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Drug Control: Update on U.S. Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific (Letter Report, 10/15/97, GAO/NSIAD-98-30).


Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed drug trafficking lanes
into the United States from the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and
eastern Pacific Ocean, focusing on: (1) the nature of drug trafficking
activities through the transit zone; (2) host nation efforts,
capabilities, and impediments to an effective counternarcotics program;
(3) U.S. agencies' capabilities, including funding, in interdicting drug
trafficking activities in the region; and (4) the status of U.S.
agencies' efforts to plan, coordinate, and implement U.S. interdiction
activities.

GAO noted that: (1) since its April 1996 report, the amount of drugs
smuggled and the counternarcotics capabilities of host countries and the
United States have remained largely unchanged; (2) cocaine trafficking
through the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific regions continues, and drug
traffickers are still relying heavily on maritime modes of
transportation; (3) recent information shows that traffickers are using
"go-fast" boats, fishing vessels, coastal freighters, and other vessels
in the Caribbean and fishing and cargo vessels with multi-ton loads in
the Eastern Pacific; (4) recent estimates indicate that, of all cocaine
moving through the transit zone, 38 percent (234 metric tons) is being
shipped through the Eastern Pacific; (5) although the United States has
continued to provide technical assistance and equipment to many
Caribbean and other transit zone countries, the amount of cocaine seized
by most of the countries is small relative to the estimated amounts
flowing through the area; (6) the counter-drug efforts of many transit
zone countries continue to be hampered by limited resources and
capabilities; (7) the United States does not have bilateral maritime
agreements with 12 transit zone countries to facilitate interdiction
activities; (8) the United States has increased funding but has had
limited success in detecting, monitoring, and interdicting air and
maritime trafficking in the transit zone; (9) Joint Interagency Task
Force (JIATF)-East assets devoted to these efforts have stayed at almost
the same level; (10) JIATF-East has requested additional resources from
the Department of Defense to address Eastern Pacific drug trafficking;
(11) Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) officials told GAO
that it developed an overall strategy that identifies agency roles,
missions and tasks to execute the drug strategy and establish task
priorities; (12) according to ONDCP, its performance measurement systems
remains incomplete; (13) until measurable targets are developed, it will
not be possible to hold agencies with jurisdiction in the Caribbean
accountable for their performance; and (14) law enforcement agencies
with Caribbean jurisdiction are developing a regional plan to be
completed by January 1998, led by the Drug Enforcement Administration,
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Customs Service.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-98-30
     TITLE:  Drug Control: Update on U.S. Interdiction Efforts in the 
             Caribbean and Eastern Pacific
      DATE:  10/15/97
   SUBJECT:  Narcotics
             Drug trafficking
             Foreign governments
             International cooperation
             Law enforcement agencies
             Interagency relations
             Search and seizure
             International agreements
             Federal intelligence agencies
IDENTIFIER:  Caribbean
             Gulf of Mexico
             Central America
             South America
             Mexico
             National Drug Control Strategy
             Pacific Ocean
             Atlantic Ocean
             Coast Guard Operation Frontier Shield
             ONDCP National Interdiction Command and Control Plan
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Requesters

October 1997

DRUG CONTROL - UPDATE ON U.S. 
INTERDICTION EFFORTS IN THE
CARIBBEAN AND EASTERN PACIFIC

GAO/NSIAD-98-30

Drug Control

(711265)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  AEW - Airborne Early Warning
  DEA - Drug Enforcement Administration
  DOD - Department of Defense
  JIATF - Joint Interagency Task Force
  ONDCP - Office of National Drug Control Policy
  ROTHR - Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-277852

October 15, 1997

The Honorable J.  Dennis Hastert
Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security,
 International Affairs, and Criminal Justice
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
House of Representatives

The Honorable Bill McCollum
Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime
Committee on the Judiciary
House of Representatives

Drug traffickers use a 6-million square mile area that includes the
Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Central America, the northern
coast of South America, Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific--commonly
referred to as the "transit zone"--to move illegal drugs into the
United States.  In April 1996, we reported\1

that (1) the level of Caribbean illegal drug activities--especially
maritime operations--had increased, (2) many Caribbean nations had
limited resources and capabilities to conduct effective antidrug
operations, (3) funding and capabilities for U.S.  interdiction
efforts had declined, and (4) the executive branch had not developed
a plan of action to implement the U.S.  strategy to counteract
cocaine smuggling in the transit zone. 

As you requested, we have reviewed what has happened in this area
since our April 1996 report.  Our specific objectives were to review
changes in (1) the nature of current drug-trafficking activities
through the transit zone; (2) host nation efforts, capabilities, and
impediments to an effective counternarcotics program; (3) U.S. 
agencies' capabilities, including funding, in interdicting
drug-trafficking activities in the region; and (4) the status of U.S. 
agencies' efforts to plan, coordinate, and implement U.S. 
interdiction activities. 


--------------------
\1 Drug Control:  U.S.  Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean Decline
(GAO/NSIAD-96-119, Apr.  17, 1996). 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

Under the U.S.  National Drug Control Strategy, the United States has
established domestic and international efforts to reduce the supply
and demand for illegal drugs.  The strategy includes five goals
intended to integrate the budgets and activities of all organizations
involved in counterdrug efforts.  The goals focus on education, law
enforcement, and treatment in the United States and on eradication,
alternative development, interdiction, support for host nations,
money laundering, and other issues outside the United States.\2 Goal
four of the National Drug Control Strategy is "to shield America's
air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug threat." In its efforts to
achieve this goal, the United States has efforts underway to detect,
monitor, and interdict illegal narcotics moving through the transit
zone. 

From 1986 to 1996, the United States spent about $103 billion on
efforts to reduce drug supply and demand.  About $20 billion of this
amount was expended on international counternarcotics efforts,
including $4.1 billion to support crop eradication, alternative
development, and increased foreign law enforcement capabilities and
$15.6 billion for interdiction activities.  Funding for drug
interdiction in the transit zone declined from about $1 billion in
1992 to $600 million in 1996. 

In 1988, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was
established to set priorities and objectives for national drug
control, develop an annual drug control strategy, and oversee the
strategy's implementation.  The U.S.  Interdiction Coordinator, who
reports to ONDCP, is responsible for coordinating the efforts of all
U.S.  agencies involved in drug interdiction.  The Department of
State coordinates U.S.  efforts in host countries, including training
provided by U.S.  agencies.  The Department of Defense (DOD) supports
U.S.  law enforcement agencies by tracking and monitoring suspected
drug-trafficking activities.  Within the transit zone, the U.S. 
Coast Guard is the lead agency for maritime drug interdiction and
co-lead with the U.S.  Customs Service for air interdiction.  They
provide aircraft and ships to assist with detection and monitoring
activities.  The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is responsible
for coordinating drug enforcement intelligence gathering overseas and
conducting law enforcement operations.  DEA's activities in the
Caribbean are managed by its Puerto Rico-based field division and in
the Bahamas by its Miami field division. 

On September 17, 1997, the executive branch revised the National
Interdiction Command and Control Plan that called for creating
several joint interagency task forces that are intended to strengthen
interagency coordination of U.S.  drug control efforts.  According to
the revised plan, the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF)-East,
located in Key West, Florida, is responsible for detection,
monitoring, sorting, and handoff of suspect air and maritime
drug-trafficking events in the Pacific Ocean east of 92 west
longitude, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, Central America
north of Panama, and surrounding seas and the Atlantic Ocean. 
JIATF-East is composed of personnel from various defense and civilian
law enforcement agencies.  JIATF-South, located in Panama, focuses on
source country initiatives and the detection and monitoring of
suspect drug targets for either subsequent handoff to participating
national law enforcement agencies or to JIATF-East for further
monitoring. 


--------------------
\2 The international aspect of the strategy focuses on supply
reduction and is guided by a presidential directive issued in
November 1993 that called for a gradual shift in emphasis from the
transit zone to the source countries.  Funding for source country
activities against drug trafficking increased from $231.5 million in
fiscal year 1996 to $313.7 million in fiscal year 1997. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

Since our April 1996 report, the amount of drugs smuggled and the
counternarcotics capabilities of host countries and the United States
have remained largely unchanged.  Cocaine trafficking through the
Caribbean and Eastern Pacific regions continues, and drug traffickers
are still relying heavily on maritime modes of transportation. 
Recent information shows that traffickers are using "go-fast" boats,
fishing vessels, coastal freighters, and other vessels in the
Caribbean and fishing and cargo vessels with multiton loads in the
Eastern Pacific.  Also, recent estimates indicate that, of all
cocaine moving through the transit zone, 38 percent (234 metric tons)
is being shipped through the Eastern Pacific. 

Although the United States has continued to provide technical
assistance and equipment to many Caribbean and other transit zone
countries, the amount of cocaine seized by most of the countries is
small relative to the estimated amounts flowing through the area. 
The counterdrug efforts of many transit zone countries continue to be
hampered by limited resources and capabilities.  Moreover, the United
States does not have bilateral maritime agreements with 12 transit
zone countries to facilitate interdiction activities. 

Also since our prior report, the United States has increased funding
but has had limited success in detecting, monitoring, and
interdicting air and maritime trafficking in the transit zone. 
JIATF-East assets devoted to these efforts have stayed at almost the
same level.  However, drug-trafficking events are usually not
detected and, when detected, often do not result in narcotics
seizures.  U.S.  counternarcotics officials believe that the Eastern
Pacific--a major drug-threat area--could benefit from greater
attention.  JIATF-East has requested additional resources from DOD to
address Eastern Pacific drug trafficking, believing that cocaine
seizures it supports could be doubled.  DOD has not determined what,
if any, additional support will be allocated to the Eastern Pacific
above current force levels.  In 1996, the U.S.  Customs Service and
U.S.  Coast Guard initiated two intensive operations in and around
Puerto Rico and the U.S.  Virgin Islands that resulted in increased
cocaine seizures and a disruption in drug-trafficking patterns. 

In response to our recommendation in our earlier report that ONDCP
develop a regional plan of action, ONDCP officials told us that it
developed an overall strategy that identifies agency roles, missions,
and tasks to execute the drug strategy and establish task priorities. 
However, the strategy does not include quantitative objectives for
activities that would establish a defined baseline for developing
operational plans and resource requirements.  According to ONDCP, its
performance measurement system remains incomplete, as of October 1,
1997, because proposed measurable targets, the core of ONDCP's
system, are still under review.  Until these measurable targets are
developed, it will not be possible to hold agencies accountable for
their performance.  In addition, law enforcement agencies with
jurisdiction in the Caribbean are in the process of developing a
regional plan led by DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and
the U.S.  Customs Service.  This plan is expected to be completed by
January 1998. 


   COCAINE FLOW THROUGH THE
   TRANSIT ZONE CONTINUES TO
   THREATEN THE UNITED STATES
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

According to the Department of State's 1997 International Narcotics
Control Strategy Report, about 760 metric tons of cocaine were
produced in South America in 1996.\\3 Of this amount, U.S.  officials
estimate that about 608 metric tons moved through the transit zone
destined for U.S.  markets and 40 metric tons transited to Europe. 
The officials acknowledge, however, that estimates of the amount of
cocaine that enters the United States are based on limited
intelligence and other information and may not reflect the actual
cocaine flow.\4 Maritime conveyances continue to be the predominant
means for smuggling cocaine into the United States. 

The Eastern Pacific and Western and Eastern Caribbean are the
principal cocaine smuggling routes from South America to the United
States.  U.S.  interagency 1996 estimates indicated that of the 608
metric tons of cocaine destined for the United States, 234 metric
tons flowed through the Eastern Pacific, 264 metric tons flowed
through the Western Caribbean, and 110 metric tons flowed through the
Eastern Caribbean.  About 52 percent of the U.S.-bound cocaine
transited Mexico and Central America.  As shown in figure 1, the
United States is the principal destination for cocaine smuggled in
the transit zone. 

   Figure 1:  1996 Cocaine Flow in
   the Western Hemisphere

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  U.S.  Interagency Assessment of Cocaine Movement. 

U.S.  interagency estimates for the first 2 quarters of 1997 showed
that cocaine continued to be moved mostly by maritime conveyances and
Mexico was the principal destination.  According to interagency
estimates, Mexico and Central America received 59 percent of the
cocaine during this period.  The Caribbean countries accounted for 30
percent of the flow, and 11 percent was shipped directly to the
United States from source countries.  Also, U.S.  law enforcement
agencies noted some changes in trafficking patterns in and around
Puerto Rico.  They attributed this change to increased U.S.  law
enforcement efforts in this area. 

According to the DEA Caribbean Field Division, the Eastern Caribbean
corridor remains a prolific drug-trafficking route.  South American
traffickers continue to use the Bahamas and islands in the Leeward,
Windward, and Hispaniola routes as staging and transshipment areas. 
Cocaine loads originate in Colombia or Venezuela and are moved by air
or large motherships to smaller vessels in the Eastern Caribbean. 
The many unguarded airstrips and coastlines of the Caribbean islands
make it easy for traffickers to refuel or store cocaine for further
shipment directly to the United States or through Puerto Rico. 

According to DEA, Puerto Rico is a popular gateway to the United
States and a principal staging destination for South American drug
traffickers.  Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica have also
experienced increased drug-smuggling activity.  For example, DEA has
indicated that, in the past, the role of Dominicans in the drug
business was limited to "pick-up crews" and couriers who assisted
Puerto Rican smugglers.  Today, Dominicans have sophisticated
drug-smuggling operations and use advanced security systems and
telephone communications to move and sell cocaine in the Caribbean
and the United States, according to DEA.  Even with heightened
enforcement, offshore airdrops along the southern coast of the
Dominican Republic and in the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and
the Dominican Republic continue.  In addition, the Department of
State has reported that thousands of kilograms of cocaine have been
smuggled over the border from Haiti into the Dominican Republic,
whose army has had little success in stopping the flow of drugs. 

Although the Eastern Caribbean remains a major route for illegal drug
trafficking, the larger quantities of cocaine pass through Mexico via
the Eastern Pacific and Western Caribbean corridors.  U.S. 
interagency estimates show that, in 1996, 314 metric tons of cocaine
reached Mexico for eventual movement to the United States through the
Eastern Pacific and Western Caribbean channels.  Of this amount,
about 70 percent was shipped through the Eastern Pacific.  Multiton
shipments of cocaine depart Colombia, Panama, or Ecuador
predominantly by noncommercial maritime means and travel north via
the Pacific Ocean.  Shipments reach Mexico directly or are unloaded
at sites along the Central American coast to smaller vessels.  The
U.S.  interagency also estimates that about 30 percent of the cocaine
entering Mexico passed through the Western Caribbean. 


--------------------
\3 According to the Department of State, estimated worldwide cocaine
availability is based on potential production of crop harvest yield
and the assumption that all coca leaf will be converted to cocaine. 

\4 JIATF-East officials said factors such as seizure data, shipments
to non-U.S.  markets, and consumption in the source zone were not
considered in cocaine flow assessments prior to 1997.  However, the
U.S.  international counternarcotics policy interagency working
group, responsible for generating cocaine flow estimates, plans to
include these factors in preparing its estimate of the 1997 flow. 
The working group is composed of U.S.  law enforcement and defense
agencies involved in counternarcotics programs. 


      COCAINE SEIZURES IN THE
      TRANSIT ZONE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1

Overall cocaine seizures in the transit zone\5 have increased from 61
metric tons in 1994 to 66 metric tons in 1995 and to 80 metric tons
in 1996, according to JIATF-East.  These amounts include seizures by
U.S.  agencies at sea and local law enforcement authorities in Mexico
and Caribbean and Central American countries.  Of the 1996 seizures,
53 metric tons were seized by transit zone countries and 27 metric
tons were seized by the United States at sea.  Seizures by Mexico and
Central American countries accounted for about 40 of the 80 metric
tons seized in 1996. 


--------------------
\5 These seizures do not include those made in Puerto Rico and the
U.S.  Virgin Islands, which are considered arrival zone seizures. 


      MARITIME SMUGGLING CONTINUES
      TO DOMINATE ACTIVITY IN THE
      TRANSIT ZONE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.2

Since 1993, cocaine traffickers have continued to increase their
reliance on maritime vessels.  According to JIATF-East, the number of
known maritime drug-trafficking events has increased by 41 percent,
from 174 events in 1993 to 246 in 1996.  A "known event" is the
confirmed movement of illegal drugs supported by seizure of drugs,
observation of activities that can reasonably be attributed to drug
smuggling, or reliable intelligence.  Table 1 shows air and maritime
known events for 1992-96. 



                                Table 1
                
                   Air and Maritime Drug-Trafficking
                            Events, 1992-96

                                             Air           Maritime
                                        --------------  --------------
                                                Percen          Percen
                                                     t               t
                                                    of              of
Year                                    Events   total  Events   total
--------------------------------------  ------  ------  ------  ------
1992                                       344     Not      \a      \a
                                                applic
                                                  able
1993                                       217      55     174      45
1994                                       154      41     223      59
1995                                       125      33     249      67
1996                                        86      26     246      74
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  Events originating in Mexico and the Far East were excluded. 

\a Maritime data for 1992 are not available. 

Source:  JIATF-East. 

According to JIATF-East, the most significant maritime drug-smuggling
modes of transportation involve "go-fast" boats in the Caribbean and
fishing vessels in the Eastern Pacific.  The "go-fast" boats are
difficult to detect and interdict because they are small and capable
of speeds that enable them to successfully evade law enforcement
pursuits, according to the U.S.  Coast Guard.  The boats are between
25 and 45 feet in length, can routinely carry up to a ton of cocaine
per trip, travel predominantly by night, and have refueling
capability to complete cocaine runs in one day.  In the first quarter
of 1997, 38 of the 69 known maritime events, or 55 percent, in the
transit zone involved "go-fast" boats.  As illustrated in figure 2,
maritime smuggling events by "go-fast" boats is on an upward trend. 

   Figure 2:  Maritime Smuggling
   Events in the Caribbean,
   1995-97 ( first quarter )

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

\a Data for 1997 are through March 31. 

Source:  JIATF-East. 

DEA has also reported an increase in the use of canoes by Jamaican
smugglers and "yolas" by Dominican smugglers.  The yola is an open
vessel with twin motors for propulsion and the ability to refuel
rapidly.  DEA reported that Bahamian and Jamaican transportation
groups use yolas to smuggle cocaine loads into the Bahamas from
either airdrops or boat-to-boat transfers off the coast of Jamaica. 
These groups then use the territorial waters of Cuba to shield their
movements for eventual unloading to pleasure craft, which can easily
blend in with inter-island boat traffic.  A U.S.  Customs Service
official told us that "go-fast," recreational, and commercial fishing
vessels move rapidly from the Bahamas to smuggle drugs into Florida. 

In the Eastern Pacific, cocaine traffickers use large fishing vessels
that have been retrofitted with hidden compartments and have been
known to carry as much as 11 metric tons of cocaine.  The largest
amount of cocaine is smuggled through the Eastern Pacific, and the
vast majority is delivered into Mexico, where it continues northbound
over land.  JIATF-East reported that, between May and December of
1996, there were 27 known or possible events in the Eastern Pacific. 
Figure 3 shows typical maritime vessels most commonly used by drug
traffickers in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific corridors. 

   Figure 3:  Typical Maritime
   Vessels Used by Drug
   Traffickers in the Transit Zone

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  JIATF-East.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


   HOST NATION COUNTERDRUG
   CAPABILITIES REMAIN LIMITED
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

As we reported in April 1996, host countries in the Caribbean
continue to be hampered by inadequate counternarcotics capabilities. 
While the drug flow through the transit zone continues at about the
same level, drug seizures by most countries in this region are
minimal.  During the last
2 years, the United States has continued its efforts to strengthen
host countries' capabilities to complement and support U.S. 
interdiction efforts.  These efforts include commitments made at the
May 1997 Caribbean/United States Summit in Barbados and new bilateral
agreements that promote increased air and maritime cooperation with
countries that have not yet signed agreements.  The Department of
State points out, however, that the best-trained, best-equipped
antidrug units cannot succeed for long without the determined
commitment of host government political authorities. 


      CAPABILITIES IN TRANSIT ZONE
      COUNTRIES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.1

As we reported in April 1996, many host nations have weak economies
and insufficient resources for conducting law enforcement activities
in their coastal waters.  In the Caribbean, St.  Martin\6 has the
most assets for antidrug activities, with three cutters, eight patrol
boats, and two fixed-wing aircraft, whereas other Caribbean countries
have much less.  Nevertheless, the United States depends on support
from host nations and several European countries to help stop the
drug flow through the transit zone. 

In our 1996 report, we also noted that the need for law enforcement
training for host governments had been evident for some time.  In
recognition of this need, the Department of State provided about $7
million for training 6,700 persons throughout the world in fiscal
year 1996.  Other U.S.  agencies also have funded and conducted
training for some host nations.  In addition, at the Barbados Summit,
the United States committed to continuing to provide technical
assistance in such areas as law enforcement, judicial systems,
antimoney laundering, and other counterdrug activities.  To further
assist in implementation of U.S.  commitments, the Director of ONDCP
issued budget guidance that tasks departments and agencies to
implement commitments made at the summit. 

In March 1997, the Department of State reported corruption-related
problems in various transit zone countries, including Antigua, Aruba,
Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St.  Kitts, St. 
Vincent, and others.  Once the influence of drug trafficking becomes
entrenched, corruption inevitably follows and democratic government
may be placed in jeopardy.  Even in countries where the political
will to support antidrug activities exists, corruption can hinder
counterdrug efforts.  As we have previously reported, low salary
levels for law enforcement officers and other public servants
throughout much of the transit zone make them susceptible to
accepting bribes.\7

As shown in table 2, the amount of cocaine seized in eight Caribbean
countries rose from 6.79 metric tons in 1995 to 14.16 metric tons in
1996.\8 The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Haiti, the Netherlands
Antilles, and the United Kingdom Virgin Islands recorded some
increase in 1996, while seizures in the Dominican Republic and
Jamaica declined.  Significantly, Cuba accounted for most of the 1996
increase, represented by one seizure of 6.2 metric tons from the
disabled Honduran vessel Limerick that was boarded by the U.S.  Coast
Guard and later drifted into Cuban waters. 



                                Table 2
                
                 Cocaine Seizures in Selected Caribbean
                           Countries, 1992-96

                            (In metric tons)

Country                               1992   1993   1994   1995   1996
-----------------------------------  -----  -----  -----  -----  -----
Bahamas                               4.80   1.90   0.49   0.39   0.41
Cayman Islands                         N/A    N/A   0.05   0.31   2.20
Cuba                                  0.31   0.24   0.24  0.16\   6.30
                                                              a
Dominican Republic                    2.36   1.07   2.80   3.60   1.20
Haiti                                 0.06   0.15   0.72   0.55   1.40
Jamaica                               0.49   0.16   0.18   0.57   0.24
Netherlands Antilles                  0.09   0.37    N/A   0.11   0.71
U.K. Virgin Islands                   0.03   0.70   0.45   1.10   1.70
======================================================================
Total                                 8.14   4.59   4.93   6.79  14.16
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a Data is January to August. 

N/A = Not available. 

Sources:  Annual National Narcotics Intelligence and Consumers
Committee Reports and International Narcotics Control Strategy
Reports. 

One of JIATF-East's goals for Caribbean countries is to increase
their seizure rates to at least 15 percent of the cocaine estimated
to be passing through their territories.  In 1996, cocaine seizures
in most Caribbean countries were much lower than 15 percent.  In
Jamaica, for example, the seizure rate was only 1.2 percent, while in
Haiti it was 4.5 percent; the Dominican Republic, 3.6 percent; and
Mexico, 7 percent.\9 JIATF-East determined that, if these four
countries had achieved a 15-percent seizure rate during 1996,
seizures would have increased by 32 metric tons--from 26.12 metric
tons to 58.65 metric tons. 


--------------------
\6 According to a Department of State official, St.  Martin is not an
independent nation and receives some support from France and the
Netherlands. 

\7 Drug War:  Observations on the U.S.  International Drug Control
Strategy (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-182, June 27, 1995). 

\8 JIATF-East identified these countries as important transit zone
countries. 

\9 Mexico is considered part of the transit zone and is where most
cocaine seizures occur on land.  In 1996, Mexican seizures were 23.6
metric tons. 


      UNITED STATES LACKS
      BILATERAL MARITIME
      AGREEMENTS WITH 12 NATIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2

In its March 1997 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report,
the Department of State noted that, during 1996, the U.  S. 
government had negotiated an assortment of treaties and agreements
designated to serve as important new tools in fighting drug
trafficking.  One type of bilateral agreement is the maritime
counterdrug agreement, generally consisting of six parts and granting
the United States full or partial permission for shipboarding,
shiprider, pursuit, entry to investigate, overflight, and order to
land.  There are 12 countries in the region with which the United
States currently has no formal counterdrug agreements.  These include
Barbados, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, French West Indies,
Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Suriname. 
Department of State officials told us the U.S.  government is
undertaking efforts to obtain additional agreements but that progress
has been impeded by host government concerns about sovereignty and
legal issues.  The United States currently has six-part agreements
with 5--Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St.  Kitts & Nevis, St.  Lucia,
and Trinidad & Tobago--of the 28 countries in the region and partial
agreements (from one to four parts) with 11 other countries.  See
table 3 for information regarding U.S.  bilateral counterdrug
agreements with transit zone countries. 




                                     Table 3
                     
                      U.S. Bilateral Counterdrug Agreements,
                                as of August 1997

                                             Entry to
         Shipboardi                          investigat              Order to
         ng          Shiprider   Pursuit     e           Overflight  land
-------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  -----------
Antigua  X           X           X           X           X           X
&
Barbuda

Bahamas              X                                   X

Barbado
s\a

Belize   X           X           X           X

Costa
Rica

Cuba

Dominic  X           X           X           X
a

Dominic  X           X           X           X           \b
an
Republi
c

Ecuador

El
Salvado
r

French
West
Indies

Grenada  X           X           X           X           X           X

Guatema
la

Haiti                            X           X           X

Hondura
s

Jamaica
\a

Mexico

Netherl              X           X           X           X
ands
Antille
s

Nicarag
ua

Panama               X

St.      X           X           X           X           X           X
Kitts &
Nevis

St.      X           X           X           X           X           X
Lucia

St.      X           X           X           X
Vincent
/
Grenadi
nes

Surinam
e

Trinida  X           X           X           X           X           X
d &
Tobago

Turks &              X-air only
Caicos

U.K.     X           X
West
Indies

Venezue  X                       X-air only
la
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  Empty cells indicate no agreement in this area. 

\a Agreements with Barbados and Jamaica have been signed but
implementation is pending ratification by host government parliaments
and approval of implementation legislation. 

\b The Dominican Republic has granted temporary overflight authority
over its territorial waters to dissuade and detect illegal migration
and illegal drug trafficking through March 15, 1998. 

Shipboarding:  = Standing authority for the U.S.  Coast Guard to
stop, board, and search foreign vessels suspected of illicit traffic
located seaward of the territorial sea of any nation. 

Shiprider:  = Standing authority to embark law enforcement officials
on vessel platforms of the parties.  These officials may then
authorize certain law enforcement actions. 

Pursuit:  = Standing authority for U.S.  law enforcement assets to
pursue fleeing vessels or aircraft suspected of illicit drug traffic
into foreign waters or airspace.  May also include authority to stop,
board, and search pursued vessels. 

Entry to investigate:  = Standing authority for U.S.  law enforcement
assets to enter foreign waters or airspace to investigate vessels or
aircraft located therein suspected of illicit drug traffic.  May also
include authority to stop, board, and search such vessels. 

Overflight:  = Standing authority for U.S.  law enforcement assets to
fly in foreign airspace when in support of counterdrug operations. 

Order to land:  = Standing authority for U.S.  law enforcement assets
to order to land in the host nation aircraft suspected of illicit
drug traffic. 

Source:  U.S.  Coast Guard. 

Bilateral agreements are not uniform and some provide very limited
rights to U.S.  law enforcement authorities.  For example, a
U.S.-Belize agreement allows U.S.  Coast Guard personnel to board
suspected Belizean-flagged vessels on the high seas without prior
notification to the Government of Belize.  Also, the U.S.  shiprider
agreement with Panama contains restrictions that require U.S.  Coast
Guard vessels operating in Panamanian territorial waters to be
escorted by a Government of Panama ship.  In contrast, other
agreements do not include this restriction. 


   U.S.  FUNDING AND EFFORTS IN
   THE TRANSIT ZONE
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

Although budgets for most federal activities in the transit zone
increased in fiscal year 1997, the number of JIATF-East maritime and
air assets and resources for detection and monitoring have remained
relatively unchanged since fiscal years 1995-96 (we have provided
data through August 1997, however).  Seizures of drugs supported by
JIATF-East have dropped.  In addition, JIATF-East believes the
Eastern Pacific merits greater attention.  Assets have been
inadequate in this area, JIATF-East says.  Although JIATF-East has
asked for additional resources from DOD to support an 18-month
operation in the Eastern Pacific, DOD has not decided whether to
grant this request.  In the Caribbean, two agencies--the U.S.  Coast
Guard and the U.S.  Customs Service--increased their counterdrug
efforts, including conducting two "surge" operations to seize and
disrupt cocaine smuggling activity in and around Puerto Rico and the
U.S.  Virgin Islands in 1996.  Furthermore, intelligence sharing
among some U.S.  agencies has been problematic. 


      U.S.  COUNTERNARCOTICS
      FUNDING HAS INCREASED SINCE
      FISCAL YEAR 1995
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.1

U.S.  counternarcotics funding in the transit zone increased by about
$33 million from fiscal year 1995 to fiscal year 1996 and is
estimated to increase by an additional $97 million in fiscal year
1997, as shown in
table 4.  Most of the fiscal year 1997 increase is due to a onetime
allotment to DOD to modify a P3 aircraft for interdiction activities. 
According to JIATF-East officials, the modifications have not yet
been completed.  The officials also noted that, when the P3 becomes
operational, it is likely to be used in the transit zone as well as
in other areas as needed. 



                                     Table 4
                     
                       U.S. Counternarcotics Funding in the
                        Transit Zone, Fiscal Years 1991-98

                              (Dollars in millions)

                                                             Estimate   Request
                                                             ---------  --------
Agency         1991    1992    1993    1994    1995    1996       1997      1998
-----------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ---------  --------
DOD          $407.1  $504.5  $426.0  $220.4  $214.7  $228.9     $304.6    $238.1
USCG          565.2   443.9   310.5   234.1   301.2   323.2      335.7     388.7
USCS             \a      \a    16.2    12.5    10.1     4.5        6.2       6.6
DEA            26.2    28.8    29.1    28.7    29.6    34.0       31.7      36.7
State          35.9    36.2    14.0     7.9    10.6     8.5       18.4      18.5
================================================================================
Total        $1,034  $1,013  $795.8  $503.6  $566.2  $599.1     $696.6    $688.6
                 .4      .4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Legend

USCG = U.S.  Coast Guard
USCS = U.S.  Customs Service

Note:

1.  U.S.  Coast Guard data for 1994 are different from the data
presented in our April 1996 report because of updated information
provided by the U.S.  Coast Guard.

2.  U.S.  Customs Service data do not include funding for Puerto Rico
and the U.S.  Virgin Islands.  These areas are territories of the
United States, and funding is not included as part of the transit
zone. 

\a Customs data for 1991-92 are not available. 

Source:  Indicated federal agencies. 


      JIATF-EAST MARITIME AND AIR
      ASSETS REMAIN UNCHANGED
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.2

Between fiscal year 1995 and 1996, there was little change in
JIATF-East maritime assets and flight hours devoted to interdiction
in the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific (see tables 5 and 6). 
However, a significant decline in DOD funding began in fiscal years
1993 and 1994.  These declines resulted in a 40-percent reduction in
U.S.  maritime assets by fiscal year 1994.  As indicted in table 5,
the number of shipdays in 1996 was 1,645 shipdays less than in 1993,
when it was at its highest level.  The reductions involved almost all
classes of ships. 



                                     Table 5
                     
                       JIATF-East Maritime Assets, 1992-97
                                  (through July)

                             (In number of shipdays)

                                                                            1997
Ship                                                                    (through
type          1992        1993        1994        1995        1996         July)
------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ------------
DOD
Logist         287          71          40           0           0             0
 ics
Cruise         558         753         742         488         360           256
 r
Destro         699         602         118         224         336           114
 yer
Frigat       2,008       1,441         785         727         509           333
 e
Amphib          87         188           9           0           0             0
 ious
Coast            0         138           0         401         654           421
 Guard
Other\         533       1,255         974       1,005         944           607
 a
================================================================================
Total        4,172       4,448       2,668       2,845       2,803         1,731
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  U.S.  Coast Guard shipdays do not include all U.S.  Coast
Guard efforts in the transit zone.  For example, in 1991, 1992, and
1994, the U.S.  Coast Guard reported no shipdays devoted to
JIATF-East, but spent 4,872, 3,395, and 1,659 shipdays, respectively,
in its overall counterdrug activities.  The decline in 1994 efforts
was a direct result of extensive resources diverted from the
counterdrug missions to support massive alien migration operations. 

\a Other ship types include hydrofoils, patrol craft, and T-AGOS
radar ships. 

Source:  JIATF-East. 

Flight hours by JIATF-East air assets to support detection and
monitoring declined by only 4 percent between 1995 and 1996. 
However, the drop between 1993 and 1994 was 27 percent, reflecting a
decrease in DOD funding in fiscal year 1994.  The flight hours for
P3C, a maritime patrol aircraft, have continued to decline from 1992
through August 1997.  JIATF-East stated that the maritime patrol
aircraft are required for addressing both the "go-fast" boat threat
in the Caribbean and fishing vessels in the Eastern Pacific. 



                                     Table 6
                     
                         JIATF-East Air Assets, 1992-1997
                                 (through August)

                           (In number of flight hours)

Airc                                                                        1997
raft                                                                    (through
type        1992        1993        1994        1995        1996         August)
----  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  --------------
C130         417          97           0           0           0               0
C141         268          35           0           0           0               0
E2         4,547       3,608       4,098       3,501       3,618           2,288
E3         2,734       3,177       1,761       1,125         963             882
F15/         574         393         455         348         266             148
 F16
KC13         995       1,233         827         800         813             360
 5
P3C       16,270      12,122       9,822       9,811       9,290           5,936
S3         1,644         311         228           0          12               0
SH2F       2,876       1,854         262           0           0             395
SH60       4,611       3,710       1,980       2,930       2,751           1,361
 B
C5            76           0           0           0           0               0
EC13          62           0           0           0           0               0
 0
H46D          58           0           0           0           0               0
UH60         633           0           0           0           0               0
OV10         240           0           0           0           0               0
U2           512           0           0           0           0               0
================================================================================
Tota      36,517      26,540      19,433      18,515      17,713          11,370
 l
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  Flight hours are not inclusive of all U.S.  transit zone
efforts. 

Source:  JIATF-East. 


      SEIZURES SUPPORTED BY
      JIATF-EAST HAVE DECLINED
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.3

JIATF-East-supported seizures in 1996 were substantially less than
its peak of nearly 70 metric tons seized in 1992 and slightly less
than in 1995 (see fig.  4).  Also, maritime seizures have continued
to increase as a proportion of total seizures. 

   Figure 4:  Interagency Cocaine
   Seizures Supported by
   JIATF-East, 1989-97 (first
   quarter)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  Data for 1997 are through March 31. 

Source:  JIATF-East. 


      LIMITED U.S.  SUCCESS
      AGAINST MARITIME DRUG
      SMUGGLING
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.4

JIATF-East believes its capabilities to detect and monitor maritime
vessels in the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific are restricted. 
Even when a drug-smuggling event is detected, U.S.  capability to
interdict the smugglers is limited.  For example, only about 52
percent of the 246 known maritime events detected in 1996 resulted in
an apprehension, seizure, or jettison. 


         "GO-FAST" BOATS
-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.4.1

According to a JIATF-East official, detecting and monitoring
"go-fast" boats is difficult because there is often little tactical
intelligence on when these events will occur and limited marine
patrol aircraft assets equipped with radar and night-vision
capability to deal with this problem.  For example, during the first
quarter of 1997, JIATF-East detected only 8 of 23 "go-fast" events
that originated in South America.  JIATF-East noted that U.S.  law
enforcement agencies detected six additional events without
JIATF-East support.  Of the eight detected events, six were detected
by maritime patrol aircraft and resulted in three jettisons and three
seizures.  The remaining two events were detected by radar ships but
escaped and presumably completed their delivery.  In addition, U.S. 
Coast Guard officials told us that, other than visual identification
of the wake of "go-fast" boats, detection is nearly impossible
without more-advanced sensors, especially at night when most of these
events occur. 


         LIMITED COVERAGE IN THE
         EASTERN PACIFIC
-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.4.2

According to U.S.  officials, the small amount of aircraft and
maritime assets hinders U.S.  interdiction efforts in the Eastern
Pacific.  In that area, U.S.  air and marine capability to interdict
commercial and noncommercial fishing vessels is limited.  In May
1996, JIATF-East initiated Operation Caper Focus to better define the
nature of the cocaine smuggling threat in the Eastern Pacific. 
Before the operation began, JIATF-East had little intelligence on the
smuggling methods used and quantities being transported in this area. 
JIATF-East estimated that, from May 1996 through June 1997, 43 known
or possible maritime smuggling events occurred in the Eastern
Pacific, and only 4 resulted in seizures.  These events were detected
from among hundreds of fishing vessels that routinely operate in the
Eastern Pacific.  JIATF-East officials indicated they have relatively
little chance of detecting and monitoring these events because they
currently have only 2 surface ships and about 200 flight hours of
marine patrol aircraft per month dedicated to the area. 


      AIR EVENTS DETECTED BUT FEW
      SEIZURES MADE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.5

In 1996, JIATF-East reported that of 86 known air events, 26 resulted
in an apprehension, seizure, or jettison.  According to JIATF-East, a
successful interdiction generally involves a number of steps.  It may
start with an initial detection by Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar
(ROTHR) systems or a radar ship, followed by a handoff to an asset
equipped with an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) system.  The aircraft
will find the detected suspect and hand it off to an interceptor
aircraft, which will monitor the suspect for ultimate handoff to a
law enforcement agency.  An analysis by JIATF-East showed that if any
of the required assets, especially AEW-equipped assets, are not in
place, the chances of a successful interdiction diminish. 

A JIATF-East analysis of known air events from October 1996 to May
1997 showed that something usually went wrong that prevented a
successful interdiction.  During this period, there were 27 known
events in the Yucatan region.  Of these, five were not known until
after the drugs were delivered.  In the remaining 22 detected events,
only 4 resulted in a successful seizure.  The main reasons for lack
of success were limitations in ROTHR to handoff tracks, lack of
AEW-equipped assets, and inadequate response and apprehension
capabilities by host nation law enforcement agencies.  For example,
the analysis showed that without AEW-equipped assets, JIATF-East was
able to track and hand off the suspect aircraft to law enforcement
agencies only 18 percent of the time.  Even when an AEW-equipped
asset was available, JIATF-East analysis showed that it was able to
track the suspect aircraft to the handoff point only 45 percent of
the time because either the AEW-equipped asset or the interceptor
failed to pick up the track from ROTHR.  Finally, the lack of
available local law enforcement support further reduced the results
of adequate tracking.  For example, JIATF-East reported that of the
seven adequately monitored tracks, three did not result in a seizure
because local law enforcement authorities in Guatemala did not have
the assets to respond. 


         RADAR CAPABILITY LIMITED
-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.5.1

In 1994, the United States had 26 various radar assets that supported
counterdrug efforts.  Between 1994 and 1995, however, DOD deactivated
nine radar assets.  When this occurred, U.S.  law enforcement
officials told us that reductions in radar capability hampered their
operations.\10 However, during 1994 and 1995, the United States
activated two ROTHR systems to cover the Caribbean.  Although the
ROTHR systems provide a larger area of coverage footprint than
microwave radars, ROTHR has less probability to handoff (rather than
detect) an air event to law enforcement agencies because it is not as
accurate in vectoring in interceptions as microwave radars.  (See
app.  I for an overview of radar coverage capability.)

JIATF-East acknowledged that reduced radar capability continues to
limit operational successes today.  According to JIATF-East, radar
assets have not changed since our prior report and radar capabilities
have further been exacerbated by a long term outage of the Guantanamo
Bay radar because of no funding for operations and maintenance.  In
commenting on our draft report, U.S.  Coast Guard officials told us
the Guantanamo Bay radar is expected to be reactivated in the near
future. 


--------------------
\10 Drug Control:  U.S.  Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean
Decline (GAO/NSIAD-96-119, Apr.  17, 1996). 


      JIATF-EAST HAS REQUESTED
      ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.6

Although JIATF-East acknowledges that U.S.  capabilities to detect
and monitor "go-fast" boats in the Caribbean and aircraft throughout
the transit zone are limited, it currently believes that targeting
multiton cargo vessels in the Eastern Pacific provides the richest
target of opportunity to seize large quantities of cocaine. 
Accordingly, JIATF-East has requested two additional ships and an
additional 450 aircraft surveillance flight hours per month from
DOD.\11 JIATF-East believes that with these assets the United States
can increase annual cocaine seizures by an additional 40 metric tons. 
DOD, however, has indicated that it will not be able to fully support
JIATF-East's request because of other priorities. 

At present, two surface ships and about 200 flight hours are assigned
to the Eastern Pacific per month.  Most of the assigned U.S.  air and
marine assets support Caribbean interdiction efforts.  JIATF-East
officials told us that, although the United States could seize larger
amounts of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific, JIATF-East is unwilling to
transfer assets from the Caribbean.  The Director of JIATF-East told
us that the Caribbean counternarcotics programs have more "voice and
visibility" in terms of political support from both the United States
and island nations.  He acknowledged that the United States has
worked with Caribbean nations to build continued support for fighting
the war on drugs and any movement of assets may have undesirable
political consequences.  Between May and December of 1996, JIATF-East
temporarily shifted assets from the Caribbean to implement Operation
Caper Focus in the Eastern Pacific.  The temporary operation resulted
in 27 metric tons of cocaine that were either seized or jettisoned,
as well as improved intelligence on smuggling methods and routes in
the region.  Before this operation, few seizures had occurred in this
region, and none took place during the first quarter of 1997--after
the operation ended. 

As previously discussed, JIATF-East has requested additional assets
from DOD to support an 18-month Eastern Pacific operation.\12
JIATF-East estimated such assets would double the seizures it
supports from the current level of 40 metric tons annually to 80
metric tons.  In June 1997, ONDCP provided interagency budget
guidance that directed the agencies to expand operational support to
Operation Caper Focus.  In July, ONDCP informed high-level DOD
officials that interdiction resources were inadequate to support the
national strategy and that the interdiction effectiveness of
Operation Caper Focus was at risk.  According to DOD officials, a
decision is pending as to what, if any, additional support will be
allocated to the Eastern Pacific above current force levels. 


--------------------
\11 The JIATF-East request included additional P3 flight hours and
additional ships (for example, a Navy frigate and oiler). 

\12 JIATF-East estimates that $24.4 million in incremental funding
would be required.  The funding includes $12.6 million for forward
deployment of aircraft to Panama and the increased intelligence cost
at JIATF-East, and $11.8 million for a U.S.  Navy oiler. 


      INCREASED INTERDICTION
      EFFORTS BY U.S.  LAW
      ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.7

Since 1995, the U.S.  Coast Guard and U.S.  Customs Service have
reported some increases in interdiction activities in the transit
zone.  Both agencies conduct counterdrug activities that are in
addition to the shipdays and flight hours provided in support of
JIATF-East.  For example, in 1996, the U.S.  Customs Service and U.S. 
Coast Guard launched Operations Gateway and Frontier Shield,
respectively, to disrupt cocaine trafficking in and around Puerto
Rico and the U.S.  Virgin Islands.  According to ONDCP officials, the
operations have been successful, as indicated by increases in the
street prices of cocaine in Puerto Rico.  DEA officials noted that
the wholesale price, considered a better indicator, doubled in San
Juan, Puerto Rico, from April to late May 1997.  As of September,
prices had declined but were still higher than in April. 

Seizures of cocaine during the first year of Operation Gateway
increased by about 30 percent in comparison to seizures before the
start of the operation.  In the year prior to the operation, seizures
were about 11 metric tons while seizures during the first year of the
operation were about 14 metric tons.  Actual fiscal year 1996 funding
for Operation Gateway was $2.4 million, and planned funding for
fiscal year 1997 was $30.1 million.  In its One-Year Report on the
Operation (covering the period ending February 28, 1997), the U.S. 
Customs Service noted a number of problems, including duplication and
confusion in the procurement of equipment and services, a lack of
public affairs coordination with other agencies, and lengthy delays
in filling numerous authorized staff positions.  The U.S.  Customs
Service noted, however, that some of these problems were not within
its control and did not affect the overall performance of Operation
Gateway. 

The first 3 months of the U.S.  Coast Guard's Operation Frontier
Shield began with an initial "surge" of activity.  Subsequently,
operations were somewhat reduced but remained higher than before the
operation began.  According to the U.S.  Coast Guard, shipdays and
flight hours devoted to counterdrug missions increased to support the
surge operation.\13 During the first 10 months of the operation,
cocaine seizures totaled 10.7 metric tons, an increase of 5.8 metric
tons over the prior comparable 10-month period.\14 In July 1997, the
Secretary of Transportation reported that "assessments show a
decisive shift in drug traffic away from the Frontier Shield area of
operation" and that "drug runners are being forced to move their
operations elsewhere." U.S.  Coast Guard officials stated that the
shift in trafficking routes was anticipated in planning Operation
Frontier Shield and that additional efforts are planned or underway
to address this trafficking shift. 


--------------------
\13 According to the U.S.  Coast Guard, shipdays increased from 2,481
in fiscal year 1995 to 3,421 in fiscal year 1997; flight hours
increased from 9,405 in fiscal year 1995 to 14,500 in fiscal year
1997.  The increase was generally attributed to operations around
Puerto Rico.  The U.S.  Coast Guard shipdays and flight hours include
counternarcotics activities in both the transit zone and the arrival
zone. 

\14 According to a U.S.  Coast Guard official, some of the increases
may include seizures also reported by the U.S.  Customs Service for
Operation Gateway.  The interagency process is expected to remove any
duplication. 


      INTELLIGENCE SHARING ISSUES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.8

In 1996, we reported that intelligence sharing was a contentious
issue among various collectors and users of such data, including most
federal counterdrug agencies.  Since then, some initiatives to
improve intelligence sharing have begun.  For example, an interagency
review, initiated by ONDCP on September 18, 1997, is underway to look
at the national drug intelligence architecture.  The review will
assess the drug intelligence missions, functions, and resources of
the major federal counterdrug agencies.\15 According to ONDCP,
coordination among the intelligence program and between intelligence
producers and consumers will be a focus of the review. 

In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted that other law
enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in the Caribbean are
developing a regional plan for law enforcement in the Caribbean that
calls for expanding intelligence coordination.  A draft of the
regional plan is scheduled to be completed by January 1998. 

JIATF-East officials told us that there are inherent barriers in
sharing information between and among federal counternarcotics
agencies.\16

Specifically, law enforcement agencies are mainly focused on
individuals and drug organizations in the context of building cases
for arresting and prosecuting criminals.  In contrast, JIATF-East is
focused on tactical operations and obtaining information in support
of detecting and monitoring suspects and making successful and timely
law enforcement interdictions. 

DEA officials referred to their comments in our prior report that
noted that there are limitations on what intelligence DEA can legally
provide other federal agencies developed from grand jury information,
wiretaps, and court sealing orders.  They also noted that some
intelligence is not released to protect sources and the integrity of
ongoing investigations.  DEA officials also stated that the El Paso
Intelligence Center\17 provides JIATF-East with the necessary
information to track suspect aircraft and vessels until the
respective U.S.  and foreign authorities can take appropriate law
enforcement action. 


--------------------
\15 The missions of the constituent centers, such as the National
Drug Intelligence Center, the El Paso Intelligence Center, the
Director of Central Intelligence Crime and Narcotics Center, and the
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, will be reviewed. 

\16 We are currently conducting a review of information sharing among
federal counternarcotics agencies. 

\17 The center is the national tactical drug intelligence center and
provides actionable intelligence to JIATF-East. 


   U.S.  CARIBBEAN COUNTERDRUG
   ACTION PLAN NOT FULLY DEVELOPED
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

In April 1996, we recommended that the Director of ONDCP develop a
Caribbean plan of action that should at a minimum determine resources
and staffing needed and delineate a comprehensive strategy to improve
host nation capabilities.  In response to our recommendation, ONDCP
told us it provided a framework for addressing strategic objectives
in the transit zone in its classified annex to the National Drug
Control Strategy issued in February 1997.  ONDCP officials noted that
the operational tasks for implementing the framework, including
targets for measuring performance in that area, are still under
development.  They also noted that implementation of the strategy for
the transit zone is the responsibility of other federal agencies such
as the U.S.  Coast Guard, DEA, and DOD. 

According to ONDCP, its performance measurement system will provide
policymakers with new insights about which programs are effective and
which are not.  The system is intended to help guide adjustments to
the National Drug Control Strategy as conditions change, expectations
are met, or failure is noted.  The goals of the strategy form the
foundation of a 10-year plan, supported by a 5-year budget.  Each
goal is to be related to a measurable objective, further defined by
an outcome that the objective is to produce by 2002.  Each outcome is
to be quantified by performance targets that identify measurable
attainments.  ONDCP has instructed agencies to develop plans, without
being constrained by budget considerations, identifying how they will
make meaningful progress toward achieving a drug control mission.  As
of October 1, 1997, the performance measurement system remains
incomplete because proposed measurable targets, the core of ONDCP's
system, are still under review.  Since these measurable targets have
not yet been developed, agencies cannot be held accountable for their
performance. 


      ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.1

In April 1994, ONDCP and the participating agencies approved the
National Interdiction Command and Control Plan.  This plan provided
for establishing three geographically oriented counterdrug joint
interagency task forces.  The task forces were to be led and staffed
by DOD, the U.S.  Customs Service, and the U.S.  Coast Guard.  A
major premise of the plan was that the full-time personnel assigned
to the task forces would become stakeholders in their operations.  It
was anticipated that this would ensure close planning and operational
coordination; the availability of federal assets; and a seamless
handoff of suspected air, sea, or land targets.  Other agencies that
either had an interest in or were affected by the operation were to
provide liaison personnel.  Nevertheless, participating agencies have
not provided the required staffing to JIATF-East and, thus, it has
been dominated by DOD personnel and has not achieved the intended
interagency composition.  According to ONDCP, the revised September
17, 1997, plan places the task forces more under the control of DOD
sponsorship rather than remaining an interagency center. 

As of July 1997, little has changed since our last report; many of
the key civilian positions have remained unfilled.  Thus, JIATF-East
is still predominately staffed by DOD personnel and has not achieved
the interagency mix initially hoped for at its creation.  Of the 184
authorized permanent positions, 132 were DOD, 21 were U.S.  Coast
Guard, and 31 were other agencies' position.  Thirty-seven authorized
positions were vacant.  DOD had filled 117 of its 132 authorized
positions and the U.S.  Coast Guard had filled 17 of 21.  However,
various other agencies had assigned staff to only 13 of 31 authorized
positions, compared to having assigned staff to
11 of 27 authorized positions as of November 1995.  The U.S.  Customs
Service, for example, had filled only 7 of 22 positions, compared to
1995 when it had filled 8 positions; the 1 authorized Department of
State position has never been filled.  JIATF-East has periodically
requested the civilian agencies to staff these positions, but the
agencies have not done so. 


   CONCLUSION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

Since our last report, JIATF-East has more clearly identified the
problem of "go-fast" boats in the Caribbean and fishing vessels in
the Eastern Pacific, identified shortcomings in its detection and
monitoring capabilities, and requested additional resources to
address the problem.  Also, the U.S.  Coast Guard and the U.S. 
Customs Service have launched two surge operations in and around
Puerto Rico and the U.S.  Virgin Islands that have resulted in
seizing additional quantities of cocaine and changing
drug-trafficking patterns.  By identifying the anticipated benefits
from providing additional resources to the transit zone, JIATF-East
has taken an important step in adding accountability to the
drug-interdiction effort.  Notwithstanding these efforts, the overall
amount of cocaine seized in the transit zone has not disrupted the
flow and availability of cocaine in the United States. 

We believe ONDCP has not fully addressed our prior recommendation to
develop a regional plan.  We continue to believe that a transit zone
plan that includes quantitative goals and objectives that will allow
policymakers to determine resource requirements and to evaluate the
potential benefits of regional interdiction efforts is essential.  An
effective transit zone operation is an integral part of the U.S. 
strategy to limit drug availability in the United States.  But it
alone will not be the solution to the drug problem.  A regional plan
should be a subset to ONDCP's overall strategy.  Therefore, it is
important that ONDCP develop a comprehensive plan that provides a
blueprint for how efforts in the transit zone countries are going to
reduce the flow of cocaine.  Without such a plan, it is not possible
to judge the merits of individual activities in terms of what are the
most cost-effective measures in the counterdrug effort. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS AND OUR
   EVALUATION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

ONDCP in its written response (see app.  II) stated that it is in
general agreement with this report.  It provided clarification and
information on (1) its future plans, (2) the importance of source
country efforts in complementing those in the transit zone, (3)
activities of the U.S.  Coast Guard, (4) results from the Bridgetown
Summit, and (5) the changes to the revised National Interdiction
Command and Control Plan.  ONDCP recognized that current assets in
the transit zone are inadequate to accomplish the strategy and
identified recent initiatives to implement the strategy.  These
initiatives included a Caribbean action plan, a short-term
enhancement to transit zone interdiction, a 5-year asset plan for the
transit zone, intelligence sharing efforts, and a deterrence study. 
These initiatives are expected to provide linkage between planning,
development of performance measures, and assets required to implement
the strategy.  However, ONDCP did not provide time frames for
completing these initiatives. 

We obtained oral comments on a draft of this report from the
Department of State, DOD, DEA, the U.S.  Coast Guard, the U.S. 
Customs Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  None of
these agencies disagreed with our principal findings or our
conclusions.  However, several of these agencies indicated we had not
provided enough information about U.S.  counterdrug activities in the
transit zone other than those directed by JIATF-East.  In response to
their concerns, we have expanded our discussion of these other
activities, particularly those of the U.S.  Coast Guard and the U.S. 
Customs Service, and have added data on overall drug seizures in the
region.  Each of the commenting agencies suggested points of
clarification and we have incorporated them into the report where
appropriate.  In addition, we modified the report to include some
updated information provided by DOD and the U.S.  Coast Guard on
operational capabilities in the transit zone. 


   SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :9

To determine the nature of drug-trafficking in the transit zone, we
obtained reports from the U.S.  Coast Guard, DEA, the U.S.  Customs
Service, JIATF-East, ONDCP, and interagency assessments on cocaine
smuggling activities.  We analyzed and compared the data from these
reports with data from prior years to assess the degree of change in
the cocaine flow to the United States and drug traffickers' methods,
routes, and modes of transportation.  We also obtained assessment
briefings about the cocaine threat from DEA headquarters in
Washington, D.C.; the U.S.  Coast Guard Seventh District and U.S. 
Customs Service in Miami, Florida; and JIATF-East in Key West,
Florida. 

To obtain information on host nation capabilities and impediments to
their counternarcotics efforts, we reviewed various Department of
State cables and other relevant documents, including the annual
International Narcotics Control Strategy Reports.  We interviewed
officials from DEA, the U.S.  Coast Guard, the U.S.  Customs Service,
the Department of State, and JIATF-East and obtained information on
(1) host nation counterdrug capabilities, (2) the amount of
cooperation with the U.S.  counterdrug activities, and (3) the extent
of corruption in host nations.  We also interviewed officials from
the U.S.  Coast Guard, the Department of State, and JIATF-East for
information on the status of U.S.  bilateral maritime agreements with
host countries. 

To assess U.S.  counterdrug capabilities, we reviewed program and
budget documents and related information from numerous federal
agencies, including ONDCP, the Departments of Defense and State, the
U.S.  Coast Guard, the U.S.  Customs Service, and the U.S. 
Interdiction Coordinator.  We obtained summary reports from the U.S. 
Customs Service on Operation Gateway and the U.S.  Coast Guard on
Frontier Shield to determine their impact on reducing the flow of
cocaine to United States.  We interviewed and obtained information
from JIATF-East and other federal agencies on the resources and
capabilities of U.S.  interdiction efforts in the transit zone.  We
also documented U.S.  funding trends from 1991 to 1998 and assets
devoted to detection and monitoring to 1996. 

We interviewed key officials from DOD and U.S.  law enforcement
agencies to determine the extent of U.S.  planning, coordination, and
implementation of counterdrug programs in the transit zone.  We met
with ONDCP officials on the status of its implementation of our
recommendation to develop a plan of action for the Caribbean and its
efforts to develop performance measures for U.S.  counternarcotics
initiatives.  To obtain information on interagency staffing at
JIATF-East, we reviewed documents, obtained briefings, and
interviewed cognizant JIATF-East officials. 

We conducted our review between April and September 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :9.1

As arranged with you, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days
after its issue date.  At that time, we will send copies to other
interested congressional committees, the Director of ONDCP, the
Secretaries of State and Defense, the U.S.  Attorney General, the
Commissioner of the U.S.  Customs Service, the Commandant of the U.S. 
Coast Guard and the U.S.  Interdiction Coordinator, the Administrator
of DEA, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  We
will make copies of this report available to others upon request. 

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report,
please call me at (202) 512-4268.  The major contributors to this
were
Janice Villar Morrison, George Taylor, and Louis Zanardi. 

Jess T.  Ford, Associate Director
International Relations and Trade Issues


RADAR SURVEILLANCE CAPABILITIES
=========================================================== Appendix I

In 1994, the United States had 26 various radar assets that supported
counterdrug efforts in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.  Between
1994 and 1995, DOD deactivated nine radar assets.  However, during
1994 and 1995, the United States activated two Relocatable Over the
Horizon Radar (ROTHR) systems to cover the Caribbean, as shown in
figure 1.1.  According to the Joint Interagency Task Force
(JIATF)-East, radar surveillance capabilities illustrated for 1995
remained current as of September 1997. 

   Figure 1.1:  Radar Surveillance

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  Department of Defense. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix II
COMMENTS FROM THE OFFICE OF
NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY
=========================================================== Appendix I



(See figure in printed edition.)



(See figure in printed edition.)



(See figure in printed edition.)



(See figure in printed edition.)



(See figure in printed edition.)


The following are GAO's comments on the Office of National Drug
Control Policy's letter dated October 3, 1997. 

GAO COMMENTS

1.  We provided additional information concerning this point in the
report. 

2.  We recognize that the overall funding levels are not a reflection
of the assets allocated to JIATF-East.  Accordingly, we have added
several footnotes to make this distinction in the report. 


*** End of document. ***