Director of Drug Enforcement Policy and Support
09 July 1997
House National Security Subcommittee
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for this opportunity to speak before you today. Our nation's
drug problem is a serious one that affects the lives of millions of
Americans. Crime and health problems associated with illicit drug use
continue to have an adverse effect on our communities and among our
young people. Meanwhile, illicit drug trafficking poses a serious
threat to our national security.
Addressing this problem, the President's National Drug Control
Strategy has articulated five strategic goals in our collective
American effort to reduce illegal drug use and its consequences in
America. The Department of Defense, with its unique resources and
capabilities, plays a critical supporting role in two of these goals:
shielding America's air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug threat;
and breaking foreign and domestic drug sources of supply.
In support of this mission, the Drug Enforcement Policy and Support
office has aggressively explored the use of new ideas and
state-of-the-art systems unique to the Department, and employed those
that had practical application. Moreover, we have regularly assessed
the effectiveness of our existing counterdrug program, emphasizing
cost-effective, high-impact projects that support the President's
National Drug Control Strategy.
Today, I would like to talk about two areas of our counterdrug
support: our efforts in the primary source nations of cocaine --
specifically, Peru and Colombia -- and the support that we provide in
the Transit Zone areas of Mexico and the Eastern Caribbean.
SUPPORT TO SOURCE NATIONS
The Department is a key player in assisting foreign and domestic
counterdrug forces to break the foreign supply of cocaine into the
United States. DoD provides three categories of support to foreign
counterdrug forces: training; command, control, communications,
computers, and intelligence support (C4I); and interdiction support.
The focus of our efforts, as prescribed by Presidential Decision
Directive, is on Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, where nearly all of the
world's cocaine is cultivated and produced. Our objective is to attack
trafficking organizations in the region by disrupting their activities
and imprisoning their leaders. These efforts also serve to strengthen
the democratic institutions in source nations and encourage national
resolve and regional cooperation.
In the last two years, we have seen both Peru and Colombia achieve a
number of tactical successes against drug traffickers. DoD personnel
played an integral part in training and providing intelligence
information to Colombian and Peruvian counterdrug forces, thereby
enhancing their interdiction efforts against air smugglers.
Capitalizing on early successes against air smuggling, the Department
engaged in two successful operations, GREEN CLOVER and LASER STRIKE --
which modestly increased the level of personnel and detection and
monitoring assets dedicated to source nation interdiction efforts.
During these operations, the United States for the first time, worked
side-by-side with countries throughout the region to assist them in
developing and implementing operational plans against drug
traffickers. The most encouraging results of GREEN CLOVER and LASER
STRIKE have been an unprecedented cooperation among countries of South
America in the drug interdiction effort; and the involvement of
countries that had heretofore been uninvolved in attacking the drug
As a result of Peru's aggressive efforts against air smugglers, we
initially saw a dramatic decrease in the price of coca base that
traffickers were unable to move out of Peru. The monthly incidence of
narco-trafficking by air in the source zone remains 50-80% below rates
observed in 1994 before more aggressive interdiction efforts were
instituted. Furthermore, the prices paid to coca farmers for their
leaf remain severely depressed. Coca farmers are having great
difficulty making a profit, and an increasing number are looking at
alternative development opportunities. Moreover, recent intelligence
reporting indicate that because of Peru's successful air interdiction
efforts, traffickers-are making greater use of river and land
To address the changing drug trafficking threat, the Department is
working in conjunction with the State Department and law enforcement
agencies, to assist countries in the region to enhance their riverine
capabilities. During LASER STRIKE, we began to increase our level of
training support to enhance military and police riverine interdiction
capabilities in both Peru and Colombia. For FY98, the Department has
proposed legislation that would assist Peru and Colombia in developing
their riverine interdiction capability. Specifically, this authority
would allow the Department to procure equipment and supplies and
provide associated maintenance support to enhance counterdrug riverine
initiatives in these countries.
We are at a unique moment in time where we can take advantage of the
impact we have made in the air by impacting the traffickers shift to
the rivers. We must take advantage of the current declining coca
producing activities in Peru by enhancing interdiction efforts. This
is the leverage Peru needs to encourage alternative crop development.
This is what we have been striving for these many years. The time to
act is now.
DETECTION AND MONITORING IN THE TRANSIT ZONE
As the lead agency for detection and monitoring of aerial and maritime
drug traffic into the United States, the Department plays an active
role in shielding America's frontiers from the drug threat. Over the
last several years, the Department sustained an efficient detection
and monitoring capability in the Caribbean. Our capability was
maintained by phasing out costly, low-impact, fixed systems, which
were easily evaded by drug traffickers, in favor of more modern,
cost-efficient, flexible, and agile assets (e.g., Relocatable
Over-The-Horizon Radars (ROTHRs), E-3s, P-3s, E-2s, and refitted TAGOS
radar picket ships).
Recently, we have seen an increased use of maritime smuggling through
the Eastern Caribbean. The narco-traffickers are taking advantage of
the economic decline and limited law enforcement capabilities in the
region to island-hop cocaine using small non-commercial maritime
vessels through the region to Puerto Rico, where the cocaine is then
smuggled into the U.S. DoD's proposed legislation would allow us to
provide limited amounts of support to enhance the maritime law
enforcement capabilities of these nations.
Furthermore, the Department has taken aggressive steps in shielding
our southern border, through which an estimated 70% of the cocaine
enters the United States. The Department has worked closely with the
Mexican military to enhance their counterdrug interdiction efforts. In
October 1995, Secretary Perry became the first Secretary of Defense to
travel to Mexico. As a result of this trip, a bilateral working group
was established with counterdrug cooperation as a particular focus.
During this time, President Zedillo broadened his military's
counterdrug mission, directing their involvement in counterdrug
interdiction efforts: in the past, Mexico's military only participated
in eradication operations. As a result of extensive consultations, DoD
and the Mexican military together developed a comprehensive
counterdrug initiative for enhancing Mexico's interdiction capability.
This initiative involves the training and equipping of counterdrug
rapid reaction groups and providing these groups with the air mobile
capability necessary to successfully carry out their counterdrug
missions. The work of the rapid reaction groups will be focused on the
activities of the major drug traffickers in Mexico. There will also be
a strong focus on Mexico's northern border, where the drug trafficking
threat is most serious.
By the end of this fiscal year, we will have trained 1500 military
personnel. Moreover, we are transferring 73 UH-1H helicopters to
Mexico in support of their drug interdiction effort. Last year,
Congress granted us one-year authority to spend up to $8 million to
procure counterdrug equipment in support of the initial 20 helicopters
we had transferred to Mexico. We used this authority to help the
Mexican military acquire larger spare parts for these helicopters. In
order to ensure the Mexican military's ability to stand up a viable
air mobile capability in support of their counterdrug rapid reaction
groups, we have requested an extension of the FY97 Mexico authority.
This authority would likely again be used to procure additional
necessary spare parts for the helicopters, as well as other necessary
There are no easy solutions to the problems of illicit drug use or
trade. Nonetheless, our government cannot and has not shirked its
responsibility to attack the Nation's drug problem on all levels.
Countering the flow of cocaine and other illicit drugs into America
requires a multi-year effort with comprehensive supply and demand
reduction programs, substantial resources, enormous energy, and
creativity. During the last several years, the Department of Defense
has continuously strived to improve our program management and
effectiveness ensuring that the maximum operational impact is achieved
with the funds available. While DoD's support to foreign and domestic
law enforcement in and of itself will not solve the Nation's drug
problem, we have made steady progress in running a cost-effective,
high-impact program. Our program has provided desperately needed
support to law enforcement. We look forward working with you as we
continue to seek high-impact ways to support the work of law
enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally.