Donnie R. Marshall
Drug Enforcement Administration
United States Department of Justice
Senate Drug Caucus on International Narcotics Control
March 21, 2000
Chairman Grassley, Members of the Senate. I appreciate this opportunity
to appear before the Committee today to discuss the issue of Certification
and U.S. Counter narcotics efforts. I would like first to thank the Committee
for its continued support of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
and overall support of drug law enforcement.
As all of you are aware, DEA is first and foremost a law enforcement
agency. Although the certification process has proved to be an effective
diplomatic tool relative to the international antidrug effort, as a matter
of policy, DEA does not make recommendations relative to certification.
Each year, DEA provides the Attorney General with an objective assessment
of the drug trafficking situation for a country based upon evidence and
factual information. DEA's analysis of counter-narcotics efforts by another
country does not include an opinion on whether a country should or should
not be certified. We merely present the facts to U.S. policy makers and
allow them to make an informed decision on the certification of a respective
country. As such, my comments today will be limited to an objective assessment
of the law enforcement issues involved with drug trafficking.
As part of the submitted written testimony, I have also included the
drug trafficking assessment reports of several countries which were recently
evaluated and either decertified or granted a waiver due to vital U.S.
interests. These countries include Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, Paraguay,
Nigeria, and Haiti. Due, however, to the magnitude of the threat drug traffickers
pose to the national security of both countries, along with the strategic
importance to the United States, I will direct much of today's testimony
As many of you know, criminal organizations based in Mexico pose the
greatest challenge to U.S. law enforcement agencies charged with enforcing
narcotics laws. Due to the ever-increasing legitimate cross-border traffic
and commerce between the U.S. and Mexico, several international organized
crime groups have established elaborate smuggling infrastructures on both
sides of the U.S./Mexico border. Furthermore, it has long been established
that in addition to drug trafficking, these international criminal organizations
spawn violence, corruption, and intimidation that threaten the safety and
stability of our cities and towns across America.
The complex and sophisticated international drug trafficking groups
operating out of Mexico are oftentimes vicious, destructive entities, that
operate on a global scale. The largest drug trafficking organizations in
Mexico --- operating out of Guadalajara, Juarez, Mexicali, Tijuana, Sonora,
and the Gulf region --- under the auspices of Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes,
Armando Valencia-Cornelio, Miguel Caro-Quintero, Ramon and Benjamin Arellano-Felix,
and Osiel Cardenas-Guillen are in many ways, the modern versions of the
mob leaders and groups that U.S. law enforcement has fought against since
the beginning of last century. These international organized crime leaders,
however, are far more dangerous, far more influential, and have a greater
impact on our day-to-day lives than did their domestic predecessors.
Those international traffickers and their organizations make operational
decisions from places like Sonora, Mexico, and other locations outside
U.S. borders, which detrimentally affect the quality of life of our citizens
and directly support drug-related crime in cities and towns across our
country. These groups have reached new levels of sophistication and have
become a threat not only to the United States and Europe, but also to their
own countries. Their power and influence are unprecedented. Unless innovative,
flexible, multi-faceted responses are crafted, these drug trafficking organizations
threaten to grow even more powerful in the years to come.
The Damage to the United States:
In order to understand the extent and nature of the damage caused by
international drug trafficking organizations, it is crucial to look at
how these organizations work, and how they infiltrate and position themselves
in U.S. communities in order to further their goals.
On any given day in the United States, business transactions are being
arranged between the major drug lords headquartered in Mexico and their
surrogates who have established roots within the United States, for the
shipment, storage, and distribution of tons of illicit drugs. In the past,
Mexico-based criminal organizations limited their activities to the cultivation
of marijuana and opium poppies for subsequent production of marijuana and
heroin. The organizations were also relied upon by Colombian drug lords
to transport loads of cocaine into the United States, and to pass on this
cocaine to other organizations who distributed the product throughout the
U.S. However, over the past several years, Mexico-based organized crime
syndicates have gained increasing control over many of the aspects of the
cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana trades, resulting in increased
threats to the well-being of American citizens as well as government institutions
and the citizens of their own country.
In the recent past, traffickers from Mexico had maintained dominance
in the western part of the United States, and in some Midwest cities. Today,
the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with other law enforcement agencies,
has developed evidence leading to indictments demonstrating that associates
of organized crime groups based in Mexico have established themselves on
the East Coast of the United States, thus becoming significant participants
in the nationwide drug trade.
