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Drug Control: Interdiction Efforts in Central America Have Had Little Impact on the Flow of Drugs

(Letter Report, 08/02/94, GAO/NSIAD-94-233)

The supply of illegal drugs reaching the United States via Central
America continues virtually uninterrupted despite years of U.S. drug
interdiction efforts.  Traffickers are now using sea and overland routes
to move drugs, and the ability of Central American nations to combat the
problem remains limited due to a variety of factors, including lack of
resources and government corruption.  GAO summarized this report in
testimony before Congress; see: Drug Control: U.S. Counterdrug
Activities in Central America, by Benjamin F. Nelson, Associate Director
for International Affairs Issues, before the Subcommittee on
Information, Justice, Transportation, and Agriculture, House Committee
on Government Operations.  GAO/T-NSIAD-94-251, Aug. 2, 1994 (11 pages).

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

     TITLE:  Drug Control: Interdiction Efforts in Central America Have 
             Had Little Impact on the Flow of Drugs
      DATE:  08/02/94
   SUBJECT:  International cooperation
             Controlled substances
             Drug trafficking
             Search and seizure
             Federal aid to foreign countries
             Federal aid for criminal justice
             Foreign governments
             International relations
IDENTIFIER:  Central America
             El Salvador
             Costa Rica
             Operation Cadence
             National Drug Control Strategy
             South America
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================================================================ COVER

Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Information, Justice,
Transportation, and Agriculture, Committee on Government Operations,
House of Representatives

August 1994



Drug Control

=============================================================== ABBREV

  DEA - Drug Enforcement Administration
  DOD - Department of Defense

=============================================================== LETTER


August 2, 1994

The Honorable Gary A.  Condit
Chairman, Subcommittee on Information,
 Justice, Transportation, and Agriculture
Committee on Government Operations
House of Representatives

Dear Mr.  Chairman: 

In response to your request, we reviewed U.S.-assisted narcotics
control efforts in Central America.\1 This report describes (1) the
drug trafficking situation in that region, (2) the efforts being made
by various U.S.  departments and agencies to curb the flow of cocaine
and the obstacles they face in carrying out these efforts, (3) the
capabilities of Central American countries to interdict cocaine
shipments and their dependence on U.S.  assistance, and (4) new U.S. 
counterdrug initiatives. 

\1 Central American countries are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. 

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

Despite various U.S.  government interdiction efforts, Central
America continues to be a primary transshipment point for cocaine
shipments to the United States.  Available evidence suggests that the
supply of drugs entering the United States via Central America
remains virtually uninterrupted.\2 Law enforcement officials stated
that drug traffickers have adjusted their modes of operations to
evade U.S.  air interdiction efforts and are increasingly using sea
and land transportation to move drugs through Central America to the
United States.  Drugs moved by these new trafficking modes are very
difficult to detect and interdict.  The Central American nations have
neither the resources nor the institutional capability to address the
new drug trafficking modes and are heavily dependent on U.S. 
assistance.  Various U.S.  government agencies are working with some
Central American countries on a number of small-scale projects to
address new trafficking modes.  However, the outcome of these efforts
is uncertain due to limited host country capabilities and shifts in
U.S.  program emphasis from drug interdiction in the transit
countries of Central America toward intercepting drugs and disrupting
drug organizations in the source countries of South America. 

\2 Drug Control:  Expanded Military Surveillance Not Justified by
Measured Goals or Results (GAO/T-NSIAD-94-14, Oct.  5, 1993); Drug
Control:  Heavy Investment in Military Surveillance Is Not Paying Off
(GAO/NSIAD-93-220, Sept.  1, 1993); and Drug Control:  Impact of
DOD's Detection and Monitoring on Cocaine Flow (GAO/NSIAD-91-297,
Sept.  19, 1991). 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

By the late 1980s, most cocaine entering the United States was flown
directly from the producing countries of South America into northern
Mexico, where the cargo was then transported by truck across the
border.  However, in response to joint U.S.-Mexican drug interdiction
efforts in northern Mexico, traffickers began to adjust their routes
and moved their operations and staging areas to southern Mexico and
neighboring Central American countries.\3

Strategically located between the United States and the cocaine
producing countries of South America, Central America and its
coastline are used as a bridge by drug traffickers to facilitate
cocaine transshipment to the United States.  The two primary air
routes used to move cocaine from Colombia to Central America and
Mexico are the western Caribbean corridor and the more frequently
used eastern Pacific corridor.\4
(See fig.  1.) From various points along these corridors, traffickers
either land and offload their drugs or airdrop their drug cargoes. 
Drugs are then stockpiled for shipment to Mexico and then the United

   Figure 1:  Primary Cocaine
   Trafficking Routes From
   Colombia to Central America and
   the United States

   (See figure in printed

In 1991, the United States initiated a major effort to interdict
drugs transiting Central America.  In fiscal year 1993, the U.S. 
government programmed more than $56 million on efforts to curb the
flow of drugs through Central America. 

\3 Drug Control:  Revised Drug Interdiction Approach Is Needed in
Mexico (GAO/NSIAD-93-152,
May 10, 1993). 

\4 In a limited number of cases, traffickers in producing countries
have been known to fly their drug cargoes directly to the United
States or Canada. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

In recent years, the major thrust of the U.S.  drug strategy in
Central America has been to intercept drug trafficking aircraft as
they move drug cargoes along established trafficking routes.  This
strategy appears to have been successful in Guatemala, the primary
transhipment country of the region, but has had little impact on the
flow of drugs to the United States.  According to law enforcement
officials, the strategy has not been effective because traffickers
have adjusted their methods of operation and destinations to evade
U.S.  detection and interdiction efforts.  In addition, the U.S. 
government and Central American countries face numerous obstacles to
developing effective counterdrug programs.  Although the amount of
cocaine that transits Central America is not known, the Department of
State estimates that as much as 70 tons of cocaine transits Guatemala
annually, the country at the focus of U.S.  interdiction efforts in
the region. 

As the United States has increased its ability to detect, monitor,
and interdict drug trafficking aircraft moving from South America to
Central America and the United States, traffickers have turned to
more complex and evasive means of air delivery and to less detectable
highway and sea transportation.  Some U.S.  officials believe that,
in a limited number of instances, drug traffickers have changed their
air shipment methods to avoid detection by Department of Defense
(DOD) radar.  For example, one drug enforcement official told us that
traffickers are flying small aircraft into the jungle area that spans
the border between Colombia and Panama, trucking drug cargoes across
Panama, and reloading the drugs on small aircraft that mix with
legitimate air traffic in the region.  This technique avoids the
radar assets that DOD has focused on the northern coast of South

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), maritime
vessels and air cargo conveyances are now responsible for the bulk of
the cocaine being moved into Central America and much of the cocaine
being smuggled into the United States.  The use of ships and boats
allows cocaine to be transported in greater bulk so that it can be
more easily concealed and increases the difficulty of detecting drugs
that are commingled with legitimate cargo.  The National Narcotics
Intelligence Consumers Committee reports that cocaine has been hidden
in the walls of cargo containers, in bulk cargo such as coffee, and
attached to the vessels themselves.\5 The U.S.  Customs Service faces
an enormous challenge as it attempts to examine all containers
entering U.S.  ports.  For example, over 44,000 sea containers
arrived at U.S.  seaports from cocaine source and transit countries
during fiscal year 1992.  Of this total, Customs examined 13 percent
of the full containers and 25 percent of the empty ones. 

