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================================================================ COVER

Before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps,
Narcotics, and Terrorism, Committee on Foreign Relations; and the
Caucus on International Narcotics Control, U.S.  Senate

For Release on Delivery
Expected at
9:30 a.m., EDT
September 16, 1998


Statement of Henry L.  Hinton, Jr., Assistant Comptroller General,
National Security and International Affairs Division



Drug Conrol


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

  DEA - Drug Enforcement Administration
  ONDCP - Office of National Drug Control Policy

============================================================ Chapter 0

Mr.  Chairmen and Members of the Subcommittee and Caucus: 

I am pleased to be here today to present our observations on the
effectiveness of U.S.  efforts to combat the movement of drugs into
the United States.  My statement discusses the (1) challenges of
addressing international counternarcotics issues and (2) obstacles to
implementing U.S.  and host-nation drug control efforts.  My
testimony is primarily based on our recent reports concerning U.S. 
counternarcotics efforts in the Caribbean, Colombia, and Mexico.\1

\1 Drug Control:  U.S.-Mexican Counternarcotics Efforts Face
Difficult Challenges (GAO/NSIAD-98-154, June 30, 1998); Drug Control: 
U.S.  Counternarcotics Efforts in Colombia Face Continuing Challenges
(GAO/NSIAD-98-60, Feb.  12, 1998); Drug Control:  Update on U.S. 
Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific
(GAO/NSIAD-98-30, Oct.  15, 1997). 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

Our work over the past 10 years indicates that there is no panacea
for resolving all of the problems associated with illegal drug
trafficking.  Despite long-standing efforts and expenditures of
billions of dollars, illegal drugs still flood the United States. 
Although U.S.  and host-nation counternarcotics efforts have resulted
in the arrest of major drug traffickers and the seizure of large
amounts of drugs, they have not materially reduced the availability
of drugs in the United States.  A key reason for the lack of success
of U.S.  counternarcotics programs is that international
drug-trafficking organizations have become sophisticated,
multibillion-dollar industries that quickly adapt to new U.S.  drug
control efforts.  As success is achieved in one area, the
drug-trafficking organizations quickly change tactics, thwarting U.S. 

Other significant, long-standing obstacles also impede U.S.  and
source and -transit countries'\2 drug control efforts.  In the
drug-producing and -transiting countries, counternarcotics efforts
are constrained by corruption; limited law enforcement resources and
institutional capabilities; and internal problems such as
insurgencies and civil unrest.  Moreover, drug traffickers are
increasingly resourceful in corrupting the countries' institutions. 

Some countries, with U.S.  assistance, have taken steps to improve
their capacity to reduce the flow of illegal drugs into the United
States.  Among other things, these countries have taken action to
extradite criminals; enacted legislation to control organized crime,
money laundering, and chemicals used in the production of illicit
drugs; and instituted reforms to reduce corruption.  While these
actions represent positive steps, it is too early to determine their
impact, and challenges remain. 

U.S.  counternarcotics efforts have also faced obstacles that limit
their effectiveness.  These include (1) organizational and
operational limitations, and (2) planning and management problems. 
Over the years, we have reported on problems related to competing
foreign policy priorities, poor operational planning and
coordination, and inadequate oversight over U.S.  counternarcotics
assistance.  We have also criticized the Office of National Drug
Control Policy (ONDCP) and U.S.  agencies for not having good
performance measures to evaluate results.  Our work has identified
ways to improve U.S.  counternarcotics efforts through better
planning, sharing of intelligence, and the development of measurable
performance goals. 

\2 The major source countries for cocaine are Bolivia, Colombia, and
Peru.  The major source nations for heroin in the Western Hemisphere
are Colombia and Mexico.  The major drug transit areas include
Mexico, the Caribbean, the eastern Pacific, and Central America. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

Illegal drug use, particularly of cocaine and heroin, continues to be
a serious health problem in the United States.  According to ONDCP,
drug-related illness, death, and crime cost the nation approximately
$67 billion annually.  Over the past 10 years, the United States has
spent over $19 billion on international drug control and interdiction
efforts to reduce the supply of illegal drugs.  ONDCP has established
goals of reducing the availability of illicit drugs in the United
States by 25 percent by 2002 and by 50 percent by 2007. 

