of John Walters, director, Office of National Drug Control Policy, hearing
of the House Western Hemipshere Subcommittee, February 27, 2003
of John P. Walters
Director of National
Drug Control Strategy
Before the House
Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on the
U.S. Policy Toward the Western Hemisphere"
February 27, 2003
Ranking Member Menendez, and distinguished Committee Members, it is a
pleasure to appear before you and provide an overview of the threat which
drug trafficking poses to the Western Hemisphere and to discuss the counternarcotics
efforts of the United States and our Western Hemisphere partners. We will
also review the certification process and the deficiencies that led to
the decertification of Guatemala and Haiti. Thank you for your strong
and steadfast support for the fight against drugs, the social destruction
they engender, and the terrorism they subsidize.
We believe that this
year we have an unprecedented opportunity, in cooperation with our Western
Hemisphere neighbors, to cause a long-term reduction in the supply of
illegal drugs. Our optimism is based on the strong anti-drug positions
taken by the leadership of our partners in the region, including our key
allies in Colombia and Mexico. There is a broadening consensus among many
nations in the hemisphere that illegal drug production inevitably leads
to poverty, corruption, and violence, and that no country is better off
with drugs than without them. Perhaps more importantly, leaders in this
hemisphere are acutely aware that terrorism is the greatest current threat
to national security and stability. They understand that drug trafficking
finances both terror and the corruption that undermines democratic institutions.
The linkage between
terrorists and the drug trade is most evident in Colombia, where FARC
terrorists fighting for control of a drug transit corridor near the town
of Bojayá killed more than 114 last May, including 45 children,
who has taken refuge in a local church. More recently, a terrorist bomb
in Bogotas El Nogal social club killed 35. The list of FARC abuses
is a long one: they force child soldiers into service; they trick unwitting
civilians into becoming human car bombs; and they kidnap thousands each
year and summarily execute Colombian and foreign nationalsas in
the recent killing and hostage taking after an American and Colombian-crewed
plane crashed in an area of heavy FARC activity.
With the election
of President Alvaro Uribe, Colombia has accelerated implementation of
its drug control program, eradicating record levels of coca and moving
aggressively in several areas to weaken criminal and terrorist organizations,
reestablish the rule of law in war-torn regions, and protect the rights
and security of Colombian citizens. Significant drug control gains in
Colombia will requireand President Uribe has committed to pursuingrestoration
of the rule of law to areas that are currently terrorist-controlled and
used to cultivate and produce illegal drugs.
In Mexico, President
Fox has both strengthened law enforcement cooperation with the United
States and begun the process of reforming dysfunctional and sometimes
corrupt institutions. He has arrested thousands of traffickers during
the past two years alone, and has reconstructed entire police organizations
to provide reliable forces to implement his administrations goals.
The Drug Threat and
the Presidents Counter-Drug Objectives
The threat of illegal
drugs to the United States remains high, although we have made some progress
in reducing the number of users, and the most recent surveys show a significant
drop in the key population of young users. There is encouraging news from
Colombia and Mexico, the two key drug producing and transit countries
in the hemisphere. The news from Canada is less positive; stronger actions
are needed to stem the flow of high-potency marijuana, and to reduce the
traffic in pseudoephedrine, a key precursor chemical for methamphetamine.
During 2002, two Western Hemisphere countries, Haiti and Guatemala, were
listed as having "failed demonstrably" to meet their obligations
under international counternarcotics agreements.
The drug trade imposes
more than $50 billion annually in direct costs to the United States, and
is responsible for almost 20,000 drug-induced deaths a year. Aside from
its social consequences, the illegal drug trade fuels violence, terrorism,
and corruption abroad, and contributes to the destabilization of democratic
governments and their economies. For example, drug production and trafficking
provides $150$300 million per year to illegal terrorist groups in
Colombia. These terrorists pose a particular threat to stability in Colombia
and the entire Andean region.
goals in addressing this threat are to reduce U.S. drug consumption by
10 percent in two years and by 25 percent over five years. Our strategy
is to achieve these goals through prevention, treatment, and disrupting
National Drug Control
To reduce the demand
for drugs, we must stop our children from starting drug use in he first
place and we must provide treatment to get current users off drugs. Our
budgets for prevention and treatment have risen significantly and exceed
by a large margin what we spend on international supply reduction.
Recent data from
the University of Michigans Monitoring the Future survey show the
first significant downturn in youth drug use in nearly a decade, with
reductions noted among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Unfortunately, despite
a substantial investment in drug prevention efforts, some six million
Americans meet the clinical criteria for needing drug treatment, and the
overwhelming majority of these users fail to acknowledge their need for
treatment. Recognizing this problem, President Bush announced his treatment
initiative that requests $600 million in new spending over three years
to provide drug treatment to individuals otherwise unable to obtain access
Another key objective
of the Presidents National Drug Control Strategy is to reduce the
supply of illegal drugs in the United States, making drugs less available
and more expensive. We know that when drugs are less available, fewer
young people will begin using them. We thus approach supply reduction
as a problem in disrupting and destroying the drug market.
That market is profitable,
to be sure (though less profitable than often assumed), but it faces numerous
and often overlooked obstacles that may be used as pressure points. To
view the drug trade as a market is to recognize both the challenges involved
and the hopeful lessons of our recent experience: that the drug trade
is not an unstoppable force of nature but a profit-making enterprise where
costs and rewards exist in an equilibrium that can be disrupted. Every
action that makes the drug trade more costly and less profitable is a
step toward "breaking" that market.
Once the drug trade
is seen as a typeadmittedly, a special typeof business enterprise,
the next step is to examine the way the business operates and locate vulnerabilities
in specific market sectors and activities that can then be attacked, both
abroad and here at home. Such sectors and activities include the drug
trades agricultural sources, management structure, processing and
transportation systems, financing, and organizational decisionmaking.
Each represents an activity that must be performed for the market to function.
Our plan is to identify
and attack areas of vulnerabilityto make drug production, for example,
a high-risk enterprise for farmers that provides less income; to make
it clear to major criminals and transporters that they are more likely
to be arrested, incarcerated, and denied profits; and to increase the
cost of seizures, security, money laundering, loading and unloading, bribery,
and the other expenses involved in the criminal enterprise to make it
less attractive to those who supply illegal drugs to American consumers.
The key vulnerabilities
of the cocaine industry are the cultivation phase (attacked through coca
eradication), elements of the transportation network (attacked through
interdiction, seizures, and arrests) and the major trafficking organizations
(attacked through arrests, extraditions, prosecutions, seizures, forfeitures,
and revenue denial). The heroin and marijuana industries have similar
transit and organizational vulnerabilities, but are less vulnerable than
cocaine during the cultivation phase. Synthetic drugs produced in this
hemisphere by U.S. and Mexican trafficking organizations, with the help
of precursor chemicals from Canada and other countries, present a different
set of challenges best addressed by law enforcement processes.
Our programs draw
on the Department of Justices efforts to strengthen the criminal
justice system through ongoing training and technical support to the prosecutors
and police investigators, and through the development of specialized task
force units of police, prosecutors, and technical support in Human Rights,
Anti-Corruption, Narcotics, and Money Laundering/Asset Forfeiture areas.
The Department of
Justice has established the Bilateral Case Initiative, supported by a
new enforcement group at DEA, the Bilateral Case Initiative Group, which
develops significant international narcotics and money laundering cases
for prosecution in the United States. These investigations are conducted
almost entirely outside of the United States, rely on evidence derived
through foreign police agencies and U.S. law enforcement agencies overseas,
and typically involve extraterritorial application of U.S. drug and maritime
They aim to dismantle
the large organizations which threaten U.S. security, either by supplying
vast amounts of controlled substances to domestic trafficking groups,
or because of terrorism concerns. For example, this group has led the
effort to file indictments against groups that use narcotics trafficking
to fund their terrorist objectives, such as elements of the Colombia-based
FARC and AUC, both of which are Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Our market disruption
strategy relies on a high degree of cooperation from our allies in the
region where illegal drugs either originate, are processed, or transit
en route to markets in the United States. The certification process, in
turn, is one way to assess that cooperation.
January 31, 2003, President Bush sent to Congress his annual report listing
the major illicit drug producing and drug-transit countries (known as
the "majors list"). In the same report, he provided his determinations
as to which of these countries had "failed demonstrably to make substantial
efforts" during the previous 12 months to adhere to international
counternarcotics agreements and to take the counternarcotics measures
specified under U.S. law.
This procedure is
different from that used in prior years, and reflects changes resulting
from the passage of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 20022003
(P.L.107-228) (FRAA). Section 706 of the Act makes permanent the "failed
demonstrably" standard adopted last year for majors list country
certifications, and consolidates the identification of the majors list
countries with the certification process into a single report. As in previous
years, this years certification determinations required the President
to consider each countrys performance in areas such as stemming
illicit cultivation, extraditing drug traffickers, and taking legal steps
and law enforcement measures to prevent and punish public corruption that
facilitates drug trafficking or impedes prosecution of drug-related crimes.
The President also had to consider efforts taken by these countries to
stop production and export of, and reduce the domestic demand for, illegal
In his report, the
President identified the following as major drug-transit or major illicit
drug-producing countries: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma,
China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India,
Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand,
Venezuela, and Vietnam. The President also reported to Congress his determinations
that Burma, Guatemala, and Haiti failed demonstrably, during the previous
12 months, to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics
agreements and to take the measures set forth in U.S. law. The President
determined, however, that provision of United States assistance to Guatemala
and Haiti in FY 2003 is vital to the national interests of the United
States. Therefore, under provisions of the FRAA, these two countries will
receive assistance, notwithstanding their counternarcotics performance.
The President did not make this determination with respect to Burma.
eradication of coca can be very effective in attacking and disrupting
the cocaine business. Once killed, a replanted coca field takes approximately
one year to mature and provide its first coca leaf harvesta mature
field provides four harvests annually. Moreover, coca is relatively labor
intensive and expensive to replant. Establishing a one hectare (2.5 acres)
field costs between $1,300 and $2,200, depending on whether the coca is
replanted in an existing field or if a new field is cleared from native
rainforest. Once mature, coca requires manual labor to pick and enormous
quantities of chemicals to process into cocaine.
Poppy in the Western
Hemisphere is cultivated in small fields, typically less than 0.5 hectares
in size, in rugged high mountain regions where weather prevents efficient
location and aerial eradication. The poppy plant is an annual that takes
34 months to mature and can be replanted for about $5 worth of seed
per hectare. Thus, when a poppy field is eradicated, within days the glyphosate
eradication agent decomposes in the soil and a new field can be planted
that will mature within 34 months. Consequently, poppy fields have
to be eradicated many times annually to eliminate the crop potential.
Because of these difficulties, a significantly larger investment of time,
equipment, and personnel is required for aerial eradication of poppy than
drugs are also vulnerable when being moved or massed for shipment. Cocaine
"chokepoints" include Colombias cross-Andean road and
air links, while consolidation and transshipment points in Colombia include
key locations on the north and west coasts and Colombias coastal
waters, where the predominant mode of exportgo-fast boatsdepart
toward the United States.
Another vulnerability of the drug industry is its organizational hierarchy,
financing apparatus, and accumulated assets. Attacking the industrys
leaders, their money and their assets increases their costs, reduces their
profits, generally disrupts their operations, and deprives them of the
"fruit" of their labors.
overall counterdrug commitment deteriorated during 2002, and a heightened
level of corruption impeded significant progress. Guatemala remains a
major drug-transit country for South American cocaine en route to the
United States and Europe in 2002. Significant shipments of drugs regularly
move through Guatemala by air, road, and sea routes with very little law
enforcement intervention. Cocaine seizures decreased by more than 40 percent
and were far below historic averages. Historic problems of widespread
corruption, acute lack of resources, poor leadership, and frequent personnel
turnover in law enforcement and other Government of Guatemala (GOG) agencies
continue to plague the GOG and negatively affect that nations ability
to deal with narcotrafficking and organized crime. The National Civilian
Polices Anti-Narcotics Operations Department (DOAN) was eliminated
due to frequent corruption scandals. The police, in two instances, stole
quantities of drugs that they officially seized, and have been identified
with drug-related extrajudicial executions of both narcotraffickers and
The newly created
narcotics police (SAIA) has had some small successes and has been very
responsive to U.S. training and technical assistance. The USG will work
with the GOG to professionalize the SAIA, with particular emphasis on
leadership, investigations, and human rights issues. Similar efforts are
underway to improve the performance of the narcotics prosecutors and judges.
The President provided a vital national interest certification to Guatemala
because the suspension of assistance to Guatemala would result in further
deterioration of precisely those Guatemalan institutions that are essential
to combating the influence of organized crime in Guatemala.
determination listed nine specific counterdrug actions that Haiti failed
to take after being asked to do so by the United States, among them introduction
of anti-corruption legislation, prosecution of drug-related public corruption,
and enforcement of the Haitian Central Banks existing anti-money
laundering guidelines. It called Haiti "a significant transshipment
point for drugs, primarily cocaine, moving through the Caribbean from
South America to the United States." Haiti continued to have massive
politicization of the national police force, failed to commit additional
resources to their coast guard, and did not increase the numbers of seizures
and arrests over those of prior years. In the case of Haiti, a vital national
interest waiver was provided to enable assistance to continue in order
to alleviate hunger, increase access to education, combat environmental
degradation, fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, and foster the development
of civil society in Haiti.
Because nearly all
U.S.-consumed cocaine is manufactured in, or passes through, Colombia,
and virtually all of Colombias heroin production ends up in the
United States, we focus on Colombia as the center of gravity of our international
If Colombia sprays
200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of coca in 2003, as President Uribe has
pledged, there should be a significant reduction in cocaine production,
and it will be extremely difficult to motivate farmers to continue to
plant cocabecause so few of them will see any profit from their
efforts. Our strategy calls for returning to previously sprayed areas
to destroy any replanted crops before they can be harvested, and to further
make coca farming unprofitable. President Uribe is committed to coca eradication
and has demonstrated his desire to eradicate the drug trade in Colombia.
In fact, in the Putumayo Department in southern Colombia, after the massive
spray campaign that was conducted last year from August through November,
there was evidence that about 10 percent of the coca-farming population
had left the area because the coca economy could no longer sustain it.
The U.S. strategy
for dealing with Colombian heroin is focused on attacking the transportation
and organizations themselves, while providing some level of poppy eradication.
The strategys main elements are: the use of drug detection X-ray
machines and computerized systems at all international airports in Colombia,
intelligence collection and a law enforcement attack against the heroin
trafficking leadership using DEAs expanded Heroin Task Force in
Bogota, and eradicating some 5,000 hectares of poppy each year.
capacity in Colombia will increase dramatically as the Air Bridge Denial
program goes back into operation. Although a majority of cocaine is now
transported across the Andes by land, a significant amount moves by air
and stopping that flow will impose significant penalties on traffickers.
Denying traffickers unhindered movement by aircraft will make it more
difficult for them to collect coca cultivated in remote regions where
air transport is the only efficient mode of transportation.
and interdiction in coastal waters are promising because almost all cocaine
is initially moved off the Colombian coast by go-fast boats (in the Pacific,
some cocaine is later loaded onto fishing vessels). In 2002, the Colombian
Navy seized the majority of the cocaine captured in Colombia, principally
in those coastal waters. DEA is working with the Colombian Coast Guard
and the Colombian National Police to establish a substantial North Coast
capacity by July 2003. Similar efforts are also underway on Colombias
West Coast, and we expect to see improved enforcement and interdiction
results in 2003.
Uribe continues to attack the drug trade; an unprecedented 26 extraditions
have occurred since August 2002. He has also reformed Colombias
asset forfeiture laws, reducing substantially the time between asset seizure
and final disposition of the assets. This has caused top traffickers to
seek "special deals" if they turn themselves in, to avoid losing
all of their ill-gotten drug profits.
With new counterdrug-counterterrorism
authorities from the U.S. Congress, it will be possible in 2003 to improve
the information and assistance we provide to the Government of Colombia,
allowing better targeting of the leadership of the drug industry. Our
strategy also includes continued training and support to the Colombian
military and the National Police, improving their ability to attack high-value
drug and narco-terrorist targets, and allowing them to provide a security
environment in which Colombias social development and judicial programs
can mature. President Uribe is also streamlining, reforming, and expanding
the Colombian military. His goal is a more effective and professional
military, with a near-term capability to capture narcoterrorist leaders,
secure critical infrastructure, disrupt the command level of the terrorist
groups in Colombia, and seize or destroy high-value cocaine-related targets.
The recently reorganized Colombian CD Brigade is more mobile, has greater
reach, and is capable of operating throughout Colombia.
The United States
and Mexico continue to improve their ability to cooperate against a very
serious drug threat to both countries. The Mexican Attorney Generals
Office (PGR) and the military services are targeting the leadership of
all major drug trafficking organizations, with the goal of disrupting
their production, transport, and sale of drugs. Last year Mexican authorities
continued to achieve impressive results in arresting leaders of major
drug trafficking organizations. Since 2001, over 50 top leaders of the
Mexican major drug trafficking organizations have been arrested and thousands
of other traffickers have been removed. During 2002, 17 drug-related defendants
were extradited to the United States for prosecution.
a very effective and intensive eradication program against marijuana and
poppy. Internal to Mexico, interdiction efforts against marijuana and
cocaine continue to be improved, as does the interface with U.S. forces
in the Pacific that track the hundreds of tons of cocaine moved by maritime
vessel from Colombia to Mexico.
The PGR and Mexican
military services continue efforts to strengthen their institutions and
root out corruption within their ranks. The PGRs Federal Investigative
Agency (AFI) and the National Drug Planning Center (CENDRO) have developed
more investigators to collect and analyze information on drug trafficking
and other organized crimes. These investigators use document exploitation
software provided by the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC)
together with computer hardware and software provided by the U.S. Embassys
Narcotics Affairs Section.
President Fox and
members of his Cabinet unveiled an ambitious National Drug Control Plan
in early November that called upon Mexican society and institutions to
wage a frontal assault against all aspects of the drug problem, including
production, trafficking, and consumption. We applaud these efforts, and
are engaging Mexico to assist in all aspects of this major initiative.
Despite these efforts,
Mexico remains a transit country for 70 percent of cocaine reaching the
United States; produces and delivers approximately 30 percent of the heroin
and about 30 percent of the marijuana consumed in the United States; and
is a significant source of synthetic drugs. In addition, numerous elements
of the Mexican criminal groups are located throughout the United States
and are the predominant distributorswithin the United Statesof
cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin.
The U.S. drug control
program in Mexico during FY 2003 is aimed at: assisting the GOM to dismantle
drug cartels and disrupt drug trafficking, supporting the GOMs efforts
to strengthen law enforcement institutions, and promoting anticorruption
We support Mexicos
further strengthening of their federal law enforcement institutions, particularly
the Special Investigative Units and the tactical analysis capacity of
the Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI). Equally important is the transformation
of the Center for Drug Control (CENDRO) into an independent intelligence
analysis organization under the Office of the Attorney General.
Although the United
States enjoys an excellent level of bilateral cooperation with Canada,
the United States Government is concerned that Canada is a primary source
of pseudoephedrine, which is exported to the United States. Over the past
few years there has been an alarming increase in the amount of pseudoephedrine
diverted from Canadian sources to clandestine drug laboratories in the
United States, where it is used to make methamphetamine.