The large volume of vehicular traffic crossing into Mexico from
Central America also provides traffickers with ample smuggling
opportunities.  Once into Mexico, whether by air, boat, or land, the
drugs are usually destined for the United States.  Almost 6,600
tractor trailer trucks and 211,000 passenger vehicles cross the
U.S.-Mexico border each day.  Customs estimates that two-thirds of
all cocaine entering the United States crosses the U.S.-Mexico land
border concealed in cargo.  Appendix I contains detailed information
on drug trafficking in Central America. 

\5 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. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

U.S.  narcotics control efforts in Central America have centered on
intercepting drug trafficking aircraft transiting the region and
seizing drugs destined for the United States.  The primary focus has
been Operation Cadence, a program combining the efforts of various
U.S.  government agencies with interdiction operations conducted by
DEA and Central American police personnel.  Initiated in 1991,
Operation Cadence involves the deployment of specially trained U.S. 
law enforcement agents to Guatemala who work with information and
intelligence developed by DEA, DOD, and Customs to seize trafficking
aircraft and their cargoes. 

Available data indicates that State, DEA, DOD, and Customs programmed
over $48 million to support Operation Cadence and other interdiction
activities in Central America during fiscal year 1993.  These
expenditures primarily represented the cost of U.S.  personnel and
services and the operation of U.S.-owned radar and aviation assets. 
With the use of various land-, sea-, and air-based radar assets, DOD
spent an estimated $24.7 million on detecting and monitoring drug
trafficking aircraft as they left South America and approached the
Central American isthmus.  Customs spent at least $9 million to
monitor suspect trafficking aircraft and track them once they entered
a particular country's airspace.  The Department of State spent $6.1
million to operate and maintain aircraft used to transport Cadence
personnel to aircraft landing sites and $1 million to train and
support Guatemalan police personnel involved in interdiction
operations.  DEA spent $828,000 to support the deployment of Cadence
teams to the region.  DEA also spent about $6.5 million to conduct
routine investigative activities not related to Operation Cadence and
operate offices in six Central American countries. 

According to DEA, Operation Cadence has been responsible for seizing
almost 29 metric tons of cocaine since its inception in May 1991.\6
However, annual Cadence cocaine seizures have declined.  The number
of detected flights to the seven Central American countries fell from
84 in 1992 to 25 in 1993.  The number of suspected trafficking
flights into Guatemala fell from 57 in 1992 to 13 in 1993.  As a
result of Operation Cadence's ability to successfully seize a growing
percent of those aircraft landing in Guatemala and six consecutive
successful interdiction operations from June to September 1993,
traffickers have avoided Guatemala.  No suspected trafficking flights
were detected entering Guatemala from October 1993 to March 1994, the
last month for which data is available.  Operation Cadence has also
provided some interdiction and training assistance to Belize, El
Salvador, and Honduras through the short-term deployment of DEA

In addition to supporting Operation Cadence, the Department of State
spent almost $4 million to improve the drug interdiction capabilities
of six Central American nations; support drug eradication efforts;
and inform Central American citizens about the adverse impacts of
drug production, trafficking, and abuse.  It also spent $4 million to
operate and maintain State-owned eradication aircraft in Guatemala
and Belize.  The U.S.  Coast Guard spent $400,000 to train regional
maritime forces in vessel boarding and inspection procedures. 
Appendix II further discusses U.S.  anti-narcotics activities in
Central America. 

In addition to problems inherent in identifying and interdicting drug
traffickers, U.S.  efforts in the Central American transit zone have
been limited by national sovereignty and jurisdiction issues.  For
example, Cadence activities in Belize were suspended for about 1 year
because the government of Belize prohibited the entrance of Cadence
personnel armed with M-16 rifles.  The government of Belize currently
prohibits Department of State helicopters armed with M-60 machine
guns from flying over that country.  Similarly, the government of
Honduras does not allow Guatemalan aircraft or personnel to fly over
its territory.\7 In Honduras, flight plans for U.S.  interdiction
aircraft must be filed 48 hours in advance.  One State Department
official said that regional suspicions have also inhibited joint
training and adversely affected joint drug interdiction operations. 

Central American presidents discussed greater anti-drug cooperation
at a conference in February 1993 and issued a declaration stating
their commitment to develop specific regional counterdrug programs
6 months.  As part of their agreement, the presidents also committed
to establishing a new Central American counterdrug commission.  To
date, none of the actions approved at the conference have been

\6 One metric ton equals 1,000 kilograms or 2,205 pounds. 

\7 Department of State helicopters used in Cadence operations are
operated and maintained by a
U.S.  contractor, which employs Guatemalan civilian pilots.  Also,
Cadence interdiction teams include a number of host nation law
enforcement personnel who are restricted to operations within their
specific country. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

Although all of the Central American countries have drug control
efforts underway, no country possesses the technical, financial, or
human resources necessary to run an efficient drug interdiction
program.  In addition, none of the countries has an organization in
place to effectively counter the overland or maritime drug movement. 
The limited interdiction efforts that they do undertake are highly
dependent on U.S.  assistance.  A senior Guatemalan narcotics control
official told us that air and land interdiction rates in Guatemala
would fall by at least 80 percent without U.S.  assistance.  In
Honduras, a Department of State representative said that the drug
interdiction effort would quickly wither away without the continued
insistence and assistance from the United States. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.1

None of the Central American countries has the resources necessary to
purchase sophisticated equipment and develop well-trained personnel
to combat the well-financed, creative, and highly adaptable drug
traffickers.  No Central American nation has a navy or coast guard
capable of completely controlling its territorial waters.  For
example, four Honduran Navy ships are responsible for patrolling that
country's extensive Caribbean coast.  Three of these ships have been
in dry dock, and Honduras could not afford fuel for the fourth ship
for a long period of time.  In addition, Honduras is the only Central
American country with the radar capability to monitor its airspace. 

Corruption also limits the effectiveness of Central American
governments' narcotics control efforts.  In its 1994 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report to Congress, State reported
concerns of narcotics-related corruption in all seven Central
American countries.  Instances cited by State ranged from the
premature release of people arrested and convicted on drug charges to
the alleged involvement of prominent individuals in drug trafficking. 
In another country, DEA has reported that the host nation
organization responsible for conducting its surveillance and
undercover operations is the least professional law enforcement
agency in the country and the one most susceptible to corruption. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.2

Budgetary constraints and concern over the effectiveness of State's
narcotics control program resulted in Congress reducing the funds
available for this worldwide program from $147.8 million in fiscal
year 1993 to $100 million in fiscal year 1994.  Both host country
assistance and U.S.  direct interdiction efforts are being reduced to
accommodate the lower level of funding. 

The United States, through the Department of State, provided about $5
million in narcotics control assistance to six of the seven Central
American countries during fiscal year 1993 and plans to provide about
$3 million in similar aid during fiscal year 1994.  This assistance
provides training and logistics and maintenance support to
counternarcotics police in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama.  Narcotics control training provided
by the Department of State focused on strengthening the capabilities
of drug law enforcement units.  Some of this training is provided by
the U.S.  Customs Service, which instructs Central American personnel
on interdiction techniques and detector dog operations; the U.S. 
Coast Guard, which provides training on vessel boarding techniques;
and DEA, which provides training in investigatory techniques. 

