Drug Control: U.S. Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean Decline (Letter
Report, 04/17/96, GAO/NSIAD-96-119).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed drug trafficking
activities in the Caribbean, focusing on: (1) the activities' nature in
the transit zone, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean; (2) host nation
impediments to an effective regional control strategy; (3) U.S.
agencies' capabilities to interdict drug trafficking throughout the
Caribbean transit zone; and (4) federal agency planning, coordination,
and implementation of U.S. interdiction efforts.

GAO found that: (1) U.S. officials believe that drug trafficking through
the Caribbean is increasing; (2) drug traffickers have shifted their
drug transportation operations from primarily air to commercial and
marine transportation and are using advanced technologies to counter
U.S. interdiction efforts; (3) the U.S. Caribbean strategy attempts to
strengthen host nations' political will and capabilities to support U.S.
objectives, but most host nations lack the resources to conduct antidrug
operations; (4) the United States has entered into agreements with
several governments that give it authority to operate in their
territorial waters and airspace; (5) widespread political and police
corruption in the Caribbean hampers U.S. interdiction efforts; (6)
budget cuts have reduced the Department of Defense's and law enforcement
agencies' interdiction capabilities in the transit zone and the expected
increases in funds for source country activities have not materialized;
(7) lost radar and ship capabilities had the greatest impact on air and
surface interdictions; (8) cocaine seizures declined by almost one-half
from fiscal year (FY) 1991 to FY 1995; (9) a 1995 study suggested that
more funds could produce interdictions in almost one-half of smuggling
attempts; (10) the administration has not developed a regional, antidrug
implementation plan, adequately staffed interagency organizations with
key personnel, or fully resolved intelligence-sharing issues; and (11)
the two organizations with coordination responsibilities lack the
authority to command the use of any agency's resources.

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

     TITLE:  Drug Control: U.S. Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean 
      DATE:  04/17/96
   SUBJECT:  Drug trafficking
             Foreign governments
             International cooperation
             Political corruption
             Law enforcement
             Budget cuts
             Federal aid to foreign countries
             Foreign policies
             Interagency relations
IDENTIFIER:  Caribbean
             ONDCP National Interdiction Command and Control Plan
             NAVSTAR Global Positioning System
             Dept. of State International Narcotics Control Strategy 
             Puerto Rico
             Virgin Islands
             Dominican Republic
             Virgin Islands (UK)
             St. Martin
             St. Kitts-Nevis
             St. Lucia
             St. Vincent
             Customs Service Marine Law Enforcement Program
             Ocean-Going Marine Picket Ship
             Airborne Warning and Control System
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================================================================ COVER

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

April 1996



Drug Control


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

  DEA - Drug Enforcement Agency
  DOD - Department of Defense
  JIATF - Joint Interagency Task Force
  ONDCP - Office of National Drug Control Policy
  USIC - U.S.  Interdiction Coordinator

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


April 17, 1996

The Honorable William H.  Zeliff, Jr.
Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security,
 International Affairs, and Criminal Justice
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
House of Representatives

Dear Mr.  Chairman: 

According to U.S.  law enforcement officials, approximately 30
percent of the cocaine entering the United States comes through the
Caribbean section of the transit zone.  As you requested, we have
reviewed (1) the nature of drug-trafficking activities that are
occurring in the transit zone with particular emphasis on the Eastern
Caribbean; (2) host nation impediments to an effective regional
strategy; (3) the capabilities of U.S.  agencies to interdict
drug-trafficking activities throughout the Caribbean transit zone;
and (4) the extent of federal agency planning, coordination, and
implementation of U.S.  interdiction efforts.  This report is the
second in a series of reports that we plan to issue on various U.S. 
international strategies to control the flow of cocaine and heroin
into the United States.  The first report dealt with heroin from
Southeast Asia.\1

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

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

A primary goal of the U.S.  national drug control strategy is to
reduce the amount of cocaine entering the United States.  In November
1993, the executive branch issued a counternarcotics policy for
cocaine in the Western Hemisphere.  The strategy called for, among
other things, a controlled shift in emphasis from the transit zone to
the source countries.  The transit zone is the 2-million square mile
area between the U.S.  and South American borders and covers the
Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Central America, Mexico, and the
Eastern Pacific.  For the purposes of this report, the Caribbean
portion of the transit zone consists of the leeward islands, the
windward islands, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic,
Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.  Virgin Islands. 

In April 1994, the executive branch issued the National Interdiction
Command and Control Plan to strengthen interagency coordination.  The
plan called for creating several joint interagency task forces made
up of representatives from federal agencies, including the Department
of Defense (DOD), the U.S.  Customs Service, and the U.S.  Coast

Within the transit zone, the Department of State manages and
coordinates U.S.  government efforts while DOD supports U.S.  law
enforcement agencies by tracking suspected drug-trafficking
activities and provides training to host nations.  The U.S.  Customs
Service and the U.S.  Coast Guard also provide aircraft and ships to
assist in tracking and interdicting drug-trafficking activities.  The
various U.S.  activities are expected to be coordinated through the
Joint Interagency Task Force East (JIATF-East), located in Key West,
Florida.  JIATF-East was to be supported by personnel from various
agencies such as the Department of State, the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

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

Cocaine trafficking through the Caribbean region is a major drug
threat to the United States.  During the past several years,
traffickers in the Caribbean have shifted their operations from
primarily air-related activities to maritime activities. 
Furthermore, traffickers are using improved technologies, such as
global positioning systems, to counter efforts by U.S.  agencies to
identify and monitor their activities. 