Mexican Traffickers Rise to Prominence:
During 1995 and 1996, intense law enforcement pressure was focused on
the Cali leadership by the brave men and women of the Colombian National
Police. As a result, all of the top trafficking leaders from Cali were
either jailed or killed. During that time frame, U.S. law enforcement agencies
were effectively attacking Colombian cells operating within the United
States. With the Cali leaders imprisoned in Colombia and the successful
attacks by law enforcement on their U.S. cells, traffickers from Mexico
took on greater prominence. A growing alliance between the Colombian traffickers
and the organizations from Mexico worked to benefit both sides. Traffickers
from Mexico had long been involved in smuggling marijuana, heroin, and
cocaine across the U.S.-Mexico border, using established distribution routes
to deliver drugs throughout the United States. The Mexico-based organizations'
emergence as major methamphetamine producers and traffickers also contributed
to making them a major force in international drug trafficking. The Mexican
traffickers, who were previously paid in cash by the Colombian traffickers
for their services, began to routinely receive up to one-half of a shipment
of cocaine as their payment. This led to Mexican traffickers having access
to multi-ton quantities of cocaine and allowed them to expand their markets
and influence in the United States, thereby making them formidable cocaine
traffickers in their own right.
With the disruption of the Cali syndicate, Mexican groups such as the
Amado Carrillo-Fuentes organization, the Arellano-Felix cartel, the Amezcua-Contreras
brothers, and the Caro-Quintero group, consolidated their power and began
to dominate drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexican border and in many
U.S. cities. Recent events in Mexico and along the southwest border emphasize
the fact that trafficking groups from Mexico have developed into a significant
force in international organized crime.
Overview of Narcotics Smuggled along the U.S.-Mexican Border:
Recent estimates indicate that approximately 55% of the cocaine available
in the United States is transported across the U.S.-Mexico border. Typically,
large cocaine shipments are transported from Colombia, via commercial shipping,
fishing and "go-fast" boats and off-loaded in Mexico. The cocaine is transported
through Mexico, usually by trucks, where it is warehoused in cities like
Guadalajara, Tijuana or Juarez, that are operating bases for the major
criminal trafficking organizations. The extremely high volume of vehicular
traffic over the U.S./Mexico border allows cocaine loads to be driven across
the border and taken to major distribution centers within the U.S., such
as Los Angeles, New Jersey, Chicago, or Phoenix. Surrogates of the major
drug lords wait for instructions, often provided over sophisticated communications
devices--phones, faxes, pagers or computers--telling them where to warehouse
smaller loads, who to contact for transportation services, and to whom
to return the eventual profits. Individuals sent to the United States from
Mexico, often illegally, have been shown to have contracted with U.S. trucking
establishments to move loads across the country. Once the loads arrive
in an area that is close to the eventual terminal point, safehouses are
established for workers who watch over the cocaine supplies and arrange
for it to be distributed by wholesale dealers within the vicinity. These
distributors have traditionally been Colombian nationals or individuals
from the Dominican Republic, but recently, DEA has come upon evidence that
Mexican trafficking organizations are also directly involved in cocaine
distribution in New York City.
We have not only identified the drug lords themselves, but in most cases,
the key members of their command and control structure. The combined efforts
of the DEA, FBI, DOJ, the U.S. Customs Service, and members of state and
local police departments have resulted in the seizure of hundreds of tons
of drugs, hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds, and most importantly,
several significant indictments. In fact, some of the leaders of these
organizations - Ramon and Benjamin Arellano-Felix, Luis and Jesus Amezcua-Contreras,
Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes - have become familiar names in every major law
enforcement department in the United States. Despite this evidence, along
with the notoriety, these traffickers have continued to evade arrest and
The primary reason they have been able to avoid arrest and continue
their criminal enterprise is their ability to intimidate witnesses and
assassinate and corrupt public officials. Clear examples of this point
may be cited in recent efforts to apprehend members of the Arellano Felix
cartel and the Cardenas Guillen cartel, based in Tijuana and Matamoros,
Mexico, respectively. In Tijuana over the past year, Mexican officials,
have not been able to apprehend key traffickers working for the Arellano
Felix organization. In November 1999, major Gulf cartel drug trafficker
Osiel Cardenas Guillen illegally detained and assaulted two U.S. drug enforcement
agents in Matamoros, Mexico, across the international border from Brownsville,
Methamphetamine traffickers, oftentimes associated with major Mexican
organized crime groups, obtain the precursor chemicals necessary for methamphetamine
production from sources in other countries, such as China and India, as
well as from rogue chemical suppliers in the United States. In fact, Mexico-based
transnational criminal organizations have become the most significant distributors
in the U.S. of methamphetamine and its precursor chemicals. Several bulk
ephedrine seizures destined for Mexico have focused attention on the magnitude
of ephedrine acquisition by Mexican organized crime groups. Methamphetamine
super labs, capable of producing hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine
on a weekly basis, are established in Mexico or in California, where the
methamphetamine is provided to traffickers to distribute across the United
Heroin from Mexico now represents 14% of the heroin seized in the United
States by federal authorities, and it is estimated that 43 metric tons
of opium gum was produced in 1999 in Mexico. A recent study conducted by
the DEA indicates that as much as 29% of the heroin being used in the U.S.
is being smuggled in by the Mexico-based organized crime syndicates. Mexican
black tar heroin is produced in Mexico, and transported over the border
in cars and trucks. Like cocaine and methamphetamine, it is trafficked
by associates of the organized criminal groups in Mexico, and provided
to dealers and users in the Southwest, Northwest, and Midwest areas of
the United States. At one time, it was commonplace for couriers to carry
two pounds or so of heroin into the United States; recently, quantities
of heroin seized from individuals have increased as is evidenced by larger
seizures in a number of towns in Texas. This heroin is extremely potent,
and its use has resulted in a significant number of deaths.
Marijuana from Mexico still dominates the illicit U.S. import market
although U.S. experts estimate Mexico's marijuana production at 3,700 metric
tons (compared with 4,600 in 1998 and 4,800 in 1997). In addition, during
1999, the GOM eradicated some 23,547 hectares of marijuana (down from 24,200
in 1998). Seizures of Mexican marijuana have increased from 102 metric
tons in 1991 to 836.3 metric tons in 1999. Marijuana organizations from
Mexico are very powerful and violent. In some places, traffickers from
Mexico have established marijuana cultivation operations within the United
States. In a recent case in Idaho, DEA , working with other Federal, state,
and local law enforcement officials, arrested a group of illegal aliens
from Zacatecas, Mexico. A total of 114,000 marijuana plants, weighing almost
20 tons, was seized. This operation represented the largest marijuana seizure
ever in the state of Idaho.
It is important to note that although many of the transactions relating
to the drug trade take place on U.S. soil, the major organized crime bosses
direct each and every detail of their multi-billion dollar business while
situated in Mexico. They are responsible not only for the business decisions
being made, but also ultimately for the devastation that many American
communities have suffered as a result of the influx of cocaine, methamphetamine,
heroin, and marijuana. These powerful and organized syndicates can frustrate
the ability of the Mexican anti-drug police. Their ability to place obstacles
such as corruption and unlimited resources in the path of police can oftentimes
impede investigations. In the past year, none of the major Mexican trafficking
organizations have been dismantled or significantly disrupted by Mexican
Law Enforcement Response:
Reporting indicates that the Southwest border (SWB) remains a major
point of entry for approximately 70% of all illicit drugs smuggled into
our country by Mexican trafficking groups. In response to this continued
threat along the border, the DEA has established several initiatives that
facilitate and improve intelligence and information sharing, while identifying
and removing impediments to cooperation. These initiatives employ a multi-pronged
strategy, which utilizes and combines law enforcement operations, intelligence
operations, and provides for law enforcement assistance in order to achieve
success in combating criminal drug trafficking organizations along the
border. The objective of these initiatives is to disrupt and ultimately
dismantle criminal organizations that smuggle illicit drugs into the U.S.
by linking Federal, state and local investigations domestically and mobilizing
multilateral enforcement efforts abroad. Based upon past trends, intelligence,
and recent seizures along the border, the DEA has established the following
priorities for the SWB Field Divisions: (1) cocaine investigations involving
violent organizations; (2) methamphetamine investigations, (3) heroin investigations,
(4) marijuana investigations, (5) money laundering investigations and (6)
diverted/dangerous drug and chemical investigations.
In response to the emergence of these Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization's
(MDTO), it became apparent that a coordinated strategy for law enforcement
counterdrug activities needed to be implemented. In order to combat drug
production and trafficking networks operating along the U.S./Mexican border,
DEA, in concert with other Federal agencies, established the Southwest
Border Initiative - an integrated, coordinated law enforcement effort designed
to attack the command and control structure of organized criminal operations
associated with the Mexican Federation. This strategy focuses on intelligence
and enforcement efforts which target drug distribution systems within the
U.S. and directs resources toward the disruption of those principal drug
trafficking organizations operating across the border.
As such, DEA, in cooperation with other Federal, state, and local law
enforcement agencies is focusing increased intelligence, technical resources,
and investigative expertise on the major MDTO's responsible for smuggling
vast quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine across
Apart from this effort, DEA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) also provide assistance in the form of operational planning, intelligence,
and training to Government of Mexico (GOM) law enforcement authorities,
to strengthen their capacity to combat these organizations. The Southwest
Border strategy targets specific Mexican trafficking organizations operating
across the border and attacks their command and control infrastructures
wherever they operate.
Further, the Special Operations Division (SOD) is a joint national coordinating
and support entity comprised of agents, analysts, and prosecutors from
DOJ, Customs, FBI, DEA and IRS. Its mission is to coordinate and support
regional and national criminal investigations and prosecutions against
trafficking organizations that most threaten the U.S. SOD performs seamlessly
across both investigative agency and district jurisdictional boundaries,
providing field offices with necessary support, assistance, intelligence
analysis and "leads" for investigative action. Within SOD, no distinction
is made among the participating investigative agencies. Where appropriate,
state and local authorities are fully integrated into coordinated operations.
