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Drug Control: Long-Standing Problems Hinder U.S. International Efforts (Letter Report, 02/27/97, GAO/NSIAD-97-75).




Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO summarized the findings from
its previous work on international drug control and interdiction
efforts, focusing on: (1) the effectiveness of U.S. efforts to combat
drug production and the movement of drugs into the United States; (2)
obstacles to implementation of U.S. drug control efforts; and (3)
suggestions to improve the operational effectiveness of the U.S.
international drug control efforts.

GAO noted that: (1) despite long-standing efforts and expenditures of
billions of dollars, illegal drugs still flood the United States; (2)
although these efforts have resulted in some successes, including the
arrest of traffickers and the eradication, seizure, and disruption in
the transport of illegal drugs, they have not materially reduced the
availability of drugs; (3) a key reason for U.S. counternarcotics
programs' lack of success is that international drug-trafficking
organizations have become sophisticated, multi-billion dollar industries
that quickly adapt to new U.S. drug control efforts; (4) as success is
achieved in one area, the drug-trafficking organizations change tactics,
thwarting U.S. efforts; (5) other significant, long-standing obstacles
also impede U.S. and drug-producing and transit countries' drug control
efforts; (6) in the drug-producing and transit countries,
counternarcotics control efforts are constrained by competing economic
and political policies, inadequate laws, limited resources and
institutional capabilities, and internal problems such as terrorism and
civil unrest; (7) moreover, drug traffickers are increasingly
resourceful in corrupting the countries' institutions; (8) U.S. efforts
have been hampered by competing U.S. foreign policy objectives,
organizational and operational limitations, difficulty in obtaining
bilateral and multilateral support for U.S. drug control efforts,
inconsistency in the funding for U.S. international drug-control
efforts, and the lack of ways to tell whether or how well
counternarcotics efforts are contributing to the goals and objectives of
the national drug control strategy, which results in an inability to
prioritize the use of limited resources; (9) there is no panacea for
resolving all of the problems associated with illegal drug trafficking;
(10) however, a multiyear plan that describes where, when, and how U.S.
agencies intend to apply resources would provide a more consistent
approach; (11) this plan should include performance measures and
long-term funding needs linked to the goals and objectives of the
international drug control strategy; (12) the Office of National Drug
Control Policy (ONDCP) should, at least annually, review the plan and
make appropriate adjustments; (13) with this multiyear plan, program
managers and policymakers can make more-informed decisions on prioritiz*

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-97-75
     TITLE:  Drug Control: Long-Standing Problems Hinder U.S.
             International Efforts
      DATE:  02/27/97
   SUBJECT:  Drugs
             Drug trafficking
             Smuggling
             International relations
             Law enforcement
             International cooperation
             Developing countries
             Political corruption
             Strategic planning
IDENTIFIER:  National Counterdrug Enforcement Research and Development
             Program
             Burma
             Pakistan
             Thailand
             Mexico
             Colombia
             Peru
             National Drug Control Strategy
             Laos
             Afghanistan
             Bolivia
             UN International Drug Control Program

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Cover
================================================================ COVER

Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security,
International Affairs, and Criminal Justice, Committee on Government
Reform and Oversight, House of Representatives

February 1997

DRUG CONTROL - LONG-STANDING
PROBLEMS HINDER U.S.
INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS

GAO/NSIAD-97-75

Drug Control

(711228)

Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  DEA - Drug Enforcement Administration
  DOD - Department of Defense
  FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation
  FYDP - Future Year Defense Program
  GPRA - Government Performance and Results Act
  JIATF - Joint Interagency Task Force
  ONDCP - Office of National Drug Control Policy
  UNDCP - United Nations Drug Control Program

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER

B-275976

February 27, 1997

The Honorable J.  Dennis Hastert
Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security,
 International Affairs, and Criminal Justice
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
House of Representatives

Dear Mr.  Chairman:

Illegal drug use, particularly of cocaine and heroin, continues to be
a serious health problem in the United States.  Under the U.S.
national drug control strategy, the United States has established
domestic and international efforts to reduce the supply and demand
for illegal drugs.  Over the past 10 years, the United States has
spent about $20 billion on international drug control and
interdiction efforts to reduce the illegal drug supply.  At the
request of the former chairman and your staff, this report summarizes
the findings from our past work on international drug control and
interdiction efforts and provides our overall observations on (1) the
effectiveness of U.S.  efforts to combat drug production and the
movement of drugs into the United States, (2) obstacles to
implementation of U.S.  drug control efforts, and (3) suggestions to
improve the operational effectiveness of the U.S.  international drug
control efforts.  This report contains recommendations for the
Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and matters
for congressional consideration.  (See the list of related GAO
products at the end of this report.)

   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

The United States has developed a multifaceted drug control strategy
intended to reduce the supply and demand for illegal drugs.  The 1996
U.S.  drug control strategy includes five goals:  (1) motivate
America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse; (2)
increase the safety of U.S.  citizens by substantially reducing
drug-related crime and violence; (3) reduce health, welfare, and
crime costs resulting from illegal drug use; (4) shield America's
air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug threat; and (5) break
foreign and domestic drug sources of supply.

The last two goals of the national drug control strategy are the
primary emphasis of U.S.  international drug control and interdiction
efforts.  These are aimed at assisting the source and transit
nations\1 in their efforts to (1) destroy major drug-trafficking
organizations by, among other things, arresting, convicting, and
incarcerating their leaders and seizing their drugs and assets; (2)
reduce the supply of drugs through eradication, a reduction in drug
crop cultivation, and other enforcement efforts; (3) increase the
political will and capabilities of nations' institutions to fight
drug-trafficking activities; and (4) make greater use of multilateral
organizations to share the burdens and costs of international drug
control efforts.

Federal drug control spending is categorized into four functional
areas:  demand reduction, domestic law enforcement, international,
and interdiction.  The latter two categories, funded at approximately
$400 million and $1.4 billion, respectively, for fiscal year 1997,
deal primarily with curbing the production of drugs in foreign
nations and stopping the movement of drugs from the sources of
production to the United States.

ONDCP is responsible for producing the national drug control strategy
and coordinating its implementation with other federal agencies.
Although ONDCP has authority to review various agencies' funding
levels to ensure they meet the goals of the national strategy, it has
no direct control over how these resources are used.  Furthermore,
although various federal agencies are involved in implementing the
national drug control strategy, the following principal federal
agencies are involved in implementing the international portion of
the drug control strategy:

  -- The Department of State is the lead agency for coordinating all
     U.S.  antidrug efforts overseas and also provides assistance for
     eradication and interdiction efforts to counterdrug
     organizations of foreign nations.

  -- The Department of Defense (DOD) assists both U.S.  and foreign
     government law enforcement agencies by providing detection,
     monitoring, and tracking support; intelligence support; planning
     assistance; and communications, logistics, and training support.

  -- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the principal
     federal agency responsible for coordinating drug enforcement
     intelligence gathering overseas, conducting law enforcement
     operations, and providing training to foreign government law
     enforcement personnel.

Other U.S.  agencies involved in counternarcotics activities overseas
include the U.S.  Agency for International Development; the U.S.
Coast Guard; the U.S.  Customs Service; various U.S.  intelligence
organizations; other U.S.  law enforcement agencies, including the
U.S.  Attorney's Office, which directs the investigation and
prosecution of federal drug cases against international narcotics
traffickers and money launderers; and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI), which assists and supports some international
counternarcotics activities.  (See app.  I for information on the
roles of these agencies.)

--------------------
\1 The major source countries for coca and cocaine are Bolivia,
Colombia, and Peru.  The major source nations for opium are Burma,
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Laos, Colombia, and Mexico.  The major drug
transit areas include Mexico, the eastern Pacific, the Caribbean, and
the nations of Central America.

   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

Despite long-standing efforts and expenditures of billions of
dollars, illegal drugs still flood the United States.  We have
reported on obstacles faced by the United States and host countries
in their efforts to reduce illegal drug supplies.  Although these
efforts have resulted in some successes, including the arrest of
traffickers and the eradication, seizure, and disruption in the
transport of illegal drugs, they have not materially reduced the
availability of drugs.

