Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program. The fiscal year
2004 Budget restructures the OCDETF program by consolidating funding within the Department
of Justice. In addition, the budget includes resources for the following initiatives to strengthen these
critical interagency investigations:
National Drug Control Strategy
- Disrupting the Market: Attacking
the Economic Basis of the Drug Trade
- DEAPriority Targeting Initiative: +$39 million. This proposal includes 329 positions
to implement DEAs plan for addressing the Nations illegal drug threats. This initiative will target
Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations involved in the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs,
as well as those involved in the diversion of precursor chemicals used to manufacture these products.
Department of StateAndean Counterdrug Initiative: $731 million. The fiscal year 2004
request maintains funding to support various programs in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and the Andean
region. This initiative includes resources for critical drug law enforcement programs, as well as other
efforts associated with security in drug-producing areas, illicit crop reduction, alternative development,
institution building, the administration of justice, and human rights programs. For Colombia, funding
includes several broad categories to include operations and maintenance of air assets, Colombian
National Police and Army Counterdrug Mobile Brigade operational support, and crop eradication
programs. This request also supports humanitarian, social, economic, and alternative development
programs implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Department of DefenseExpanded Support to Colombia: +$25 million. This initiative
adds $25 million to current funding of close to $116 million in support of counterdrug activities in Colombia. The expanded support will be used to fund various programs to conduct a unified
campaign against both terrorism and drugs. These programs include counternarcotics training for
Colombian ground and aviation units, riverine and coastal interdiction support activities and training,
and improvements to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
- Consolidated Priority Organization Target List (CPOT) Initiative: +$26 million.
This proposal includes 192 positions to generate and advance investigations of command and
control targets linked to the Attorney Generals CPOT list. The requested funds will provide
agents, analysts, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys dedicated to CPOT-linked investigations.
- Automated Tracking Initiative: +$22 million. This proposal will establish the automated
capacity, using existing Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force technology, to rapidly scan,
analyze, and disseminate the voluminous drug investigative information of participating
OCDETF agencies. This capacity is especially important in identifying components of those
organizations on the Attorney Generals CPOT list.
- Financial and Money Laundering Initiative: +$10 million. This enhancement
includes 83 positions to expand OCDETF financial and money laundering investigations.
This improvement will fund financial investigative efforts, including intelligence gathering,
document exploitation, and undercover operations.
The National Drug Control Strategy recognizes
the inherent link between drug supply and drug
demand, a link that is particularly visible in the behavior of the addicted drug user. Even
dependent drug users are quite conscious of the price (and purity) of the drugs they consume
and can adjust their use of drugs to market
conditions. This should not come as a surprise:
addicts must spend almost all their disposable
income on illegal drugs, and a disrupted market
with unreliable quality and rising prices for drugs
such as cocaine and heroin does not magically
enable them to earn, beg, borrow, or steal more.
Drug users respond to market forces because the
drug trade itself is just that, a marketa profitable
one, to be sure (though less profitable than often
assumed), but nonetheless a market that faces
numerous and often overlooked obstacles that
may be used as pressure points. To view the drug trade as a market is to recognize both the
challenges involved and the hopeful lessons of our recent experience: that the drug trade is not
an unstoppable force of nature but a profit-making
enterprise where costs and rewards exist in an
equilibrium that can be disrupted. Every action
that makes the drug trade more costly and less
profitable is a step toward breaking the market.
Once the drug trade is seen as a typeadmittedly,
a special typeof business enterprise, the next
step is to examine the way the business operates
and locate vulnerabilities in specific market
sectors and activities that can then be attacked,
both abroad and here at home. Such sectors and activities include the drug trades agricultural
sources, management structure, processing and
transportation systems, financing, and organizational
decisionmaking. Each represents an activity that
must be performed for the market to function.
Reduced to the simplest possible terms, locating
market vulnerabilities means identifying the
business activities in which traffickers have
invested the most in time and money and received
the least back in profits. Once identified, these
vulnerabilities can be exploited, the efficiency of
the business suffers, and the traffickers investment
is diminished or lost.
Business costs of the drug trade include those
borne by any large agroindustrial enterprise (such as labor force, cultivation and processing,
transportation, communication, warehousing,
and wholesale and retail distribution), as well as
costs that occur because the enterprise is illegal
(such as the need to consolidate and launder
proceeds, pay bribes, and accommodate the risks
of intertrade betrayal and violence, as well as
incorporating risk premiums that are charged
by those who face possible arrest, incarceration,
Disrupting the Market
As a government, faced with the obvious and
urgent challenges of punishing the guilty and
taking drugs off the street, our focus on targeting
the drug trade as a businesswith a view to
increasing its costshas been episodic. We need
to do a more consistent job of ratcheting up
trafficker costs at a tempo that does not allow the
drug trade to reestablish itself or adapt.
Domestically, the market approach is leading
to a new focus on extracting the drug trades
illgotten gains; traffickers are, after all, in business
to make money. The Department of Justices
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force
(OCDETF) program has been a major force in
driving these financial investigations. The
OCDETF program was created in 1982 to
concentrate federal resources on dismantling and
disrupting major drug-trafficking organizations
and their money laundering operations. The
program also provides a framework for federal,
state, and local law enforcement agencies to work
together to target well-established and complex
organizations that direct, finance, or engage in
illegal narcotics trafficking and related crimes.
In the past year, in keeping with the strategy of
attacking trafficker vulnerabilities such as money
laundering, the Department of Justice has moved
to refocus the OCDETF program and its nine
member agencies on financial investigations and
on multijurisdictional investigations directed at
the most significant drug-trafficking organizations
responsible for distributing most of the drugs in the United States.
For fiscal year 2004, the Administration proposes
an increase of $72 million over the previous fiscal
years requested level for the OCDETF program.
This request proposes to consolidate within the
Department of Justice what had been three
separate OCDETF appropriations, one each for
the departments of Justice, Treasury, and
Transportation, with the goal of improving the
programs accountability, coordination, and focus.
More important, it proposes to earmark
$73 million of the OCDETF appropriation
specifically for the Internal Revenue Services
Criminal Investigation Divisionan increase of
$7 million over the fiscal year 2003 levelto
support that agencys special focus on complex
money laundering investigations.
Achieving Unity of Effort
Tales of rival agencies narcotics agents
investigating and ultimately trying to arrest one
another are a staple of crime novels, but such
lapses in coordination are in fact remarkably rare.
A much fairer and less often articulated criticism
has been law enforcement agencies lack of
collaboration or across-the-board agreement on a set of trafficker targets.
In order to adopt a market disruption perspective
and attack specific market segments, we need such
a focus, along with a clear understanding of the
scope and character of the drug market. We now
have both, thanks largely to a unique collaboration
between the DEA, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, the multiagency Special Operations
Division, and the Department of Justice, which has,
for the first time, resulted in a consolidated list of
top trafficker targets. The Consolidated Priority
Organization Target (CPOT) list makes unity of
effort possible among those federal agencies.
The CPOT list will drive more than the activities
of the agencies that produced it. The High
Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA)
program, administered by ONDCP in 28 HIDTA
regions around the country, has already begun
using the CPOT list as part of a priority targeting
initiative piloted with fiscal year 2002 funds with a budget of $5.7 million.
The HIDTA program was created in 1990 to
focus law enforcement efforts on the Nations
most serious drug trafficking threats, but reviews
conducted as part of the Presidents fiscal year
2004 Budget found that the program had not
demonstrated adequate results and that over time
the initial focus of the program has been
diluted. Over the past year, as evidenced by the
pilot CPOT initiative, the HIDTA program has begun a shift back to that initial focus on the highest priority trafficking organizations
the wholesale distributors and command-andcontrol targets.
The HIDTA program has also increased its
emphasis on money laundering and financial
crimes investigations related to trafficking
organizations, providing training for key law
enforcement personnel in financial investigative
techniques. In 2003, the HIDTA program will continue to increase its focus on
investigations, such as those against organizations
on the CPOT list, that target the top of the
trafficking pyramid. This will entail continuing
expansion and refinement of the programs
intelligence networkan area that can pay
dividends for federal as well as state and local law enforcement.
The goal of unity of effort is being pursued in
other areas, including border security. The
establishment of the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS), by combining into one agency
the separate activities and assets of agencies
such as the Customs Service, Coast Guard,
and Border Patrol, will improve our ability to
identify and interdict suspect personnel and
illegal contraband entering the United States.
Effective DHS counterterrorism systems at and
between our ports of entry are also critical in improving our ability to stem the flow of
A New Focus on
Americans spend more than $63 billion on illegal
drugsmoney that must be laundered to be
usable by traffickers. It does little good to attack
trafficking organizations and leave the proceeds of
their crimes untouched. Indeed, money laundering
investigations are often key to identifying such
organizations in the first place. Anti-money
laundering efforts are thus critical to destabilizing
trafficking organizations and limiting their power.
Enforcement experts divide the process of money
laundering into three stages:
Placement of the illicit funds into the financial
system. In the case of paper currency paid for
illegal narcotics, the need is obvious. Currency
is anonymous, but it is hard to hide, takes time
to move, and attracts attention.
Layering of funds involves moving funds to hide
their origin and suggest a legitimate source.
Launderers can move funds between nations or
financial institutions in a matter of seconds.
Integration of funds means simply that the
funds are put to use by the criminals who earned them, either to enjoy as fruits of the
crime or to reinvest in their illegal enterprise.
The money launderer is most vulnerable during
the placement stage. The strategy of the U.S.
Government, both on the regulatory and enforcement
sides, is therefore to attack the placement of funds
into the financial system. (Valuable new authorities
created under the USA PATRIOT Act will increase
the governments ability to attack transactions,
jurisdictions, and money laundering systems during
the layering and integration phases as well.)
Money transmitters, broker-dealers, check
cashers, and money order providers are
particularly vulnerable to exploitation by
organized drug money launderers seeking funds
placement. New regulations and strengthened
criminal laws provide law enforcement and
regulatory agencies with new tools to stop money
laundering, for example, subjecting money service
businesses to requirements for registration and
reporting of suspicious activities, and providing
clearer criminal penalties for violations.
The departments of Justice, Treasury, and
Homeland Security, in consultation with other
responsible law enforcement agencies, will
develop a long-term comprehensive plan to
attack money laundering groups who exploit
the money remission system.
An effective, balanced drug policy requires an
aggressive interdiction program to make drugs
scarce, expensive, and of unreliable quality. Yet it
is an article of faith among many self-styled drug
policy experts that drug interdiction is futile,
for at least two reasons: with millions of square
miles of ocean (or thousands of miles of border,
or millions of cargo containers), interdictors
must be everywhere to be effective. Not being
everywhere, it follows that transit zone
interdictors from the departments of Defense
and Homeland Security are consigned to seizing a small and irrelevant portion of the flow of
cocaine, to pick the drug that currently generating
the most emergency room admissions.
Five Illegal Drug Markets
There are five principal illegal drug markets in the United States:
More than 10,000 metric tons
(mt) of domestic marijuana and
more than 5,000 mt of marijuana
cultivated and harvested in
Mexico and Canadamarketed
to more than 20 million users.
More than 250 mt of cocaine,
most of it manufactured in Colombia and shipped
through Mexico and the
Caribbeanmarketed to more
than five million users.
More than 13 mt of heroin
manufactured in Mexico,
Colombia, and Asia and
shipped via commercial air and
to more than one million users.
Between 106 and 144 mt of
in Mexico and in the United Statesmarketed to 1.3 million users.
Roughly eight mt of Ecstasy
manufactured in the Netherlands
and Belgium and shipped via
to more than three million users.
Second, the experts opine that the drug trade
is so fabulously lucrative that there will always be
a ready supply of smugglers (or kids to deal
crack on street corners or people willing to
grow coca), and thus seizing even 10 percent (the figure usually cited as folk wisdom) has no
effect on the market.
The experts are in fact wrong on both counts.
First, although the drug trade is profitable, it is
a misunderstanding of the market to assert
that every sector and business process in that
market has an unlimited capacity to shrug off
losses and setbacks.
In 2001, U.S. Government and partner nations
seized or otherwise interdicted more than 21
percent of the cocaine shipped to the United States,
according to an interagency assessment. When
added to the additional 7 percent that is seized at
our borders or elsewhere in the United States,
current interdiction rates are within reach of the
35 to 50 percent seizure rate that is estimated
would prompt a collapse of profitability for
smugglers unless they substantially raise their prices
or expand their sales to non-U.S. markets. Indeed,
according to an interagency assessment of the
profitability of the drug trade, traffickers earn just
$4,500 for each kilogram of cocaine that is safely
delivered into the United Statesa kilogram that
will wholesale for $15,000 (see Figure 11).
Figure 11: Trafficker Costs and Profits for Cocaine Sold at the U.S. Border
|Note: All values are best-point estimates of industry averages. Actual individual organizations costs can vary. At an average sale price of
$15,000/kg at the U.S. border, traffickers earn $4,500/kg. These point estimates average trafficker profits and cost of seizures for two
scenarios: 1) Colombian traffickers maintain ownership of the cocaine to the U.S. border, and 2) Colombian traffickers turn over ownership
to Mexican counterparts on the high seas.
Traffickers actually face significant fixed costs
for raw materials, money laundering, aircraft
and boats, and business overhead such as bribes.
Even assuming everything goes according to
plan, Colombian groups are typically placed in the unenviable position of handing over an
astonishing 40 percent of a given load of cocaine
to Mexican traffickers in exchange for the
Mexican groups agreement to smuggle the
remaining 60 percent across the border.
(Urban ethnographers who looked into the
economics of street-level crack dealers in the
early 1990s found much the same thing
about profitability: many of the kids who
supposedly could not be bothered with earning
$5 an hour at McDonalds were actually making
less than minimum wage dealing crack.)
But, to press the argument, why are the
critics necessarily wrong about the impossibility
of successful interdiction, especially given the
enormous challenge of finding small
shipments hidden along extended borders or on vast oceans?
Answering this question requires a closer
look at how interdiction is increasingly being
focused in ways that cause damage to drug
markets. Briefly, interdiction can damage the
drug trade precisely because those agencies
with responsibility for the interdiction mission
including the Department of Defense and
elements of the Department of Homeland
Security such as the Coast Guarddo not look for traffickers in millions of square miles of ocean or along thousands of miles of border.
Rather, such agencies rely on intelligence to narrow the search and seek out natural
chokepoints where they exist.
Interdicting the Flow
One such chokepoint is the maritime movement
of almost all Colombian cocaine through that
nations coastal waters.
More than 700 metric tons of cocaine is exported
annually from South America to the United
States and Europe. Roughly 500 mt departs
South America in noncommercial maritime
conveyances such as elongated go-fast boats,
each carrying between 0.5 and 2.0 mt of cocaine,
and fishing vessels, which typically carry
multiton loads of cocaine.
The cocaine threat can thus be described,
admittedly in somewhat simplified terms, as 500
maritime shipments heading north annually from
the Colombian coast to Mexico and the islands of
the Caribbean, in the first stage of multi-leg
movements to the U.S. border. According to
estimates contained in an interagency assessment
of cocaine movement, the 500 shipments are
divided roughly evenly between those departing
Colombias north coast (heading both to the
Greater Antilles and to Central America) and the
west coast (destined for Mexico). In the Pacific,
larger cocaine-ferrying fishing vessels are used to
consolidate loads far off the Colombian coast, to
continue the movement to Mexico.
Go-fast boats are effective because they are small,
easily launched from numerous estuaries and small
pier locations, and difficult for interdiction forces
to locate on the high seas. Colombian traffickers
have a significant investment in each shipment as
it departs South Americaas much as $3 million
per go-fast boat. That investment, moreover, is
uninsured. Once the cocaine is handed off to
Mexican smugglers for the second leg of its
journey, a rudimentary form of insurance takes
effect in some cases, with Mexican organizations
typically taking as much as 40 percent of the
load while agreeing to reimburse Colombian
traffickers if the drugs are lost in transport.
(This arrangement has had the perverse effect
of encouraging local consumption in Mexico,
because organizations sell some of their product
locally.) While in transit to Mexico, however,
cocaine is uninsurable and is owned solely by
the Colombian organization.
Attacking go-fast movements in coastal waters
thus holds out the promise of rendering
unprofitable or minimally profitable a key
business sector. The United States will work with
the Government of Colombia to direct our air
and maritime interdiction resources and assets
accordingly, as appropriate, while seeking to create
a dedicated sensor infrastructure and establish a robust Colombian capability to interdict drug
flows in their coastal waters. The seizures that
result will not occur in isolation but will engender
investigations into major trafficking organizations
and result in better intelligence on future
About 90 percent of the cocaine entering the
United States originates in or passes through
Colombia. In addition, the cultivation of opium
poppies in Colombia has expanded from almost
nothing in 1990 to roughly 6,500 hectares now, producing roughly 4.3 mt of high-purity
heroinenough to supply a sizable portion of
the U.S. market. In light of this serious threat,
DEA has transferred agent positions from offices
in nearby countries to create a heroin task force
in Colombia. The Bogota Heroin Group will
work with the Colombian National Police on
cases involving high-level traffickers servicing U.S. markets.
Colombias narcotics industry fuels that countrys
terrorist organizations, which monopolize coca
cultivation and are increasingly involved in drug production and trafficking. The Colombian
Government estimates that cocaine profits fund
more than half of Colombian terror-group
purchases of weapons and provide key logistics
funding to that nations illegal armies.
Accordingly, U.S. Government policy seeks to support the Government of Colombia in its
fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.
Those entwined problems are especially evident
in parts of Colombia east of the Andes that are
underpopulated, and lack a government presence.
Most of Colombias drug crops are grown in such areas, where the rule of law is weak
and government access is limited.
In the face of this huge challenge, the past eight
months have witnessed a revolution in the way
Colombia perceives the link between criminal and
political terrorism, drug trafficking, corruption, and
weak government institutions. Rather than meekly
accepting these as facts of life, Colombias President
Alvaro Uribe is pushing back, both against the
drug trade and the terror groups it sustains.
Colombias rural population, in particular, has
been terrorized by Colombias illegal armies:
the FARC, ELN, and AUC. In a single raid last
May, FARC rebels incinerated 117 residents of
Bojaya, including 45 children, who had taken
refuge in the local church. Analysts surmise that
the rebels intended to regain control over a
Regrettably, the Bojaya tragedy is not an isolated
incident. Terrorist attacks killed more than 3,000
Colombians in 2001. Another 3,041 were
kidnapped. The ELN, FARC, and AUC rebels
were responsible for more than 2,000 of these
victims, including 205 children as young as
three years old. The AUC has killed two Colombia
legislators in the past year, and the FARC has
kidnapped five legislators, a presidential candidate,
and a Catholic archbishop. The three terrorist
groups have also assassinated 12 mayors, and the
FARC has threatened many others, leaving them
with a choice of resigning or being killed.
With the election of President Uribe, Colombia
has accelerated implementation of its drug control
program, eradicating record levels of coca and
moving aggressively in several areas to weaken
criminal and terrorist organizations, reestablish
the rule of law in war-torn regions, and protect
the rights and security of Colombian citizens.
Significant drug control gains in Colombia will
requireand President Uribe has committed to
pursuingrestoration of the rule of law to areas
that are currently terrorist-controlled and used to
cultivate and produce illegal drugs.
With U.S. assistance, Colombia has established
carefully screened, or vetted, law enforcement
task forces comprised of investigators, prosecutors,
and support personnel with specialties including
asset forfeiture, money laundering, and human
rights. Colombian authorities and their U.S.
counterparts from the DEA are also working to attack the Black Market Peso Exchange
money laundering system, one of the mechanisms
that enable Colombian traffickers to repatriate
their drug profits.
Figure 12: An Expanding Coca Eradication Program in Colombia
Note: Estimates reflect total ground area covered. Source: U.S. Department of State|
Aerial spraying is a major component of
Colombias strategy for fighting the drug trade
and is the program with the single greatest
potential for disrupting the production of cocaine
before it enters the supply train to the United
States. Spray operations have the potential to cause
collapse of the cocaine industry if the spraying is intensive, effective, and persistent. Replanting
coca is expensive for farmers, in terms of both
labor inputs and opportunity costs (coca seedlings
typically take a year to begin bearing harvestable
leaf ). According to estimates by the Institute for
Defense Analyses, eradicating 200,000 hectares of coca would cost farmers $300 millioncosts
significant enough to cause growers to conclude
cultivation is uneconomical.
The Government of Colombia may have achieved
this rate of eradication in the coca-rich parts of
Putumayo and Caqueta during parts of 2002,
although repeated spraying over the next twelve
months will be necessary in most areas to deter
replanting. Continued U.S. support will be critical
for Colombia to maintain this level of eradication.
Where eradication prompts hoped-for movements
of growers out of remote planting areas,
alternative development programs managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development will
be there to absorb some of the disruptive effect on
U.S. assistance will focus alternative development
aid in areas where projects will be economically
viable and self-sustaining and where there is, or soon will be, enough government presence to ensure that the projects will be implemented
for the benefit of legitimate production and
democratic rule. Implementation should be fully
integrated with Colombian government efforts to
establish security and implement other anti-drug,
economic, and social programs.
The Andean Ridge
Rising demand for cocaine in Europe and Latin
America and expanded drug control in Colombia
are placing increased stress on Peru and Bolivia,
with farmgate prices for coca products at high
levels in both countries. New administrations in
both these countries face difficult challenges in reducing drug production while confronting
economic weakness and political instability.
The economies of Peru and Bolivia have suffered
through the sluggish global economy and the
economic deterioration of traditional export
markets in Brazil and Argentina. This in turn
has put a strain on employment and alternative
development. In some cases, traffickers are
pushing legitimate governments through a
combination of lawlessness and radical demands.
These actions are undermining democratic
institutions, making them vulnerable to increased
corruption and violencethe path that Colombia
faced many years ago.
In Peru, the Toledo government faces the
significant challenge of rebuilding democratic
institutions in an atmosphere of reduced public
confidence. Coca cultivation is rebounding in
regions frequented by Sendero Luminoso terrorists,
while Peru has weakened its security presence in
some drug cultivation regions and slowed
implementation of its overall drug control effort.
Peru must act with renewed decisiveness to prevent
a resurgence of the volatile combination of Sendero
terrorism and expanded cocaine production.
Bolivia is also in the middle of a turbulent period.
In the past year, radical groups launched violent
protests that have damaged the economy and
challenged the government. These groups,
including coca growers, indigenous activists,
teachers, and urban consumers, have divergent
goals and have not followed a single leader in the
past, but more recently they have demonstrated
an ability to work together. Opposition and
minority political groups have had their legitimate
issues hijacked by a vociferous pro-coca
movement, and serious reformers may find
themselves uncomfortably aligned with a cast of marginal political figures who believe Bolivias
destiny is to supply coca to the world.
The Sanchez de Lozada government has
strenuously avoided violent confrontations but
is now being pressed to grant concessions that
could undo the gains made by the previous
administration to substitute legal employment
for coca cultivation. In 2002, Bolivian coca
cultivation increased by 23 percent over 2001
levels, sufficient to produce roughly 60 mt of
cocaine. The United States has been clear in its
message that Bolivia must stay the course on
eradication or risk losing much U.S. Government
assistance and economic support.
Mexico lies squarely between Andean Ridge
cocaine producers and American consumers.
It produces thousands of tons of marijuana, more
than seven mt of heroin, and an unknown
quantity of methamphetamine yearly. Here the
situation is both a great challenge and a great
opportunity, offering more hope than at any time
in many years. On entering office, President
Vicente Fox recognized that his vision for a prosperous Mexico had no place for
institutionalized drug cartels and the corruption
and lawlessness they foster. He is taking serious
action against them, targeting the murderous
Arellano Felix Organization, among others.
He strengthened law enforcement cooperation
with the United States and began the process
of reforming dysfunctional and sometimes
Such bold action comes at a price. In February
2001, in an incident credited to the drug
trade, masked men armed with machine guns
herded 15 men and boys into the back of a
truck and killed 12. In November of the same
year, two Mexican federal judges and the wife
of another judge were cut down by AK-47 fire
from a passing vehicle; one of the judges had
reportedly angered traffickers with a ruling.
(President Fox described the latter attack as
a crime against the state as a whole.)
More recently, a counterdrug police commander
was boxed in on a highway and shot to death, a hit popularly attributed to drug traffickers.
Despite all this, Mexican resolve to end
international drug trafficking in their territory
Since President Fox assumed office in
December 2000, 14 major traffickers have been
apprehended, and almost 300 of their immediate
subordinates have been taken off the streets.
Cooperative law enforcement targeting the
Tijuana-based Arellano-Felix Organization
responsible for smuggling over one-third of the
cocaine consumed in the United States
culminated last March with the arrest of
Benjamin Arellano Felix (shortly after the killing
of his brother, Ramon Arellano Felix).
A month later, the Gulf Cartels second in
command was arrested. The leader of a
Juarezbased gang that often coordinated shipments
with the Gulf Cartel was arrested last May.
In September, Mexican authorities placed in
custody the head of a gang that controlled
Mexico Citys drug trade.
Key Fox Administration steps toward institutional
reform have included compartmentalizing
Mexicos anti-organized crime unit to reduce
leaks and ensuring that all new members are
vetted with polygraph tests and psychological
evaluations. A new Agencia Federal de
Investigaciones was established by Attorney
General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, and
Mexicos National Drug Control Program was
published in November 2002. Finally, the Fox
Administration has been unafraid to go after
corrupt officials in government and in the
military, as evidenced by the sentencing in
November 2002 of two general officers accused of aiding the drug trade, and the arrest in
October 2002 of two dozen individuals charged
with leaking information on the drug control
activities of the army, federal police, and the
Other positive signs include a steady stream
of internecine trafficker killings, as smugglers vie
for market control and command of trafficking
routes. Major challenges remain, however,
including reducing the backlog of extradition
requests from the United States. Meaningfully
disrupting the flow of drugs to the United States
will also require sustained progress toward
strengthening law enforcement and ending
impunity to the rule of law.
The United States will continue to support Mexicos
drug control efforts through a combination of
technical and material assistance that focuses on
training and operational support for organizational
attack and arrests, disruption of money laundering
activities, cocaine and marijuana interdiction
initiatives, and enhanced and expanded aid for
marijuana and opium poppy eradication.
Drug Control Capabilities
The state of internal disruption immediately
following the fall of the Taliban has brought with
it renewed poppy cultivation and a partial
rebounding of opium production. Although
production levels remain below those of the boom
years of 19962000, recent increases have returned
to Afghanistan the dubious distinction of worlds
largest opiate producer, with 2002 production
estimated to be more than twice that of Burma, the
worlds other major opium producer (see Figure 13).
For post-Taliban Afghanistan, the stakes could
scarcely be higher. By funding local warlords,
the Afghan drug trade contributes to local
political instability. It also threatens governments
worldwide through the financial assistance that
drug profits can provide to terrorist organizations
such as al Qaeda. For these reasons, the United
States strongly supports multilateral efforts to
reduce the illegal opium and heroin trade that is
returning to Afghanistan.
These multinational efforts include as partner
nations members of the G8, particularly the
United Kingdom, which is the G8 lead nation
for counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan.
The aim of our multilateral efforts is to diminish
the destabilizing influence of illegal drugs in Afghanistan and break the links between
Afghanistans drug trade and its terrorist
organizations. We intend to achieve these
objectives through long-term initiatives that will disrupt Afghanistans opium trade and
provide alternative livelihoods and economic
opportunities, a real and effective rule of law,
and an environment favorable for an effective
representative central government.
The strategy has two key elements. First, it seeks
to disrupt the activities of the most significant
drug traffickers through interdiction and law
enforcement. Through activities such as DEAs
Operation Containment, the United States will
bolster the counternarcotics capabilities of the
countries bordering Afghanistan to choke off
the flow of drugs, precursor chemicals, and related
supplies into and out of that nation. Second, the
strategy seeks to cut opium production through
alternative livelihood initiatives for farmers,
coupled with comprehensive eradication efforts.
Consistent with this international effort, the
United States will support the establishment
of a drug policy agency and an anti-drug law
enforcement agency and will work to strengthen
Afghanistans judicial institutions to enable the expansion of the rule of law. Afghan military
and law enforcement personnel will be trained
and equipped to perform the border and regional
security functions that are vital to extending
government control to areas without the rule of
law and permeated by the illegal drug trade.
Concurrently, near-term efforts will be started to
eliminate drug-related corruption from the central
and regional governments and the military.
We will collaborate with the international
community and international aid organizations
to create opportunities for legitimate economic
livelihoods for Afghan farmers and laborers
through initiatives that provide micro-credit
alternatives and subsistence loans, legal crop
substitution options, and cash-for-work programs
for migrant workers. Where possible, programs
will be focused on projects to redevelop the
education, health, public safety, social services,
telecommunications, and transportation
infrastructure of Afghanistan.
Figure 13: Afghanistan Net Poppy Cultivation and Potential Opium Production
To be successful in Afghanistan, the international
community will have to provide a long-term
commitment to both the counternarcotics efforts
and the broader challenge of nation building.
These activities all involve multilateral international
efforts, in which the United States is one of
The market for illegal drugs is international
in scopethe world trade in cocaine now
includes significant satellite markets in Europe.
Consumption of Asian-produced heroin is also widespread throughout European Union
nations. Any market-based understanding of
the drug trade must account for the operation
of these markets, which, if left unfettered, have the capacity to buffer U.S.-led efforts to
disrupt the drug trade in this hemisphere.
The United States is thus watching closely
as the debate in several European countries
increasingly frames the drug issue as a public
health rather than a law enforcement problem.
As discussed in detail earlier, a closer look at
the drug problem reveals the difficulty of
disentangling the two. The fact is, some nations
may face an increase in both public health and
law enforcement difficulties as a consequence of policies being adopted.
Figure 14: Drug Violation Arrests Accounted for 11% of All Arrests in 2001
Source: Uniform Crime Reports|
Decriminalization policies are being promoted
as precisely what they are nota public health
response to the drug problem. These tolerant
approaches are contrasted with the supposedly
more punitive drug policy in the United States.
As a recent media report put it, The trend in
Western Europe is to decriminalize all drugs,
including heroin and cocaine, and treat drug use
as a health problem rather than a crime.
There are two ironies in this characterization.
First is the notion that U.S. policy is driven solely
by the desire to punish, when, in fact, drug arrests
account for a small fraction of total arrests (see Figure 14) and U.S. prevention and treatment
programs are the most developed and best funded
in the world (President Bush has pledged to
increase the drug treatment budget by $1.6 billion
over five years.) U.S. medical research on
treatment and prevention, led by NIDA, is
unsurpassed and heavily outweighs the amounts
spent on enforcement- and interdiction-related
research (see Figure 15).
The second irony is the posture that such
harm reduction approaches represent a genuine
public health approach. No policy can seriously
be considered in the public good if it advances
the contagion of drug use. Yet that is precisely
the effect of harm reduction actions such as
marijuana decriminalization: as the drug becomes
more available, acceptable, and cheap, it draws in
greater numbers of vulnerable youth.
Figure 15: Federal Research & Development Spending for Treatment and Prevention (FY 2004 Request)
The United States will continue to engage this
issue in various multilateral forums, including
the U.S.-E.U. Demand Reduction Seminar,
which has led to a commitment to exchange
ideas and experiences in combating drug use and
drug dependence. Other important multilateral
fora include the European Monitoring Center
for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
Last Updated: May 7, 2003