As presently configured, SOD consists of five sections; each of which has
both DEA, FBI, and USCS personnel assigned. One section targets Colombian
Trafficking Organizations, a second concentrates on cocaine and heroin
trafficking in Europe and Asia, a third targets money laundering organizations,
and the remaining two sections are the heart of the Southwest Border Project
and focus their efforts on the principal MDTO's. These two sections target,
among other things, the command and control networks of the identified
MDTO's, and their supporting organizations operating along the Southwest
border. As such, the interagency regional objectives are as follows; (1)
Intelligence collection and analysis, (2) Investigations, (3) Interdiction
and Enforcement and (4) Prosecution and Incarceration. The following operation
delineates the need and significance for such a multi-agency project:
In September 1999, the DEA announced the conclusion of a two-year international
investigation that culminated in the arrest of over 106 individuals linked
to the Amado Carrillo Fuentes (ACF) drug trafficking organization, headquartered
in Cancun, Mexico. This investigation, known as "Operation Impunity," was
a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency investigation which directly linked
drug trafficking activity in the United States to the highest level of
the Mexican cocaine trade.
This investigation began in January 1998 and was conducted jointly by
the DEA, FBI, USCS, U.S. Attorneys' Offices, DOJ/Criminal Division, and
a host of state and local law enforcement agencies. The investigation encompassed
53 DEA, FBI, and USCS case investigations which spans 14 Federal judicial
districts. Since 1998, this investigation has resulted in 36 seizures,
netting 12,434 kilograms of cocaine, a half a kilo of heroin, 4,806 pounds
of marijuana, more than $19 million in U.S. currency, and the arrest of
The above statistics only tell part of the story. Operation Impunity
demonstrated an unparalleled coordinated and cooperative effort among the
law enforcement community. Overall, this investigation allowed the law
enforcement community to ascertain this organization's method of operation
from the narcotic distribution in Colombia to the transportation through
Mexico to the ultimate distribution networks throughout the U.S. Such success
clearly demonstrates the need for the continuation of long term, multi-agency
Cooperative Efforts with the Government of Mexico/Status of Vetted Units:
Subsequent to the arrest of General Gutierrez Rebollo in 1997 and the
establishment of mechanisms within the Mexican law enforcement infrastructure,
such as the Bilateral Task Forces (BTFs) and the Vetted Unit program, DEA
became cautiously optimistic relative to the prospects of the GOM's commitment
to bilateral investigations. The DEA has supported these programs financially
and with other resources in hope that our efforts would result in a successful
attack against the drug lords who are creating so much havoc throughout
communities in the United States. However, continuing reports of corruption
and the rapidly growing power and influence of the major organized criminal
groups in Mexico cause us great concern about the long-term prospects for
success. Perhaps the arrest of Operation Impunity target Jaime Aguilar
Gastelum and Operation Millennium target Guillermo Moreno-Rios, by Mexican
authorities, is indicative of the GOM's future commitment to such joint
However, in the last year the Vetted Units Program in Mexico has not
achieved the potential as originally envisioned by both governments. In
order to address this issue, the DEA and the Government of Mexico's equivalent
to the DEA, the Fiscalia Especializada Para la Atencion de Delitos Contra
la Salud (FEADS), have agreed to carefully review the Program and establish
ways to improve its efficiency and effectiveness against mutually agreed
investigative targets. The DEA also provides support and assistance to
the FEADS to conduct investigative endeavors throughout Mexico. These investigations
are being conducted with the primary investigative component of the FEADS
vetted units - the Bilateral Task Forces (BTF's).
Unfortunately, the investigative achievements by the BTF and the Sensitive
Investigations Unit (SIU) as related to cases against the major drug trafficking
organizations are minimal. The inability of these units to fully employ
the new investigative techniques and authorities provided in the Organized
Crime Law to investigate these major organizations has been equally disappointing.
Further complicating investigative efforts, the Mexico City-based SIU was
compromised in February 1999 by a Mexican news exposé describing
the operations of that unit, to include its location, activities, and investigative
targets. Because of this setback, the SIU has been largely shut down. In
addition, throughout 1999 police personnel from the Mexico City SIU were
separated into smaller groups and often deployed to various regions throughout
Mexico in order to work other investigations, such as the search for Mexico
fugitive and former Governor of the State of Quintana Roo Mario Villanueva-Madrid.
On a positive note, vetted unit personnel of the Organized Crime Unit
(OCU), of which the SIU is a part, have been investigating a drug smuggling
network of the Carrillo-Fuentes organization in Cancun, headed by Alcides
Ramon-Magana. During the course of this investigation, DEA has shared three
principal witnesses with the OCU who have provided information regarding
this organization . The information gleaned from these witnesses has contributed
to the seizure of real estate in Quintana Roo and the arrest of several
defendants in this case, including mid-level drug trafficker and money-launderer
Carlos Colin-Padilla. In addition, the GOM issued arrest warrants for a
total of 44 individuals associated with Ramon-Magana including an arrest
warrant issued on April 5, 1999, against former Governor Villanueva Madrid
on 28 counts of drug related offenses.
The governments of Mexico and the United States will continue to work
cooperatively on investigations. Just this month, based upon information
provided by the DEA to the GOM, two such operations were conducted, resulting
in the seizure of a cocaine laboratory and a methamphetamine laboratory
in Mexico. Ultimately, DEA believes that the vetting process is our best
chance at ensuring integrity with our counterparts. As mentioned in previous
testimony today with respect to the ongoing bilateral Vetted Units Program
survey, DEA will remain actively engaged with our GOM counterparts relative
to this process. DEA will also encourage the GOM to fully staff and support
the BTFs and the SIUs with FEADS personnel that have already been vetted
and to supply the resources that these operations require.
Although the Mexican government is attempting to address the issue of
corruption, it continues to be a serious problem in Mexican law enforcement
institutions. The Federal Preventive Police (FPP) was created in early
1999 in response to the existing corruption in the police ranks, but recently
reported that several FPP agents were under investigation for corrupt activities.
In December 1999 the Government of Mexico/PGR reported that between April
1997 through 1999 more than 1,400 of the 3,500 federal police officers
had been fired for corruption and that 357 of the officers had been prosecuted.
Additionally, the National Public Safety System established a national
police registry to prevent corrupt police officials from being rehired
by another law enforcement entity. However, the PGR has not fully implemented
these programs to deal with corruption. For example, in 1999, the former
Director of Investigations for the PGR's SIU and OCU, Cuauhtemoc Herrera
Suastegui, was reassigned to a high-level position within the PGR despite
failing polygraph examination in 1998. Although several FEADS vetted "floater"
units have had several successes during 1999, the Vetted Unit Program failed
to adhere to internal security principles involving the polygraph process,
which may lead to potential compromises and corruption. The Mexican military
also has experienced narco-related corruption within its ranks.
As of July 1999, an amendment to the Judicial Organic law mandated that
PGR officers, prosecutors, police agents, experts, and pilots assigned
to narcotics eradication duties are required to undergo an evaluation process,
to include background checks and polygraphs.
Judicial efforts to stop corruption are also underway. On January 11,
2000, a Mexican Federal judge issued an arrest warrant for the magistrate
who wrongly freed Adan Amezcua-Contreras, a major methamphetamine trafficker.
Perhaps the most alarming incident involving Mexican officials occurred
on November 9, 1999, when a DEA Special Agent, along with a FBI Special
Agent debriefed a Confidential Source in Matamoros, Mexico. During the
course of this debriefing the Special Agents and Confidential Source were
surrounded and physically threatened by Mexican trafficker Osiel Cardenas-Guillen
and approximately 15 associates. Each of these associates, one brandishing
a gold-plated automatic assault weapon, were either municipal or state
police officers. Furthermore, despite monitoring the entire incident over
the DEA Special Agent's cellular telephone, which had been used to call
for assistance, the Tamaulipas State Judicial Police Commander took no
action. Due in large part to their resourcefulness and ability to diffuse
this dangerous situation, were the agents and the confidential source able
to survive unscathed. Among other issues, this incident highlights the
vulnerability of DEA and FBI Special Agents working in Mexico.
Status of Extraditions:
The principal leaders of major drug trafficking organizations fear the
threat of extradition to the United States more than any other law enforcement
or judicial tool. Extradition of significant traffickers ensures that those
responsible for the command and control of illicit activities, including
drug smuggling and money laundering, will be held totally accountable for
their actions and serve a prison sentence commensurate with their crimes.
No major drug traffickers were extradited to the United States in 1999.
The Mexican Government did extradite 10 fugitives on narcotics related
or money laundering offenses in 1999 -- eight U.S. citizens and two Mexican
citizens. One Mexican citizen, a drug trafficker, was sought on drug charges
after escaping from a U. S. prison while serving a sentence on drug related
crimes. The other Mexican citizen, who killed a United States Border Patrol
agent, was sought on murder and marijuana smuggling charges.
In September 1998, the Government of Mexico arrested U.S. Citizen and
DEA fugitive Randall Jeffrey Spradling in Guadalajara which, given Spradling's
strong ties to both Mexican and Colombian drug traffickers, was an important
event. He is fighting extradition to the United States.
In the past twelve months, some Mexican Courts have denied extradition
of significant drug traffickers, such as Jaime Ladino-Avila, to the U.S.
due to a variety of reasons, such as a very dated legal precedent holding
life imprisonment unconstitutional in Mexico. At the end of 1999, there
were approximately 40 persons in Mexican custody and subject to extradition
proceedings based on U.S. provisional arrest warrants and extradition requests.
