frozen after decertification to ensure that the police and military have the tools they need to continue confronting the traffickers. Additionally, the U.S. should be ready to provide training and assistance to help the Colombians implement the new asset forfeiture law and maritime agreement, and to create more secure prisons.

The Colombians need to put forth actions to implement their rhetoric. The government of Colombia needs to go after trafficker assets aggressively, increase prison security, implement the penalties enhancement and anti-money laundering laws, approve the use of a granular herbicide to make the eradication program more effective, and vigorously prosecute corrupt officials. Amending the constitution to reinstate extradition of Colombian nationals is a key issue for the U.S.


5. What is being done in the Eastern Caribbean to counter narcotics trafficking with bilateral agreements and an international agreement on maritime counter drug enforcement practices?


We continue to work closely with our Caribbean neighbors in cooperative efforts to guard the approaches to Puerto Rico, deny traffickers safe havens in the region, and assist the nations of the region to reinforce their democratic institutions and ability to withstand the influence and corruption of international criminal trafficking organizations. We currently have bilateral counternarcotics agreements in place with 17 countries in or bordering the Caribbean. Negotiations with Jamaica and Barbados have recently been concluded and pend ratification by their parliaments. Negotiations are underway with additional countries for initial agreements as well as expanding agreements already in place.

As a result of the President’s recent trip to Barbados and the Caribbean Summit, a comprehensive Plan of Action for enhancing justice and security in the region has been developed. ONDCP will be working closely with the Department of State and other departments and agencies to implement the numerous drug related initiatives included in the Caribbean Summit Action Plan, including maritime interdiction training, increased operational capability, and information sharing.

We are also supporting the UNDCP Plan of Action for Drug Control Coordination and Cooperation in the Caribbean which was concluded in Barbados in May 1996. One of the initiatives in the action plan is to develop a regional maritime agreement that would include all Caribbean States, as well as France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and the U.S., to further enhance interdiction cooperation among the Caribbean states.


6. Just how bad is the corruption problem in Mexico? Is there any law enforcement institution in Mexico which you believe to be fundamentally sound, rather than fundamentally corrupt?


President Zedillo’s identification of drugs as the number one security threat faced by Mexico was in direct recognition of the danger posed to Mexican society by the violence and corruption associated with drug trafficking. Corruption in Mexico is widespread, and is discussed in the U.S- Mexico Bi National Drug Threat Assessment. The arrest of former Mexican Drug Czar General Gutierrez Rebollo demonstrated that the level of corruption is very high, but also demonstrated President Zedillo’s commitment to root out and punish corruption wherever it is found. Additionally, Goal 8 of the Declaration of the Mexican-US Alliance Against Drugs signed by Presidents Zedillo and Clinton pledges both countries to increase the abilities of democratic institutions to attack and root out the corrupting influence of drug trade. The Joint Strategy directed by the Presidents in the Alliance will address corruption issues.

As part of the effort to combat the pervasive effects of drug corruption, Mexico last year passed money laundering legislation in May and an Organized Crime Law in November. President Zedillo has also directed the reorganization of those elements of the Mexican justice system involved in counterdrugs, at least in part due to concerns about corruption. The new organizations within the Mexican justice system, the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Health and the Organized Crime Unit, are designed to be far cleaner and more focused than their predecessors. Individuals assigned to these units will be required to undergo a vetting process which will include background and financial investigations, and periodic polygraph and urinalysis tests.

We will continue to work at building a relationship of trust and cooperation with Mexican organizations involved in counterdrug activities which have contributed to the fight against trafficking-related violence and corruption. Over 300 police were murdered in Mexico last year, 43 military personnel died, and 122 were wounded or injured in counterdrug operations. We believe that there are units in these organizations which are fundamentally sound and can be trusted with sensitive information. The degree of trust depends on the relationship that we develop over time in an environment where we will carefully watch the utilization of U.S. assistance.


7. Why was Mexico certified this year? (i.e. 1996, based on performance in 1995)


President Clinton’s decision to certify Mexico as cooperating fully was based on an entire range of issues measuring cooperation in the totality of Mexico’s efforts. In 1996 U.S.-Mexican counterdrug cooperation improved dramatically with the formation of the High Level Contact Group, and Mexico made significant advances over prior years. President Zedillo took steps to enhance bilateral cooperation and root out corruption. The well-publicized arrest of former INCD Director Gutierrez and removal of over 1,200 other officials underscores Zedillo’s determination to fight corruption.

Drug crop reduction improved as a massive Mexican Army field presence resulted in the manual eradication of 14,671 hectares of opium poppy and 22,769 hectares of cannabis, the greatest increase in eradication of any country in the world. Police arrested 11,283 suspects on drug-related charges, including Juan Garcia Abrego, leader of the Gulf Cartel and one of the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted." Destruction of labs and runways increased over 1995. Seizures were also up, as Mexico seized 23.8 mt of cocaine, 383 kg of heroin, 1015 mt of marijuana, 171.7 kg of methamphetamine, and 6.7 mt of ephedrine.

New laws were passed to confront organized crime, money laundering, and chemical diversions. Mexico extradited Mexican citizens to the United States for the first time and has been cooperative in expanding the use of legal devices which will make it more difficult for fugitives to find safe haven by fleeing to or remaining in Mexico. Military-to-military cooperation is expanding, and combined air and naval interdiction efforts are more comprehensive.


8. How does [sic] President Samper’s political troubles impede our ability to work with Colombia against narcotics?


The political scandal in Colombia has not affected United States government commitment to directly support the people there, especially in the police, military, and Prosecutor General’s Office, who are working against the traffickers, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. The U.S. has continued its counterdrug programs and even achieved significant improvements in some areas.

The USG has stated unequivocally that Colombia’s democratic institutions should be respected and preserved. This scandal and subsequent events involving the Colombian Congress have brought to light the enormous power and corrupting influence of the criminal drug organizations. We see the increased public scrutiny of and participation in these matters as healthy developments.