ONDCP is responsible for producing an annual National Drug Control
Strategy and coordinating its implementation with other federal
agencies.  The 1998 National Drug Control Strategy includes five
goals:  (1) educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal
drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco; (2) increase the safety of U.S. 
citizens by substantially lowering drug-related crime and violence;
(3) reduce health and social costs to the public of illegal drug use;
(4) shield America's air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug
threat; and (5) break foreign and domestic drug supply sources.  The
last two goals are the primary emphasis of U.S.  interdiction and
international drug control efforts.  These are focused on assisting
the source and transiting nations in their efforts to reduce drug
cultivation and trafficking, improve their capabilities and
coordination, promote the development of policies and laws, support
research and technology, and conduct other related initiatives.  For
fiscal year 1998, ONDCP estimated that about 13 percent of the $16
billion federal drug control budget would be devoted to interdiction
and international drug control activities--in 1988, these activities
represented about 24 percent of the $4.7 billion federal drug control

ONDCP also has authority to review various agencies' funding levels
to ensure they are sufficient to meet the goals of the national
strategy, but it has no direct control over how these resources are
used.  The Departments of State and Defense and the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) are the principal agencies involved in
implementing the international portion of the drug control strategy. 
Other U.S.  agencies involved in counternarcotics activities overseas
include the U.S.  Agency for International Development, the U.S. 
Coast Guard, the U.S.  Customs Service, various U.S.  intelligence
organizations, and other U.S.  agencies. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

Over the past 10 years, the U.S.  agencies involved in
counternarcotics efforts have attempted to reduce the supply and
availability of illegal drugs in the United States through the
implementation of successive drug control strategies.  Despite some
successes, cocaine, heroin, and other illegal drugs continue to be
readily available in the United States. 

According to ONDCP, the cocaine source countries had the potential of
producing about 650 metric tons of cocaine in 1997.  Of this amount,
U.S.  officials estimate that about 430 metric tons were destined for
U.S.  markets, with the remainder going to Europe and elsewhere. 
According to current estimates, about 57 percent of the cocaine
entering the United States flows through Mexico and the Eastern
Pacific, 33 percent flows through the Caribbean, and the remainder is
moved directly into the United States from the source countries. 
According to ONDCP estimates, the U.S.  demand for cocaine is
approximately 300 metric tons per year. 

According to DEA, Colombia was also the source of 52 percent of all
heroin seized in the United States during 1996.  The current U.S. 
demand for heroin is estimated to be approximately 10 metric tons per

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4

A primary challenge that U.S.  and foreign governments'
counternarcotics efforts face is the power, influence, adaptability,
and capabilities of drug-trafficking organizations.  Because of their
enormous financial resources, power to corrupt counternarcotics
personnel, and operational flexibility, drug-trafficking
organizations are a formidable threat.  Despite some short-term
achievements by U.S.  and foreign government law enforcement agencies
in disrupting the flow of illegal drugs, drug-trafficking
organizations have found ways to continue to meet the demand of U.S. 
drug consumers. 

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

When confronted with threats to their activities, drug-trafficking
organizations use a variety of techniques to quickly change their
modes of operation, thus avoiding capture of their personnel and
seizure of their illegal drugs.  For example, when air interdiction
efforts have proven successful, traffickers have increased their use
of maritime and overland transportation routes.\3

According to recent U.S.  government reports, even after the capture
or killing of several drug cartel leaders in Colombia and Mexico,
other leaders or organizations soon filled the void and adjusted
their areas of operations.  For example, we reported in February 1998
that, although the Colombian government had disrupted the activities
of two major drug-trafficking organizations, the disruption had not
reduced drug-trafficking activities, and a new generation of
relatively young traffickers was emerging.\4

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

\4 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-60, Feb.  12, 1998). 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5

The United States is largely dependent on the countries that are the
source of drug production and drug transiting points to reduce the
amount of coca and opium poppy being cultivated and to make the drug
seizures, arrests, and prosecutions necessary to stop the production
and movement of illegal drugs.  While the United States can provide
assistance and support for drug control efforts in these countries,
the success of those efforts depends on the countries' willingness
and ability to combat the drug trade within their borders.  Some
countries, with U.S.  assistance, have taken steps to improve their
capacity to reduce the flow of drugs into the United States. 

Drug source and transiting countries face long-standing obstacles
that limit the effectiveness of their drug control efforts.  These
obstacles, many of which are interrelated, include corruption;
limited law enforcement resources and institutional capabilities; and
insurgencies and internal unrest. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5.1

Narcotics-related corruption is a long-standing problem affecting
U.S.  and foreign governments' efforts to reduce drug-trafficking
activities.  Over the years, U.S.  officials have identified
widespread corruption problems in Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Peru,
and the countries of Central America and the Caribbean--among the
countries most significantly involved in the cultivation, production,
and transit of illicit narcotics. 

Our more recent reports have discussed corruption problems in the
Caribbean, Colombia and Mexico.\5 For example, in October 1997, we
reported that the State Department had identified narcotics-related
corruption in various transit zone countries in the Caribbean,
including Antigua, Aruba, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic,
St.  Kitts, St.  Vincent, and others.\6 We also reported that once
the influence of drug trafficking becomes entrenched, corruption
inevitably follows and democratic governments may be placed in
jeopardy.  In March 1998, the State Department reported that
narcotics-related corruption problems continue in many Caribbean

In June 1998, we reported that persistent corruption within Mexico
continued to undermine both police and law enforcement operations.\7
Charged with corruption, many law enforcement officers had been
arrested and dismissed.  One of the most noteworthy arrests involved
General Jos‚ Gutierrez Rebollo--former head of the Mexican equivalent
of DEA.  In February 1997, he was charged with drug trafficking,
organized crime and bribery, illicit enrichment, and association with
one of the leading drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico. 

Despite attempts by Mexico's Attorney General to combat corruption,
it continues to impede counternarcotics efforts.  For example, in
February 1998, the U.S.  embassy in Mexico City reported that three
Mexican law enforcement officials who had successfully passed
screening procedures were arrested for stealing seized
cocaine--illustrating that corruption continues despite measures
designed to root it out. 

\5 Drug War:  Observations on the U.S.  International Drug Control
Strategy (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-182,
June 27, 1995); Drug Control:  Counternarcotics Efforts in Mexico
(GAO/NSIAD-96-163, June 12, 1996); Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-30,
Oct.  15, 1997); Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-60, Feb.  12, 1998; and
Drug Control GAO/NSIAD-98-154, June 30, 1998). 

\6 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-30, Oct.  15, 1997). 

\7 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-154, June 30, 1998). 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5.2

Effective law enforcement operations and adequate judicial and
legislative tools are key to the success of efforts to stop the flow
of drugs from the source and transiting countries.  Although the
United States can provide assistance, these countries must seize the
illegal drugs and arrest, prosecute, and extradite the traffickers,
when possible, in order to stop the production and movement of drugs
internationally.  However, as we have reported on several occasions,
these countries lack the resources and capabilities necessary to stop
drug-trafficking activities within their borders. 

In 1994, we reported that Central American countries did not have the
resources or institutional capability to combat drug trafficking and
depended heavily on U.S.  counternarcotics assistance.\8 Two years
later, we said that equipment shortcomings and inadequately trained
personnel limited the government of Mexico's ability to detect and
interdict drugs and drug traffickers.\9 These problems still exist. 
For example, we reported in June 1998 that the Bilateral Border Task
Forces, which were established to investigate and dismantle the most
significant drug-trafficking organizations along the U.S.-Mexico
border, face operational and support problems, including inadequate
Mexican government funding for equipment, fuel, and salary
supplements for personnel assigned to the units.\10

Countries in the Caribbean also have limited drug interdiction
capabilities.  For example, we reported in October 1997 that many
Caribbean countries continue to be hampered by inadequate
counternarcotics capabilities and have insufficient resources for
conducting law enforcement activities in their coastal waters.\11 We
reported that St.  Martin had the most assets for antidrug
activities, with three cutters, eight patrol boats, and two
fixed-wing aircraft, whereas other Caribbean countries had much less. 

\8 Drug Control:  U.S.  Counterdrug Activities in Central America
(GAO/T-NSIAD-94-251, Aug.  2, 1994). 

\9 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-163, June 12, 1996). 

\10 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-154, June 30, 1998). 

\11 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-30, Oct.  15, 1997). 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5.3

Over the years, our reports have indicated that internal strife in
Peru and Colombia have limited counternarcotics efforts in these
countries.  In 1991, we reported that counternarcotics efforts in
Peru were significantly hampered because of the threat posed by two
insurgent groups.\12 Currently, Colombia's counternarcotics efforts
are also hindered by insurgent and paramilitary activities.  In 1998,
we reported that several guerrilla groups made it difficult to
conduct effective antidrug operations in many areas of Colombia.\13
Since our report, the situation has worsened.  For example, during
this past summer the insurgents overran a major police base that was
used as a staging area for aerial eradication efforts. 

\12 The Drug War:  U.S.  Programs in Peru Face Serious Obstacles
(GAO/NSIAD-92-36, Oct.  21, 1991). 

\13 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-60, Feb.  12, 1998). 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5.4

Some countries, with U.S.  assistance, have taken steps to improve
their capacity to reduce the flow of illegal drugs into the United
States.  For example, in June 1998, we reported that Mexico had taken
efforts to (1) increase the eradication and seizure of illegal drugs,
(2) enhance counternarcotics cooperation with the United States, (3)
initiate efforts to extradite Mexican criminals to the United States,
(4) pass new laws on organized crime, money laundering, and chemical
control, (5) institute reforms in law enforcement agencies, and (6)
expand the role of the military in counternarcotics activities to
reduce corruption.\14 Many of these initiatives are new, and some
have not been fully implemented. 

Colombia has also made progress in making efforts to improve its
counternarcotics capabilities.  In February 1998, we reported that
Colombia had passed various laws to assist counternarcotics
activities, including money laundering and asset forfeiture laws,
reinstated extradition of Colombian nationals to the United States in
November 1997, and signed a maritime agreement.\15

\14 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-154, June 30, 1998). 

\15 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-60, Feb.  12, 1998). 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6

Our work over the past 10 years has identified obstacles to
implementing U.S.  counternarcotics efforts, including (1)
organizational and operational limitations, and (2) planning and
management problems.  Over the years, we have criticized ONDCP and
U.S.  agencies involved in counternarcotics activities for not having
good performance measures to help evaluate program results.  Efforts
to develop such measures are currently underway. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6.1

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

For example, our 1995 work in Colombia indicated that there was
confusion among U.S.  embassy officials about the role of the offices
involved in intelligence analysis and related operational plans for
interdiction.\16 In 1996 and 1997, we reported that several agencies,
including the U.S.  Customs Service, DEA, and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, had not provided personnel, as they had agreed, to the
Joint Interagency Task Force in Key West because of budgetary

In October 1997, we reported that according to U.S.  officials, the
small amount of aircraft and maritime assets hindered U.S. 
interdiction efforts in the Eastern Pacific and that their ability to
interdict commercial and noncommercial fishing vessels was
limited.\18 We also reported in 1993 and 1997 that reduced radar
capability was limiting operational successes in this region.\19

We also reported on instances where lessons learned from past
counternarcotics efforts were not known to current planners and
operators, both internally in an agency and within the U.S.  antidrug
community.\20 For example, in the early 1990's the United States
initiated an operation to support Colombia and Peru in their efforts
to curtail the air movement of coca products between the two
countries.  However, U.S.  Southern Command personnel stated in 1996
that while they were generally aware of the previous operation, they
were neither aware of the problems that had been encountered nor of
the solutions developed in the early 1990s.  U.S.  Southern Command
officials attributed this problem to the continual turnover of
personnel and the requirement to destroy most classified documents
and reports after 5 years.  These officials stated that an
after-action reporting system for counternarcotics activities is now
in place at the U.S.  Southern Command. 

We have also reported that a key component of the U.S.  operational
strategy is having reliable and adequate intelligence to help plan
interdiction operations.  Having timely intelligence on trafficking
activities is important because traffickers frequently change their
operational patterns and increasingly use more sophisticated
communications, making it more difficult to detect their modes of
operations.\21 ONDCP is in the process of reviewing U.S. 
counternarcotics intelligence efforts. 

\16 Drug War (GAO/T-NSIAD-95-182, June 27, 1995). 

\17 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-30, Oct.  15, 1997) and Drug Control: 
U.S.  Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean Decline
(GAO/NSIAD-96-119, Apr.  17, 1996). 

\18 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-30, Oct.  15, 1997). 

\19 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-93-152, May 10, 1993) and Drug Control
(GAO/NSIAD-98-30, Oct.  15, 1997). 

\20 Drug Control:  Long-Standing Problems Hinder U.S.  International
Efforts GAO/NSIAD-97-75, Feb.  27, 1997). 

\21 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-97-75, Feb.  27, 1997). 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6.2

Over the years, our reviews of U.S.  counternarcotics efforts have
indicated planning and management limitations to U.S. 
counternarcotics efforts.  Our recent reports on Colombia and Mexico
have shown that the delivery of U.S.  counternarcotics assistance was
poorly planned and coordinated. 

In February 1998, we reported that the State Department did not take
adequate steps to ensure that equipment included in a 1996
$40-million Department of Defense assistance package could be
integrated into the U.S.  embassy's plans and strategies to support
the Colombian police and military forces.\22 As a result, the
assistance package contained items that had limited immediate
usefulness to the Colombian police and military and will require
substantial additional funding before the equipment can become

We reported a similar situation in Mexico.  In June 1998, we noted
that key elements of the Defense Department's counternarcotics
assistance package were of limited usefulness or could have been
better planned and coordinated by U.S.  and Mexican officials.\23 For
example, we reported that the Mexican military was not using the four
C-26 aircraft provided by the United States because there was no
clearly identified requirement for the aircraft and the Mexican
military lacked the funds needed to operate and maintain the
aircraft.  In addition, inadequate coordination between the U.S. 
Navy and other Defense Department agencies resulted in the transfer
of two Knox-class frigates to the Mexican Navy that were not properly
outfitted and are currently inoperable.  Further, Mexican Navy
personnel were trained in the frigates' operation, but these
personnel may not be fully utilized until the two frigates are

Our work has also shown that, in some cases, the United States did
not adequately control the use of U.S.  counternarcotics assistance
and was unable to ensure that it was used as intended.  Despite
legislative requirements mandating controls over U.S.-provided
assistance, we found instances of inadequate oversight of
counternarcotics funds.  For example, between 1991 and 1994, we
issued four reports in which we concluded that U.S.  officials lacked
sufficient oversight of aid to ensure that it was being used
effectively and as intended in Peru and Colombia.\24 We also reported
that the government of Mexico had misused U.S.-provided
counternarcotics helicopters to transport Mexican military personnel
during the 1994 uprising in the Mexican state of Chiapas.\25

Our recent work in Mexico indicated that oversight and accountability
of counternarcotics assistance continues to be a problem.  We found
that embassy records on UH-1H helicopter usage for the civilian law
enforcement agencies were incomplete.  Additionally, we found that
the U.S.  military's ability to provide adequate oversight is limited
by the end-use monitoring agreement signed by the governments of the
United States and Mexico. 

\22 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-60, Feb.  12, 1998). 

\23 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-98-154, June 30, 1998). 

\24 The Drug War:  Colombia Is Undertaking Antidrug Programs, but
Impact Is Uncertain (GAO/NSIAD-93-158, Aug.  10, 1993); The Drug War: 
Observations on Counternarcotics Programs in Colombia and Peru
(GAO/T-NSIAD-92-2, Oct.  23, 1991); Drug War (GAO/NSIAD-92-36, Oct. 
21, 1991); and Drug War:  Observations on Counternarcotics Aid to
Colombia (GAO/NSIAD-91-296, Sept.  30, 1991). 

\25 Drug Control (GAO/NSIAD-96-163, June 12, 1996). 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6.3

We have been reporting since 1988 that judging U.S.  agencies'
performance in reducing the supply of and interdicting illegal drugs
is difficult because the agencies have not established meaningful
measures to evaluate their contribution to achieving the goals
contained in the National Drug Control Strategy. 

In February 1998, ONDCP issued its annual National Drug Control
Strategy, establishing a 10-year goal of reducing illicit drug
availability and use by 50 percent by 2007.  In March 1998, ONDCP
established specific performance effectiveness measures to evaluate
progress in meeting the strategy's goals and objectives.  While we
have not reviewed the performance measures in detail, we believe they
represent a positive step to help gauge the progress in attaining the
goals and objectives. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:7

We recognize that there is no easy remedy for overcoming all of the
obstacles posed by drug-trafficking activities.  International drug
control efforts aimed at stopping the production of illegal drugs and
drug-related activities in the source and transit countries are only
one element of an overall national drug control strategy.  Alone,
these efforts will not likely solve the U.S.  drug problem. 
Overcoming many of the long-standing obstacles to reducing the supply
of illegal drugs requires a long-term commitment.  Over the years, we
have recommended ways in which the United States could improve the
effectiveness of the planning and implementation of its current
counternarcotics efforts.  These recommendations include (1)
developing measurable goals, (2) making better use of intelligence
and technologies and increasing intelligence efforts, (3) developing
a centralized system for recording and disseminating lessons learned
by various agencies while conducting law enforcement operations, and
(4) better planning of counternarcotics assistance. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:7.1

Mr.  Chairmen, this concludes my prepared testimony.  I would be
happy to respond to any questions. 

*** End of document. ***