Conclusion: The Road Ahead:
The United States' long experience with confronting and dismantling
organized criminal activity has necessitated the development of an aggressive,
cohesive, and coordinated strategy to identify, target, arrest, and incapacitate
the leadership of these organizations. DEA's role in addressing the drug
problem is to continue to attack the leadership of these international
criminal organizations. With a strategy consisting of mounting attacks
on the organizational command and control of major Mexican trafficking
syndicates that operate along the U.S./Mexico border, the DEA is able to
attack the ability of these organizations to conduct business and impede
their efforts to import drugs into the U.S.
The effectiveness of national and bilateral efforts against drug organizations will depend largely on demonstrable progress in disrupting and dismantling these transnational narco-trafficking organizations. This includes apprehending, prosecuting and convicting major drug traffickers, as well as exercising extradition laws against those defendants facing federal drug trafficking charges in the United States, and exposing and prosecuting individuals and businesses involved in providing critical support networks such as front companies, security, transportation and the like.
Therefore, it is imperative for law enforcement to continue to facilitate
the flow of information and intelligence while identifying and removing
impediments to cooperation. In this vein, it is vital for the DEA, along
with other USG agencies, to continue to support the GOM in the field of
counternarcotics operations. In turn, DEA encourages and expects the GOM
to provide adequate investigative manpower, ongoing integrity testing,
financial resources, equipment and reciprocal drug intelligence in support
of bilateral drug law enforcement, which should significantly improve both
governments' ability to counter and eliminate transnational drug trafficking
However, the true sign of success regarding anti-drug efforts in Mexico
is best recognized with tangible results from concerted law enforcement
efforts, i.e. the arrest and successful prosecution of significant leaders
of these major drug cartels in Mexico and; where applicable, their extradition
to the United States to face federal drug trafficking charges. We are not
As an addendum to the drug trafficking assessment on Mexico, included
are abbreviated drug situation reports on six countries. These countries
were selected due to the Administration's recent announcement either decertifying
(Afghanistan and Burma) or certifying due to vital U.S. interests ( Haiti,
Paraguay, Cambodia, and Nigeria). These reports include criteria and guidelines
that may be evaluated during the certification process.
Paraguay's primary role in the cocaine trade is as a transit country.
Traffickers send shipments of Bolivian cocaine HCl and base through Paraguay
into Brazil and Argentina for further shipment to the United States and
Europe. Recent information also indicates that there is some trafficking
of cocaine essential chemicals from Paraguay into Bolivia.
Paraguayan cocaine traffickers serve primarily as facilitators for major
Bolivian and Brazilian cocaine organizations. Paraguayan transportation
groups have, on occasion, provided aircraft and pilots to transportation
groups operating between Peru, Brazil, and Colombia. A common exchange
method for Paraguayan traffickers is to trade luxury cars stolen in Asuncion
and Argentina for Bolivian cocaine. This makes the capital for large cocaine
purchases relatively easy to obtain and allows Bolivian traffickers to
launder their profits directly into tangible assets.
Counter-drug efforts in Paraguay are consolidated under the direction
of the Secretariat Nacional Antidrogas (SENAD), a Federal agency with national
authority to propose legislation, conduct anti-drug education programs,
control the diversion of chemicals and drugs, and to conduct drug investigations
and operations, including eradication efforts. In February 2000 Retired
Army Colonel Hugo Ibarra was appointed as the director of SENAD. In spite
of continuing political turmoil within the government, Ibarra has displayed
some willingness to conduct investigations into drug trafficking and has
cooperated with the DEA in mainly low level investigations.
The Anti-Narcotics Directorate of the Paraguayan National Police (DINAR)
is a full-time investigative unit consisting of approximately 100 police
special agent personnel. DINAR is controlled organizationally and financially
by SENAD. The DEA Asuncion Country Office (ACO) utilizes both organizations
to conduct investigations and operations. The formation of a DEA-sponsored
investigation/intelligence unit within the DINAR has enhanced the ability
of the ACO to conduct more sensitive investigations and to properly train
and equip this smaller and more secure unit.
A criminal code promulgated in 1997 went into effect in November of
1998. The new code provided sentencing guidelines for money laundering
offenses. Asset seizures are also provided for under Paraguayan law, but
the law is very new and has only been minimally used. In 1998, the Government
of Paraguay signed an extradition treaty with the United States, which
includes a provision for the extradition of nationals. The government also
drafted legislation that explicitly authorizes undercover operations and
controlled deliveries. Due to the political instability in Paraguay the
proposed legislation remains pending.
In 1999, Burma was named as the world's number two producer of opium
behind Afghanistan. The 1999 CNC Opium Yield Survey, conducted jointly
with US and Burmese officials estimated the 1999 potential opium yield
to be 1,090 metric tons. This reflects a 38% decrease from 1998 survey
estimates of 1,750 metric tons. In February 2000, the CNC, Embassy and
Host Nation officials conducted the 2000 Opium Yield Survey with the DEA
as an accompanied observer.