The Government of
Canada, for the most part, has not regulated the sale and distribution
of precursor chemicals. The regulations to restrict the availability of
pseudoephedrine, which the Government of Canada has just promulgated,
should be stronger. Notwithstanding Canadas inadequate control of
illicit diversion of precursor chemicals, Canadian law enforcement agencies
continue to work energetically to support our joint law enforcement efforts.
We are also concerned
with increasing amounts of high-potency marijuana exported to the United
States. Hydroponic hothouse operations in Canada produce cannabis with
high levels of THC, and the RCMP reports that Vietnamese groups may have
mastered organic methods that rival the more technical systems. Moreover,
Canadian law enforcement officials have seized a few aeroponic installations,
where plant roots are suspended in midair and are sprayed regularly with
a fine midst of nutrient-enriched water. While there are no official production
statistics, the RCMP estimates that 800 tons of cannabis are produced
each year. Authorities destroy over one million plants annually (the equivalent
of roughly 200 metric tons of marketable marijuana).
The Andean Ridge
Peru and Bolivia
reduced the cultivation of coca from 115,000 hectares to 34,000 hectares
and 48,000 hectares to 14,000 hectares, respectively, from 1995 to 2001.
However, in both countries coca cultivation marginally increased in 2002.
Most troubling has been the new politicization of the coca industry in
both countries, and the difficulty the governments have faced in confronting
the challenge from groups pursuing an illegal agenda. Although less than
two percent of the cocaine seized in the United States is identified as
coming from Peru and Bolivia, the resurgence of coca and the illegal groups
that produce it, including the Shining Path in Peru, are threats to regional
stability and cause for serious concern.
to hold the line against cultivation, but is still a major transit country
for illegal drugs, arms and precursors. Newly elected President Gutierrez
has recognized the threat from drugs and has pledged to help the United
States counter trafficking through Ecuador. He has also promised to honor
our treaty for the use of Manta for counterdrug flights in the region.
Venezuela is another
major transit country for illegal drugs, allowing about 100 metric tons
of cocaine to flow through its borders en route to Europe and the United
States. Its pressing political problems have created an opening in which
narcoterrorists can operate with impunity.
We have an unprecedented
opportunity to seriously reduce the availability of illegal drugs in this
country by focusing efforts on the drug trades vulnerabilities and
on the key countriesColombia and Mexicothat are involved in
the production and movement of most of the drugs destined for the United
States. The inauguration of President Uribe has ushered in a new level
of Colombian commitment and dedication to eliminating illicit coca production
and the income it provides for terrorists and international criminals.
President Uribe has
committed an unprecedented level of resources, and has enabled Colombia
to eradicate most the coca in the Putumayo/Caqueta regions during the
last quarter of 2002, and he intends to eradicate 200,000 hectares per
year. This rate of eradicationcoupled with the credible threat to
continue it indefinitelyhas the potential to destroy existing large-scale
coca production, to convince farmers that coca production is not worth
the risk, and to reduce replanting rates. The end result will be significantly
reduced cocaine availability in the United States, and significantly decreased
financial support for terrorist organizations.
To accomplish these
objectives the United States must help Colombia achieve the security it
needs, provide aerial spray support, and help with training and intelligence
for law enforcement and interdiction forces. Similarly, we have an opportunity
to help President Fox as he continues his progress in reforming counter-drug
institutions, moving directly against the leadership of major drug trafficking
organizations, and disrupting drug transportation networks throughout
Mexico. Success in these areas will make a real difference in the availability
of drugs in the United States.
This year promises
to be a pivotal one for our strategy against drugs, both in terms of reducing
the consumption in the United States, and disrupting the drug market within
the Western Hemisphere. It will be a crucial year for our relationship
with our partners in the region, especially the leadership in Colombia
and Mexico that are engaging in this difficult effort. We must continue
to fund those strategies that are working, and keep the pressure up on
all fronts. We will continue to assess our efforts and report our progress
to the Congress.
As of February 28,
2003, this document was also available online at http://www.house.gov/international_relations/108/walt0227.htm