Nevertheless, the fact that $6 million in Cali Mafia donations entered the Samper presidential campaign does put a strain on U.S.-Colombia bilateral relations. The USG tries to maintain the delicate balance of providing support to the honest people fighting the traffickers and the democratic institutions of Colombia without seeming to "normalize" relations with a government that has yet to deal with serious problems of corruption. We must maintain the pressure on the Government of Colombia to root out corruption at all levels of the government.


9. What is the Administration’s Policy on Certification? What were this year’s results?


In accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA §490(b)(1)(A)) the President’s certification determination depends in part on whether a country has cooperated fully with the United States, or taken adequate steps on its own. The Administration’s policy is that stringent standards should be used in making the certification determinations. Of the major drug producing or transit countries which are reviewed for certification, the following 23 were certified in 1997 because they cooperated fully with the United States or took steps on their own to achieve full compliance with the goals and objectives of the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances: Aruba, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The following were certified because the President determined it was in the vital national interests of the United States to do so: Belize, Lebanon, and Pakistan. The following were not certified: Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Iran, Nigeria, and Syria.


10. Why was Bolivia certified this year? (1996)


Bolivia made substantial progress in 1995 and 1996 towards meeting its obligations under the 1988 UN Convention. Under the Sanchez de Lozada Administration, and due largely to his personal honesty and integrity, some 7,500 hectares of coca were eradicated last year, the second highest level ever. Additionally, the government began an effort to address corruption within the element of the national police force that is dedicated to counternarcotics, and launched an unprecedented campaign to destroy newly planted coca and seed beds.

On November 21, 1996, an extradition treaty, with specific counternarcotics applications, was signed by Bolivia and the U.S. The government enacted a decree on asset seizure, and law enforcement forces dismantled several major trafficking organizations.


11. What is the status of security in Colombian jails?


Currently, the security in Colombian jails is inadequate, though it has improved since the Colombian National Police were given jurisdiction over the maximum security pavilions. Jailed traffickers had been allowed unlimited and unmonitored visitors, mail, and phone calls which allowed them to continue to manage their enterprises from behind bars. The police have restricted access to the jailed kingpins and have stepped up surprise inspections of their cell blocks. Representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons visited Bogota early in March 1997 to advise the Government of Colombia on ways to enhance prison security; some of their recommendations have already been implemented. Colombia plans to build a maximum security prison; construction is currently scheduled to begin in June, 1997.


12. Do you support transfer of excess DoD UH-1H helicopters to Mexico and what is the status of this transfer?


ONDCP does support the transfer of excess DoD helicopters to Mexico and worked closely with State Department and DoD to facilitate this cooperation. A total of 73 helicopters are authorized for transfer. 20 helicopters were transferred to Mexico on November 25, 1996. The remaining 53 will be transferred on the following schedule: 14 on June 8, 14 on June 16, and the remaining 25 on September 21, 1997.


13. What do the latest data on drug seizures show?


The latest preliminary figures from the Federal Drug Seizure System (FDSS) for FY 1996 indicate that seizures of heroin are up 31 percent, seizures of marijuana are up six percent, and seizures of cocaine are up five percent. A year-by-year summary of FDSS seizure levels is attached. Also attached is a graphic showing the current situation, internationally. Full data for FY96 is not yet available.


14. What is the Drug threat posed by Mexico?


We share a 2000-mile border with Mexico across which over half of the cocaine consumed in the United States is shipped. In addition, at least 5% of the heroin and the great majority of methamphetamine and marijuana consumed here enters the United States across this border. If the government of Mexico is unsuccessful in controlling drug production and trafficking, our chances of reducing the supply of illegal drugs entering the U.S. will be greatly reduced. In attempting to control drug flows, the government of Mexico faces the challenge of dealing with Mexico’s powerful traffickers who have shown an ability to compromise Mexico’s law enforcement institutions. A more distant, but still troubling threat is that Mexico’s traffickers, if unimpeded by our joint counterdrug efforts, may eventually more directly challenge the integrity of the country’s political and economic institutions. Such an eventuality would have consequences for Mexican stability and for our working relationship with Mexico. It is President Zedillo’s recognition of this possibility, as well as the reality of the current violence and corruption caused by drugs, that leads him to name drugs the number one security threat to Mexico.


15. If large scale drug traffickers are using rural areas, what does that say about our abilities to prevent significant amounts of drugs from entering the United States?


Our current ability to interdict drugs along our borders is improving but we still need to do more. Approximately 1000 Border Patrol agents, 150 INS inspectors, 625 U.S. Customs Service agents and inspectors, 50 DEA agents, 70 FBI agents, and additional Deputy U.S. Marshals were authorized for the SWB in fiscal 1997. Advanced technological equipment, sophisticated sensors, and long range infrared night-vision devices have been installed near the border. A variety of intelligence agencies have been tracking the flow of illegal drugs, enhancing interdiction operations, and pursuing drug-trafficking organizations.

ONDCP is currently looking at U.S. activities along the SWB and how to better coordinate the roles and responsibilities of the agencies involved in protecting U.S. borders. Current initiatives and task forces include, the Southwest Border Initiative, Southwest Border Council, Southwest Border HIDTA, JTF-6, OCDETF, and the Attorney General’s Executive Committee and Operation Alliance. These type of integrated organizations have stepped up activities and expanded coordination with state and local agencies. Bilateral working groups have been established with Mexico.


16. Who are the major drug traffickers in Mexico?


Although numerous drug trafficking organizations are active throughout the country, Mexico’s drug trade is dominated by a small number of powerful leaders.

Mexico’s leading drug trafficker, Amado Carillo Fuentes, controls a wide-ranging empire in the central region of northern Mexico. Although his organization is referred to as the Juarez Cartel, Carillo operates throughout Mexico. In addition to moving Colombian cocaine across the border into the United States, Carrillo’s organization has operated heroin laboratories on ranches in northern Mexico and is reportedly moving into methamphetamine production.

The most violent Mexican trafficking group, commonly referred to as the Tijuana Cartel, is controlled by the Arellano Felix brothers based in Northwestern Mexico. The brothers have been a primary Mexican law enforcement target because of their violent operations. They are wanted for the murder of Cardinal Jesus Posadas Ocampo in Guadalajara in 1993. Benjamin Arellano Felix, the leader of the Tijuana Cartel, is the subject of a $2 million reward as part of the State Department’s reward program; both brothers are indicted in the U.S.

The Gulf Cartel, also referred to as the former Juan Garcia Abrego Organization, operates in northeastern Mexico and distributes cocaine in New York, New Jersey and Michigan. Juan Garcia Abrego, the organization’s leader, was arrested and expelled to the U.S. in 1996 to stand trial. He was convicted and sentenced to 11 life terms. Several former lieutenants assumed control of the organization and reportedly are working closely with Carillo Fuentes. One former Gulf cartel lieutenant, Oscar Malherbe, was arrested in February by Mexican law enforcement. We have requested his extradition.

The Amezcua Organization, which operates throughout northwestern Mexico, is the largest supplier of methamphetamine and ephedrine, a major methamphetamine precursor, to the U.S. Brothers Jesus, Luis, and Adan Amezcua Contreras head the organization, but sometimes work independently of each other.

The Sonora Cartel is based in Caborca, Sonora, but operates in several Mexican states. Miguel Caro Quintero, who is indicted in the U.S., runs the organization’s overall operations --and primarily moves marijuana, but also cocaine and heroin into California, Arizona and Texas.


17. What do we need to do better in our relationship with Mexico to slow the expanding cross-border methamphetamine smuggling?


U.S. recognition of this growing threat was highlighted in recent conferences sponsored by ONDCP in Omaha and San Francisco. Cooperative efforts to control precursor chemicals and to work with Mexico to improve their ability to discover and investigate methamphetamine manufacturing and smuggling operations are underway. While the number of methamphetamine laboratories discovered in Mexico is small compared to the number found in the United States, we believe there are many labs not yet discovered. Mexico now has in place restrictions on the entry of methamphetamine precursor chemicals to key ports so that they can be more efficiently controlled.

As noted earlier, the existing mechanism of the High Level Contact Group has significantly advanced bilateral cooperation between the US and Mexico in controlling the abuse, production, shipment, and sale of illicit drugs, psychotropic substances, and other related crimes. The HLCG’s U.S. Mexico Bi National Drug Threat Assessment contributed greatly to a joint understanding of the drug threat, including methamphetamine, and to fostering a spirit of increasingly greater cooperation in the US-Mexico relationship.

President Clinton’s recent trip to Mexico did much to further solidify that relationship. The Declaration of the Mexican-US Alliance Against Drugs signed by Presidents Clinton and Zedillo in Mexico City included several goals directly confronting this problem. Goal 2 calls for the reduction of production and distribution of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, in both countries. Goal 10 specifically identifies the enhancement of border cooperation to increase security, and Goal 11 pledges increased control of essential and precursor chemicals. As directed by the presidents in the Alliance, the two governments will work through the HLCG to develop a Joint Counterdrug Strategy to address these goals.


18. There have been recent news articles about the expansion of military support along the Southwest Border. What is the military doing along the Southwest Border?


Department of Defense (DoD) provides support to Mexico and to domestic law enforcement agencies all along the Southwest Border. As a support, rather than a lead, agency DoD remains committed to assist domestic law enforcement agencies in their effort to control the Southwest Border.

1. Mexico. DoD’s program provides training, logistics, air mobility, and information sharing to Mexican counterdrug forces. The major initiative in its current counterdrug support program is the transfer of 73 U.S. Army helicopters and requisite logistics support for the Mexican military.

a. Overall While not specifically focused on the border regions, DoD does provide important support to Mexican counterdrug efforts is significant. In FY 96 - FY97, DoD provided 12 UH-1H helicopters and $2.5 million in parts and training, 12 "hulk" UH - 1H helicopters for parts as one-time emergency support to the Department of State/International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs-supported program. Totals for FY96 and FY97 were, respectively, $3.8 million and $28 million.

b. Training DoD has trained approximately 171 Mexican military personnel in counterdrug operations. DoD currently has approximately 100 Mexican military personnel in training and 184 scheduled for training.

c. Information sharing Through the Intelligence Analysis Center (IAC) at the American Embassy in Mexico City, DoD provides intelligence and supports the Mexican Northern Border Response Force and other Mexican agencies.

2. The U.S. Armed Forces provide a wide range of counterdrug support to federal, state and local drug law enforcement agencies on the Southwest Border, using forces provided by all branches of the active military, the National Guard and other reserve components.

  1. Active duty military units and activated reserve component units (Title 10), and National Guard units conducting annual training are coordinated by Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6) in El Paso, Texas. National Guard (Title 32) support is coordinated by the National Guard Counterdrug Coordinator in the state where the support is to occur.
  2. Requests for military counterdrug support from federal agencies are prioritized by law enforcement through Operation Alliance, which is collocated with JTF-6. Requests by state and local agencies are prioritized by the state lead law enforcement agency where the support is to occur.
  3. The DoD reviews, approves, and funds the annual National Guard State Counterdrug Plan submitted by each governor requesting counterdrug funds. The plan shows how the National Guard will be used to support counterdrug law enforcement agencies. The four Southwest Border states receive approximately 30% of the total funding for National Guard State Plans.
  1. The DoD is developing technology to support counterdrug missions. The program includes support for non-intrusive inspections, tactical operations, and intelligence collection.
  1. The DoD has spent approximately $35 million to develop and provide a state and local law enforcement information sharing system. The Southwest Border States Anti-Drug Information System links Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, the El Paso Information Center (EPIC) and participating regional information sharing activities.
  2. The DoD provides excess personal property to law enforcement agencies on the border including aircraft, vehicles, boats, and weapons. Nationwide, law enforcement has received over $1 billion in excess property from DoD. Law enforcement agencies in Texas alone have received over $54 million in property to support their counterdrug operations.
  3. During FY97, DoD through JTF-6 and the National Guard, has continued making significant improvements to the Otay Mountain Road in support of the U.S. Border Patrol. This is in addition to the 30 miles of landing mat fence, barbed wire fence, and post obstacles already constructed in the San Diego area.
  4. During Fiscal Year 1997, National Guard cargo inspection support at SWB ports of entry has averaged approximately 271 personnel a day. Based on current budget forecasts, this average is expected to drop in Fiscal Year 1998.
  1. The average number of DoD personnel providing support on the border varies from an average of 1,500 to peaks of 2,500.
  1. The DoD programmatic commitment to the Southwest Border is $176.6 million for Fiscal Year 1997. The President’s Fiscal Year 1998 request is $130.4 million.


19. What is the status on the construction of the ROTHR Radar system in Puerto Rico?


The ROTHR Radar system is scheduled to be installed in Puerto Rico by September, 1999. The environmental impact process is almost complete. Although a final decision has not been given, we expect construction and installation to be on schedule.


20. Approximately 70% of drugs entering the U.S. come through Mexico. What are you doing to improve efforts at this border and to what extent are these drugs being transported to the U.S. by commercial trucks?


Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana enter the United States across the two thousand mile-long U.S. - Mexican border, hidden among the 84 million cars, 232 million people, and 2.8 million trucks that the Customs Service estimates cross the 38 ports along the border. Perhaps 60 percent of the illegal drugs that enter the U.S. do so across this border. Unfortunately, we don’t have an accurate estimate of the percentage of illegal drugs that are being transported to the U.S. by commercial trucks. This is, however, a common mode of drug smuggling. However, drug trafficking across the Southwest border is not a problem that can be addressed in isolation. It is interwoven with illegal immigration, the economies of both our countries, the vitality of legitimate trade, the persistent demand for drugs, and a growing propensity among the young on both sides of the border to resort to extreme violence. Our ability to deal with drug traffickers can also be limited by the corrosive corruption that is the by-product of the enormous sums of money passing through the hands of traffickers. If we are to be effective, we can brook no tolerance for corruption.

Over the past year, ONDCP has focused on the Southwest border problem. In July 1996, we hosted a Southwest Border Counterdrug Conference in El Paso, Texas. Secretary Rubin, Attorney General Reno and I, along with concerned agency and bureau chiefs, listened to the frank views of more than three-hundred Federal, State and local enforcement officials. Those officials sent a clear message: While recent increases in resources and innovative practices have made a difference, we have not turned the tide. As a result of the federal commitment to reinforce the Southwest border,

The federal government continues to reinforce the Southwest border. This fiscal year, we are adding

Our principal challenge is to design and implement an overarching operational strategy that better organizes our interdiction operations along the Southwest border, and, indeed, all along our vulnerable air, land, and sea frontiers. We must focus resources, provide timely and accurate intelligence on the activities of drug traffickers, develop evidence for prosecutions, and respond to shifting drug-trafficking patterns.


21. What is the status of truck x-ray equipment along the Southwest Border? Have cocaine seizures increased along the border as a result of these enhancements?


Port infrastructure along the Southwest Border is being enhanced to allow for more intensive narcotics examinations. During FY 97, two additional non-intrusive truck x-ray systems will be operational along the border. Four more systems will be placed in operation during FY 98.

Prior to FY 97, there was one truck x-ray system in place in Otay Mesa, CA.

In FY 97, the x-ray system became operational in Calexico, CA, in March, 1997, and the El Paso Ysleta x-ray system will become operational in September, 1997.

In FY 98, x-ray systems will be operational in Pharr, TX (October, 1997), El Paso Bridge of the Americas (January, 1998), Nogales, AZ (April, 1998), and Laredo, TX (August, 1998).

In FY 99, the Port of Los Tomates, TX, will open. At that time, an x-ray system is scheduled to be operational at that port.

Other technology is also being tested. Presently, a transportable gamma ray truck inspection system is being tested in El Paso, TX. This system is similar to an x-ray system, but uses gamma rays instead of x-rays.

In addition, a mobile truck x-ray prototype system is currently in use at the Laredo, TX, port of entry. This system has been used in various Texas and Arizona ports of entry to support and augment enforcement/intelligence operations conducted in that region.

Seizures by Customs along the Southwest Border in the commercial cargo arena more than doubled from FY 95 to FY 96 (26 seizures in FY 95 totaling 15,664 pounds of marihuana and cocaine, to 56 seizures in FY 96 totaling 39,741 pounds of marihuana and cocaine).


22. How serious is the corruption problem along the southwest border and what are you doing about it?


The predominant cause behind drug-related corruption anywhere is the fifty billion dollars Americans spend on illegal drugs each year. The wholesale value of cocaine, for example, at U.S. ports of entry of the estimated three hundred metric tons of cocaine that are smuggled into the United States every year is ten billion dollars. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the illegal drugs that cross the Southwest border have a wholesale value of five billion dollars.

None of us should doubt that foreign and domestic drug trafficking organizations have at their disposal fabulous profits that can be applied against our federal, state, and local drug law enforcement agencies. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of the federal agents and officer deployed along the Southwest border are men and women of enormous integrity. Consequently, incidences of corruption have been rare. When detected, each agency has acted promptly and appropriately.

On a national level, we lack comprehensive data on drug-related corruption. However, according to statistics maintained by the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, corruption of public officials is a growing problem. Between 1973 and 1983 indictments of public officials averaged 625 a year. Between 1984 and 1994, that number averaged 1262 a year. Of 19,796 indictments of U.S. public officials between 1973 and 1994, 8,380 were federal officials, 1,568 were state officials, 4,887 were local officials, and 4,981 were classified as "other." Federal officials accounted for 42 percent of the total number of indictments. The conviction rate on these 19,796 indictments was 86 percent.

The limited data available on drug-related corruption suggests that the track record of our federal agencies is excellent. The Customs Service reports that in 1996, 68 employees out of a total of 19,00 in the agency were adjudicated on corruption charges (less than four-tenths of one percent). Of those 68 corrupt employees, only two were charged with "narcotics-related corruption (0.005 percent of the total). The Internal Revenue Service’s record is similar. Since 1993, only nine IRS officials have been found guilty of use, sale, or possession of drugs. An incidence rate of less than nine one-thousandths of one percent.

We must, however, be wary of the constant threat of corruption. Every agency must ensure that it has a rigorous and effective internal self-policing entity (e.g. internal affairs, inspector general functions). Each agency must also assure that its personnel assignment policies minimize the likelihood of corruption.


23.a. What are your views on the effectiveness of the Customs Service P-3 AEW aircraft?


The P-3 AEW aircraft are important counterdrug assets. Working in conjunction with other assets, the P-3 AEW's provide a very effective detection and monitoring capability against airborne traffickers. In coordination with U.S. DoD, DEA and Department of State, U.S. Customs P-3 AEW aircraft support the current strategy of suppression of the air bridge between Peru and Columbia by providing air assets to facilitate Operation Laserstrike. This strategy denies traffickers the most expeditious and safest mode of transport. Maintaining pressure on the air bridge makes the traffickers vulnerable to interdiction throughout the entire transportation system: from the coca fields to the Mexican border. Sustained pressure on the air bridge has contributed to an 18% net reduction in coca cultivation in Peru. The inability to transport the product has resulted in a decrease in the return on investment which in turn has resulted in farmers looking elsewhere for their livelihood. This is one of the reasons the President sought and Congress provided funds to retrofit two P-3s in the $250 million DoD reprogramming request for high-impact near-term counternarcotics programs in April, 1996.

Admiral Kramek, in his role as the U.S. Interdiction Coordinator, has been looking at options to increase airborne radar coverage for counterdrug operations. We agree that providing additional P-3 AEW aircraft would be an effective means to expand our counterdrug AEW force. P-3's are both cheaper to acquire and operate than E-3 AWACS, and the AWACS capabilities are not as well matched to the narcotics threat. For efficiency and operational flexibility, the Customs Service should operate any additional P-3 AEW aircraft.


23.b. Do you think the Customs Service should receive additional P-3s?


FY 97 Congressional appropriations of $98 million have been dedicated to P-3 acquisition. U.S. Customs is in receipt of $52 million from ONDCP, and has secured one P-3 from desert storage. This aircraft is currently undergoing depot maintenance in Greenville South Carolina. As of May 30, 1997, U.S. Customs and DoD have agreed to transfer $48 million from DoD to Customs to facilitate the depot maintenance of the second aircraft, fund modification costs for the two aircraft, and to purchase radars, rotodomes and parts.

Following AEW modification, the DoD-funded aircraft will be transferred to Customs operational control. The U.S. Customs Service currently conducts 53 scheduled P-3 AEW sorties per month, 39 of which are dedicated to source countries, the transit zone, and the Southwest Border. With typical flight durations of 6-10 hours each, each new P-3 aircraft would be able to fly an average of 125 counterdrug missions per year. Two additional P-3 AEW’s represent a 40 percent increase in available flight sorties to support air interdiction operations over the source countries of South America, the transit zone, and along the U.S. Southwest Border. This will allow over-tasked USAF E-3 AWACS aircraft to reduce their counterdrug flight hour commitment. Modification of these P-3 aircraft is contingent upon DoD assurances to Congress that the number of E-3 AWACS counterdrug sorties will decrease.

Although this increase to the USCS P-3 AEW fleet is a valuable addition to our current detection and monitoring capability, any consideration given to further additions to the fleet must take into account narcotics smuggling trends such as the shift to maritime and riverine routes, and alternative methods of accomplishing the counterdrug mission to ensure the most cost effective investment of limited resources.


24. Why is border control so important to reducing the availability of illicit drugs?


We face a real organizational challenge at our borders and in the air and maritime approaches to the United States. Our status as the preeminent commercial nation in the world makes us particularly vulnerable to drug trafficking. More than four hundred million people enter the United States every year, any one of them can carry several million dollars worth of heroin. Four hundred million tons of cargo also enter our country every year. Illegal drugs represent 0.00001 percent of that traffic. Our challenge is to stop the one millionth part that represents illegal drugs without significantly affecting legal commerce and movement which represents the life-blood of our country.

Consequently, one of the 1997 National Drug Control Strategy’s five goals, goal number four, addresses the problem of controlling our borders. Goal four is "Shield America’s air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug threat. The supporting objectives for this goal and their rationale follow:

Objective 1: Conduct flexible operations to detect, disrupt, deter, and seize illegal drugs in transit to the United States and at U.S. borders.

Rationale. Our ability to interdict illegal drugs is challenged by the volume of drug traffic and the ease with which traffickers have switched modes and routes. Efforts to interrupt the flow of drugs must be supported by timely and predictive intelligence that is well-coordinated and responsive to changing trafficking patterns.

Objective 2: Improve the coordination and effectiveness of U.S. drug law enforcement programs with particular emphasis on the southwest border, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rationale. Recent years have seen a heavy incidence of illegal drug flow across the southwest border, in contiguous waters, and from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We need to focus our efforts in these places -- without neglecting other avenues of entry
-- by improving intelligence and information-guided operations that allow us to interdict effectively, retain the initiative, and curtail the penetration of drugs into the United States.

Objective 3: Improve bilateral and regional cooperation with Mexico as well as other cocaine and heroin transit zone countries in order to reduce the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.

Rationale. Mexico-- both a transit zone for cocaine and heroin and a source country for heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana -- is key to reducing the drug flow into the United States. So too are the island nations of the Caribbean. The more we can work cooperative arrangements and operations with these countries to enhance the rule of law, the better we can control the flow of illegal drugs. Mutual interests are best served by mutual commitment to reduce drug trafficking.

Objective 4: Support and highlight research and technology -- including the development of scientific information and data -- to detect, disrupt, deter, and seize illegal drugs in transit to the United States and at U.S. borders.

Rationale. Scientific research and applied technologies offer us significant opportunity to interdict the flow of illegal drugs. The more efficient and reliable our detection, monitoring, and search capabilities, the more likely we are to turn back or seize illegal drugs. Research and technology applications must be undertaken with a view toward systematic defeat of drug trafficking efforts.


25. Interdiction funding has declined from $1.96 billion in FY 1992 to $1.44 billion requested in FY 1997. Are we doing enough to interdict drugs in the transit zone?


Fighting drugs requires a systems approach that includes education, treatment, domestic law enforcement, interdiction, and international cooperation. The President has proposed a comprehensive anti-drug strategy that does just that. The Strategy is supported by $16 billion FY98 budget request, a 5.4% increase over FY97.

In a systems approach interdiction seizures in the Caribbean must be considered within the context of the total system. The level of seizures in any particular region is a function of the level of smuggling activity in that region and our effectiveness in detecting and disrupting the traffic. A decline in seizures could be the result of effective interdiction forcing the traffickers to alter routes and/or methods.

Our strategy is to determine where the traffickers are most vulnerable, and apply pressure there, i.e., the source countries. As emphasis is shifted, however, a level of deterrence needs to remain to keep traffickers from returning to previous methods.

The situation in the transit zone is significantly different than it was in the early 90's. It is no longer a "target rich environment"; random patrols and boardings, although a deterrent, are less productive than before. The air to surface mode ratio has shifted to maritime; targets are more numerous, harder to sort, tougher to monitor undetected, and especially hard to detect when hidden in bulk commercial cargo. Traffickers are now applying technology to reduce their vulnerability, i.e., use of commercially available accurate G.P.S. substantially reduces need to communicate when making a rendezvous. The key to effective maritime interdiction is cued intelligence versus more assets; most successful maritime interdiction cases are now based on human intelligence. We need to improve effectiveness of interdiction systems and leverage technology rather than merely increase the numbers of systems: deploy ROTHR as opposed to fixed radar systems; strengthen capabilities and coordination in the Puerto Rico arrival zone; apply intelligence systems to sort targets from among the large amount of "background noise" and legitimate traffic in the region; and apply technology to improve sensor capabilities to quickly and efficiently detect, classify, and identify suspect targets and locate hidden contraband; i.e. aircraft and surface vessel state-of-the-art radars for detection and classification, infrared and low-light sensors for identification, CINDI and IONSCAN for locating drugs in hidden compartments.

Ongoing regional interdiction efforts include:

From FY93 through FY96 Congress cut the President’s interdiction and international programs budget requests by $1.356 billion.























- $30.2M

- 2%





- $18.6M

- 1%





+ $250.6M*








* President’s $250M Counternarcotics Supplemental Initiative accounted for large portion of this increase.


26. How can we stop the flow of drugs through the transit zone?


The key to reducing the flow of drugs through the transit zone is to establish a defense in depth, in concert with our regional allies, taking aggressive action in the source countries, throughout the transit zone, and at our borders. The defense in depth begins with support to source country interdiction operations to disrupt illicit drug production and establish conditions for reduction in drug crop cultivation.

Within the transit zone, an effective interdiction program requires flexible, in-depth, intelligence-driven and technology supported defenses. The traffickers are adaptable, and they will react to our success by shifting routes and changing modes of transportation. We must be equally flexible, rapidly matching trafficker moves and exploiting any detected vulnerabilities.

Regional coordination and cooperation is an important component of our strategy. Our interdiction agencies alone do not have adequate resources to cover the entire threat. Pursuing bilateral and multilateral agreements, sharing appropriate intelligence, and conducting combined operations with our allies can multiply the effectiveness of the regional interdiction effort. We must also provide increased training and operational support to host nation interdiction efforts, thereby increasing the effectiveness of interdiction throughout each region.

Recent changes to the Unified Command Plan (UCP) and corresponding changes to the National Interdiction command and Control Plan (NICCP) will further enhance U.S. interagency and multi-lateral interdiction coordination. The movement of the U.S. Southern Command to Miami and assumption of detection and monitoring responsibility for all of the north-south production areas and nearly all trafficking routes within the Western Hemisphere will support our efforts.

Improved technological and intelligence capabilities are also vital to an effective and efficient interdiction program. To conduct successful interdiction with limited assets, our operations must be cued by intelligence and enhanced by the best detection and monitoring technology. This allows us to conserve resources by focusing on known or probable smuggling events, rather than relying only on random patrolling.


27. Is interdiction working? Is it possible to stem the flow of drugs? Will there always be a supplier as long as there is a demand?


Interdiction does appear to be having an impact on stemming the flow of drugs as are the source country programs, international drug control efforts, domestic law enforcement, prevention programs, and treatment programs. For example, there has been a 75 percent reduction in the number of current cocaine users among the general household population between 1985 and 1995 (from 5.7 million to 1.5 million). The key to a successful outcome in drug control efforts, such as the reduction in cocaine use, lies not in any one of these program areas but rather in all of them working together.

However, addressing interdiction efforts specifically, we have demonstrated that interdiction efforts in the source country zone can disrupt trafficking patterns significantly. Carga flights (cocaine-carrying Caravelles and Boeing 707s) between Colombia and Mexico have stopped. We have badly damaged the Andean air bridge between Peru and drug processing laboratories in Colombia. Over the Past decade, U.S. and international interdiction efforts have consistently intercepted about a third of the coca produced in South America (see attached figure). Our challenged now is to react flexibly and block drug traffickers as they attempt to develop alternative river, ground, and maritime routes. In the transit zone of the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and the eastern Pacific, we must continue to conduct flexible, in-depth, intelligence-driven defenses. Even now, drug traffickers are suing shipping containers, cargo ships, and fishing trawlers to compensate for our effectiveness against aerial smuggling. The leadership of the U.S. Southern Command in their new Miami Headquarters under the recently rationalized, single Unified Command Plan, will dramatically increase the coherence and coordination of U.S. north-south drug interdiction activities.

Efforts against the production and trafficking of heroin will continue to be guided by the U.S. heroin control policy of November 1995. The heroin interdiction challenge is enormous. Potential global heroin production has increased about 60 percent in the past eight years to approximately 360 metric tons. In 1995, worldwide heroin seizures totaled 32 metric tons, less than 10 percent of the global production potential. U.S. heroin seizures were just 1.3 metric tons. The U.S. demand for approximately 10 tons of heroin consumed by 600,000 addicts represents a fraction of the production potential.

Our heroin control efforts must take these realities into account. We must work through diplomatic and public channels to promote international awareness of the heroin threat. We must help strengthen law enforcement efforts in heroin source and transit countries and bring cooperative law enforcement efforts to bear against processing and trafficking. These and other international challenges were raised by ONDCP during a recent session of the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse control Commission in Washington, D.C.

A comprehensive program that includes all the elements of a successful strategy, supported by an adequate and long-term funding package, and buttressed by realistic performance measurement system will reduce drug use and the negative consequences it brings. However, it should be clear that as long as there is a demand for drugs there will be a supply. It may not be cocaine, heroin, LSD, or any drug we currently are aware of, but a drug supply will always be available if demand is high enough and a profit can be made.


28. A recent survey has found that nearly half of all parents thought their teenage children would use drugs sometime, but that among baby-boomer parents who had either used drugs regularly or experimentally, the proportion was much higher -- about two-thirds. Do you believe that this attitude has significantly contributed to the increase in drug use over the past four years?


Research by the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at the Columbia University (CASA) indicates that there is a significant relationship between parental attitudes, behaviors and beliefs about marijuana and drug use and their children’s subsequent decision to use illegal drugs. However, parents’ use of marijuana in the late 60s and 70s is not the determining risk factor. What parents tell their children about drug use (i.e.,.if they are ambiguous about use being wrong or dangerous, the risk goes up; if they give a clear message that using drugs was a mistake and/or express concern about the seriousness of legal and health consequences, the risk goes down.)

Other risk factors need to be examined -- proximity to drug use, do their friends use, availability of drugs, age, personal standards of behavior, alienation from family, church, friends, the community, no curfew and little parental involvement in their lives are better indicators of future use.

Parents play the most important role. The parent movement in the 70s is largely responsible for cutting drug use in this country in half. Parents are asking for guidance as to how to discuss the subject of drug use. Parents do not want their children using drugs regardless of their past experience.

Parental involvement is the key to successful prevention programs. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, among other youth serving organizations, understand the importance of providing children with drug-free activities and adult supervision during after school hours. Latch-key kids are lonely kids -- and vulnerable. The availability of mentors can make a difference in a child’s life. Parents are the target of ONDCP’s latest prevention effort. A series of training programs and educational materials will be disseminated to a wide range of parenting organizations which represent diverse economic and cultural groups.


29. Do you think the source countries programs have become effective enough to justify the cuts in interdiction programs?


The Administration policy has been to gradually shift interdiction focus from the transit zone to source countries. The President’s FY98 drug budget request includes $487.6M for international programs, an 8% increase over that enacted in FY97. The President’s FY98 drug budget request for interdiction is $1610M. The FY98 budget also requests approximately $1800M for Southwest Border-related activities, a 6% increase over FY97.

Traffickers have proven that they can absorb interdiction losses in the transit zone as a cost of doing business and still meet market demand. In addition, traffickers have substantially changed their routes and methods from those used in the early 1990's. The air to surface mode ratio has shifted to maritime; targets are more numerous, harder to sort, tougher to monitor undetected, and especially hard to detect when hidden in bulk commercial cargo. Traffickers are applying technology to reduce their vulnerability, i.e., use of commercially available accurate G.P.S. substantially reduces need to communicate when making a rendezvous.

In the source countries trafficker organizations and their infrastructure are more concentrated, detectable, and vulnerable to law enforcement. ONDCP strategy is to reduce drug crop cultivation, and disrupt production in the source countries while maintaining a sufficient level of effort in the transit zone to respond rapidly to cued intelligence of a trafficking event.

Indicators now point to an effective source country program in Peru. The number of drug flights from Peru to Colombia dropped 50 percent over the same periods from the prior year. The price of coca base dropped over 50 percent in some of Peru’s producing areas indicating oversupply. Unable to move their product to market, significant numbers of coca farmers stopped harvesting their crops. Total coca cultivation in Peru, source of up to 80 percent of the cocaine provided to the U.S. market, was reduced by 18 percent in 1996. We need to build on these source country successes over the next five years to substantially reduce the availability of cocaine in the United States.

At the same time, we must continually assess our level of effort in the transit zone to ensure we can respond to the trafficker threat. Once we have limited the traffickers’ flexibility to expand production in the source countries to make up for transit zone interdiction losses, transit zone programs become even more valuable.


30. What mechanisms exist for coordinating intelligence efforts against the drug cartels, their financial systems, and international operations?


Over the past eight years, a significant dedication of personnel and financial resources has been to the development of a national drug intelligence program in support of efforts to reduce the supply of illegal drugs and to attack the criminal structures and individuals that produce, transport, sell, and distribute those drugs. At the national level, a series of specialized centers, such as the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and CIA’s Crime and Narcotics Center (CNC), have been established to integrate information related to illegal drug organizations, transportation, and money laundering. Operational coordination is carried out through interagency groups focused on the major international cocaine and heroin trafficking organizations. ONDCP funded High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task forces focus efforts against major drug traffickers in the United States.

In addition to these drug specific intelligence structures, both the foreign intelligence and law enforcement communities have ongoing efforts to facilitate both operational and intelligence coordination. For example, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have established numerous task forces to focus on specific criminal activities. Through these task forces, information from all the agencies (ie., DEA, FBI, state police, etc.) is brought to bear against the target of an operation or investigation.


31. The Coast Guard has indicated that they have interdicted less marijuana in each of the past four years. Is there a correlation between the decrease in interdiction of marijuana and an increase in the domestic production of marijuana?


The Coast Guard may be interdicting less marijuana, but the entire federal anti-drug effort is interdicting increasing amounts of marijuana. The Federal-wide Drug Seizure System shows increasing marijuana seizures in each year since 1990, except for 1993. Available data for 1996 show a 16 percent increase in marijuana seizures over the same period in 1995. Overall, seizures of marijuana have doubled since 1990.