Burma continues to be a major producer of both heroin and methamphetamine.
Burma accounts for approximately 80 percent of the total production of
Southeast Asian opium. In 1999, the Government of Burma (GOB) seized 273
kilograms of heroin, down from 490 kilograms in 1998. The decrease in seizures
is partly due to opium crop reduction, directly attributed to severe drought
conditions. Also attributed is the response by the GOB against narcotic
traffickers, in response to intelligence information provided by DEA. The
increased enforcement activity on behalf of the GOB has resulted in the
traffickers' utilization of smaller and highly mobile opium refineries.
In 1999, the GOB seized in approximately 28.8 million tablets (approximately
2,880 kilograms) of methamphetamine. During 1998, the GOB seized 16 million
tablets (approximately 1,600 kilograms). Additionally, in 1999, the GOB
sseized 6.43 metric tons of ephedrine. The GOB continues to pursue additional
ephedrine smuggling investigations.
Methamphetamine produced in Burma is shipped almost exclusively to Thailand.
The largest and most recent reported seizure in Thailand was 4.3 million
tablets (approx. 430 kilograms) on March 14, 2000. There have been six
reported seizures of Burmese produced methamphetamine, ranging from 200
to 7,800 tablets among the Hmong and Mien communities residing in California.
The United States Government policy towards Burma continues to link
political change toward democracy and human rights issues with the narcotics
problem. Currently minimal assistance is provided to Burma by the U.S.
largely through assistance to law enforcement operations and to intelligence
sharing by DEA with host government counterparts. Training, utilizing INL
funds, has been prohibited since 1989.
The DEA Rangoon Country Office (RCO) has developed a working relationship
with their Host Nation Counterparts (Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence
/DDSI and State Peace and Development Council/SPDC).
Intelligence indicates that corruption is rampant in Burma. This situation
has led to petty graft and corruption. However, the government has taken
positive steps to solve this problem by aggressively prosecuting and punishing
violators determined to be involved in corrupt practices.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enjoys a good relationship
with the Cambodian National Police and the National Police Anti-Drug Unit.
The Anti-Drug Unit is unable to carry out any type of sophisticated investigation
due to the lack of financial resources, extreme shortage of trained personnel
and lack of adequate investigative equipment.
Cambodia is not a major producer of narcotics although large amounts
of marijuana are cultivated with multi-ton quantities being exported to
Europe. Marijuana production and trafficking is not considered to be a
major threat to the United States. In 1997, enforcement efforts resulted
in the disruption and dismantling of a group of Americans identified to
be sending multi ton quantities of marijuana from Cambodia to the West
Coast of the U.S. The investigation resulted in the arrest of several of
its members and the seizure of approximately six tons of marijuana in Cambodia
in June of that year. U.S. and Cambodian defendants were subsequently indicted
in the U.S. Despite the fact that Cambodia has no extradition treaty with
the U.S., the Cambodian government deported the above defendants to the
U.S. to stand trial. Through a cooperative effort, the Government of Cambodia
(GOC) allowed DEA agents to interview the defendant's prior to their deportation
to the U.S. In addition to the above, the GOC allowed two of their officers
to travel to the U.S. and testify in a U.S. Federal Court.
There is little hard intelligence or information available on heroin
trafficking involving Cambodia. There have been no significant heroin seizures
in the U.S. either transiting through or initiated from Cambodia.
Corruption has been identified as an endemic problem in Cambodia, and
has adversely affected drug law enforcement. Poorly paid and ill-trained
police and judicial officials have been all-too-easy to look the other
way in narcotics and other criminal cases.
Cambodia established a "National Authority for Combating Drugs" and
a "Special Drug Enforcement Unit" in the Ministry of the Interior. The
appointed heads of these units currently do not have any law enforcement
units directly under their control, but do have the ability to call on
resources from other enforcement agencies. The National Police remain DEA's
This year, the DEA's Office of International Training is scheduled to
put on the Basic Investigators Training Seminar. The seminar will include
approximately 60 National Police Officers.
The Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLA) has provided
some cooperation to DEA in those areas where it can. The most basic of
drug law enforcement equipment is unavailable to the NDLEA. The NDLEA continues
to be underfunded, undertrained, and underpaid by the Government of Nigeria
(GON), calling into question the GON's own will to attack and prosecute
major drug traffickers operating in Nigeria.
NDLEA officials continued to arrest low level couriers and growers.
Major traffickers and organizations were largely unaffected. This is due
to the lack of training and modern equipment needed to identify, locate,
monitor, and investigate the activities of the major drug traffickers operating
Officials of the GON are quick to point to their yearly seizure statistics,
which are slightly misleading. For example, in 1998 the NDLEA reports that
they seized "over 10 tons of narcotics", which, taken at face value, appears
to be an impressive statistic. When urged to provide a breakdown of the
drug types seized, it is discovered that nine of those metric tons were
cannabis, 503 kilograms were unspecified psychotropic drugs, 17 kilograms
were cocaine and only three kilograms, seized for the entire year, were
The bulk of the cannabis seizures are a result of an active plant eradication
program. The cannabis products are destined for local consumption and exportation
to neighboring African countries, and some to various destinations in Europe.
