(Washington, DC) – John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice today released publicly for the first time details of a classified Southwest Border Counternarcotics Plan aimed at significantly disrupting the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. The Strategy directs anti-drug improvements within seven specific areas: intelligence collection and information sharing, interdiction at ports of entry, interdiction between ports of entry, aerial surveillance and interdiction of smuggling aircraft, investigations and prosecutions, countering financial crime, and cooperation with Mexico.
Implementation of the Plan is already well underway. A recently completed classified Implementation Plan provides specific program, policy and budget guidance to agencies on the steps they are required to take to put the strategy in place. This Implementation Plan was drafted by an interagency working group chaired by the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement and the Department of Justice, Office of the Deputy Attorney General. The DHS/DOJ working group will continue to monitor strategy implementation and will provide regular updates to ONDCP.
John Walters, Director of ONDCP and President Bush's “Drug Czar,” stated, “Securing our borders is a top priority for the United States government. For too long, drug-related violence, addiction, crime, and corruption have taken a toll on citizens living on both sides of the Southwest border. We have a shared responsibility, with Mexico, to address this problem in a meaningful way. This balanced strategy will serve as effective response against violent drug trafficking organizations that work to undermine democracy and the rule of law.”
Already, coordinated Federal action at the border, combined with U.S. cooperation with the Government of Mexico, has led to a substantial disruption of illegal drug flow into the United States. Since taking office in December, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed thousands of Federal troops in an aggressive crackdown on drug trafficking and related violence along the border. More than 12,000 Mexican troops have participated in operations in over a dozen states to include Sonora, Sinaloa, Coahuila, Chihuahua, and the Federal District, among others. Additionally, the arrests of the Arrellano Felix brothers (Tijuana Cartel), and the arrests of Luis Reyes Enriquez and Juan Carlos de la Cruz Reyna (Gulf Cartel), have disrupted the ability of dangerous Mexican drug trafficking organizations to operate. The Government of Mexico also arrested Jose Luis Angulo and Pedro Mario Felix, along with 10 other drug smugglers in the northern city of Hermosillo on August 23 rd, key players in the Sinaloa Cartel. Mexico has also taken aggressive steps against methamphetamine production. Mexico has reduced the importation of methamphetamine precursors pseudoephedrine and ephedrine from a high of 216MT in 2004, to 12MT thus far in 2007. By January 2008 Mexico will completely ban import of these precursors and by January 2009 all licit use of these products will end. This remarkable commitment by Government of Mexico is putting tremendous pressure on meth supplies and we expect to see significant impact on domestic methamphetamine markets within the next three months.
Increased pressure in Mexico has occurred at the same time as an unprecedented decline in cocaine availability in the United States. According to law enforcement and intelligence sources, many cocaine markets across the United States are experiencing reduced availability of cocaine at the wholesale level, with reverberations affecting retail sales in many U.S. cities. Authorities in thirty-seven U.S. cities have reported various levels of decreased cocaine availability. Some of these reports indicate cocaine has been diluted with a variety of substances to stretch limited supplies. This shortage has been accompanied by sharp increases in the price of a kilogram of cocaine, with a near doubling in some cities, especially in northeastern and Midwestern U.S. markets. Additionally, according to Quest Diagnostics – the Nation's largest workplace drug testing company – there has been an “unprecedented” 15.9 percent decline in the number of drug test positives for cocaine among the combined U.S. workforce during the first six months of 2007, compared to 2006. The latest data from Quest shows double-digit declines in cocaine drug-test positives in all but one region of the Nation and represents the lowest levels of cocaine test-positive rates in the workplace since Quest began reporting data a decade ago.
The 37 cities reporting cocaine shortages are: Akron, OH; Allentown, PA; Albany, NY; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; El Paso, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; Harrisburg, PA; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Memphis, TN; Minneapolis, MN; Nashville, TN; New Haven, CT; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburg, PA; Rochester, NY; San Francisco, CA; Scranton, PA; St. Louis, MO; Toledo, OH; Washington, D.C; Wichita, KS; Wilmington, DE; and Youngstown, OH.