A major part of the U.S.  strategy in the Caribbean is to strengthen
the host nations' political will and capabilities to support U.S. 
international counternarcotics objectives.  The State Department has
made some progress in implementing the strategy though new agreements
with Caribbean countries and islands that promote increased air and
maritime cooperation.  However, U.S.  officials generally believe
that a number of host nations lack the capabilities needed to conduct
effective antidrug operations.  U.S.  officials believe that antidrug
efforts are also inhibited by corruption, which exists throughout the
Caribbean nations. 

Budget reductions for interdiction efforts in the transit zone have
reduced the ability of DOD and law enforcement agencies to identify,
track, and intercept drug traffickers.  Funding for drug interdiction
declined from about $1 billion in fiscal year 1992 to $569 million in
fiscal year 1995.  DOD's budget reductions resulted in fewer ship
days, flight hours, and ground-based radars devoted to drug
interdiction.  While a reduction in the interdiction effort was
envisioned in the new cocaine strategy, the strategy also anticipated
an increase in source country funding that never materialized. 
Cocaine seizures in the transit zone declined from a peak of 70,336
kilograms in 1992 to 37,181 kilograms in 1995. 

The executive branch has not developed a plan to implement the
cocaine strategy in the transit zone, fully staffed interagency
organizations with key roles in the interdiction program, or fully
resolved issues on intelligence sharing.  U.S.  officials noted that
neither the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
(ONDCP) nor the U.S.  Interdiction Coordinator (USIC) had the
authority to command the use of any agency's operational assets. 

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

According to the State Department's 1996 International Narcotics
Control Strategy Report, about 780 metric tons of cocaine is produced
each year in South America.  U.S.  officials believe that about 30
percent of the cocaine shipped into the United States comes through
the Caribbean into Puerto Rico and other U.S.  entry points.  The
remaining 70 percent is shipped through Mexico.  While trend data on
the amount of cocaine shipments through the Eastern Caribbean and
Puerto Rico are based on inexact information, U.S.  officials believe
that the level of activity may be increasing.  Figure 1 shows the
drug-trafficking routes in the Eastern Caribbean. 

   Figure 1:  Drug-Trafficking
   Routes in the Eastern Caribbean

   (See figure in printed

   Source:  DOD.

   (See figure in printed

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1

Puerto Rico is the major entry point for cocaine moving through the
Eastern Caribbean.  U.S.  drug officials believe that after 1993
traffickers moved some of their activities from the Bahamas to Puerto
Rico because U.S.  interdiction efforts in the Bahamas had increased
the risk to traffickers.  Puerto Rico has become the primary
transshipment point into the southeastern United States.  An August
1995 U.S.  interagency report stated that Puerto Rico and the U.S. 
Virgin Islands accounted for 26 percent of the documented attempts to
smuggle cocaine into the continental United States during 1994.  U.S. 
officials stated that cocaine-related activity in Puerto Rico and the
U.S.  Virgin Islands has increased.  The U.S.  Customs Service
cocaine seizures increased from 5,507 kilograms in fiscal year 1993
to 8,700 kilograms in fiscal year 1995. 

Reports are mixed on whether drug-trafficking activities are
increasing throughout other islands in the Eastern Caribbean and into
the southern United States.  A June 1995 local law enforcement report
of air-smuggling activities in southern Florida concluded that there
were significant increases in drug-trafficking activities occurring
from the Caribbean into south Florida.  The report also stated that
drug-trafficking activities in southern Florida are resulting in a
return to the patterns of the 1970s and early 1980s when drug
detection and interdiction efforts in the Caribbean were minimal.  In
contrast, DOD officials stated that they did not have any data
indicating that there was air-smuggling activity into Florida from
the Caribbean area.  USIC staff also noted that they were unaware of
significant increases of air smuggling into southern Florida. 
However, U.S.  law enforcement officials stated that various
intelligence sources confirm that cocaine-related air activities are
increasing in southern Florida. 

A brief summary of drug-trafficking activities occurring in Eastern
Caribbean nations follows: 

         THE BAHAMAS
-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1.1

According to the State Department, total drug seizures in the Bahamas
represented only a small percentage of cocaine trafficking in the
transit zone.  DEA officials stated that recently traffickers
increased their activities throughout the area, but they could not
accurately assess the extent of this increase.  U.S.  Customs
reported that, since the destruction of the base at Gun Cay during
hurricane Hugo and the diminution of maritime enforcement since that
time, there have been fewer drug interdiction missions in the
Bahamas.  Neither Customs nor Royal Bahamian Defense Forces are able
to deny access to the favorite off-load and stash sites used by drug
traffickers.  In March 1996, the State Department reported that,
although cocaine seizures during 1995 remained below the levels of
the late 1980s, there were indications of increased
cocaine-trafficking activities. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1.2

Hispaniola refers to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  Hispaniola
serves as a convenient staging area for air and maritime drug-related
activities because its long, unpatrolled coastline and numerous
airstrips facilitate staging and refueling operations.  A May 1995
U.S.  report stated that cocaine transshipment through Haiti had
reemerged since the lifting of the United Nations embargo in October
1994.  The U.S.  Embassy reported that drug trafficking may be also
increasing in the Dominican Republic. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1.3

The leeward islands extend from the U.S.  Virgin Islands to Dominica
and include the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and
St.  Martin, St.  Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, and Dominica. 
The islands are hubs for commercial air and sea traffick.  Their
proximity to Puerto Rico makes them vulnerable to drug trafficking. 
Most of the drugs shipped through the islands are destined for
further transit through Puerto Rico to the United States. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1.4

The windward islands extend from Dominica to Grenada and include
Martinique, St.  Lucia, St.  Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada,
Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago.  The islands are used for drug
transit and storage.  For example, Trinidad and Tobago is only 7
miles from Venezuela and is a natural staging site for drugs smuggled
from South America to other Caribbean islands.  However, significant
increases in drug-trafficking activity have recently been observed. 
In February 1994, the U.S.  Embassy in Barbados reported that law
enforcement officials throughout the islands had reported an
escalation in air drops and other trafficking activities, which were
leading to increases in crime. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.2

Drug enforcement officials told us that drug traffickers are
increasingly relying on noncommercial and commercial maritime vessels
(such as go-fast boats, sailing and fishing vessels, and
containerized cargo ships) to transport drugs.  DOD records show that
the number of known drug-trafficking aircraft events in the transit
zone declined by about 65 percent from 1992 to 1995 and that known
maritime events increased by about 40 percent from 1993 to 1995.  "
Known events," according to DOD officials, represent clear, firm
information about a drug shipment, confirmed delivery, aborted
mission, or apprehension.  "Results" are apprehensions, seizures, or
jettisons.  Table 1 lists the number of air and maritime events and
results for 1992-95 and shows that maritime drug activity accounted
for more events and results than drug shipments via air. 

                                Table 1
                Air and Maritime Drug-Trafficking Events
                         and Results (1992-95)

                                                Result          Result
Year                                    Events       s  Events       s
--------------------------------------  ------  ------  ------  ------
1992                                       344      66      \a      \a
1993                                       217      71     174     122
1994                                       154      45     223     172
1995                                       125      26     249     135
\a Maritime data for 1992 are not available. 

Note:  Traffickers' aborts were not counted in results. 

Source:  DOD. 

According to DOD, drug smuggling by commercial vessels is the primary
maritime method for shipping drugs in the transit zone.  U.S. 
Customs and DEA officials believe that smugglers have concealed large
shipments of cocaine in legitimate containers aboard commercial sea
vessels.  In some cases, crew members have attached smaller shipments
in parasite containers attached to the hull of the mother vessel. 
DOD and U.S.  Coast Guard officials stated that the large number of
ships and complexity of smuggling via commercial vessels severely
restricts interdiction at sea.  These cargo ships are not routinely
inspected because they contain perishable goods that, if inspected,
could spoil. 

U.S.  officials stated that the large number of noncommercial vessels
traveling in the transit zone makes it difficult to detect or
intercept many drug-trafficking activities.  Vessels routinely
transporting cocaine between the Bahamas and Florida can blend in
with legitimate traffic.  DOD believes that the number of
noncommercial vehicles is difficult to quantify. 

While air events and results have decreased significantly since 1992,
smugglers continue to use general aviation aircraft to move cocaine
to transshipment and staging areas in the Caribbean or Mexico.  The
decline in recorded air events could be due to a combination of
factors, including a reduced capability by U.S.  agencies to detect
air activities, increased sophistication by cocaine smugglers, and
traffickers' preference for maritime smuggling methods. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.3

Drug traffickers are using sophisticated communications technology
and global positioning systems to avoid detection when airdropping
cocaine to boats in the transit zone.  U.S.  officials stated that
the traffickers use cellular phones and global positioning systems to
determine drop coordinates prior to departure.  The traffickers relay
the coordinates to the boats who will pick up an airdrop.  According
to U.S.  officials, the global positioning systems are available
commercially and are accurate to within 10 meters of a target. 
Because of these systems, traffickers do not have to openly
communicate as frequently as they did in the past.  According to DOD
and U.S.  law enforcement officials, the increasing use of these
technologies makes it more difficult to gather the information needed
to track and interdict cocaine shipments through the Caribbean
because traffickers can detect whether they are being followed. 

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

According to State Department and U.S.  law enforcement officials,
most Caribbean host nations are cooperating in fighting drug
trafficking.  However, most Caribbean nations lack resources and law
enforcement capabilities and have some corruption problems that
hamper their efforts to combat drug trafficking.  The Department of
State's March 1996 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
provides a detailed discussion on the Caribbean countries.  With few
exceptions, the report concluded that cooperation with U.S. 
authorities was excellent in 1995.  For example, Barbados was
recognized for its excellent cooperation with U.S.  law enforcement,
strong enforcement, tough courts, and public mobilization that
resulted in a drop in crime and an increase in drug arrest.  However,
the report noted that the governments of many Caribbean countries
were unable to finance their law enforcement operations at a level
commensurate with the trafficker threat. 

The report noted the following: 

  -- The Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas strives to
     fulfill the goals and objectives of U.S.- Bahamian bilateral
     counternarcotics accords.  A key objective of U.S. 
     counternarcotics assistance is to strengthen the Bahamas'
     counternarcotics institutions so they can assume a greater share
     of the financial burden of combating traffickers.  However, even
     with stronger counternarcotics institutions, the Bahamas will
     probably remain dependent on U.S.  assistance because of the
     Bahamas' small population, geography, and limited resources. 

  -- The Government of the Dominican Republic has fully cooperated
     with U.S.  agencies.  However, it lacks effective enforcement
     mechanisms and the political will to expose and eliminate the
     corruption that threatens the country's fragile democratic

  -- The Government of Haiti has shown the political will to
     cooperate, but its lack of institutional experience undermines
     its effectiveness.  Haiti lacks a national police
     counternarcotics unit and coast guard, a maritime law
     enforcement agreement, money laundering legislation, and a
     national counternarcotics plan. 

  -- The Government of Jamaica and U.S.  law enforcement cooperation
     is considered to be at the highest level in 5 years.  However,
     Jamaica has not completed its counterdrug legislation or fully
     implemented it.  Although the government passed an asset
     forfeiture act in 1994, it has still not prosecuted an asset
     forfeiture case. 

  -- The Governments of Antigua and Barbuda do not have an effective
     drug and money laundering enforcement policy. 

  -- The Government of Dominica has severe resource restraints but
     has fully cooperated with U.S.  law enforcement agencies. 