Further, it does not appear that the level of interdiction has much effect on the level of domestic production. The domestic commercial supplier generally offers a different, more potent product that is marketed to a different strata of user in the U.S.


32. Would it be helpful to have a unified anti-drug budget where you could allocate resource and priorities among all of the agencies involved in the drug fight?


A unified anti-drug budget would give ONDCP additional flexibility and control over the allocation of resources. In particular, a unified budget structure would assure that policies are implemented in accord with the National Drug Control Strategy. However, given the current structure of federal drug control programs, a unified anti-drug budget would be difficult to implement. With the exception of a few drug control accounts, the drug control budgets for most agencies are a percentage of one or several larger budget accounts. Therefore, funding decisions regarding these accounts affect both drug control resources and other spending that is not counted as drug-related. The organization of the budget makes separating these decisions into drug and non-drug categories a serious obstacle to this proposal.


33. The President’s budget request for anti-drugs is $15.3 billion for FY 1997. How much more would it cost to restore the pre-1993 interdiction strategy plus fully implement your source country strategy?


About 10 percent of the President’s FY 1997 request for drug control activities was identified for interdiction. The FY 1997 enacted level for interdiction is $1.639 billion. To bring interdiction funding to the pre-1993 level of approximately $2.3 billion, after adjusting for inflation since 1992, would require about an additional $700 million.

As for additional resources needed to fully implement ONDCP’s source country strategy, ONDCP is now working closely with the State Department, DoD, DEA, and other key agencies to identify and define source country requirements. This process will result in a comprehensive five-year budget plan, focusing on coca production in Peru, which will fully support the goals and objectives of our ten-year National Drug Control Strategy.


34. Testimony this morning (September 12, 1996) indicates that approximately 70% of the drugs are entering the U.S. through Mexico, and most of the rest through the Caribbean. Of the drugs that are interdicted, what percentage were coming from Mexico and what percentage were coming through the Caribbean?


The methodology for determining estimated flows of cocaine to the U.S. is events-driven, based on known and possible smuggling events about which counternarcotics community member agencies are aware. This causes estimates to vary over time.

Based on the latest interagency assessment of cocaine flows for calendar year 1996, approximately 56% of the cocaine coming to the United States came through Mexico; approximately 31 percent came through the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands); and about 13 percent came directly to the mainland U.S. from the source countries, generally by commercial air or maritime conveyances.

Of the cocaine actually interdicted in 1996 by U.S. authorities, approximately 44 percent was seized along the Southwest Border, about 51 percent in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and about 5 percent at other U.S. locations, primarily commercial sea and air ports.

We know that traffickers look for the path of least resistance in bringing their product to the U.S., and demonstrate a remarkable degree of flexibility. We have observed how traffickers change their patterns in response to U.S.-supported counterdrug efforts. Until recently, traffickers preferred to ship by air, because air shipments gave the drug owners more direct control and were faster than shipments by land or sea. As we devoted more effort to controlling air smuggling, we have seen a trend toward greater reliance on maritime transportation. This is an environment where targets are more numerous, harder to sort, tougher to monitor without being detected, and especially hard to detect when hidden in bulk commercial cargo.

By concentrating efforts along our Southwest Border, we will increase the difficulty and uncertainty experienced by traffickers who bring their drugs to the United States through Mexico; inevitably many will shift to a different route. Nevertheless, once we have some success in a particular area, or against a particular mode of transport, we still cannot abandon those efforts. Traffickers would merely return to their old, cheaper modes and routes.


35.a. A lot of people have been criticizing your emphasis on a source country strategy. What indications do you have that this strategy is working?


Recent tactical success in Peru, the major source country for coca cultivation, indicates how the source country strategy can work. Under the personal leadership of President Fujimori, and with the help of the United States, enhanced air bridge interdiction operations resulted in the destruction of approximately 50 drug trafficking aircraft over the past two years. This disrupted the cocaine economy in much of Peru, and, combined with alternative development programs, arrest of major traffickers and defeat of the Sendero Luminoso, reduced coca cultivation by 18% in 1996 -- the lowest recorded level since 1986. The inability to transport the product has resulted in a decrease in the return on investment which in turn has resulted in substantial numbers of farmers moving out of coca growing areas to find work elsewhere for their livelihood. Over the long term, it appears that an appropriate combination of continued disruption of the air bridge and alternative development incentives can result in increasing movement by farmers from coca to legitimate crops, thereby further reducing drug production and trafficking from the primary source countries.


35.b. Has it altered the price of coca leaves or the price of hiring a pilot to smuggle the drugs?


The source country strategy appears to have altered the price of coca leaves. Anecdotal analysis suggests that a major contributing factor has been a drastic decline in the price coca growers can get for cocaine base and a corresponding dramatic increase in the cost of air transportation within Peru and between Peru and Colombia (i.e., the air bridge). Indications are that in some regions of Peru, coca leaf and cocaine base prices have declined as much as 50%, while costs for pilots have increased by as much as 500%. As a result, traffickers appear to be shifting to more expensive and difficult trafficking routes, including the increased use of river systems and coastal commercial ports. ONDCP is currently working closely with other USG agencies and the government of Peru to counter this shift.


36. How do you propose that we better consolidate our intelligence gathering activities so that we are all working off the same page?


Over the next several months, ONDCP will be leading an interdepartmental effort to review the national drug intelligence system to ensure that it is providing the best possible support to all levels of the counter narcotics effort: policy development, strategic and operational planning, and tactical execution. The review, and the resulting architecture, will build upon the extensive intelligence expertise and capabilities already in place but will articulate clear and specific mission statements for each drug intelligence activity (including principal support roles), relationships among them, and an ADP/communications concept that will facilitate the institutionalized processing and sharing of appropriate information at all levels. The review will cover foreign and domestic drug intelligence efforts including intelligence analysis, production, dissemination, and coordination to include individual agency drug intelligence programs, national and regional drug intelligence programs, and supporting ADP/Communications systems.