Within Central America, the Department of State has focused its
efforts in Guatemala and Panama, where it established narcotics
affairs sections to manage in-country programs and oversee much
smaller projects in neighboring countries.  State helped the
government of Guatemala to organize an interdiction unit, develop a
narcotics-related intelligence and information clearinghouse, and
establish a unit to coordinate interdiction operations.  State also
supports Guatemalan efforts to eradicate opium poppy and marijuana
cultivations by providing equipment, commodities, and aviation

To accommodate reduced funding for counterdrug programs in Central
America, State terminated the deployment of an
interdiction/eradication helicopter to Belize, reduced the number of
helicopters it had deployed to Guatemala, and greatly reduced the
number of flying hours available for support of Operation Cadence
interdiction activities.  This reduced level of aviation support has
adversely affected interdiction efforts and DEA has reduced the
number of Operation Cadence teams deployed in Guatemala. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

In recognition of the limited usefulness of existing programs, U.S. 
anti-drug agencies, along with some Central American governments, are
developing new small-scale approaches to address the growing threat
of maritime and overland trafficking through the region.  However, it
is not clear whether these initiatives will develop into viable
programs because of limited host country capabilities and changing
emphasis and program priorities in the U.S.  drug control strategy. 

DEA has developed a proposal for a maritime force to patrol the coast
of Honduras.  Funding constraints, however, have caused State to
reject DEA's proposal.  In Guatemala, the Department of State has
approached Guatemalan shipping interests and proposed a port
inspection project that would tighten controls and safeguard the
integrity of goods shipped via Guatemalan ports.  Start-up costs for
this project would be provided by State, and subsequent costs would
be the responsibility of the port authority, which would impose a fee
on those who use the port and its facilities. 

In the meantime, in February 1994, the White House released the new
National Drug Control Strategy, which shifted the focus from
interdicting drug shipments in the transit countries of Central
America to intercepting drugs and disrupting drug organizations in
the source countries of South America.  The strategy clearly
envisions a reduced role for DOD and its detecting and monitoring
assets in Central America and makes less money available for U.S. 
assistance to Central American countries.  The full impact of this
strategy shift on transit zone efforts is not yet clear. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

In conducting this review, we interviewed program officers and
reviewed planning documents, field reports, studies, and cables at
the Department of State, DEA, DOD, the Defense Intelligence Agency,
and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, D.C.  We
also met with program and operational officers at DEA's El Paso
Intelligence Center in Texas and with officials in Guatemala,
Honduras, and Panama.  We conducted our work between June 1993 and
April 1994 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards.  Additional information on our scope and methodology is
discussed in appendix III. 

We did not obtain written agency comments on this report.  However,
we discussed the information in a draft of this report with officials
from the Departments of State and Defense and the Drug Enforcement
Administration and incorporated their comments where appropriate. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :7.1

As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 7 days
from the issue date.  At that time, we will send copies to
appropriate congressional committees, the Secretaries of State and
Defense, the Attorney General, the Administrator of the Drug
Enforcement Administration, and the Directors of the Office of
National Drug Control Policy and the Office of Management and Budget. 
We will also provide copies to others on request. 

Please contact me on (202) 512-4128 if you or your staff have any
questions on this report.  Major contributors to this report are
listed in appendix IV. 

Sincerely yours,

Joseph E.  Kelley
International Affairs Issues

=========================================================== Appendix I

To reduce the use of Central America as a staging area for U.S.-bound
drug shipments, the United States has created and funded a number of
programs that assist countries as they combat narcotics trafficking. 
All seven Central American countries have received U.S.  narcotics
control assistance and have narcotics control efforts in place. 
Although U.S.  narcotics control initiatives vary among the Central
American countries, the overall U.S.  strategy aims to increase their
ability to curb drug trafficking and eventually take responsibility
for drug control operations within their respective countries. 

--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1

In 1990, drug traffickers began to alter their established air
transit routes through Mexico and expand their operations into
Guatemala.  The Department of State estimates that as much as 70 tons
of cocaine annually transit Guatemala.  The number of confirmed drug
trafficking flights entering the country increased from 4 in 1989 to
36 in 1990.  Guatemala is an attractive transit location for drug
trafficking because it is situated halfway between the United States
and Colombia, has hundreds of unmonitored landing strips, and has no
radar capability.  Drug trafficking aircraft have concentrated their
activities in three regions of the country:  the coastal Pacific
plains of southwestern Guatemala, the river valleys and isolated
jungle flatlands of the northern Peten region, and the area around
Lake Izabal in eastern Guatemala.  Air delivery techniques involve
the traditional landing and offloading drug cargoes and the
increasing practice of airdropping drug cargoes over land and sea to
waiting confederates.  Seaborne drug transshipment is centered in the
eastern Guatemalan port of Puerto Santo Tomas. 

Once in Guatemala, traffickers use a variety of smuggling methods to
forward drug cargoes to the United States.  These range from
traditional air transportation to the use of cargo containers,
tractor trailers, automobiles, boats, and air cargo.  According to
the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the transportation of
cocaine aboard air cargo shipments departing Guatemala and the
overland shipment of cocaine by tractor trailer through Mexico are
the two most serious problems being encountered in Guatemala. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1.1

Three organizations in the Guatemalan government have anti-narcotics
responsibilities:  the Treasury Police, the National Police, and the
military's intelligence unit. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1.1.1

The Guatemalan Treasury Police has primary responsibility for drug
enforcement and eradication and is the principal beneficiary in
Guatemala of U.S.  narcotics control assistance.  About 350 Treasury
Police agents are involved in different aspects of the drug war.  A
20-man Treasury Police unit known as the "Tiburones" patrols
Guatemala's coast and inland waterways and is responsible for
monitoring the entry and exit of contraband at Guatemala's largest
seaport.  Another unit known as the "Halcones" focuses on road blocks
and is involved in overland interdiction operations.  A 15-man rapid
reaction airmobile platoon accompanies DEA agents during drug seizure
operations.  A unit of helicopter door gunners protects U.S. 
helicopters involved in eradication and interdiction operations.  In
addition, manual eradication units address the problem of opium poppy
and marijuana cultivation.  The Treasury Police also has a drug
detector dog unit. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1.1.2

At the request of DEA, a Narcotics Task Force consisting of 15
National Police investigators was formed in 1989 to conduct
undercover and surveillance operations.  DEA, however, reported in
1992 that the National Police was the law enforcement agency believed
to be most susceptible to corruption and least professional in

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1.1.3

All drug enforcement activities must be coordinated with the
Guatemalan military intelligence unit, currently the sole source of
narcotics-related intelligence.  U.S.  officials prefer that the
Guatemalan military not be involved in the drug war because of its
poor human rights record.  All forms of U.S.  military assistance,
except for military education and training, have been suspended. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1.2

In addition to participating in Operation Cadence, the government of
Guatemala is undertaking several other narcotics control activities
that are supported by the Department of State.  The government of
Guatemala has established a clearinghouse for narcotics-related
information and intelligence, a drug detector dog program, a port
inspection and policing unit, and a counternarcotics intelligence
unit and has participated with the United States in counternarcotics

The Guatemala City Joint Information Coordination Center is a
counternarcotics information clearinghouse staffed with Guatemalan
personnel and supported by the Department of State.  The center has
several computer terminals that are used to track private aircraft,
vessels, and people suspected of drug trafficking. 

A drug detector dog program at the Guatemala City international
airport was established in 1990.  The program consists of Treasury
Police dog handlers and eight dogs that have been trained to detect
illegal drugs.  Under this program, all baggage, both private and
commercial, and air cargo is to be inspected.  Although the program
has not resulted in any major seizures, DEA believes the level of
security awareness at the airport has been raised and the presence of
the dogs and handlers poses a deterrent to drug smugglers.  The
program is funded by airline, cargo, and export association
organizations that use the airport. 

The U.S.  Embassy in Guatemala City is working with Guatemalan
shippers and port authorities to establish a self-inspection/policing
unit.  This unit will inspect ships and cargo for drugs prior to
their departure from the port.  According to U.S.  officials in
Guatemala, State will provide the funds necessary to initiate the
unit, and subsequent costs are expected to be met by a tax levied on
shippers and vessels using Guatemalan ports. 

During 1993, the U.S.  Navy and Marine Corps conducted a small joint
exercise with Guatemalan Naval Forces that focused on coastal and
river counternarcotics operations on Guatemala's Pacific and
Caribbean coasts. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1.3

As shown in table I.1, the amount of cocaine seized in Guatemala has
declined since joint U.S.-Guatemalan interdiction operations began in
1991.  U.S.  officials view this decline as an indicator of the
success of the program, since fewer trafficking aircraft are now
choosing to land in Guatemala.  These officials also note that a
higher percentage of those aircraft that choose to land are being
seized than before Operation Cadence began.  For example, from May
1993, when interdiction helicopters and personnel began using night
vision equipment, to the end of 1993, Operation Cadence teams
interdicted all six trafficking aircraft detected by the U.S. 
Southern Command.  Although some U.S.  officials noted that aircraft
have apparently evaded U.S.  radar assets and continue to land in
Guatemala, Operation Cadence is viewed as the most successful
interdiction program anywhere.  The Department of State believes the
operation's success can be corroborated by the number of landings
reported by ground intelligence sources.  According to State, these
reports have historically paralleled the number of flights detected
by the
U.S.  Southern Command and have revealed no undetected landings. 

                          Table I.1
           Cocaine Seizures in Guatemala (1989-93)

                   (Figures in metric tons)

Year                                        Cocaine seizures
----------------------------------------  ------------------
1989                                                     3.2
1990                                                    15.5
1991                                                    15.4
1992                                                     9.5
1993                                                     7.6
Source:  Department of State. 

--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2

According to the Department of State and DEA, Honduras is a transit
route for cocaine destined for the United States and, to a lesser
extent, Europe.  The government of Honduras maintains a radar system
that covers a majority of the country.  Furthermore, the Honduran Air
Force has shot down suspected traffickers three times since 1986. 
Although Honduras possesses the capability to effectively deter air
trafficking, its capability to deter other methods of trafficking are
limited.  Drug trafficking via land and sea routes remains
essentially unhindered, according to State. 

Honduras is attractive for maritime drug trafficking because of its
poorly guarded coastline, Bay Islands region with a long history of
smuggling, active fishing industry, and containerized export of
seafood products to the United States.  U.S.  officials view maritime
transportation as the primary shipping method used by organizations
operating in Honduras. 

According to DEA and Department of Defense (DOD) officials, several
Honduran families residing in the Bay Islands have extensive family
and business ties throughout Central America and are believed to be
transporting cocaine throughout the region and into the southeastern
United States.  The close-knit island society, their mistrust of
outsiders, and the islanders distinct appearance have prevented DEA
from developing informants with knowledge of island drug trafficking
or current information on the activities of the island families.  The
government of Honduras has a minimal presence on the Bay Islands,
and, according to U.S.  officials, law enforcement personnel assigned
to the islands have been quickly corrupted and all drug interdiction
efforts to date have been compromised. 

Although few roads are paved in Honduras, the country is a transit
country for the overland shipment of drugs.  The Inter-American
Highway passes through a small portion of southwestern Honduras and
is viewed as the major route for drug-laden trucks bound for the
United States.  According to officials in Honduras, traffic on the
highway is heavy and vehicle monitoring and inspection is minimal. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2.1

As of March 1994, four organizations in the Honduran government had
anti-narcotics responsibilities:  the National Police, the Air Force,
the Navy, and the military's intelligence unit. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2.1.1

Narcotics control efforts in Honduras are to be carried out by three
strike units of the National Police, which is an arm of the Ministry
of Defense.  These units receive equipment and support from the
Department of State and are located in the capital of Tegucigalpa,
the northwestern city of
San Pedro Sula, and the Caribbean port of La Ceiba. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2.1.2

The Honduran Air Force plays a major role in deterring the air
movement of drugs through Honduras.  The Honduran Air Force has three
radar facilities that provide almost complete radar coverage of the
country.  State reports that airborne traffickers generally avoid
Honduras because on three occasions--most recently in 1992--the
Honduran Air Force shot down drug smuggling aircraft. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2.1.3

The Honduran Navy is responsible for deterring maritime trafficking. 
However, the Honduran Navy is small and has four ships available to
patrol its extensive Caribbean coast.  One U.S.  official found that
three of the ships were in dry dock awaiting funds to finance repair
and the fourth had been tied to a pier for a long period of time
because Honduras cannot afford fuel.  In 1994, DEA proposed
establishing a maritime anti-narcotics strike force in Honduras.  The
lack of available funds to purchase the necessary boats and equipment
caused State to reject this proposal. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2.1.4

During the mid-1980s, the Honduran military's intelligence unit
assumed border inspection duties that had previously been the
responsibility of the Honduran customs and border patrol agencies
because of the threat posed by Contra rebels.  According to U.S. 
officials, the Honduran military intelligence unit has also assumed
increased responsibility for investigating drug trafficking

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2.2

The government of Honduras has attempted to strengthen its
counternarcotics capabilities.  However, it lacks the technical and
financial resources necessary to combat drug trafficking and faces a
number of serious organizational problems. 

In April 1994, the Department of State reported that large cocaine
shipments were continuing to transit Honduras, in part because of
several institutional weaknesses.  In addition to the difficulties
involved in detecting maritime drug shipments, State reported that
Honduran enforcement efforts were hindered by an underpaid and
insufficiently trained police force, an inadequate judicial system,
and widespread corruption.  Law enforcement personnel in Honduras are
paid as little as $60 per month. 

Officials at the U.S.  Embassy in Tegucigalpa were equally as
skeptical about Honduras' capabilities and willingness to interdict
drugs.  For example, one U.S.  Embassy official believes the Honduran
military, which is in charge of the police, has little or no
knowledge of day-to-day police investigative activities.  Another
U.S.  Embassy official believes that the Honduran drug interdiction
effort would wither away without U.S.  prodding. 

Until recently, law enforcement activities in Honduras had come under
the purview of the military, and, as a result, the Honduran National
Police was an arm of the Ministry of Defense.  This action blurred
the line between civilian law enforcement activities and military
operations, which had a negative impact on drug enforcement. 
According to U.S.  officials in Tegucigalpa, military officials with
little or no police training or experience were traditionally placed
in senior positions within the National Police.  U.S.  officials are
optimistic that this situation will eventually change as graduates of
a 4-year National Police academy gain seniority and assume positions
of greater responsibility.  According to these officials, the
narcotics control units of the National Police are now being staffed
with academy graduates. 