In 1995, JIATF-East personnel developed their own assessment of
various Eastern Caribbean nations' maritime law enforcement
capabilities.  The assessment was based on a subjective judgment of
JIATF-East officials regarding the relationships they experienced in
operations with host nations.  The assessment concluded that, while
several countries had relatively good law enforcement capability,
others had only fair to poor law enforcement capabilities. 

In table 2, we show JIATF-East's inventory of the Eastern Caribbean
nations' interdiction assets.  The table shows that few assets are
available to Caribbean nations for counternarcotics purposes. 

                                Table 2
                 Selected Eastern Caribbean Host Nation
                      Maritime Interdiction Assets

Nation                  Interdiction assets
----------------------  ----------------------------------------------
British Virgin Islands  6 patrol boats and 1 aircraft

Anguilla                2 boats

St. Martin/Guadelope    3 patrol boats, 6 fixed-wing aircraft, and 4
Martinique              helicopters

Antigua/Barbuda         3 boats

St. Kitts               4 boats

Montserrat              1 patrol craft with 1 crew and limited fuel

Dominica                4 boats

St. Lucia               4 boats, 2 of which are damaged

St. Vincent             4 boats

Barbados                5 boats, 1 possibly damaged

Grenada                 4 boats

Trinidad and Tobago     Large, medium, and small platforms
Source:  JIATF-East. 

State Department officials stated that many national forces do not
always cooperate with one another because of insufficient political
will, an inability to coordinate, and insufficient available
resources.  A February 1995 law enforcement agency reported that
cooperation between local law enforcement agencies in Trinidad and
Tobago has not been good.  In August 1995, a U.S.  law enforcement
agency reported that there was an underlying problem of mistrust
between the Dutch government and local law enforcement agencies in
the Antilles and Aruba. 

U.S.  officials stated that Caribbean nations will always have
limited capabilities because they have small populations and limited
funds available for counternarcotics.  As a result, U.S.  officials
are trying to improve interdiction capabilities by signing agreements
that allow U.S.  personnel to conduct antidrug sea and air operations
within the territorial waters and airspace of these nations.  U.S. 
agencies are also providing limited supplies and training to the
police forces and the judicial institutions. 

By the end of 1992, the United States had entered into bilateral
agreements with the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Belize regarding
shipboarding, shipriding, and pursuit and entry into territorial
waters.  Since March 1995, the State Department has concluded a
series of maritime counternarcotics agreements with the Dominican
Republic, St.  Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. 
Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and St.  Vincent and the
Grenadines.  As of March 1996, other maritime counternarcotics
agreements were pending with Barbados, Jamaica, Honduras, Haiti,
Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. 

Many of these agreements are limited to maritime matters, and most of
the agreements do not authorize overflight and ordering aircraft to
land.  Currently only the Trinidad and Tobago agreement allows
overflight of territorial airspace for the counternarcotics
operations along with order-to-land authority.  The Bahamas agreement
contained overflight authority.  Eastern Caribbean nations have
authorized overflight authority on an ad hoc basis in support of
combined operations.  New efforts are underway to address overflight
and air issues.  Even though the United States has reached agreement
with some Caribbean countries, it does not have one with Cuba that
would allow forces to either track or interdict drug-trafficking
activity that may occur within Cuban territorial waters or airspace. 
U.S.  Customs reported that in both maritime and aviation, they have
noted the use of the waters and airspace adjacent to Cuba as a
transfer location or air-drop location.  However, DOD data indicate
that, for the period between fiscal years 1991 and 1995, there were
only 13 out of 947 known air events that flew over Cuban airspace. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.1

Various U.S.  officials told us that, despite changes in governments,
corruption is still widespread throughout the Caribbean.  Drug
traffickers' influence in the region is evident.  Payoffs are a
common form of corruption, particularly in countries with poorly paid
public servants.  Law enforcement and State Department reports
support these statements. 

A February 1995 law enforcement agency report on one island indicated
that corruption may be occurring at high levels of the government. 
This report stated that there were indications that the leader of a
political party was linked to the illegal drug trade.  Furthermore,
the report also stated that there were numerous allegations regarding
corruption in the country's customs operation at the airport. 

A March 1995 U.S.  law enforcement report stated that in the Bahamas
drug law enforcement efforts have been plagued by corruption.  The
report further stated that, faced with promises of instant wealth,
police officers assigned to these islands often succumb to the bribes
offered by traffickers.  Corruption, according to the report, can
also be found in Nassau in just about every police division.  Efforts
by honest authorities are often thwarted by corrupt officials. 

Other 1995 U.S.  agency reports stated the following: 

  -- Although there were no official confirmed cases of corruption in
     St.  Lucia, a recent undercover operation indicated the
     appearance of impropriety by high-ranking law enforcement

  -- On one island, there were continuing rumors and allegations
     regarding the corruption of high-ranking government officials
     (including officials in the police department).  Also, the
     current administration and opposition party were both perceived
     to be involved in illegal activities. 

  -- In Antigua and Barbuda, some individuals with close ties to the
     current regime are involved in narcotics trafficking.  In 1994,
     authorities reported processing 148 cases involving 152
     defendants.  Convicted traffickers could pay a heavy fine
     instead of going to jail. 

During February and March 1995, the State Department reported the

  -- In St.  Kitts, violence involving politics and drugs plagued the
     island in 1994, threatening the stability of its minority
     government.  In 1994, a private pleasure craft with the former
     St.  Kitts ambassador to the United Nations, his wife, and
     family aboard disappeared and was presumed to be lost at sea. 
     The former ambassador had been publicly accused of money
     laundering and drug charges.  Both Colombian and local
     traffickers have attempted to exploit a tense domestic

  -- In Trinidad and Tobago unsubstantiated rumors regarding
     corruption have included ministers, politicians, and judicial
     and law enforcement personnel at every level.  Despite these
     rumors, authorities have not initiated any investigations.  In
     addition, alleged police drug payoffs identified by a 1993
     Scotland Yard team have not been pursued.  The report noted that
     the team could not fully develop cases because of limited police
     cooperation.  According to the report, structures to deal with
     corruption issues are either not in place or not functioning. 

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

From fiscal year 1992 to fiscal year 1995, the budgets for most
federal activities in the transit zone declined significantly.  A
presidential directive issued in November 1993 called for a gradual
shift in emphasis from the transit zone to the source countries.  As
indicated in table 3, the shift in U.S.  resources away from the
transit zone actually began as early as fiscal year 1993.  DOD and
most other federal agencies had a large portion of transit zone
resources reduced in fiscal year 1994. 

                                Table 3
                Counternarcotics Funding in the Transit
                      Zone (fiscal years 1991-95)

                         (Dollars in millions)

Agency                            1991    1992    1993    1994    1995
------------------------------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------
DOD                             $407.1  $504.5  $426.0  $220.4  $214.7
Coast Guard                      565.2   443.9   310.5   314.4   301.2
Customs                             \a      \a    16.2    12.5    12.8
DEA                               26.2    28.8    29.1    28.7    29.6
State                             35.9    36.2    14.0     7.9    10.6
Total                           $1,034  $1,013  $795.8  $583.9  $568.9
                                    .4      .4
\a Customs data for 1991 and 1992 are unavailable. 

Source:  Indicated federal agencies. 

As indicated in table 4, the anticipated shift of U.S.  funding to
efforts in the source countries never materialized, and
counternarcotics funding in the source countries declined from fiscal
year 1993 to the lower levels in fiscal years 1994 and 1995. 
Although the actual amount of funds dedicated to source country
efforts decreased, source country funding as a percentage of the
total increased. 

                                Table 4
                   Counternarcotics Funding in Source
                    Countries (fiscal years 1991-95)

                         (Dollars in millions)

Agency                            1991    1992    1993    1994    1995
------------------------------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------
DOD                              $76.1  $120.7  $154.9  $144.5  $148.7
Customs                             \a      \a     6.0     3.9     5.2
DEA                               18.4    21.5    21.0    20.7    21.3
State                            160.7   123.6   105.1    55.2    54.8
Total                           $255.2  $265.8  $287.0  $224.3  $230.0
\a Customs data for 1991 and 1992 are not available. 

Source:  Indicated federal agencies. 

Various agencies stressed that decisions to reduce the funding
devoted to drug interdiction were often beyond their control.  For
example, DOD noted that a resource shift from the transit zone to
source countries did not occur because its overall drug budget was
reduced in fiscal year 1994 by $300 million, $200 million of which
was taken from transit zone operations.  Also, the U.S.  Coast Guard
noted that during the early 1990s, it was involved in increasing
emigrant activity in the Caribbean that culminated in two mass
exoduses of emigrants from Haiti and Cuba.  During this period,
assets were reallocated from counterdrug missions to respond to this
high-priority, national and international humanitarian crisis. 

The U.S.  Customs Service also reported impacts that budget
reductions had on its ability to fulfill its missions.  The Customs
Marine Law Enforcement Program lost 51 percent of its budget, 54
percent of its personnel, and 50 percent of its vessels in fiscal
year 1995.  According to the U.S.  Customs Service, these reductions
resulted in a significant impact on its ability to fulfill its
traditional maritime role. 

Between December 1994 and November 1995, DOD deactivated three
Bahamian Aerostat radars, two Caribbean Basin Radar Network sites,
two mobile tactical radars, and two remote high-frequency Link 11
transmitters/receivers.  As indicated in figure 2, the loss of these
radars significantly reduced the coverage area.  Between 1994 and
1995, DOD activated two Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar systems. 
Although this radar system provides a larger area of coverage
footprint than microwave radars, it has less probability to detect an
air event and is not as accurate in vectoring in interceptions as
microwave radars. 

U.S.  law enforcement officials have reported that lost radar
capabilities have hampered their operations in and around the
Bahamas.  A March 1995 report concluded that the loss of radar
coverage had hampered operations to detect suspect aircraft flying to
the Bahamas.  Another report noted that the loss of aerostat balloons
and ground base radars left the Bahamas virtually free of detection
and monitoring assets.  DEA officials stated that the reduction in
law enforcement resources and direct asset support
(e.g., aircraft) have impacted their operations. 

   Figure 2:  Lost Radar
   Surveillance Capabilities

   (See figure in printed

   Source:  DOD.

   (See figure in printed

As indicated in table 5, the number of ship days devoted to drug
interdiction went from 4,448 ship days in the peak fiscal year 1993
to 2,668 ship days in fiscal year 1994 and 2,845 ship days in fiscal
year 1995.  The reductions involved almost all classes of ships. 

                                Table 5
                JIATF-East Maritime Assets (fiscal years

                        (In number of ship days)

Ship type                         1991    1992    1993    1994    1995
------------------------------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------
Logistic                           128     287      71      40       0
Cruiser                            524     558     753     742     488
Destroyer                          909     699     602     118     224
Frigate                          1,874   2,008   1,441     785     727
Amphibious                          51      87     188       9       0
Coast Guard                          0       0     138       0     401
Other                              750     533   1,255     974   1,005
Total                            4,236   4,172   4,448   2,668   2,845
As table 5 shows, in fiscal years 1993 and 1994, the number of ship
days for frigates significantly declined from fiscal year 1992
levels.  During the same period, the Navy began to deploy other
classes of vessels, such as Ocean-Going Radar Picket Ships.  This
change resulted in reduced capability.  These radar picket ships are
outfitted with air search radar and are deployed for aerial detection
and monitoring.  They are not employed for surface law enforcement
and, due to their low speed, are not well suited for a surface

In addition to reduced radar coverage and reduced maritime
deployments, the number of Airborne Warning and Control System
sorties also declined between fiscal years 1993 and 1995.  For
example, DOD reported that flight hours flown in the transit zone
declined by 52 percent--from 38,100 hours in fiscal year 1992 to
18,155 hours in fiscal year 1995.  DOD officials stated that Airborne
Warning and Control System were flown at the maximum extent possible
based on crew availability, operational tempo, and reduced asset
availability due to other world hot spots. 

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

Cocaine seizures in the entire transit zone have declined from
1991-92 levels.  As shown in figure 3, cocaine seizures dropped
significantly from 70,336 kilograms in fiscal year 1992 to 37,181
kilograms in fiscal year 1995.  Air seizures accounted for the
greatest amount of decline, from 40,253 kilograms in fiscal year 1992
to only 14,564 kilograms in fiscal year 1995:  Maritime seizures
increased as a proportion of total seizures, accounting for about 61
percent in fiscal year 1995 compared to about 43 percent in fiscal
year 1992. 

   Figure 3:  Cocaine Seizures
   (fiscal years 1991-95)

   (See figure in printed

Source:  JIATF-East. 

The decline in recorded cocaine seizures is likely due to a
combination of factors, including reduced capability by U.S. 
agencies to detect air and maritime activities and cocaine
traffickers' increased smuggling sophistication. 

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

In 1995, the ONDCP contracted with Evidence-Base Research to conduct
a study to (1) develop a baseline inventory for fiscal year 1994 of
interdiction and law enforcement operations and resources in the
transit zone and (2) consider the impact on disruption success rates
with a $200-million and a $500-million increase in resources.  The
study had a number of recognized limitations, including a low level
of confidence in its predictions and a limited scope.  For example,
the scope of the study did not analyze the potential benefits of
investing resources in the source countries. 

It reported that in fiscal year 1994, drug smugglers were not
disrupted in 69 percent of the attempts to bring drugs into the
United States.  With a $200-million and a $500-million increase in
spending, the study estimated within a 10- to 20-percent confidence
level that the smugglers success rate would decline to 58 percent and
53 percent, respectively.  If funding was increased, it suggested the
following order of priority: 

  -- Increase intelligence, which because of its relative low cost,
     has the greatest leverage and is critical for responding to the
     maritime threat. 

  -- Improve disruption capability because, without it, law
     enforcement would be unable to respond to the targets identified
     by increased and improved intelligence. 

  -- Increase detection and monitoring to fill geographic gaps and
     ensure an ability to link intelligence and disruption

The study noted that the federal policy challenge is not only to
determine the benefits from direct investment in the transit zone but
also to consider whether the investment of a similar level of
resources elsewhere in the drug strategy might produce even more

U.S.  officials stated that they generally agreed that if additional
funds were provided for the transit zone that they should follow the
priorities contained in the contractor's report.  However, they
pointed out that the study's low confidence level made the
conclusions about stopping drug activities highly questionable.  DEA
officials stated that the conclusions of the study were questionable
because no one knows the actual amount of cocaine that is flowing
through the transit zone into the United States.  These data would be
needed to address the study's conclusions about potential success of
increased interdiction efforts. 

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

The executive branch has not developed a plan to implement the U.S. 
antidrug strategy in the Caribbean.  DOD, the Department of State,
and law enforcement agencies have various agreements to implement the
national drug strategy in the Caribbean region.  However,
counternarcotics officials expressed concern over the lack of overall
responsibility for implementing the current cocaine strategy in the
Caribbean.  Although agencies had developed individual operational
plans, they cited the lack of a coordinated regional action plan as
the foremost impediment to accomplishing the goals of the national
strategy.  Furthermore, they believed that implementing a coordinated
regional plan, if one was developed, would be difficult unless
someone with real authority was in charge.  DOD officials responsible
for implementing the detection and monitoring program stated that,
because no authority existed that would require participating
agencies to commit resources to drug interdiction efforts, it was
difficult for them to develop effective plans.  Participating
agencies indicated that they often had to juggle competing priorities
at a time when they were downsizing. 

Various U.S.  officials noted that there is a need for leadership and
commitment by ONDCP to ensure that agencies are carrying out their
missions to achieve U.S.  counternarcotics objectives in the
Caribbean.  These officials stated that neither ONDCP nor the USIC
had authority to direct other participating agencies in meeting
agreed-to resource commitments and operational plans.  DOD officials
stated that if the U.S.  government was serious about eradicating
drugs in the United States, ONDCP needed to become more authoritative
and directive. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.1

Because participating agencies have not adequately staffed
JIATF-East, it has not achieved the interagency culture initially
hoped for at its creation.  In April 1994, ONDCP and the
participating agencies approved the National Interdiction Command and
Control Plan.  This plan provided for establishing three
geographically oriented counterdrug Joint Interagency Task Forces and
a Domestic Air Interdiction Coordination Center.  The task forces
were to be headed up and staffed by DOD, the U.S.  Customs Service,
and the U.S.  Coast Guard. 

A major premise of the plan was that the full-time personnel assigned
to the task forces would become stakeholders in its operations.  It
was anticipated that this would ensure close planning and operational
coordination; the availability of federal assets; and a seamless
handoff of suspected air, sea, or land targets.  Other agencies who
either had an interest in or who are impacted by the operations were
to provide liaison personnel.  Unfortunately, participating agencies
have not provided the required staffing to the task force and, thus,
JIATF-East has been dominated by DOD personnel and has not achieved
the intended interagency makeup. 

The U.S.  Customs Service has provided only 8 of 22 authorized staff. 
U.S.  Customs stated that it could not provide additional staff due
to agency downsizing.  Furthermore, JIATF-East officials experienced
problems with the personnel assigned by the U.S.  Customs Service. 
For example, some U.S.  Customs personnel lacked the proper security
clearances and could not be trained as operators in the classified
watch environments.  Also, U.S.  Customs personnel sent to fill the
high-level positions of Vice Director and Deputy Director for Plans
had not obtained the security clearances required for these positions
and could not participate in planning for and using DOD classified

The Department of State has not filled a position to meet the
JIATF-East requirement due to downsizing.  Although the Federal
Bureau of Investigation periodically assigned an intelligence analyst
on temporary duty, it has not assigned a full-time person because of
personnel constraints.  Federal Bureau of Investigation officials
stated that they have developed a plan to assign two agents--an
intelligence analyst and a Supervisory Special Agent.  These
officials stated that the plan has not been approved.  Although DEA
had a Supervisory Special Agent performing as a liaison officer, DEA
disagreed with JIATF-East on the integration of a DEA person into the
operational aspects of JIATF-East and did not fill an intelligence
analysis position because of resource constraints. 

Agency responses to staffing the USIC have also been inadequate. 
ONDCP agreed to an interagency staffing level of 11 positions for
USIC, including
5 positions to be filled from the U.S.  Coast Guard and 1 each from
the Joint Chief of Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the
Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S.Customs Service, the Department
of State, and DEA.  As of March 1996, 2 of the 11 positions had not
been filled.  The Department of State and the Office of the Secretary
of Defense have not filled these positions. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.2

Although progress has been made in improving intelligence sharing in
the last 2 years, it remains a contentious issue among various
collectors and users of intelligence data.  In June 1994, DOD, along
with other federal agencies, assessed counterdrug support programs in
the transit zone.  A major conclusion of the review was that,
although accurate intelligence was essential to efficient transit
zone operations, transit zone intelligence functions were hampered by
(1) legal and agency-imposed limitations on access to law enforcement
intelligence, (2) limited predictive analysis, and (3) problems of
host nation corruption.  Available intelligence information was not
considered timely or specific enough regarding locations to support
successful operations.  DOD concluded that better coordination of
intelligence and targeting information among users would improve
resource use and recommended a concerted effort to alleviate the
effects or reduce the scope of constraints in interagency information

According to DOD officials, the requirements for collecting,
retaining, and sharing counterdrug information and intelligence with
other federal agencies are contained in a myriad of executive orders,
individual agency regulations, and agreements between agencies. 
Also, the sharing of counterdrug information and intelligence with
U.S.  allies is governed by many of the same executive orders,
regulations, and agreements, as well as existing bilateral

JIATF-East officials told us that they had found limited
understanding of regulations and much misinformation about
intelligence sharing within the counternarcotics community.  DOD
officials stated that ONDCP had issued the Interdiction Intelligence
Support Plan in March 1995 to ensure that the JIATF-South, the
Domestic Air Interdiction Control Center, the Intelligence Analysis
Center, and the U.S.  Customs Service National Aviation Center were
provided access to tactical information necessary to perform their
mission.  DOD officials believe the current regulations allow sharing
and dissemination of significant information beyond that currently
being provided.  They also believe that restrictions on information
sharing are most likely the result of institutional practices and can
be rectified by implementing existing procedures, not by creating
additional procedures. 

U.S.  law enforcement officials believed that the sharing of their
intelligence and information with other agencies was consistent with
the legal limitation on the availability of the information and
existing regulations.  DEA officials noted that there are limitations
on what intelligence they can legally provide other federal agencies
developed from Grand Jury information, wire taps, and court sealing
orders.  They also noted that some intelligence is not released to
protect sources and the integrity of ongoing investigations.  DEA
officials also stated that the
El Paso Intelligence Center provides JIATF-East with the necessary
information to track suspect aircraft and vessels until the
respective U.S.  and foreign authorities can take appropriate law
enforcement action. 

While the debate over whether DOD is receiving required intelligence
continues, ONDCP has been involved in developing an intelligence
infrastructure to implement the plan and improve intelligence
sharing.  Agencies have installed a system that allows the various
agencies to pass information from one data base to another on an
interagency network. 

Moreover, according to JIATF-East officials, Caribbean host nations
are also concerned about the significant lack of counterdrug
information flowing back to their counterdrug forces.  The officials
said that continued host nation cooperation in counterdrug programs
may depend on improvements to intelligence and information sharing
with host nation forces.  However, given the widespread corruption
within the region, it may be difficult to strike a balance that
satisfies all parties. 

      NOT MET
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.3

JIATF-East records covering known counterdrug events occurring
between October 1, 1994, and November 30, 1995, showed that in 87 of
92 cases other federal agencies have fully cooperated with them and
provided required operational assistance.  JIATF-East officials
stated that they were pleased with the cooperation and contributions
from U.S.  Customs air resources.  We noted five occasions where the
U.S.  Customs Service did not to support JIATF-East requests to track
and pursue suspected drug smugglers.  In these cases, JIATF-East
officials stated that U.S.  Customs always had valid reasons such as
asset limitations, the geometry of the intercept problem, or the
timeliness of the notification. 

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

We recommend that the Director of ONDCP develop a regional action
plan focused on the Caribbean part of the transit zone to fully
implement the U.S.  policy for cocaine in the Western Hemisphere.  At
a minimum, the plan should determine resources and staffing needed
and delineate a comprehensive strategy to improve host nation
capabilities and commitment to counternarcotics interdiction. 

------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

ONDCP, USIC, and DEA provided written comments on a draft of this
report (see apps.  I through III); the Departments of State and
Defense and the U.S.  Custom Service provided oral comments. 

ONDCP, the Departments of State and Defense, and the U.S.  Customs
Service generally agreed with the report's major conclusions and
recommendations.  ONDCP stated that many of the recommendations were
sound and that it was in the process of implementing some of them. 
ONDCP said it will carefully examine all of the recommendations in
preparing the 1996 National Drug Control Strategy. 

Several agencies, including USIC, provided additional information or
suggested language to clarify the facts presented in this report.  We
have incorporated these comments into the report. 

DEA raised concerns regarding intelligence sharing in the Caribbean. 
DEA believed that every effort was being made to share intelligence
within the counternarcotics intelligence community.  However, as we
noted in our report, JIATF-East and DOD still voiced concerns on
intelligence sharing. 

Several agency comments addressed the impact that budget reductions
and downsizing have had on the ability to support transit zone
operations.  For example, State Department officials noted that the
Congress had substantially reduced the State Department's budget
below the levels requested by the President for international law
enforcement programs.  Also, ONDCP stated that successive cuts in the
interdiction budgets over the past several years have served to
reduce dramatically the resources available in the interdiction
efforts from the transit zone to the source countries. 

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

We interviewed officials and reviewed pertinent documents in
Washington, D.C., at ONDCP, the Departments of State and Defense,
DEA, the U.S.  Coast Guard, and the U.S.  Customs Service.  We also
interviewed officials and reviewed documents at the Office of the
U.S.  Interdiction Coordinator, located within the headquarters of
the U.S.  Coast Guard. 

In addition, we interviewed officials and reviewed pertinent
documents at the U.S.  Atlantic Command in Norfolk, Virginia; the
JIATF-East in Key West, Florida; the offices of the DEA, the U.S. 
Customs Service, and the U.S.  Coast Guard in Miami, Florida.  We
also interviewed officials from the U.S.  Customs Air Wing in Puerto
Rico and the DEA's office in Nassau, Bahamas. 

We conducted our review between November 1995 and March 1996 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :9.1

As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce its
contents earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report
until 30 days after its issue date.  At that time, we will send
copies to the Director of ONDCP, the Secretaries of the Departments
of Defense and State, the Commissioner of the U.S.  Customs Service,
the Commandant of the U.S.  Coast Guard and the U.S.  Interdiction
Coordinator, the Administrator of DEA, the Director of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, and interested congressional committees.  We
will make copies of this report available to others upon request. 

Please contact me on (202) 512-4128 if you or your staff have any
questions concerning this report.  Major contributors to this report
were Louis Zanardi, Ronald Hughes, and Robert Jaxel. 

Sincerely yours,

Jess T.  Ford, Associate Director
International Affairs and Trade Issues

(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix I
============================================================== Letter 

(See figure in printed edition.)

The following is GAO's comment on the Office of National Drug Control
Policy's (ONDCP) letter dated April 3, 1996. 


1.  ONDCP has the statutory authority to certify the drug budgets of
every federal agency and department.  However, ONDCP has limited
authority to direct agencies to meet agreed-to resource commitments
and operational plans. 

(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix II
============================================================== Letter 

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

The following are GAO's comments on the United States Interdiction
Coordinator's letter dated March 15, 1996. 


1.  We have made appropriate technical changes to the report. 

2.  The Joint Interagency Task Force East's (JIATF-East) assessment
of the political will was deleted from the report after further
discussions with the State Department and JIATF-East officials. 
However, the State Department concurred with our conclusion that U.S. 
antidrug activities are impeded by some countries' lack of political
will, corruption, and limited local law enforcement capabilities. 
These conclusions are supported by State Department's March 1996
Internatinal Narcotics Contol Strategy Report. 

(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix III
============================================================== Letter 

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

The following are GAO's comments on the Drug Enforcement
Administration's (DEA) letter dated April 2, 1996. 


1.  The JIATF-East assessment of the countries' political will was
deleted from the draft report after further discussions with the
Department of State and JIATF-East. 

2.  The report includes information on the El Paso Intelligence
Center's role in providing information to JIATF-East. 

3.  The Department of State concurred with our conclusion that U.S. 
counterdrug activities are impeded by a lack of political will,
corruption, and limited local law enforcement capabilities in some
countries.  Furthermore, the report is consistent with the State
Department's March 1996 International Narcotics Control Strategy

4.  The report clarifies JIATF-East's subjective views. 

5.  The statement is supported not only by statements made by
JIATF-East officials but also by various law enforcement agency

6.  We have clarified the report and eliminated the apparent

7.  Notwithstanding the fact that drug seizures were relatively high
before 1994, they still represented a relatively low percentage of
drugs transiting the area. 

8.  This information is taken from Department of State reports and
law enforcement reports.  Moreover, the concern of those reporting
unsubstantiated rumors and allegations is not only whether they are
true but, more importantly, that often the country is not
investigating them.  While most U.S.  officials agreed that
corruption was a problem, the evidence that it occurred was
admittedly weak and we took care to properly detail it as such. 

9.  Our prior reports dealt with existing conditions in the 1989 to
1991 time frame.  We are not suggesting that increased funding cited
in the ONDCP study will lead to any greater interdiction success. 

10.  We have added DEA statements concerning their belief that
JIATF-East is receiving all the actionable intelligence it requires
and the limitations DEA has in providing intelligence.  Nevertheless,
there is clearly a disagreement between JIATF-East and DEA over
whether it is getting all of the necessary intelligence
notwithstanding the fact that progress has been made, including the
stationing of two JIATF-East personnel at the El Paso Intelligence
Center.  DOD believes that better understanding of current
regulations would further improve the sharing of intelligence

*** End of document. ***