A key reason for U.S.  counternarcotics programs' lack of success is
that international drug-trafficking organizations have become
sophisticated, multibillion-dollar industries that quickly adapt to
new U.S.  drug control efforts.  As success is achieved in one area,
the drug-trafficking organizations change tactics, thwarting U.S.
efforts.  Other significant, long-standing obstacles also impede U.S.
and drug-producing and transit countries' drug control efforts.  In
the drug-producing and transit countries, counternarcotics efforts
are constrained by competing economic and political policies,
inadequate laws, limited resources and institutional capabilities,
and internal problems such as terrorism and civil unrest.  Moreover,
drug traffickers are increasingly resourceful in corrupting the
countries' institutions.  U.S.  efforts have been hampered by
competing U.S.  foreign policy objectives, organizational and
operational limitations, difficulty in obtaining bilateral and
multilateral support for U.S.  drug control efforts, inconsistency in
the funding for U.S.  international drug control efforts, and the
lack of ways to tell whether or how well counternarcotics efforts are
contributing to the goals and objectives of the national drug control
strategy, which results in an inability to prioritize the use of
limited resources.

There is no panacea for resolving all of the problems associated with
illegal drug trafficking.  However, a multiyear plan that describes
where, when, and how U.S.  agencies intend to apply resources would
provide a more consistent approach.  This plan should include
performance measures and long-term funding needs linked to the goals
and objectives of the international drug control strategy.  ONDCP
should, at least annually, review the plan and make appropriate
adjustments.  With this multiyear plan, program managers and
policymakers can make more-informed decisions on prioritizing funding
levels based on performance and results.  Also, we believe improved
use of intelligence and technology and the development of a
centralized system of "lessons learned" could enhance
counternarcotics efforts.

   ILLEGAL DRUGS REMAIN READILY
   AVAILABLE
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

Over the past 10 years, the U.S.  agencies involved in
counternarcotics efforts have attempted to reduce the supply and
availability of illegal drugs in the United States through the
implementation of the U.S.  international drug control strategy.
Although they have achieved some successes, the flow of cocaine,
heroin, and other illegal drugs into the United States continues, and
the availability of drugs and the cultivation of drug crops have not
been reduced.  In fact, between 1988 and 1995, illegal drug
cultivation and drug-related activities have increased throughout
South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and other
countries.

According to the August 1996 report of the National Narcotics
Intelligence Consumers Committee,\2 cocaine and heroin were readily
available in all major U.S.  metropolitan areas during 1995.  Since
precise information is not available, U.S.  agencies use data
obtained through several surveys to measure drug availability and
use.  Fluctuations in drug price and purity levels are two yardsticks
used by DEA to measure illegal drug availability.  According to the
DEA Administrator, a depressed price and elevated purity often
signals an increased availability of a specific drug, on the other
hand, increased price and declining purity indicates decreased
availability of that drug.  As shown in table 1 and figure 1, the
price and purity of cocaine has remained relatively constant since
1988.

                                Table 1

                Average Retail Price for One Kilogram of
                           Cocaine (1988-95)

                                                        National price
Year                                                             range
--------------------------------------------------  ------------------
1988                                                  $11,000 -$34,000
1989                                                  $11,000 -$35,000
1990                                                  $11,000 -$40,000
1991                                                  $11,000 -$40,000
1992                                                  $11,000 -$42,000
1993                                                  $10,500 -$40,000
1994                                                  $10,500 -$40,000
1995                                                  $10,500 -$36,000
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  DEA and the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers
Committee.

   Figure 1:  Average Cocaine
   Purity (1988-95)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  DEA.

DEA reports indicate that, like cocaine, the average price and purity
of a kilogram of heroin has remained relatively constant since 1990.
However, the purity of lesser weights of heroin sold on the streets
of the United States has more than doubled, while its average price
has remained relatively constant during this period.  (See app.  II
for additional information on the trends in the price and purity of
heroin.)

Despite long-term efforts by the United States and many
drug-producing countries to reduce cultivation, to eradicate crops,
and to seize illicit drugs, the total net area of cultivation for
coca leaf and opium poppy has increased.  Between 1988 and 1995,
about 56,000 hectares\3 of coca plants were eradicated.  However,
while the areas under cultivation have fluctuated from year to year,
farmers planted new coca faster than existing crops were eradicated.
Thus, the net area under cultivation increased from 186,000 hectares
to 214,800 hectares, or by about 15 percent.  According to officials
at the Department of State, initial information indicates that during
1996 significant reductions occurred in the amount of coca under
cultivation in Peru.  In addition, the amount of opium poppy under
cultivation increased by over 46,000 hectares, or by about 25 percent
between 1988 and 1995.  (See table 2.)

                                Table 2

                     Changes in Area of Land Under
                Cultivation for Drug Crops From 1988 to
                                  1995

                         (Numbers in hectares)

                                        Area under
                                       cultivation
                                   --------------------
                                                         Net change in
                                                                  area
                                                            cultivated
                                                              (1988 to
Crop cultivated                         1988       1995          1995)
-----------------------  --------  ---------  ---------  -------------
Coca
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Bolivia                               48,500     48,600            100
Colombia                              27,000     50,900         23,900
Peru                                 110,500    115,300          4,800
All other countries                      240          0          (240)
======================================================================
Total                                186,240    214,800         28,560

Opium poppy
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Burma                                104,200    154,070         49,870
Laos                                  40,400     19,650       (20,750)
Afghanistan                           23,000     38,740         15,740
Mexico                                 5,001      5,050             49
All other countries                   15,141     16,704          1,563
======================================================================
Total                                187,742    234,214         46,472
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  Department of State.

The amount of cocaine and heroin seized between 1990 and 1995 made
little impact on the availability of illegal drugs in the United
States and on the amount needed to satisfy the estimated U.S.
demand.  The August 1996 report by the National Narcotics
Intelligence Consumers Committee estimates potential cocaine
production at about 780 metric tons for 1995, of which about 230
metric tons were seized worldwide.  The remaining amount was more
than enough to meet U.S.  demand, which is estimated at about 300
metric tons per year.  Heroin production in 1995 was broadly
estimated to be over 300 metric tons, while seizures were about 32
metric tons and U.S.  demand was between 10 and 15 metric tons.  (See
figs.  2 and 3.)

   Figure 2:  Potential Cocaine
   Production, Seizures, and
   Availability (1989-95)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee.

   Figure 3:  Potential Heroin
   Production, Seizures, and
   Availability (1990-95)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  Accurate worldwide seizure data is unavailable for 1989.

Source:  National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee.

--------------------
\2 The National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee is a
multiagency U.S.  government panel that was established in 1978 to
coordinate foreign and domestic collection, analysis, dissemination,
and evaluation of drug-related intelligence.

\3 One hectare equals 2.47 acres.

   DRUG-TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATIONS
   HAVE SUBSTANTIAL RESOURCES,
   CAPABILITIES, AND OPERATIONAL
   FLEXIBILITY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

A primary reason that U.S.  and foreign governments' counternarcotics
efforts are constrained is the growing power, influence, adaptability
and capabilities of drug-trafficking organizations.  Because of their
enormous financial resources, power to corrupt counternarcotics
personnel, and operational flexibility, drug-trafficking
organizations are a formidable threat.  In March 1996, the DEA
Administrator testified that

     "Drug trafficking organizations in Mexico have become so wealthy
     and so powerful over the years that they can rival legitimate
     governments for influence and control.  They utilize their vast
     financial wealth to undermine government and commercial
     institutions.  We have witnessed Colombia's struggle with this
     problem, and it (is) not unexpected that the same problems could
     very well develop in Mexico."\4

Despite some short-term achievements by U.S.  and foreign government
law enforcement agencies in disrupting the flow of illegal drugs into
the United States, drug-trafficking organizations have continued to
meet and exceed the demand of U.S.  drug consumers.

Many extremely wealthy drug-trafficking organizations operate in some
of the poorest countries in the world.  The governments of these
countries have few resources with which to counter the traffickers'
activities.  The widespread poverty within many source and transit
countries makes government personnel, especially low-level law
enforcement officials, especially susceptible to corruption.

According to U.S.  agencies, drug-traffickers' organizations use
their vast wealth to acquire and make use of expensive modern
technology such as global positioning systems and cellular
communications equipment.  They use this technology to communicate
and coordinate transportation as well as to monitor and report on the
activities of government organizations involved in counterdrug
activities.  In some countries, the complexity and sophistication of
their equipment exceed the capabilities of the foreign governments
trying to stop them.

When confronted with threats to their activities, drug-trafficking
organizations use a variety of techniques to quickly change their
modes of operation, thus avoiding capture of their personnel and
seizure of their illegal drugs.  For example, when air interdiction
efforts have proven successful, traffickers have increased their use
of maritime and overland transportation routes.  According to recent
U.S.  government reports, even after the capturing or killing of
several drug cartel leaders in Colombia and Mexico, other leaders or
organizations soon filled the void and adjusted their areas of
operations.

--------------------
\4 The Narcotics Threat to the United States Through Mexico--S.1547,
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S.  Senate, March
28, 1996.

   OBSTACLES IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
   IMPEDE U.S.  DRUG CONTROL
   EFFORTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

The United States is largely dependent on the countries that are the
source of drug production and transit points for trafficking-related
activities to reduce the amount of coca and opium poppy being
cultivated and to make the drug seizures, arrests, and prosecutions
necessary to stop the production and movement of illegal drugs.
While the United States can provide assistance and support for drug
control efforts in these countries, the success of those efforts
depends on their willingness and ability to combat the drug trade
within their borders.

Like the United States, source and transit countries face
long-standing obstacles that limit the effectiveness of their drug
control efforts.  These obstacles, many of which are interrelated,
are competing economic, political, and cultural problems, including
terrorism and internal unrest; corruption; and inadequate law
enforcement resources and institutional capabilities.  The extent to
which the United States can affect many of these obstacles is
minimal.

      DRUG CONTROL COMPETES WITH
      OTHER ECONOMIC, POLITICAL,
      AND CULTURAL PROBLEMS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.1

The governments involved in drug eradication and control have other
problems that compete for limited resources.  As we reported in 1988,
six drug-producing countries' efforts to curtail drug cultivation
were constrained by political, economic, and/or cultural problems
that far exceeded counternarcotics program managers' abilities to
resolve.  For example, these countries had ineffective central
government control over drug cultivation areas, competing demands for
scarce host nation resources, weak economies that enhanced financial
incentives for drug cultivation, corrupt or intimidated law
enforcement and judicial officials, and legal cultivation of drug
crops and traditional use of drugs in some countries.\5

Many of the source countries lack the political will necessary to
reduce coca and opium poppy cultivation, partly because drug
trafficking contributes to their economies.  In Peru, for example,
U.S.  officials stated that it would not be feasible for the
government of Peru to push hard for the eradication of coca leaf
without a guarantee that the United States and other countries would
support extensive, long-term economic development efforts because of
the coca-growing farmers' potential influence in general elections.
In 1996, we reported that part of the reason the Burmese government
had done little to pursue counternarcotics initiatives was that it
ceded control over key opium-producing regions of Burma to an
insurgency group.\6

Most of the countries where opium poppy and coca leaf are grown are
very poor.  In fact, both Bolivia and Peru are two of the poorest
countries in the Western Hemisphere.  Consequently, a cash crop like
coca is vitally important in these regions, where legitimate business
alternatives are few.  According to a 1996 study, the cocaine
industry added $640 million to Peru's gross domestic product in 1993
and 4 percent to Bolivia's 1994 economy.  U.S.  Embassy officials in
Peru reported that an estimated 200,000 farmers are involved in the
coca industry, which represents a sizable portion of the Peruvian
economy.\7

In addition, as we reported in 1992, severe economic problems in
Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela limited these countries' ability to
devote the resources needed to develop effective drug control
efforts.\8

Internal strife in the source countries is another problem that
competes for resources.  Two primary source countries--Peru and
Colombia--must allocate scarce funds to support military and other
internal defense operations to combat guerilla groups, which
negatively affect counternarcotics operations.  We reported that in
Peru, for example, terrorist activities had hampered antidrug
efforts.\9 The December 1996 hostage situation at the Japanese
ambassador's residence in Lima is the latest example of the Peruvian
government's having to divert antidrug resources to confront a
terrorist threat.  Although some key guerilla leaders in Peru and
Colombia have been captured, terrorist groups will continue to hinder
efforts to reduce coca cultivation and the country's efforts to
reduce its dependence on coca as a contributor to the economy.  In
1991 and 1993, we reported similar problems in Colombia, where
several guerilla groups made it difficult to conduct effective
antidrug operations in many areas of the country.\10 More recently,
Colombia has encountered resistance from farmers when it has tried to
eradicate their coca crops.

--------------------
\5 Controlling Drug Abuse:  A Status Report (GAO/GGD-88-39, Mar.  1,
1988).

\6 Drug Control:  U.S.  Heroin Program Encounters Many Obstacles in
Southeast Asia (GAO/NSIAD-96-83, Mar.  1, 1996).

\7 Patrick L.  Clawson and Rensselaer W.  Lee III, The Andean Cocaine
Industry (New York:  St.  Martin's Press, Aug.  1996).

\8 The Drug War:  Extent of Problems in Brazil, Ecuador, and
Venezuela (GAO/NSIAD-92-226, June 5, 1992).

\9 The Drug War:  U.S.  Programs in Peru Face Serious Obstacles
(GAO/NSIAD-92-36, Oct.  21, 1991) and The Drug War:  Observations on
Counternarcotics Programs in Colombia and Peru (GAO/T-NSIAD-92-2,
Oct.  23, 1991).

\10 The Drug War:  Counternarcotics Programs in Colombia and Peru
(GAO/T-NSIAD-92-9, Feb.  20, 1992) and The Drug War:  Colombia Is
Implementing Antidrug Efforts, but Impact Is Uncertain
(GAO/T-NSIAD-94-53, Oct.  5, 1993).

      CORRUPTION PERMEATES
      INSTITUTIONS IN COUNTRIES
      INVOLVED IN DRUG PRODUCTION
      AND MOVEMENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.2

Narcotics-related corruption is a long-standing problem in U.S.  and
foreign governments' efforts to reduce drug-trafficking activities.
Our work has identified widespread corruption in Burma, Pakistan,
Thailand, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru--among the countries most
significantly involved in the cultivation, production, and transit of
illicit narcotics.\11

Corruption remains a serious, widespread problem in Colombia and
Mexico, the two countries most significantly involved in producing
and shipping cocaine.\12 In March 1996, the State Department reported
that corruption in Colombia was pervasive and high-level government
officials, members of congress, judicial officials, and government
functionaries were under investigation for corruption.  And according
to the U.S.  Ambassador to Colombia, corruption in Colombia is the
most significant impediment to a successful counternarcotics effort.
In March 1996, the State Department also reported that persistent
corruption within Mexico continued to undermine both police and law
enforcement operations.  While several hundred law enforcement
officers have been dismissed due to corruption, the Mexican attorney
general believed that the problems of corruption are deep-rooted and
will take all 6 years of the current administration's term to
address.

Drug-related corruption also exists, although to a lesser extent,
throughout several island nations in the Caribbean\13 and in Bolivia
and Peru.  In March 1996, the Department of State reported that
corruption exists in the Peruvian government and impedes drug law
enforcement efforts.

--------------------
\11 Drug Control:  U.S.-Supported Efforts in Burma, Pakistan, and
Thailand (GAO/NSIAD-88-94, Feb.  26, 1988); The Drug War
(GAO/T-NSIAD-92-2, Oct.  23, 1991); The Drug War:  Colombia Is
Undertaking Antidrug Programs, but Impact Is Uncertain
(GAO/NSIAD-93-158, Aug.  10, 1993); The Drug War (GAO/T-NSIAD-94-53,
Oct.  5, 1993) and Drug Control:  Counternarcotics Efforts in Mexico
(GAO/NSIAD-96-163, June 12, 1996).

\12 Drug War:  Observations on the U.S.  International Drug Control
Strategy (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-182,
June 27, 1995) and Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-163, June 12, 1996).

\13 Drug Control:  U.S.  Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean
Decline (GAO/NSIAD-96-119, Apr.  17, 1996).

      INADEQUATE RESOURCES AND
      INSTITUTIONAL CAPABILITIES
      LIMIT ARRESTS AND
      CONVICTIONS OF DRUG
      TRAFFICKERS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.3

Effective law enforcement operations and adequate judicial and
legislative tools are key to the success of efforts to stop the flow
of drugs from the source and transit countries.  Although the United
States can provide assistance, these countries must seize the illegal
drugs and arrest, prosecute, and extradite the traffickers, when
possible, in order to stop the production and movement of drugs
internationally.  However, as we have reported on several occasions,
these countries lack the resources and capabilities necessary to stop
drug-trafficking activities within their borders.  In commenting on a
draft of this report, officials of the U.S.  Southern Command stated
that some countries are making strides in stopping drug-trafficking
activities within their own borders and Colombia and Venezuela have
started cross-border, joint operations.

In 1991, we reported that the lack of resources and adequately
trained police personnel hindered Panama's ability to address
drug-trafficking and money-laundering activities.\14 Also, in 1994,
we reported that Central American countries did not have the
resources or institutional capabilities to combat drug trafficking
and depended heavily on U.S.  counternarcotics assistance.\15 In June
1996, we reported that equipment shortcomings and inadequately
trained personnel limited the government of Mexico's ability to
detect and interdict drugs and drug traffickers, as well as to
aerially eradicate drug crops.\16

Our more recent work indicates that the problem persists.  For
example, we reported in 1995 that the Colombian national police had
only 10 helicopters available for interdiction and eradication
operations in the entire country.\17

According to a senior Bolivian government official, Bolivia is highly
dependent on U.S.  assistance, and any reduction in the current level
of U.S.  aid would result in a corresponding reduction in Bolivian
drug control efforts.  U.S.  officials in Peru stated that developing
an adequate force to counter drug traffickers' expanded use of rivers
to move illegal drugs will take 3 to 10 years because Peru has no
strategy for addressing the problem and lacks trained personnel,
equipment, and infrastructure.

--------------------
\14 The War on Drugs:  Narcotics Control Efforts in Panama
(GAO/NSIAD-91-233, June 16, 1991).

\15 Drug Control:  Interdiction Efforts in Central America Have Had
Little Impact on the Flow of Drugs (GAO/NSIAD-94-233, Aug.  2, 1994).

\16 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-163, June 12, 1996).

\17 Drug War:  Observations on U.S.  International Drug Control
Efforts (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-194, Aug.  1, 1995).

   OTHER OBSTACLES INHIBIT SUCCESS
   IN FULFILLING U.S.
   INTERNATIONAL DRUG CONTROL
   STRATEGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

Our work over the past 10 years has identified other obstacles to
implementing the U.S.  international drug control strategy:  (1)
competing U.S.  foreign policy objectives, (2) organizational and
operational limitations among and within the U.S.  agencies involved,
(3) inadequate financial and program management accountability of
U.S.  resources, (4) the lack of support from bilateral and
multilateral organizations, and (5) inconsistent U.S.  funding
levels.

      U.S.  FOREIGN POLICY
      OBJECTIVES COMPETE FOR
      ATTENTION AND RESOURCES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.1

In carrying out its foreign policy, the United States seeks, among
other things, to promote U.S.  business and trade, improve human
rights, and support democracy, as well as reduce the flow of illegal
drugs into the United States.  These objectives compete for attention
and resources, and U.S.  officials must make tough choices about
which to pursue more vigorously.  As a result of U.S.  policy
decisions, counternarcotics issues have often received less attention
than other objectives.  According to an August 1996 Congressional
Research Service report, inherent contradictions regularly appear
between U.S.  counternarcotics policy and other policy goals and
concerns.\18

Our work has shown the difficulties in balancing counternarcotics and
other U.S.  foreign policy objectives.  For example, in 1990, we
reported that the U.S.  Department of Agriculture and the U.S.
Agency for International Development disagreed over providing
assistance to Bolivia for the growth of soybeans as an alternative to
coca leaf.\19 The Agriculture Department feared that such assistance
would interfere with U.S.  trade objectives by developing a potential
competitor for U.S.  exports of soybeans.  In 1995 we reported that
countering the drug trade was the fourth highest priority in the U.S.
Embassy in Mexico.  During our visit, the U.S.  Ambassador told us
that he had focused his attention during the prior 18 months on
higher-priority issues of trade and commerce such as the North
American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.  financial support program
for the Mexican peso.  In 1996, the embassy elevated counternarcotics
to an equal priority with the promotion of U.S.  business and
trade.\20

In addition, resources allocated for counternarcotics efforts are
sometimes shifted to satisfy other policy objectives.  For example,
as we reported in 1995, $45 million originally intended for
counternarcotics assistance for cocaine source countries was
reprogrammed by the Department of State to assist Haiti's democratic
transition.\21 The funds were used to pay for such items as the cost
of non-U.S.  personnel assigned to the multinational force, training
of a police force, and development of a job creation and feeding
program.  A similar diversion occurred in the early 1990s when U.S.
Coast Guard assets in the Caribbean were reallocated from
counternarcotics missions to the humanitarian mission of aiding
emigrants in their mass exodus from Cuba and Haiti.

Likewise, the United States has terminated most efforts to address
opium cultivation in Burma, the world's largest opium producer,
because of its human rights policies and the failure of the Burmese
government to recognize the democratically elected government.\22

--------------------
\18 International Drug Trade and Its Impact on the United States,
Congressional Research Service, 96-671F, August 9, 1996.

\19 Restrictions on U.S.  Aid to Bolivia for Crop Development Is
Competing With U.S.  Agricultural Exports and Their Relationship to
U.S.  Anti-Drug Efforts (GAO/T-NSIAD-90-52, June 27, 1990).

\20 Drug War (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-182, June 27, 1995).

\21 Drug War (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-194, Aug.  1, 1995).

\22 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-83, Mar.  1, 1996).

      ORGANIZATIONAL AND
      OPERATIONAL LIMITATIONS
      HAMPER DRUG CONTROL EFFORTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.2

The United States faces several organizational and operational
challenges that limit its ability to implement effective antidrug
efforts.  Many of these challenges are long-standing problems.
Several of our reports have identified problems involving competing
priorities, interagency rivalries, lack of operational coordination,
and inadequate staffing of joint interagency task forces.

For example, our 1995 work in Colombia indicated that there was
confusion among U.S.  Embassy officials about the role of the offices
involved in intelligence analysis and related operational plans for
interdiction.\23 In 1996, we reported that several agencies,
including Customs, DEA, and the FBI, had not provided personnel, as
they had agreed, to the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) in Key
West because of budgetary constraints.\24 Our recent fieldwork in
Bolivia and Peru showed that coordination between the
counternarcotics police and military units continues to be a problem.

We also found instances where lessons learned from past
counternarcotics efforts were not known to current planners and
operators, both internally in an agency and within the U.S.  antidrug
community.  For example, the United States recently developed an
operation to support Colombia and Peru in their efforts to curtail
the air movement of coca products between the two countries.  This
operation is similar to an operation conducted in the early 1990s.
However, U.S.  Southern Command personnel stated that while they were
generally aware of the previous operation, they were not aware of the
problems that had been encountered, or of the solutions developed in
the early 1990s when planning the current operation.  U.S.  Southern
Command officials attributed this problem to the continual turnover
of personnel and the requirement to destroy most classified documents
and reports after 5 years.  These officials stated that an
after-action reporting system for counternarcotics activities is now
in place at the U.S.  Southern Command.

--------------------
\23 Drug War (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-182, June 27, 1995).

\24 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-119, Apr.  17, 1996).

      LIMITED OVERSIGHT OF
      U.S.-PROVIDED ASSISTANCE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.3

We have reported that in some cases, the United States did not
adequately control the use of U.S.  counternarcotics assistance and
was unable to ensure that it was used as intended.

Despite legislative requirements mandating controls over
U.S.-provided assistance, we found instances of inadequate oversight
of counternarcotics funds.  For example, between 1991 and 1994, we
issued four reports in which we concluded that U.S.  officials lacked
sufficient oversight of aid to ensure that it was being used
effectively and as intended in Peru and Colombia.\25 We reported that
the government of Mexico had misused U.S.-provided counternarcotics
helicopters when it used the helicopters to transport Mexican
military personnel during the 1994 uprising in the Mexican state of
Chiapas.\26

Our recent work indicates that oversight and accountability of
counternarcotics assistance continues to be a problem in Mexico.  We
reported in 1996 that the number of staff devoted to monitoring the
use of previously provided U.S.  counternarcotics aid was reduced,
limiting the ability of U.S.  officials to oversee how this
assistance was being used.  Furthermore, in 1995, we reported that
the U.S.  Embassy had conducted a 1993 inventory of U.S.-funded spare
parts for aircraft used by the Colombian counternarcotics police and
found that over $200,000 worth of equipment could not be found.\27

--------------------
\25 Drug War:  Observations on Counternarcotics Aid to Colombia
(GAO/NSIAD-91-296, Sept.  30, 1991); The Drug War (GAO/NSIAD-92-36,
Oct.  21, 1991); The Drug War (GAO/T-NSIAD-92-2, Oct.  23, 1991); and
The Drug War (GAO/T-NSIAD-94-53, Oct.  5, 1993).

\26 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-163, June 12, 1996).

\27 Drug War (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-182, June 27, 1995).

      COUNTERNARCOTICS
      CONTRIBUTIONS OF
      INTERNATIONAL DONORS ARE
      LIMITED
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.4

The U.S.  international drug control strategy emphasizes the use of
multilateral institutions and bilateral donors to share the burden
and costs of drug control efforts, especially where the United States
has limited access and influence.  Although international
organizations have undertaken drug control efforts in countries where
the United States has no bilateral program and have supplemented U.S.
programs, in many cases their contributions have been too small to
make a significant impact.  For example, in March 1996, we reported
that the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) to reduce opium
production in Burma, supplemented with U.S.  funds, lacked sufficient
scope in poppy-growing areas to result in long-term crop
reductions.\28 In addition, its funds supplementing U.S.  bilateral
efforts in Peru have also been limited:  $2.2 million compared to the
U.S.  expenditure of an estimated $15 million in 1995.  According to
the Department of State, UNDCP's annual budget for its global
activities is about $70 million, or about half of State's
international narcotics funding in fiscal year 1996.  In Peru, UNDCP
recently reduced its activities, since Italy--one of its largest
donors--decided South America is no longer a regional priority.

In addition, international donors' drug control goals and objectives
sometimes differ from those of the United States, and some do not
link to the U.S.  international drug control strategy.  In June 1993,
we reported that donors in Europe and Asia tend not to support
interdiction efforts.  They prefer instead to provide assistance for
law enforcement training and equipment and for activities to reduce
the demand for illegal drugs.\29 Also, U.S.  officials in Peru stated
that although international donors often support development
assistance efforts in drug crop cultivation areas, many have been
reluctant to link their assistance to specific illicit crop reduction
goals.  These officials further stated that European donors' and
UNDCP's development activities in Peruvian coca-growing areas often
lack this link.

--------------------
\28 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-83, Mar.  1, 1996).

\29 Drugs:  International Efforts to Attack a Global Problem
(GAO/NSIAD-93-165, June 23, 1993).

      INCONSISTENT FUNDING LEVELS
      HAVE ADVERSELY AFFECTED DRUG
      CONTROL EFFORTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.5

From 1986 to 1996, the United States spent about $103 billion on
domestic and international efforts to reduce the use and availability
of illegal drugs in the United States.  Of this amount, $20 billion
was spent on international counternarcotics efforts supporting (1)
the eradication of drug crops, the development of alternative forms
of income for drug crop farmers, and increased foreign law
enforcement capabilities ($4.1 billion) and (2) interdiction
activities ($15.6 billion).  However, from year to year, funding for
international counternarcotics efforts has fluctuated and until
recently had declined.  In some instances, because of budgetary
constraints, Congress did not appropriate the level of funding
agencies requested; in others, the agencies applied funding
erratically, depending on other priorities.  The reduction in funding
has sometimes made it difficult to carry out U.S.  operations and has
also hampered source and transit countries' operations (see fig.  4).

   Figure 4:  Funding for U.S.
   Interdiction and International
   Drug Control Efforts (fiscal
   years 1987-97)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  1997 figures are requested amounts.

Source:  ONDCP.

Funding for drug interdiction in the transit zone declined from about
$1 billion in 1992 to $570 million in 1995.  This adversely affected
U.S.  interdiction capabilities.  In addition, funding to support
source country activities--called for in the new cocaine policy of
1993--did not materialize.  Moreover, as we reported in August 1993,
the State Department reduced the support of military and law
enforcement counternarcotics activities in Colombia from a planned
level of $58 million to $26 million because of budgetary constraints.
As a result, Colombian police and military requirements could not be
met.\30 In 1995, U.S.  Embassy officials stated that without
additional funding they could not adequately support plans for both
eradication and interdiction operations.

In March 1994, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the
amount of funding to support counternarcotics efforts in the Andean
region source countries was substantially below the 5-year level
proposed by the executive branch (see fig.  5).\31

   Figure 5:  Proposed and
   Actual/Estimated Funding Levels
   for Support of Drug Control
   Efforts in the Andean Region
   (fiscal years 1989-94)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  Congressional Budget Office.

In April 1996, we reported that U.S.  funding in source countries had
declined in 1994 and 1995 from earlier levels, even though U.S.
policy called for greater emphasis on source country counternarcotics
efforts.\32 The lack of consistent funding for counternarcotics
efforts has in some cases made countries hesitant to fully cooperate
with the United States.  For example, according to U.S.  Embassy
officials, the Peruvian government has been reluctant to push for the
eradication of mature coca partly because the United States cannot
promise consistent or negotiated levels of alternative development
assistance to support the long-term efforts needed to significantly
reduce the growth of coca leaf.  U.S.  Southern Command officials
concur in the view that sporadic funding has adversely affected drug
control efforts and believe that some minimal level of support should
be established as a baseline for drug control efforts in the source
countries and transit regions.

For fiscal year 1997, the funding levels for some agencies'
counternarcotics activities were increased.  For example, the State
Department's international narcotics control and law enforcement
programs were fully funded for fiscal year 1997 at $213 million.
However, without longer-term budget stability, it may be difficult
for agencies to implement programs that they believe will reduce drug
production and drug trafficking.

--------------------
\30 The Drug War (GAO/NSIAD-93-158, Aug.  10, 1993).

\31 The Andean Initiative:  Objectives and Support, Congressional
Budget Office, March 1994.

\32 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-119, Apr.  17, 1996).

   WAYS TO IMPROVE THE
   EFFECTIVENESS OF U.S.
   INTERNATIONAL DRUG CONTROL
   EFFORTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

There is no easy remedy for overcoming all of the obstacles posed by
drug-trafficking activities.  International drug control efforts
aimed at stopping the production of illegal drugs and drug-related
activities in the source and transit countries are only one element
of an overall national drug control strategy.  Alone, these efforts
will not likely solve the U.S.  drug problem.  Overcoming many of the
long-standing obstacles to reducing the supply and smuggling of
illegal drugs requires a long-term commitment.  We believe the United
States can improve the effectiveness of planning and implementing its
current international drug control efforts by (1) developing a
multiyear plan with measurable goals and objectives and a multiyear
funding plan, (2) making better use of available intelligence and
technologies and increasing intelligence efforts, and (3) developing
a centralized system for recording and disseminating lessons learned
by various agencies while conducting law enforcement operations.

      DEVELOP LONG-TERM PLANS THAT
      INCLUDE MULTIYEAR FUNDING
      REQUIREMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :7.1

U.S.  counternarcotics efforts have been hampered by the absence of a
long-term plan outlining each agency's commitment to achieving the
goals and objectives of the international drug control strategy.
Judging U.S.  agencies' performance at reducing the supply of and
interdicting illegal drugs is difficult because the agencies have not
established meaningful measures to evaluate their contribution to
achieving these goals.  Also, agencies have not established multiyear
funding plans that could serve as a more consistent basis for
policymakers and program managers to determine requirements for
effectively implementing a plan and determining the best use of
resources.

We have issued numerous reports citing the need for an overall
implementation plan with specific goals and objectives and
performance measures linked to them.  In 1988, we reported that goals
and objectives had not been established in any of the six
drug-producing countries examined,\33

and in 1991 and 1992, we reported a similar situation in Colombia and
Peru.\34

Moreover, in 1993, we reported that DOD's surveillance mission in
support of interdiction efforts was not cost beneficial, partially
because ONDCP had not established quantifiable goals or valid
effectiveness measures.  Later, in 1993, we recommended that ONDCP
develop performance measures to evaluate agencies' drug control
efforts and incorporate the measures in the national drug control
strategy.\35

Under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993
(P.L.  103-62), federal agencies are required to develop strategic
plans covering at least 5 years, with results-oriented performance
measures.  ONDCP officials recently told us that they are now working
with an interagency group to develop performance effectiveness
measures that will be linked to a 10-year drug control strategy.  In
our view, this effort is long overdue and will be critical for
evaluating the overall success of counternarcotics efforts and for
establishing a better basis to set resource priorities.  Because
changing events may significantly affect the plan, ONDCP needs to
monitor progress and make necessary adjustments at least annually.

In addition, with the involved agencies' multiyear funding
requirements, ONDCP could prepare an aggregated multiyear budget plan
that clearly reflects the total nature and extent of combined
efforts.  By establishing a longer-term funding plan similar to DOD's
Future Year Defense Program (FYDP),\36 some of the problems caused by
sporadic funding patterns could be overcome.  Like the FYDP, an
overall multiyear counternarcotics budget plan linked to the
international drug control strategy could lay out program
requirements to enable policymakers to better judge each agency's
contribution toward achieving results.

--------------------
\33 Drug Control:  U.S.  International Narcotics Control Activities
(GAO/NSIAD-88-114, Mar.  1, 1988).

\34 Drug War (GAO/NSIAD-91-296, Sept.  30, 1991) and The Drug War
(GAO/T-NSIAD-92-9, Feb.  20, 1992).

\35 Drug Control:  Reauthorization of the Office of National Drug
Control Policy (GAO/GGD-93-144, Sept.  29, 1993).

\36 The FYDP is DOD's budget "blueprint" supporting the defense
strategy.  It provides an official set of planning assumptions and
projections far enough ahead to allow DOD to estimate the future
implications of its current decisions.  The FYDP has been annually
submitted to Congress since 1988.

      IMPROVE AND EXPAND
      INTELLIGENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
      EFFORTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :7.2

In an environment of limited budgets and assets, it is important for
U.S.  officials to effectively use their resources to make the
maximum impact against drug-trafficking activities.  A key component
of U.S.  operational strategy is reliable and adequate intelligence
to help plan interdiction operations.  Having timely intelligence on
trafficking activities is increasingly important because traffickers
frequently change their operational patterns and increasingly use
more sophisticated communications, making it more difficult to detect
their modes of operations.  U.S.  officials have indicated that more
intelligence resources, including human intelligence resources, are
needed.  They recognized that this expansion could take several
years, even if additional funds are made available.  Nevertheless,
expanded intelligence efforts are critical to law enforcement and
interdiction activities.

As traffickers become more sophisticated in using technology to
communicate and conduct their operations, technological improvements
will become increasingly important.  Use of detection technology is
needed because over 400 million people, almost 120 million cars, and
10 million containers and trucks pass through the 301 points of entry
into the United States each year.  Two general groups of technologies
can be used to detect narcotics.  The first group uses X-rays,
nuclear techniques, or electromagnetic waves, while the second
group--referred to as trace detection technologies--uses chemical
analyses to identify narcotics' particles or vapors.\37

The U.S.  Customs Service, which is responsible for the ports of
entry, currently has inspectors with relatively little equipment
other than handheld devices that manually screen containers to detect
false compartments.  Customs has identified containerized cargo at
commercial seaports as its greatest unsolved narcotics detection
requirement.  Tests have shown that fully loaded containers can be
effectively screened for narcotics with available high energy X-ray
technologies.  According to DOD and Customs officials, future efforts
in container screening will include less expensive X-ray systems with
higher energy levels, mobile X-ray systems, and more capable handheld
trace detection systems.  We believe these technologies will likely
become more important in addressing maritime and border trafficking
threats.

--------------------
\37 Terrorism and Drug Trafficking:  Technologies for Detecting
Explosives and Narcotics (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-252, Sept.  4, 1996).

      AN AFTER-ACTION REPORTING
      SYSTEM COULD STRENGTHEN
      PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :7.3

U.S.  agencies could strengthen their planning and operations through
the development of an after-action reporting system similar to DOD's
system.  Under DOD's system, operation reports describe an
operation's strengths and weaknesses and contain recommendations for
consideration in future operations.  A governmentwide system would
allow agencies to learn from the problems and impediments encountered
internally and by other federal agencies in implementing past efforts
and interdiction operations.  With such information, the agencies
could develop plans that avoid past problems or contingencies in
known problem areas.  ONDCP should take the lead in developing a
governmentwide lessons-learned data system to quickly provide agency
planners and operators with information to enable them to anticipate
changing drug-trafficking patterns and respond accordingly and to
develop more effective source country efforts.

   MATTER FOR CONGRESSIONAL
   CONSIDERATION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

To ensure continuity and commitment to achieving the goals and
objectives of the drug control strategy, Congress should consider
providing ONDCP the authority to require that key U.S.  drug control
agencies develop and submit multiyear funding plans tied to the drug
control strategy.

   RECOMMENDATIONS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :9

To aid decisionmakers in planning improved counternarcotics efforts
and using U.S.  resources to their best advantage, we recommend that
the Director, ONDCP, (1) complete the development of a long-term plan
with meaningful performance measures and multiyear funding needs that
are linked to the goals and objectives of the international drug
control strategy; (2) at least annually, review the progress made and
adjust the plan, as appropriate; (3) enhance support for the
increased use of intelligence and technology to improve U.S.  and
other nations' efforts to reduce supplies of and interdict illegal
drugs; and (4) lead in developing a centralized lessons-learned data
system to aid agency planners and operators in developing more
effective counterdrug efforts.

   AGENCY COMMENTS
----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :10

In commenting on a draft of this report, ONDCP said it supports all
of our recommendations.  According to ONDCP, the President's Drug
Control Council fully supports a 5-year drug budget planning process
in conjunction with the development of a 10-year drug strategy.
ONDCP indicated that the executive branch had developed a 5-year
national drug control budget for submission to Congress for fiscal
year 1998.  The budget process is expected to identify the resources
needed to achieve the goals and objectives in the 1997 strategy.
ONDCP added that it has already begun the process of developing
measures of effectiveness in concert with the national drug control
program agencies.

ONDCP pointed out that it must be reauthorized by the end of fiscal
year 1997 and that reauthorization language was being developed for
submission to Congress.  Central to ONDCP's reauthorization is
legislation to permit a 10-year strategy and an annual report to
Congress on progress.

To enhance support for the increased use of technology and
intelligence, ONDCP indicated that it had initiated reviews of both
the overall intelligence architecture and the work of the Counterdrug
Technology Assessment Center.  ONDCP also stated that it anticipated
that a coordinated implementation plan will be key to making a
centralized lessons-learned data system operational.  (ONDCP's
comments are reprinted in full in
app.  III.)

In written and oral comments, the Department of Justice expressed
concern that the report did not recognize the full extent of its role
in international drug control activities.  We added information on
the role played by the U.S.  Attorney's Office and the FBI in
investigating and prosecuting drug cases against international drug
traffickers.  Justice's comments and our evaluation of them are
included in appendix IV.  The Departments of State and Defense orally
advised us that they had no disagreement with the findings,
conclusions, and recommendations in our report.

We have made technical changes and updated information in the report,
where appropriate, based on suggestions provided by the Departments
of State, Defense, and Justice; ONDCP; and the U.S.  Southern
Command.

   OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND
   METHODOLOGY
----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :11

The previous Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security,
International Affairs, and Criminal Justice of the House Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight requested that we provide information
on U.S.  international drug control efforts.  The objectives of our
review were to summarize the findings from our past work and provide
our overall observations on (1) the effectiveness of U.S.  efforts to
combat drug production and the movement of drugs into the United
States, (2) obstacles to implementation of U.S.  drug control
efforts, and (3) suggestions to improve the operational effectiveness
of the U.S.  international drug control strategy.

To address these issues, we employed a combination of approaches.  To
obtain information for this report, we reviewed 59 prior GAO reports,
testimonies, and supporting documentation on U.S.  international drug
control efforts.  To obtain information on past, ongoing, and planned
drug control policies and efforts, we spoke with appropriate
officials and reviewed planning documents, studies, cables, and
correspondence at the Departments of Defense, State, and
Justice--primarily DEA; the U.S.  Coast Guard; the U.S.  Customs
Service; the U.S.  Agency for International Development; the U.S.
Interdiction Coordinator; and ONDCP in Washington, D.C.

To obtain information on drug-trafficking activities in the Caribbean
and U.S.  efforts to address this problem, we visited the U.S.
Atlantic Command in Norfolk, Virginia, and the Joint Interagency Task
Force in Key West, Florida, where we obtained detailed briefings from
U.S.  officials and reviewed documents, cables, and related
documents.  To obtain information on drug-trafficking activities in
the source countries of South America, we visited the U.S.  Southern
Command in Panama and the Joint Interagency Task Force at Howard Air
Force Base in Panama, where we met with senior U.S.  military
officials and obtained detailed briefings on planned and ongoing drug
interdiction efforts in the cocaine source countries of Bolivia,
Colombia, and Peru.

We visited the U.S.  embassies in La Paz, Bolivia, and Lima, Peru,
where we met with numerous U.S.  Embassy personnel involved in
planning and implementing drug control efforts in these two
countries.  We also reviewed planning documents, field reports,
cables, and correspondence maintained at the embassies.  To obtain
the views of the governments of Bolivia and Peru, we met with senior
Bolivian, Peruvian, and United Nations law enforcement and drug
control officials responsible for counternarcotics programs.  In
Bolivia, we also visited the Chapare coca-growing region and met with
U.S.  and Bolivian drug control officials and numerous coca- and
non-coca-growing farmers.

Our report contains various figures and tables showing data related
to the production and consumption of illegal narcotics.  Because of
the nature of the illegal drug trade, in which traffickers'
activities are not always known to foreign and U.S.  government
agencies, it is difficult to develop precise and reliable
information.  For the most part, the data are only approximations and
represent the best available U.S.  government estimates.  In
addition, our report includes data through 1995 because U.S.
government data for 1996 was not available and will not be officially
issued until March 1, 1997, when the Department of State publishes
its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

We conducted our review from June 1996 through January 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.  As
you requested, we obtained written agency comments from ONDCP on a
draft of this report.  We also discussed the information in this
report with officials of other concerned agencies and included their
comments where appropriate.

--------------------------------------------------------- Letter :11.1

We are sending copies of this report to other appropriate
congressional committees; the Secretaries of State and Defense; the
Attorney General; the Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration;
and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Copies will also be made available to other interested parties upon
request.

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, I can
be reached on (202) 512-4128.  Major contributors to this report are
listed in appendix V.

Sincerely yours,

Benjamin F.  Nelson
Director, International Relations
 and Trade Issues

U.S.  AGENCIES INVOLVED IN
DEVELOPING AND ADMINISTERING
COUNTERNARCOTICS ACTIVITIES
=========================================================== Appendix I

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), located within
the Executive Office of the President, oversees international and
domestic drug programs.  It is responsible for developing the U.S.
national drug control strategy and overseeing and coordinating the
drug control efforts of about 50 different U.S.  federal agencies
engaged in implementing the strategy and managing programs.  ONDCP
does not manage the programs themselves.  Some of the key U.S.
agencies involved in counternarcotics efforts are the Departments of
State, Justice, and Defense; the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA); the U.S.  Coast Guard; the U.S.  Customs Service; and the U.S.
Agency for International Development.

   DEPARTMENT OF STATE
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1

In the Department of State, the Assistant Secretary for International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is responsible for formulating
and implementing the international narcotics control policy and for
coordinating the narcotics control activities of all U.S.  agencies
overseas.  The Assistant Secretary also manages the International
Narcotics Control Program, authorized by section 481 of the Foreign
Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, which provides aid to law
enforcement agencies involved in antidrug activities.  In addition,
the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs
manages the Foreign Military Financing Program, and the Assistant
Secretary for the Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs is
responsible for ensuring that U.S.  human rights policies are
implemented.  A number of key U.S.  embassies overseas are staffed
with a narcotics affairs section which manages the International
Narcotics Control Program.  The section's mission is generally to
provide equipment and training, operational support, technical
assistance, and coordination to host country agencies involved in
counternarcotics.

   DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2

In the Department of Defense (DOD), the Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support is responsible for
planning, implementing, and providing support to law enforcement
agencies that have counternarcotics responsibilities.  The Director
of the Defense Security Assistance Agency is responsible for
providing equipment and training to host country military and law
enforcement agencies.  DOD's overall activities include detecting and
monitoring suspected drug traffickers and providing training and
equipment.  At a number of U.S.  embassies overseas, military aid is
administered by the U.S.  Military Group, which is responsible for
coordinating security assistance programs with host countries'
military forces and with other U.S.  agencies involved in
counternarcotics activities.

   DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:3

DEA is the principal federal agency responsible for coordinating drug
enforcement intelligence overseas and conducting all drug enforcement
operations.  DEA's objectives are to reduce the flow of drugs into
the United States through bilateral criminal investigations, collect
intelligence regarding organizations involved in drug trafficking,
and support worldwide narcotics investigations covering such areas as
money laundering, control of chemicals used in the production of
cocaine and heroin, and other financial operations related to illegal
drug activities.  DEA also provides training to host country law
enforcement personnel.

The Department of Justice and its U.S.  Attorney's Office enforce the
narcotics and money-laundering laws and prosecute cases against
international drug traffickers and money launderers and seize and
forfeit their illicit proceeds and laundered assets domestically and
overseas.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a role in
drug trafficking investigations and has concurrent status with DEA
because of its responsibility for traditional organized crime groups.
The FBI has placed agents in several DEA offices overseas and is
involved in joint U.S.-Mexican law enforcement initiatives.  The FBI
also supports international drug law enforcement training by either
conducting or facilitating courses in drug-related topics.

   U.S.  COAST GUARD
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:4

The U.S.  Coast Guard is the principal maritime law enforcement
agency, with jurisdiction on and over the high seas, as well as in
U.S.  territorial waters.  The goal of the Coast Guard's drug
interdiction effort is to eliminate maritime routes as a significant
trafficking mode for the supply of drugs to the United States through
seizures, disruption, and displacement.  The program emphasizes
interdicting vessels and aircraft smuggling cocaine and marijuana
into the United States and tracking, monitoring, and apprehending
aircraft suspected of carrying drugs from source and transit
countries over the high seas.

   U.S.  CUSTOMS SERVICE
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:5

The U.S.  Customs Service is primarily responsible for preventing
contraband from entering or exiting the United States.  It plays a
key role in interdicting illegal drugs and investigating
drug-smuggling organizations.  The Customs Service has a border
inspection force and an extensive air program, which aims to detect
and apprehend drug-smuggling aircraft, and a variety of seagoing
vessels.

   U.S.  AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL
   DEVELOPMENT
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:6

The Administrator of the U.S.  Agency for International Development
is responsible for planning and implementing U.S.  economic
assistance programs that are directed to the international drug
problem through alternative development--strengthening and
diversifying the legitimate economies of drug-producing and
trafficking countries.  Agency activities also include assistance to
host countries in repaying debt and improving judicial systems, drug
awareness and education programs, and general project support.

TRENDS IN THE PRICE AND PURITY OF
HEROIN
========================================================== Appendix II

                               Table II.1

                 U.S. Retail Prices for One Kilogram of
                Heroin, by Region or Country of Origin,
                                1988-95

                         (Dollars in thousands)

                         Southeast   Southwest       South
Year                          Asia        Asia     America      Mexico
----------------------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------
1988                        $100 -   $70 -$200         N/A      $100 -
                              $210                                $200
1989                     $60 -$204   $45 -$160         N/A   $70 -$130
1990                     $70 -$260   $70 -$200         N/A    $65 -$80
1991                     $90 -$260   $80 -$220         N/A   $50 -$200
1992                     $90 -$250   $80 -$200         N/A   $50 -$150
1993                        $150 -   $70 -$200         N/A   $50 -$250
                              $250
1994                        $100 -   $75 -$200   $85 -$180   $50 -$250
                              $260
1995                     $70 -$260   $70 -$260   $80 -$185   $50 -$250
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  N/A - Not applicable.

Source:  DEA.

   Figure II.1:  Average Retail
   Heroin Purity, 1988-95

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  DEA.

(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix III
COMMENTS FROM THE OFFICE OF
NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY
========================================================== Appendix II

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix IV
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
JUSTICE
========================================================== Appendix II

See comment 1.

See comment 2.

(See figure in printed edition.)

See comment 3.

See comment 3.

(See figure in printed edition.)

See comment 3.
Now on p.  20.

See comment 4.
Now on p.  22.

See comment 5.

See comment 6.
Now p.  8.

(See figure in printed edition.)

The following are GAO's comments on the Department of Justice's
letter dated February 20, 1997.

GAO COMMENTS

1.  This report reflects the contents of previous GAO reports.  When
appropriate, the prior GAO reports included agency comments and our
evaluation of these comments.

2.  We did not obtain formal Department of Justice comments on a
number of our reports and testimonies because (1) they made no
reference to the Department of Justice; (2) at hearings scheduled by
congressional committees, we were asked to provide our views, not the
views of other witnesses; or (3) in the past, we honored requests of
congressional committees that specifically asked us not to obtain
agency comments.  However, it should be noted that DEA--recognized by
the Department of Justice as the lead agency for most U.S.
international drug trafficking investigative efforts--did provide
written comments on three of the four reports we have issued since
September 1994.  DEA was not mentioned in the fourth report.  We
obtained oral comments from DEA officials on all of our international
drug control reports in which DEA activities were discussed.

3.  We have included additional information on other Department of
Justice entities involved in U.S.  international counterdrug
activities.  However, it should be clearly recognized that some
activities were largely beyond the scope of our review.  These
include (1) the U.S.  Attorney's Office efforts to prosecute
money-laundering and drug-trafficking cases and (2) the FBI's efforts
to deal with traditional organized crime groups.  In addition, the
Department's comments did not reflect any disagreement with the fact
that (1) the counternarcotics efforts to date have not significantly
impeded the flow of drugs and (2) the obstacles we identified have
hampered counterdrug efforts.

4.  The report text has been modified to reflect this information.

5.  We do not take a position on the merit of digital telephony
legislation and the need to intercept and decode encryption
transmissions because it was beyond the scope of our review.

6.  We have not changed the statement made by the DEA Administrator.
The statement was cited in both the prepared statement and testimony
given by the Administrator at a March 28, 1996, hearing before the
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.  The
statement and hearing record have been published and contain no
reference to "third world nations."

MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
=========================================================== Appendix V

NATIONAL SECURITY AND
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION,
WASHINGTON, D.C.

Jess Ford, Associate Director
Joe Murray, Assistant Director
Allen Fleener, Evaluator-in-Charge
Ron Hughes, Senior Evaluator
George Taylor, Senior Evaluator
Nancy Ragsdale, Senior Evaluator (Communications Analyst)
Dan Tikvart, Evaluator

RELATED GAO PRODUCTS
============================================================ Chapter 0

Customs Service:  Drug Interdiction Efforts (GAO/GGD-96-189BR, Sept.
26, 1996).

Drug Control:  U.S.  Heroin Control Efforts in Southeast Asia
(GAO/T-NSIAD-96-240, Sept.  19, 1996).

Drug Control:  Observations on Counternarcotics Activities in Mexico
(GAO/T-NSIAD-96-239, Sept.  12, 1996).

Terrorism and Drug Trafficking:  Technologies for Detecting
Explosives and Narcotics (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-252, Sept.  4, 1996).

Drug Control:  Counternarcotics Efforts in Mexico (GAO/NSIAD-96-163,
June 12, 1996).

Drug Control:  Observations on Counternarcotics Efforts in Mexico
(GAO/T-NSIAD-96-182, June 12, 1996).

Drug Control:  Observations on U.S.  Interdiction in the Caribbean
(GAO/T-NSIAD-96-171, May 23, 1996).

Drug Control:  U.S.  Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean Decline
(GAO/NSIAD-96-119, Apr.  17, 1996).

Terrorism and Drug Trafficking:  Threats and Roles of Explosives and
Narcotics Detection Technology (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-76BR, Mar.  27,
1996).

Drug Control:  U.S.  Heroin Program Encounters Many Obstacles in
Southeast Asia (GAO/NSIAD-96-83, Mar.  1, 1996).

Review of Assistance to Colombia (GAO/NSIAD-96-62R, Dec.  12, 1995).

Drug War:  Observations on U.S.  International Drug Control Efforts
(GAO/T-NSIAD-95-194, Aug.  1, 1995).

Drug War:  Observations on the U.S.  International Drug Control
Strategy (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-182, June 27, 1995).

Honduras:  Continuing U.S.  Military Presence at Soto Cano Base Is
Not Critical (GAO/NSIAD-95-39, Feb.  8, 1995).

Drug Activity in Haiti (GAO/OSI-95-6R, Dec.  28, 1994).

Drug Control:  U.S.  Antidrug Efforts in Peru's Upper Huallaga Valley
(GAO/NSIAD-95-11, Dec.  7, 1994).

Drug Control:  U.S.  Drug Interdiction Issues in Latin America
(GAO/T-NSIAD-95-32, Oct.  7, 1994).

Drug Control In Peru (GAO/NSIAD-94-186BR, Aug.  16, 1994).

Drug Control:  Interdiction Efforts in Central America Have Had
Little Impact on the Flow of Drugs (GAO/NSIAD-94-233, Aug.  2, 1994).

Drug Control:  U.S.  Counterdrug Activities in Central America
(GAO/T-NSIAD-94-251, Aug.  2, 1994).

Illicit Drugs:  Recent Efforts to Control Chemical Diversion and
Money Laundering (GAO/NSIAD-94-34, Dec.  8, 1993).

Drug Control:  The Office of National Drug Control Policy-Strategies
Need Performance Measures (GAO/T-GGD-94-49, Nov.  15, 1993).

Drug Control:  Expanded Military Surveillance Not Justified by
Measurable Goals (GAO/T-NSIAD-94-14, Oct.  5, 1993).

The Drug War:  Colombia Is Implementing Antidrug Efforts, but Impact
Is Uncertain (GAO/T-NSIAD-94-53, Oct.  5, 1993).

Drug Control:  Reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control
Policy (GAO/GGD-93-144, Sept.  29, 1993).

Drug Control:  Heavy Investment in Military Surveillance Is Not
Paying Off (GAO/NSIAD-93-220, Sept.  1, 1993).

The Drug War:  Colombia Is Undertaking Antidrug Programs, but Impact
Is Uncertain (GAO/NSIAD-93-158, Aug.  10, 1993).

Drugs:  International Efforts to Attack a Global Problem
(GAO/NSIAD-93-165, June 23, 1993).

Drug Control:  Revised Drug Interdiction Approach Is Needed In Mexico
(GAO/NSIAD-93-152, May 10, 1993).

Drug Control:  Coordination of Intelligence Activities
(GAO/GGD-93-83BR, Apr.  2, 1993).

Drug Control:  Increased Interdiction and Its Contribution to the War
on Drugs (GAO/T-NSIAD-93-04, Feb.  25, 1993).

Drug War:  Drug Enforcement Administration's Staffing and Reporting
in Southeast Asia (GAO/NSIAD-93-82, Dec.  4, 1992).

The Drug War:  Extent of Problems in Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela
(GAO/NSIAD-92-226, June 5, 1992).

Drug Control:  Inadequate Guidance Results in Duplicate Intelligence
Production Efforts (GAO/NSIAD-92-153, Apr.  14, 1992).

The Drug War:  Counternarcotics Programs in Colombia and Peru
(GAO/T-NSIAD-92-9, Feb.  20, 1992).

Drug Policy and Agriculture:  U.S.  Trade Impacts of Alternative
Crops to Andean Coca (GAO/NSIAD-92-12, Oct.  28, 1991).

The Drug War:  Observations on Counternarcotics Programs in Colombia
and Peru (GAO/T-NSIAD-92-2, Oct.  23, 1991).

The Drug War:  U.S.  Programs in Peru Face Serious Obstacles
(GAO/NSIAD-92-36, Oct.  21, 1991).

Drug War:  Observations on Counternarcotics Aid to Colombia
(GAO/NSIAD-91-296, Sept.  30, 1991).

Drug Control:  Impact of DOD's Detection and Monitoring on Cocaine
Flow (GAO/NSIAD-91-297, Sept.  19, 1991).

The War on Drugs:  Narcotics Control Efforts in Panama
(GAO/NSIAD-91-233, July 16, 1991).

Drug Interdiction:  Funding Continues to Increase but Program
Effectiveness Is Unknown (GAO/GGD-91-10, Dec.  11, 1990).

Restrictions on U.S.  Aid to Bolivia for Crop Development Competing
With U.S.  Agricultural Exports and Their Relationship to U.S.
Anti-Drug Efforts (GAO/T-NSIAD-90-52, June 27, 1990).

Drug Control:  How Drug Consuming Nations Are Organized for the War
on Drugs (GAO/NSIAD-90-133, June 4, 1990).

Drug Control:  Anti-Drug Efforts in the Bahamas (GAO/GGD-90-42, Mar.
8, 1990).

Drug Control:  Enforcement Efforts in Burma Are Not Effective
(GAO/NSIAD-89-197, Sept.  11, 1989).

Drug Smuggling:  Capabilities for Interdicting Airborne Private
Aircraft Are Limited and Costly (GAO/GGD-89-93, June 9, 1989).

Drug Smuggling:  Capabilities for Interdicting Airborne Drug
Smugglers Are Limited and Costly (GAO/T-GGD-89-28, June 9, 1989).

Drug Control:  U.S.-Supported Efforts in Colombia and Bolivia
(GAO/NSIAD-89-24, Nov.  1, 1988).

Drug Control:  U.S.  International Narcotics Control Activities
(GAO/NSIAD-88-114, Mar.  1, 1988).

Controlling Drug Abuse:  A Status Report (GAO/GGD-88-39, Mar.  1,
1988).

Drug Control:  U.S.-Supported Efforts in Burma, Pakistan, and
Thailand (GAO/NSIAD-88-94, Feb.  26, 1988).

Drug Control:  River Patrol Craft for the Government of Bolivia
(GAO/NSIAD-88-101FS, Feb.  2, 1988).

Drug Control:  U.S.-Mexico Opium Poppy and Marijuana Aerial
Eradication Program (GAO/NSIAD-88-73, Jan.  11, 1988).

U.S.-Mexico Opium Poppy and Marijuana Aerial Eradication Program
(GAO/T-NSIAD-87-42, Aug.  5, 1987).

Status Report on GAO Review of the U.S.  International Narcotics
Control Program (GAO/T-NSIAD-87-40, July 29, 1987).

Drug Control:  International Narcotics Control Activities of the
United States (GAO/NSIAD-87-72BR, Jan.  30, 1987).

*** End of document. ***