In March 1994, Honduras created an independent Public Ministry, which
is to have authority over criminal investigations and prosecutions. 
According to State, the ministry will recruit and train new personnel
who will be independent of the military. 

A major State Department program in Honduras has been the
establishment of a Joint Information Coordination Center.  The center
became operational in 1993 and is staffed by 14 Hondurans who can
query a number of databases (e.g., telephone company records and
vehicle registrations) to investigate narcotics-related crimes.  A
State official in Honduras views the center as a success and said the
government of Honduras has made a commitment to the center's
operation.  This commitment has been demonstrated through a fourfold
increase in the Honduran contribution to this State-sponsored project
and the government's decision to staff the center with qualified
personnel who are paid professional salaries. 

Conversely, despite U.S.  support and training, Honduras' detector
drug dog program has not met expectations and is viewed by one
Embassy official as the weakest link in the U.S.  program in
Honduras.  According to DEA officials in Honduras, trained dog
handlers have been transferred, and dogs have not been cared for
properly.  One U.S.  official in Honduras said that the dogs were
confined to small cages for long periods of time and were generally
malnourished and mistreated.  This official uses his personal funds
to purchase dog food for the animals.  DEA officials believe any
future narcotics dog program in Honduras depends entirely on U.S. 
willingness to fund the program on a continuing basis. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2.3

Table I.2 summarizes cocaine seizures in Honduras since 1989. 

                          Table I.2
            Cocaine Seizures in Honduras (1989-93)

                   (Figures in metric tons)

Year                                        Cocaine seizures
----------------------------------------  ------------------
1989                                                   0.041
1990                                                   0.254
1991                                                   0.491
1992                                                   1.460
1993                                                   2.610
Source:  Department of State. 

--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:3

All Central American countries have organizations and programs in
place to address illegal narcotics trafficking.  These control
mechanisms are modest in scope and have achieved only limited
results.  The following provides a brief description of the drug
trafficking problems confronting Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Nicaragua, and Panama; efforts by these countries to address these
problems; and U.S.  narcotics control assistance to these countries. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:3.1

Belize is a transshipment staging area for cocaine and marijuana,
which is grown in the northern Guatemala province that borders
Belize.  The Department of State reports that Belize's proximity to
Guatemala and Mexico, its dense unpopulated jungle, extensive
seacoast, and unsophisticated infrastructure for combating drug
problems make it a potentially significant transshipment point for
illicit drugs. 

U.S.  financial support for training, transportation, and equipment
have been instrumental in increasing drug seizures and drug-related
arrests in Belize during recent years.  The Belize Police Force, with
U.S.  assistance, has formed an investigative unit that targets drug
traffickers who have amassed significant assets.  State reported in
April 1994 that Belize customs, working with the Belize police force,
had begun a maritime and land container search and review program. 
The Department of State provided $298,000 in narcotics control
assistance to Belize in fiscal year 1993 and plans to provide
$110,000 in assistance in fiscal year 1994.  During 1993, Belize
officials participated in a State-sponsored training program to
strengthen basic law enforcement skills.  The Belize police also
conducted a marijuana eradication program and arrested suspected drug
traffickers.  A drug detector dog program was also in place at the
Belize International Airport. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:3.2

Costa Rica has long been a transit point for cocaine, and recent
seizures indicated that heroin is also being moved through the
country.  DEA attributes Costa Rica's extensive coastline, large
number of uncontrolled airstrips, and limited government resources as
factors contributing to the country's growing use as a drug
transshipment site.  DEA estimates that significant quantities of
cocaine transits Costa Rica annually.  In addition to the air
movement of cocaine, increased quantities of the drug are believed to
be entering Costa Rica from the island of San Andres (a possession of
Colombia, located off the eastern coast of Nicaragua) and from the
Nicaraguan coast.  According to DEA, both coasts of Costa Rica are
used by smuggling aircraft and vessels, and overland shipments of
cocaine are entering from Panama.  In its April 1994 report to
Congress, State reported that 611 kilograms of cocaine had been
seized during the first
11 months of 1993 and concluded that Costa Rican law enforcement
agencies could not effectively safeguard the country against
traffickers.  According to DEA officials, drugs are smuggled out of
Costa Rica by land along the Inter-American Highway and by sea in
containerized cargoes.  These drugs are destined for the United

State's April 1994 report further noted that the Costa Rican
government had modernized its counternarcotics laws, streamlined
narcotics control enforcement, and encouraged demand reduction
activities.  The State report stated that effective drug control
efforts in Costa Rica were hampered by a scarcity of resources, the
lack of a fully professional police force, and bottlenecks in the
judicial system.  There is also corruption within the Costa Rican
government.  Since Costa Rica has no military force, the
underequipped air and maritime sections of the Ministry of Public
Security conduct limited counternarcotics patrols, but they are
hindered by a lack of ships, aircraft, fuel, and trained personnel. 

In fiscal year 1993, the Department of State provided $272,000 in
narcotics control assistance that focused on training and supporting
Costa Rican drug interdiction forces and continuing support for a
counternarcotics intelligence center, which has been operational
since 1988.  An estimated $86,000 in narcotics control assistance is
planned for Costa Rica in fiscal year 1994. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:3.3

The Department of State reported that traffickers are using the
Inter-American Highway, which passes through El Salvador, to move
significant quantities of cocaine and smaller quantities of heroin. 
Salvadoran government officials are concerned that trafficking
aircraft increasingly use their territory to evade U.S.-supported
counternarcotics forces in Guatemala and Mexico.  DOD officials
believe the large number of landing strips along El Salvador's
Pacific coast and the lack of radar to monitor air traffic will
attract drug traffickers if interdiction efforts in Guatemala
continue to be successful.  In June 1993, nearly 6 metric tons of
cocaine were seized in San Salvador--the largest seizure in El
Salvador's history. 

In 1990, the government of El Salvador created the Executive
Anti-Narcotics Unit, which, according to the Department of State, has
proven to be effective despite its small size.  The anti-narcotics
unit relies on the military for air and maritime capability.  The
Executive Anti-Narcotics Unit was incorporated into the civilian
national police in September 1993 and granted wider investigative
authority than was previously authorized. 

The United States has provided telecommunications equipment and
vehicles to the anti-narcotics unit, without which it would have been
incapable of operating effectively, according to one Salvadoran
official.  In addition, a U.S.-supported canine team allows
Salvadorans to monitor airports, ports, and border-crossing points
for illegal drugs.  State's narcotics assistance program provided El
Salvador with $205,000 in assistance in fiscal year 1993 and plans to
provide an estimated $129,000 in assistance during fiscal year 1994. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:3.4

Nicaragua plays a relatively minor role in the transshipment of
cocaine to the United States and Europe.  However, as enforcement
efforts intensify elsewhere in the region, drug smuggling
organizations have increased their activities in Nicaragua. 
Nicaragua's remote and sparsely populated Caribbean coastline, access
to the Inter-American Highway, and limited government resources also
contribute to the nation's potential use as a drug transshipment
site.  According to DEA, cocaine transiting Nicaragua moves by
fishing vessel, cargo vessel, private and commercial aircraft, and
land vehicles.  A frequent method of transshipment along the
Caribbean coastline has been airdrops from low-flying aircraft to
waiting speed boats.  An additional trafficking method has been coast
hopping, a practice in which cocaine-laden vessels and aircraft mix
with legitimate traffic and slowly move up the Caribbean coast,
stopping to refuel or buy supplies. 

The government has created a part-time civilian coordinator for
narcotics affairs, who may also head a governmentwide narcotics
commission.  In March 1993, the government of Nicaragua implemented a
national police reformation project, which created three
anti-narcotics units designed to combat all forms of drug
trafficking.  The anti-narcotics units are divided into airport
activity, national trafficking matters, and international trafficking
matters.  According to State, the anti-narcotics units are severely
lacking in resources and have captured small and medium-size
shipments of cocaine transiting the country. 

In recent years, State has offered to provide $100,000 in narcotics
control assistance if Nicaragua would establish an anti-drug force
that was not under the control of the Sandinista-influenced military
or police.  The government agreed to create such a force; however,
personnel assigned to the new unit were believed to be tied to the
Nicaraguan military, and the U.S.  assistance was withheld.  The
United States and Nicaragua agreed in 1994 to reprogram these funds
to support a demand reduction project. 

At present, there is neither a DEA office nor a Department of State
narcotics control program in Nicaragua.  During the early months of
1994, the government of Nicaragua made a number of drug seizures,
both on its own and with information provided by DEA.  These seizures
and the government of Nicaragua's assumption of a leadership role in
regional drug enforcement conferences has caused U.S.  officials to
reconsider their opinion of narcotics control efforts in Nicaragua. 
During informal discussions in May 1994, Nicaraguan officials
informed U.S.  representatives that they planned to request that the
United States establish a DEA office at the U.S.  Embassy in Managua. 
Due to a lack of funds and absence of an official request, action on
establishing a DEA office in Managua has been postponed. 

------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:3.5

Panama plays a role in international drug trafficking by being a
financial center for laundering drug profits and a major
transshipment point for cocaine, according to DEA.  Although
Operation Just Cause disrupted money laundering activities in
December 1989, DEA reports that the disruption was only temporary and
money laundering has resumed.  DEA officials in Washington told us
that the continued use of Panama as a money laundering center and the
government of Panama's inability or unwillingness to curb these
operations was the biggest problem currently confronting
international law enforcement officials dealing with this country. 
Panamanian agencies responsible for money laundering control are
viewed by State as weak.  They do not coordinate with one another,
and their resources are small. 

One of Panama's greatest attractions for drug traffickers is the
Colon Free Trade Zone.  According to a U.S.  official in Panama,
legitimate commercial goods entering the Free Zone are often
disassembled, repackaged, and/or transferred to other shipping
containers.  These activities, along with the traffickers ability to
forge shipping documents, makes it all but impossible for law
enforcement officials to monitor the movement of drugs once they
enter the area.  According to one U.S.  official in Panama, drug
traffickers are sophisticated, and many legitimate businessmen do not
know their operations are being used to move drugs.  Most of the
large drug seizures have occurred in the Free Zone or in port
facilities serviced by the Free Zone. 

During 1993, drug seizures by the Panamanian Judicial Technical
Police and Customs increased, several combined U.S./Panamanian
maritime interdiction campaigns were staged, and a new drug detector
dog program was established in the Free Zone.  Overall, seizures of
cocaine (5.7 metric tons) decreased from the record 10 metric tons
seized in 1992. 

According to DEA, although the government of Panama has provided
limited funding for law enforcement efforts against drug activities,
the national police organizations lack the necessary training,
appropriate salaries and equipment to conduct effective anti-drug
operations.\1 During fiscal year 1993, the Department of State
provided $1.5 million in narcotics control assistance to Panama and
had budgeted $500,000 for fiscal year 1994.  In April 1994, the
President was unable to certify that Panama was cooperating fully
with the United States, or was taking adequate steps on its own, to
achieve full compliance with the goals and objectives of the 1988
United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs
and Psychotropic Substances.\2 In an explanation that accompanied the
discussion, the President indicated that even though the government
of Panama had cooperated with many U.S.  drug control efforts, it had
not made significant progress on its own to deter money laundering. 
This lack of action made Panama a haven for drug launders and
hindered efforts to bring narcotics traffickers to justice.  Although
Panama's law enforcement performance showed improvement, it remained
weak.  Citing the need to preserve a cooperative relationship
necessary to operate the Panama Canal and permit the orderly
withdrawal of U.S.  military forces from Panama, the President
determined that it was in the "vital national interest" of the United
States to continue assistance to Panama. 

\1 The needs of Panama's law enforcement agencies for resources and
training to combat drug trafficking and money laundering are also
discussed in an earlier report, The War on Drugs:  Narcotics Control
Efforts in Panama (GAO/NSIAD-91-233, July 16, 1991). 

\2 Section 490 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended,
sets out requirements for withholding of bilateral foreign assistance
and opposition to multilateral development assistance to major
illicit drug-producing countries and major drug transit countries. 
These provisions will not apply in cases in which, under section
490(b), the President determines and certifies to Congress that
either (1) the country has cooperated fully during the previous year
with the United States or has taken adequate steps on its own to
achieve compliance with the goals and objectives established by the
United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs
and Psychotropic Substances or (2) vital national interests of the
United States require support for such assistance. 

========================================================== Appendix II

To curb the increased use of Central America as a staging area for
South American cocaine shipments, the United States initiated
Operation Cadence, a DEA-led interdiction effort, in May 1991.  Five
U.S.  government agencies participate in Operation Cadence:  DEA,
DOD, the Department of State, the U.S.  Customs Service, and the U.S. 
Border Patrol.  Operation Cadence involves (1) developing human
intelligence on possible trafficking flights, (2) using U.S.  radar
assets to detect and monitor suspect aircraft leaving South American
countries, (3) tracking those suspect aircraft using specially
equipped Customs aircraft from the time they enter Central American
airspace until they land, (4) arresting traffickers and seizing their
cargoes, and (5) conducting follow-up investigations.  The specific
roles of these agencies are listed in table II.1. 

                                    Table II.1
                     Roles of U.S. Organizations Involved in
                           Supporting Operation Cadence

Organization                  Role
----------------------------  --------------------------------------------------
DEA                           Provides interdiction personnel, program
                              leadership, and oversight for U.S. participants.
                              Assists and trains host nation interdiction and
                              investigative personnel.

Department of State           Provides diplomatic, logistics, financial, and
                              aircraft support and training assistance.

DOD                           Detects and monitors suspect aircraft leaving
                              South America until they enter Central American
                              airspace. Provides communication assistance,
                              intelligence resources, equipment, and personnel
                              to coordinate operations.

U.S. Customs Service          Tracks suspect aircraft entering Central American
                              airspace until they land. Provides four U.S.
                              tracking aircraft and crews deployed in Honduras
                              and Panama.

U.S. Border Patrol            Instructs host country personnel in road
                              interdiction techniques and methods for
                              controlling the overland movement of narcotics.
In addition to its support of Operation Cadence, the Department of
State funds bilateral narcotics control programs with all of the
Central American countries, except Nicaragua, and maintains an
interregional aviation service.  Although it is not a participant in
Operation Cadence, the U.S.  Coast Guard helps by deploying training
teams to improve the law enforcement skills of Central American
maritime police forces.  Table II.2 summarizes the Central American
narcotics control assistance provided by the United States during
fiscal year 1993. 

                                    Table II.2
                       U.S. Assistance to Narcotics Control
                          Activities in Central America

                     (Fiscal year 1993 dollars in thousands)

            Department                             Customs  U.S. Coast
Country       of State       DEA           DOD     Service       Guard     Total
--------  ------------  --------  ------------  ----------  ----------  ========
Belize            $298      $500             0           0           0      $798
Costa              272       908             0           0           0    $1,180
El                 205       796             0           0           0    $1,001
Guatemal         2,500     2,420             0           0           0    $4,920
Honduras           198       637             0           0           0      $835
Nicaragu             0         0             0           0           0         0
Panama           1,500     1,288             0           0        $399    $3,187
Noncount      10,100\a     828\b       $24,700    $8,981\c           0   $44,609
Total          $15,073    $7,376       $24,700      $8,981        $399   $56,530
\a Regional aviation support was provided to Operation Cadence
interdiction efforts and Department of State eradication operations. 

\b This amount was for Operation Cadence. 

\c This figure includes operation and maintenance of P-3 Orion
detection aircraft and Citation tracking aircraft and does not
include U.S.  Customs Service personnel costs. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:1

DEA supports drug interdiction efforts in the region by having DEA
offices in the Central American countries, except Nicaragua, and
deploying specially trained Operation Cadence teams.  Within the six
countries, DEA activities are designed to help host nations to reduce
the supply and flow of drugs and develop intelligence that will lead
to the arrest of traffickers within the host country and the United

To supplement the traditional drug enforcement activities of DEA
agents permanently assigned to the U.S.  embassies in Central
America, teams of specially trained interdiction personnel are
deployed to Guatemala for 90-day periods.  The multiagency Cadence
teams are composed of approximately 10 DEA special agents as well as
communications specialists, medics, and U.S.  Border Patrol personnel
who have received U.S.  Army training in such specialties as air
mobile techniques, land navigation, field medicine, and
communications.  According to DEA, Operation Cadence has resulted in
the seizure of 28.8 metric tons of cocaine and 16 aircraft since its

Under the Operation Cadence concept, DEA agents and Guatemalan
Treasury Police personnel are dispersed to forward operation bases
located in four geographic regions used by drug trafficking aircraft
and await notification by the U.S.  Southern Command in Panama that
an aircraft believed to be carrying narcotics is en route.  Using
intelligence data and trafficking profiles developed through hundreds
of such tracks, the U.S.  Southern Command identifies potential
trafficking aircraft and monitors their movement along the Central
American isthmus.  As the trafficking aircraft enters Central
American airspace, responsibility for tracking the suspect is passed
to specially equipped tracking aircraft of the U.S.  Customs Service,
which directs the Cadence team to the anticipated landing site.  The
interdiction teams are transported to the landing sites by
helicopters funded by the Department of State.  Operation Cadence is
primarily based in Guatemala, but Cadence teams have assisted in
interdiction operations in Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras. 

When Operation Cadence began in 1991, the majority of trafficking
flights transited the Pacific and landed along Guatemala's
southwestern Pacific coast region.  Operation Cadence initially
focused on this area, established its first forward operating base in
the southwestern town of Retalhuleu, and deployed two Department of
State helicopters and interdiction personnel to the base.  After some
initial seizures, U.S.  officials observed that the traffickers began
to use different routes into Guatemala that evaded the sole forward
operating location.  One State official in Guatemala told us that it
took 6 months to establish a forward operating base but that it took
the traffickers only 6 days to get around it.  Three additional
forward operating bases have been established, and the response teams
are now able to cover most of Guatemala. 

Another change in tactics occurred shortly after the program was
initiated when traffickers changed from delivering drugs during the
daytime to delivering at dusk or night.  This change proved to be
effective because (1) the interdiction helicopters lacked night
vision equipment and could not be flown at night and (2) the
interdiction teams would land only if the operation could be
completed and the helicopters returned to the secure forward
operating bases during daylight hours.  Night vision equipment was
installed in the Department of State helicopters, and by May 1993,
the flight crews and interdiction teams had completed training in the
use of the equipment and night assault techniques.  The first night
interdiction operation occurred on June 2, 1993, and resulted in the
seizure of
1.7 metric tons of cocaine.  According to DEA officials, Operation
Cadence has successfully interdicted all six trafficking aircraft
that landed in Guatemala from June 2, 1993, through March 30, 1994. 

Some law enforcement officials believe drug traffickers have again
changed their tactics and are bypassing DOD detection and monitoring
assets that surround the traditional trafficking routes out of
Colombia and northern South America.  According to one U.S. 
official, a few aircraft that were undetected by DOD have crashed
and, when the crash site was investigated, the planes were found to
be loaded with cocaine.  This official believes that traffickers are
now flying smaller aircraft into the Darian jungle that spans Panama
and Colombia.  The drug cargoes are then moved across Panama and
either loaded on tractor trailer trucks, transferred to ocean-going
vessels, or reloaded onto small aircraft and flown northward.  These
aircraft fly at low altitudes to avoid radar and are designed to mix
with legitimate air traffic.  This technique allows the trafficker to
avoid the air- and sea-based radars that are positioned along the
northern tier of South America. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:2

The Department of State, through its Bureau of International
Narcotics Matters, has primary responsibility for developing,
implementing, and monitoring the U.S.  international narcotics
control policy.  As part of its drug control effort, State funds
programs in six of the seven Central American countries and maintains
an interregional aviation program.  At the U.S.  embassies in
Guatemala and Panama, State has established Narcotics Affairs
Sections to administer the in-country programs and provide general
oversight for the much smaller programs in Belize, Costa Rica, El
Salvador, and Honduras. 

------------------------------------------------------ Appendix II:2.1

U.S.  narcotics control objectives in Guatemala are to (1) reduce
narcotics trafficking from and through Guatemala to the United
States, (2) reduce opium production, (3) develop an effective
civilian narcotics law enforcement agency, and (4) improve Guatemalan
public awareness of the dangers of drug production and use.  To
achieve these objectives, State funds four narcotics control projects
and provides aviation support for eradication and drug interdiction

State's efforts to develop an effective civilian narcotics law
enforcement agency in Guatemala involve the organization, training,
and equipping of several drug interdiction and eradication control
units within the Guatemalan Treasury Police.  The Department has
supported the establishment of an anti-narcotics directorate, a
narcotics investigative unit, manual eradication units, a rapid
reaction unit that supports Operation Cadence, an interdiction force
that patrols Guatemala's inland waterways, two drug canine units, and
a Joint Intelligence Coordinating Center. 

In addition to being a major transit country for cocaine, Guatemala
is a producing country for opium and marijuana.  To address this
problem, the Department of State supports an aerial and manual
eradication project that eliminated almost 95 percent of the opium
poppy crop and about
500 acres of marijuana in 1993.  The State Department provides
herbicides for Department of State eradication aircraft, ground
support equipment, communications and photographic equipment, and
field rations.  Similar assistance is also provided for manual
eradication operations. 

Another Department of State project in Guatemala is designed to
increase public awareness of the harm caused by drug production,
trafficking, and abuse.  The Department of State program in Guatemala
also included $295,000 in fiscal year 1993 to support U.S.  and
foreign national personnel involved in program planning, development,
monitoring, and evaluation at the Narcotics Affairs Section in
Guatemala City. 

State also maintains an aviation unit in Guatemala, consisting of
five aircraft to conduct aerial eradication and assist in law
enforcement efforts; one aircraft to transport interdiction personnel
between field locations; and three helicopters to conduct aerial
eradication, surveillance, and transport interdiction personnel. 
Five helicopters had been assigned to Guatemala before November 1993. 

------------------------------------------------------ Appendix II:2.2

U.S.  drug control efforts in Honduras are aimed at (1) increasing
Honduran drug enforcement activities, (2) promoting government
efforts to combat narcotics-related corruption, (3) urging the
government of Honduras to strengthen laws on asset seizure and money
laundering, and (4) pursuing demand reduction programs.  In recent
years, State efforts in Honduras have focused on establishing and
outfitting three counternarcotics task forces, establishing a Joint
Intelligence Coordinating Center, and improving the effectiveness of
the drug dog program. 

Drug program oversight and reporting is the responsibility of a U.S. 
Embassy officer.  General program oversight for State's programs in
Honduras is provided by the Narcotics Affairs Section in Guatemala

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:3

DOD supports Operation Cadence and narcotics control efforts in
Central America by detecting and monitoring suspect aircraft and
maritime shipments as they approach and transit the region, providing
equipment and expertise to Operation Cadence operations, developing
targeting packages for interdiction operations, and assisting the
countries of the region in drug awareness and drug abuse prevention
programs.  DOD's surveillance mission supports the U.S.  and foreign
law enforcement agencies that apprehend suspects and seize their
cargo, both in the source countries where cocaine is produced and in
the transit countries between South America and the United States. 

DOD operates a network of airborne, ground-, and sea-based radar
systems to detect and monitor potential drug trafficking aircraft as
they move from South America through the transit zones of Central
America and the Caribbean.  Information from these radars is passed
to U.S.  law enforcement officials and used to support the
interdiction operations of U.S.  and foreign agencies. 

DOD supports in-country interdiction efforts by deploying various
specialists and equipment to the countries of Central America to
assist U.S.  law enforcement officials and train host country
counternarcotics personnel.  To support U.S.  embassy intelligence
needs, DOD has deployed tactical analysis teams to several embassies
in the major drug-producing and transit countries of Guatemala and
Honduras.  These teams analyze and produce intelligence on narcotics
traffickers using reports from agencies such as the Defense
Intelligence Agency, DOD, DEA, and other sources and provide this
information to in-country counternarcotics personnel.  They use a
sophisticated communications system that can securely transmit and
receive classified documents, photographs, text, or radar images on a
real-time basis to and from U.S.  counternarcotics personnel in the
Western Hemisphere.  DOD has also deployed military teams to
Guatemala, Panama, and five South American countries to work with
U.S.  Embassy personnel and coordinate and assist in the development
and counternarcotics plans. 

Finally, the Defense Intelligence Agency develops targeting packages
for potential interdiction operations and provides intelligence
studies and information on trafficking organizations.  For example,
it has developed targeting packages on many of the numerous landing
strips along Guatemala's southwest coast and written reports on the
organization and interrelationships of trafficking families operating
in the Bay Islands of Honduras. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:4

The U.S.  Customs Service supports Operation Cadence and narcotics
interdiction efforts in Central America by deploying detection,
monitoring, and tracking aircraft and personnel to the region. 
Customs also provides some training to Central American interdiction
and inspection personnel.  Customs deploys three Cessna Citation
aircraft to track suspect aircraft once they enter Central American
airspace.  The planes, crews, and mechanics are assigned on a
temporary rotational duty basis and are deployed to Panama and Soto
Cano Air Base in Honduras.  To supplement the detection and
monitoring activities of the U.S.  Southern Command in Panama,
Customs stations up to three surveillance aircraft on a 90-day basis
in Panama to track suspect aircraft as they leave Colombia. 
Surveillance aircraft from Corpus Christi, Texas, also fly routine
sorties over the Gulf of Mexico as they perform their normal Customs

During 1993, Customs conducted several State-funded training programs
for Central American narcotics control personnel.  Examples of this
training include detector dog training and a forthcoming regional
interdiction course in El Salvador, a contraband enforcement course
being provided to Guatemalan personnel, and a course in narcotics
security techniques provided to managers and employees of private
carrier companies in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, and Nicaragua. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:5

The U.S.  Coast Guard supports narcotics control efforts in Central
America by providing training to improve the law enforcement skills
of indigenous maritime police forces and by establishing a liaison
office to coordinate maritime and river narcotics control activities. 

========================================================= Appendix III

At the U.S.  Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, we interviewed the
Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission and responsible officials from
the Narcotics Affairs, Political and Economic Sections, Military
Assistance Group, Defense Attache Office, Tactical Analysis Team,
DEA, and DEA's Operation Cadence interdiction team.  We attended
meetings of the Embassy's Country Team and the Narcotics Affairs
Committee.  To examine and evaluate narcotics trafficking and
interdiction efforts, we reviewed documents prepared by U.S.  Embassy
personnel and supplemented the information in interviews with U.S. 
officials.  We also visited the Department of State's aviation
facility in Guatemala City and Operation Cadence's forward operating
base in Flores, Guatemala.  To obtain the views of the Guatemalan
government, we met with the Director of Guatemala's Anti-Narcotics
Operations Department. 

At the U.S.  Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, we interviewed the
Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission and responsible officials from
the Political Section, Military Assistance Group, Defense Attache
Office, Tactical Analysis Team, DEA, and members of DEA's Operation
Cadence interdiction team who were deployed to Honduras at the time
of our visit.  To examine and evaluate narcotics trafficking and
interdiction efforts, we reviewed documents prepared by U.S.  Embassy
personnel.  We also visited Soto Cano Air Base and met with
representatives of the U.S.  Southern Command.  We were not permitted
to meet with the pilots and crews of the U.S.  Customs Service
interdiction aircraft stationed at Soto Cano.  To obtain the views of
the Honduran government, we met with the Director of the Honduran
National Police's Joint Information Collection Center. 

In Panama, we were briefed by officials of the U.S.  Southern
Command.  We also met with civilian liaison officers attached to the
Southern Command from the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense
Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, U.S.  Coast Guard,
U.S.  Customs Service, and DEA.  At the U.S.  Embassy in Panama City,
Panama, we interviewed the Deputy Chief of Mission and responsible
officials from the Narcotics Affairs Section, U.S.  Customs Service,
and DEA. 

========================================================== Appendix IV


Benjamin Nelson, Associate Director
Andres Ramirez, Assistant Director
Allen Fleener, Evaluator-in-Charge


Oliver Harter, Regional Assignment Manager
Jay Scribner, Site Senior
Kerry O'Brien, Evaluator

=========================================================== Appendix 0

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

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

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

Drug Control:  Increased Interdiction and Its Contribution to the War
on Drugs (GAO/T-NSIAD-93-4, Feb.  25, 1993). 

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 Control:  Status Report on DOD Support to Counternarcotics
Activities (GAO/NSIAD-91-117, June 12, 1991).