While it is a source of pride for the GON, the cannabis seizures have little
impact on the United States.
The NDLEA attempts to prosecute narcotics and money laundering violators,
but are stymied by a dysfunctional judicial system and occasionally by
Although there have been asset seizures in the past, a weakness in the
law does not allow for asset forfeiture without a prior conviction of the
owner of the asset. Since convictions are rare, no drug related forfeitures
have been reported.
The political situation in Afghanistan has adversely affected DEA's
strategy and enforcement efforts. Due to security reasons, the Department
of State has prohibited travel to Afghanistan for all of this year. Until
Special Agents can travel to Afghanistan, accurate reporting will be sporadic
and unconfirmed. Currently, there are no ongoing counter narcotics programs
or any cooperation in investigations underway between the U.S. and Afghanistan.
Illegal drug production in Afghanistan, however, remains a major problem
which must be addressed.
Drug traffickers in Afghanistan are both the world's largest producers
of illicit opium and major producers of cannabis products. In the absence
of a stable and universally recognized central government and the tolerance
of poppy cultivation and conversion laboratories by the Taliban, cultivation
of opium poppies is likely to increase in Afghanistan.
According to the U.S. Government, 51,500 hectares of opium poppy were
cultivated in 1999, versus 41,720 hectares in 1998, a 23% increase. From
this an estimated 1,670 metric tons of opium were produced, versus 1,350
last year, a 24% increase. The increase results from favorable economic
and environmental conditions, in particular high opium prices during the
planting season combined with ideal weather conditions during harvest.
During 1999, representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, to include
DEA, have met several times with the Taliban High Commissioner for Narcotics
Control. In a recent meeting, the Taliban High Commissioner for Narcotics
stated that the Taliban government had taken measures to eliminate narcotics.
He claimed that the government had recently seized 2,000 kilograms of opium
and heroin and had destroyed 34 laboratories. Other significant hauls have
taken place at various airports and border areas under Taliban control.
A recent Taliban edict strongly admonished farmers to reduce poppy cultivation
by one-third in the year 2000. A common complaint by the Taliban government
is that the international community does not give the Taliban due credit
for these successes. The Taliban High Commissioner for Narcotics also denied
reports that the Taliban tax opium production.
Afghanistan remains essentially a country divided into regions controlled
by tribal leaders, all of whose support is necessary to effectively rule
the country. Afghanistan is not a center for money laundering and financial
institutions barely exist. Due to the total destruction of the Afghan economy,
narcotic traffickers often use proceeds to purchase goods abroad and smuggle
these items into Afghanistan.
Afghanistan continues to be a major recipient of multi-ton quantities
of acetic anhydride, which is an essential chemical in the production of
heroin. Shipments of acetic anhydride arrive regularly for such purported
usage as leather tanning and machine cleaning. As there are no known legitimate
businesses in Afghanistan utilizing acetic anhydride, these consignments
are highly suspect. Chemicals used in heroin processing laboratories in
Afghanistan usually are imported from India, Germany, and the former Soviet
Union. Some progress has been made in the tracking of shipments from western
countries. Several manufacturers have recently been cooperating and advising
DEA of suspect deliveries destined for Southwest Asia.
Haiti continues to be a transshipment and storage site for multi-hundred
kilogram quantities of cocaine from South and Central America. The country's
long coastline, mountainous interior, numerous uncontrolled airstrips,
and its 193-mile border with the Dominican Republic, as well as its location
in the Caribbean, make it an excellent transit site for drug shipments
from Colombia destined for the United States.
Colombian traffickers are the major players in the drug transportation
business in Haiti. As a result, Colombian organizations have become entrenched
in Haiti, and have cultivated long-standing relationships with Haitian
and Dominican traffickers in order to facilitate their activities.
Colombian traffickers, operating through Haitian contacts, transport
multihundred-kilogram quantities of cocaine through the southern coast
of Haiti. Colombian traffickers are divided into two groups; those who
have lived in Haiti for some time and control drug operations and those
who routinely travel to Haiti aboard commercial aircraft and vessels.
The three primary methods for smuggling drugs into Haiti are noncommercial
air methods, noncommercial maritime activities (primarily go-fast operations
transiting from Colombia to Haiti's Southern Claw) and containerized cargo
on freighters or commercial/passenger aircraft. As drugs enter Haiti, they
are stored locally until they can be shipped to the United States or Europe.
Drugs are smuggled out of Haiti via coastal freighters or containerized
shipping. The primary shipping routes are: