FILE ID:95120610.LAR




TR95120610 (Speech at Miami Conference)  (590)

By Eric Green

USIA Staff Correspondent

MIAMI -- Today's criminal, drug, and terrorist organizations are

transnational in scope, operating with impunity and taking full

advantage of new technologies, says the State Department's top

official on international narcotics matters.

Robert Gelbard, assistant secretary of state for international

narcotics and law enforcement affairs, told the 19th annual Miami

Conference on the Caribbean and Latin America Dec. 6 that nations must

develop the means to fight a vast array of "cunning and wealthy

criminals whose operations now extend throughout entire regions and

even globally."

Using the Colombian drug traffickers as an example, he said criminals

have an enormous capacity for corrupting national political and

economic systems, "thus eroding society from the inside." And over the

past few years, drug traffickers such as the Cali cartel have become

dangerously sophisticated.

A former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Gelbard said drug traffickers

rely less now on "raw intimidation," the method of operation favored

by Colombia's Medellin cartel, and more and more on insidious methods

of financial corruption and political subversion, as employed by the

Cali group.

If there were an "elite international crime business school awarding

MBAs in economic manipulation and subversion," Gelbard said, the Cali

cartel would have run it. "And they would have had alumni highly

placed throughout not only Colombian government and society, but in

prominent and influential positions around the world as well."

The Cali group, he said, uses such sophisticated intelligence methods

as tapping into telephone lines, intercepting military, police,

government, and private communications and then developing a

"cutting-edge computer system to manage this vast intelligence base."

Extradition to the United States is the one thing criminals of all

sorts fear more than anything else, Gelbard said. He added that that

is why, by bribing officials participating in Colombia's

constitutional reform process in 1991, the criminals eliminated the

possibility of extradition to the United States.

So serious is the threat of international crime, Gelbard said, that

President Clinton told the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in

New York in October that he was proposing a five-part plan to attack

the problem.

Among the new initiatives Clinton proposed was possible sanctions on

nations and financial institutions that allow illicit funds to be

laundered through their financial systems.

In addition, Gelbard said, Clinton's initiatives included an executive

order to freeze U.S. assets of front companies and individuals

associated with the Cali cartel and to prohibit U.S. firms from

conducting business with them.

The president also called on members of the United Nations to

negotiate a Universal Declaration on Citizens Security that would

"affirm the serious threat to world security that international crime

poses and demonstrate a global commitment to combat it."

Gelbard said the administration also believes that the business

community must do its part to stop the globalization of organized

crime and make clear they will not tolerate illegal and unethical

business practices.

The president, Gelbard said, has made it clear that the key to success

against criminal organizations is government-to-government

cooperation, as well as through government cooperation with the

private sector.

The battle against the world's international criminals will not be a

quick or easy one, Gelbard acknowledged. "A problem that has been long

in the making will not be solved overnight. But that does not mean we

cannot make serious inroads into it."