Index of "International Narcotics Control Strategy Reports"
Index of "Treaties and Legal Information" ||
Electronic Research Collections Index ||
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BUREAU OF INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS MATTERS
INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL STRAGEGY REPORT
CANADA, MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA 133
Costa Rica 142
El Salvador 146
The Government of Belize (GOB) recognizes cocaine transit and use as the country's major problems. To a lesser extent, cannabis cultivation and trafficking and money laundering are also problems. The GOB is committed to eliminating drug trafficking, which it views as a danger to its democratic institutions. The GOB fully supports USG counter-narcotics programs and regional efforts. On its own initiative the GOB organized and hosted a Central American Counter-Drug Summit in 1993. Belize is not yet a party to the 1988 UN Convention.
II. Status of Country
Belize is a significant transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana thanks to contiguous borders with Guatemala and Mexico, dense jungle, extensive unprotected coastline and inland waterways, large unpopulated areas, and an unsophisticated drug-control infrastructure. A twenty percent rise in drug-related arrests, observed offshore airdrops, information from law enforcement sources, and other anecdotal evidence suggest that more cocaine is moving through Belize. The withdrawal of British forces in 1994 will remove an important deterrent to drug trafficking.
III. Country actions against drugs.
Policy initiatives. Although Belize is not a party to the 1988 UN Convention, the GOB has already adopted many of the provisions of the Convention in the 1990 Misuse of Drugs Act. This law sets criminal penalties for a full range of drug trafficking activities. It also provides for seizure and forfeiture of aircraft, vehicles and vessels used in commission of narcotics crimes, as well as of assets acquired as proceeds from drug trafficking. Belizean enforcement of that statute has demonstrated overall compliance with the goals and objectives of the Convention. Belize has not yet given a timetable for accession to the Convention itself.
Belize took an important initiative in regional counter narcotics efforts by organizing and hosting a Central American drug summit in February 1993. The summit elicited strong antidrug support from Central American leaders who committed themselves to draft a regional action plan. The US and Belizean governments reached agreement, in the final quarter of 1993, on US support for the GOB maritime wing, which will give Belize its first real maritime drug interdiction capability.
Accomplishments. The Belize Police Force Serious Crimes Squad (SCS) and tactical support unit, augmented by the Belize Defense Force (BDF) continued operations against drug traffickers in Belize. Their efforts produced a twenty percent increase in drug arrests, including several significant seizures of crack cocaine.
Despite the budget-driven removal of the USG's spray aircraft, the GOB continued an aggressive marijuana eradication program by using BDF aircraft to locate fields and BDF troops and police to eradicate the crop manually.
In 1993, the Belize Police Force, with USG assistance, formed a Financial Investigations Unit. The unit targets drug traffickers who have amassed significant assets from drug trafficking.
Belize Customs, working with the Belize Police Force, has begun a maritime and land container search-and-review program. It has conducted several container searches at the port of Belize and in the interior. The USG has provided training to support this program. There is no evidence of traffic in precursor chemicals in Belize. Belize has no industries requiring the use of these chemicals.
Although the GOB does not extradite its citizens as a matter of policy, Belize does arrest and expel to the United States non-Belizeans who are fugitives from US justice. The US made no requests for the extradition of individuals from Belize in 1993.
Law enforcement efforts. There were no major seizures of cocaine HCL in 1993. Current GOB and USG initiatives seek to improve Belizean capabilities against major trafficking organizations through maritime efforts, financial investigations, and intelligence collection.
The GOB, which made four significant crack cocaine seizures in 1993, considers crack to be the major internal drug problem. For the first time, there was evidence of Belizean export of crack cocaine to the United States.
Corruption. The GOB enforced existing anti-corruption statutes in 1993, and introduced stricter legislation which should come up for a vote in 1994. In December, police arrested a known drug trafficker for possible involvement in an alleged political bribery scandal. Also in 1993, the GOB arrested two police officers for tampering with narcotics evidence; the case against them is expected to move forward in 1994. The USG knows of no senior GOB official who engages in, encourages or facilitates illicit drug production, trafficking or money laundering.
Agreements and treaties. Belize is party to the 1961 Single Convention and the 1972 protocol thereto, but has not acceded to the 1998 UN Convention on the grounds that the Foreign Ministry needs more time to examine its implications. Extradition with the US is governed by the 1972 US/UK treaty, which remained in effect after Belizean independence. The USG and the GOB are parties to a comprehensive bilateral agreement on maritime counter-drug operations, and an annually renewed counternarcotics Letter of Agreement. Belize has met its obligations under those agreements.
Cultivation/production. Belize, once the fourth largest producer of marijuana in the world, has reduced production to negligible levels through an aggressive aerial eradication campaign using USG spray aircraft and GOB manual eradication operations. With the withdrawal of the USG aircraft forced by budget cuts, the GOB will have to rely on manual eradication to contain any new cultivation.
Drug flow/transit. Although there were no significant seizures of cocaine in 1993, anecdotal information and intelligence indicates the transit of cocaine is increasing, particularly along maritime routes. Vessels carrying cocaine regularly transit Belizean waters enroute from Guatemala to Mexico. DEA reports that three domestic US investigations involved Belize during 1993; one of these was a money laundering investigation.
Demand reduction. The National Drug Abuse Council (NDACC) maintains six offices for drug demand reduction, stressing drug prevention education, alternatives to drug use, research and information, legal reform, treatment and rehabilitation. Through its district coordinators, NDACC maintains extensive outreach programs in rural communities and in schools nationwide. Work continues on the development of a management information system to track the extent of the drug problem. Belize is an active participant in regional joint demand reduction efforts.
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs.
US strategy in Belize is to assist the GOB to combat its drug problems more effectively. Support includes equipment and training for the SCS, Joint Intelligence Coordination Center (JICC) and BDF, and assistance in marijuana eradication and drug interdiction.
Road ahead. With the departure of the British forces in 1994, an increase in cocaine transit is likely. Aggressive enforcement programs in Guatemala and Mexico may make Belize even more attractive as a transit route. If marijuana eradication is eased, larger-scale cultivation of marijuana could resume. Nonetheless, Belize, with US and, to a lesser extent, UK support, will continue to combat drugs aggressively through the efforts of its law enforcement and Defense forces.
[Chart: Statistical Talbes]
Canada is a conduit for illicit drugs destined for the US, a destination for drugs imported through the US to Canada, as well as a haven for drug money laundering. Canadian law enforcement officials seized record quantities of cocaine and heroin in 1992 (1993 statistics are not yet available).
The Government of Canada (GOC) is committed to the international and domestic fight against drug trafficking, but budget constraints are forcing it to reduce its support to international anti-drug organizations. It may also reduce the number of police assigned to counternarcotics work.
Canada emphasizes demand over supply reduction. It plans modest increases in expenditures for demand reduction and drug treatment. Authorities are concerned that cocaine use may be increasing, but believe heroin use has stabilized.
In response to continuing money laundering activity, the Canadian government implemented new regulations requiring financial institutions to maintain records on large currency transactions.
Canada is a source of precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of illicit drugs in the United States. The chemicals most commonly smuggled into the US from Canada are ephedrine and hydriotic acid, which are used in the clandestine production of methamphetamine. As a preventive measure Canada has placed a number of precursor chemicals on its export control list.
Canada participates in a number of international anti-drug fora, including the Financial Action Task Force, the Dublin Group and the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP). The GOC ratified the 1988 UN Convention in 1990.
II. Status of Country
Cannabis remains the drug of choice among drug users, but GOC authorities believe cocaine use is growing. One study estimates that approximately 700,000 Canadians age 15 and above have tried cocaine or crack. Authorities estimate there are 250,000 regular users of cocaine. Heroin use remains stable with about 30,000 addicts.
Money laundering continues to be a problem. The GOC calculates that $10-$12 billion in drug-related proceeds passes through Canada's financial institutions annually. The GOC first introduced legislation to control money laundering in 1988; and in 1993 it passed additional money laundering regulations. The GOC permits the freezing and seizure of assets related to drug trafficking. (The Money Laundering Chapter covers these issues in greater detail.)
Canada is not a major supplier of precursor and essential chemicals, and has placed a number of chemicals on its export control list to deter the diversion of these chemicals.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1993
Policy Initiatives. Canada is a member of the Dublin Group, the Financial Action Task Force, and participates in both the UNDCP and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the OAS. Budget constraints have forced the GOC to decrease its contributions to CICAD and UNDCP. In 1993, Canada contributed approximately $90,000 to CICAD ($100,000 in FY 1992), and $1,000,000 to UNDCP ($1.2 million in 1992).
Accomplishments. In 1993, the GOC issued regulations to implement the Proceeds of Crime Act against money laundering. The regulations require financial institutions (including insurance companies, securities firms and currency exchanges) and professionals who handle cash on behalf of clients to maintain records for five years of cash transactions of C$10,000 or more. However, the record-keeping requirements do not create criminal violations comparable to US law. In 1993, Canadian special anti-drug-money laundering teams comprised of Royal Mounted Police (RCMP) officers, full time prosecutors, administrative staff and local police officers became fully operational.
Agreements and Treaties. Canada ratified the 1988 UN Drug Convention in 1990, and is meeting the Convention's goals and objectives. The USG and GOC have a mutual legal assistance treaty and have updated their extradition treaty. In the course of 1993, Canada extradited several individuals wanted in the United States on drug-related charges.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Enforcement agencies are dedicated and active, but are being affected by budget cuts which could lead to a 25 percent reduction in the RCMP. Canadian government statistics for 1993 are not yet available; Canadian authorities, however, seized record quantities of illicit drugs in 1992. For example, cocaine seizures rose to 5,000 kgs, an increase of 300 percent over 1991. GOC authorities also seized 114 kgs. of heroin, 13 percent more than in 1991. Police arrested 1,857 individuals for cocaine related offenses and 271 individuals on heroin-related offenses in 1992.
Corruption. Public corruption is not considered a significant problem in Canada. The Canadian government does not as a matter of policy encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of drugs or other controlled substances or the laundering of drug money. Senior officials neither engage in production or distribution of drugs nor launder proceeds derived from drug trafficking.
Cultivation/Production. The GOC estimates that marijuana grown indoors supplies 25 percent of Canada's domestic use. No other illicit drugs are produced in significant quantities.
Drug Flow/Transit. The long, relatively open border Canada shares with the United States is attractive to traffickers for the bilateral flow of cocaine between the two countries. Generally, the transfer of cocaine across the border from the United States to Canada is via land vehicle. The Cali and Medellin cartels ship cocaine to Canada by private aircraft, commercial container vessels, fishing vessels, and coastal freighters. Canadian authorities believe that Canada is being used increasingly to transship heroin from Southeast and Southwest Asia to the US, most of which arrives by ship and by couriers using commercial airlines.
Hashish from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Lebanon, and marijuana from Southeast Asia are also smuggled into Canada by sea on both coasts.
Domestic Demand Reduction. Demand reduction and treatment programs form the core of Canadian anti-narcotics strategy. The Minister of Health announced in 1992 that demand reduction funding would be increased by 18 percent over the next five years to a total of approximately $200 million. Under these programs, alcohol abuse has highest priority, followed by abuse of pharmaceuticals, and street drugs. Public education on the risks of abuse is central to the strategy.
IV. US Policy Initiatives
Law enforcement cooperation between the GOC and the USG is excellent. For example, Canadian and US Customs work closely together to control drug smuggling, and share enforcement assets and personnel in specific cases. (The Money Laundering Chapter covers these issues in greater detail.) Canadian police authorities share information and coordinate efforts during drug cases with the DEA, FBI and local US police forces.
The USG continues to share seized assets with the GOC. In 1993, the USG approved the transfer of approximately $384,000 to Canada in four separate asset sharing cases. These funds are to be shared in acknowledgment of Canadian assistance in law enforcement operations leading to the seizure by US authorities and subsequent forfeiture of funds derived from drug trafficking activities.
Road Ahead. The USG seeks to build on already good anti-drug cooperation with Canada, especially in the area of law enforcement. The USG will encourage Canada's continued involvement in a variety of international anti-drug fora including the Dublin Group, CICAD, and the FATF.
Costa Rica lies on the Central American transit route for cocaine and heroin moving between Andean producers and North American and European consumers. The Costa Rican market for illegal narcotics is expanding, and there is growing public awareness of the threat posed by drug consumption. Costa Rica's economic growth has increased opportunities for money laundering. In recent years, the Government of Costa Rica (GOCR) modernized its counternarcotics laws to conform to the 1988 UN Conventions to which it is a party, streamlined narcotics control enforcement, and encouraged demand reduction activities. However, scarce resources, the lack of a fully professional police force, and judicial bottlenecks hamper more effective drug control.
II. Status of Country
Illegal narcotics transit Costa Rican territory in vehicles and by courier, on aircraft and boats, and in containerized cargos. The busy port of Limon serves as a trafficking connection from Colombia's San Andres Island and from Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, both areas of increasing narcotics activity. Heroin also moves through Costa Rica in shipments of one kg or more, often carried by couriers. Costa Ricans consistently rate drugs as a top concern and are alarmed by growing domestic consumption, particularly of readily available crack cocaine. Law enforcement agencies cannot safeguard effectively the national territory against traffickers. Costa Rica has no standing army, and the civilian agencies responsible for the control of airspace and territorial waters have very limited resources.
Costa Rica's money laundering law has been difficult to enforce. To obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that the money involved was illicit in origin, and that the person using the money knew that it originated from an illicit source.
Costa Rican laws provide for the seizure/forfeiture of drug-related assets through either civil or criminal procedures. The proceedings are generally lengthy. Once there is a forfeiture ruling, the National Drug Council (CONADRO) distributes the money for enforcement and demand reduction activities.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1993
Policy Initiatives. The GOCR is committed to its objective of denying traffickers the use of Costa Rica and to curb drug abuse. Lead agencies for information policy are the Joint Anti-Drug Intelligence Center (CICAD) and the National Drug Council (CONADRO). Lead enforcement agencies are the Directorate for Drug Enforcement (DNCD) and the Judicial Investigative Police (OIJ). Costa Rican drug-control officials actively participated in Central American regional narcotics control programs in 1993.
Accomplishments. Law enforcement agencies seized cocaine shipments of up to 248 kgs, and arrested Colombian traffickers in operations that revealed a variety of concealment methods. Authorities seized in February a merchant vessel carrying 3.5 metric tons of marijuana. The GOCR supports the "Drug Abuse Resistance Education" (DARE) program. In December, CONADRO launched a new anti-drug publicity campaign. One individual was convicted of money laundering in 1993.
Law Enforcement Efforts. CICAD improved the collection and dissemination of narcotics intelligence and is an active participant in the regional JICC/Sentry program. The OIJ maintains a small, professional counternarcotics unit which specializes in international cases. Although the GOCR has added personnel to the DNCD, low salaries, insufficient training, a lack of career security, and limited resources are obstacles to the creation of a fully effective force. A proposal to provide more professional status for various law enforcement agencies has not yet been approved by the legislative assembly. Under the current system, police forces undergo a high rate of turnover with each change of administration.
Corruption. The GOCR seeks to prosecute all cases of official corruption, but there were no cases involving senior officials in 1993. Lesser officials suspected of involvement with traffickers are routinely suspended until legal cases can be developed.
Agreements and Treaties. Costa Rica's narcotics control efforts are consistent with the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Convention. The Costa Rican Supreme Court, in reaction to the US Supreme Court decision in the Alvarez Machain case, ruled the 1982 US-Costa Rican Extradition Treaty "inapplicable." In essence, the judiciary found the US-Costa Rica treaty inapplicable generally and has unilaterally imposed on the USG the requirements of domestic extradition law, which requires, inter alia, the submission of formal documents within 10 days of arrest. Costa Rica continues to process US extradition requests under its domestic extradition law, but the ruling has complicated law enforcement efforts, and action on pending requests has been slow. Costa Rica extradited one suspected drug trafficker to the U.S during the year. The courts denied a US request for another suspected trafficker. Several other drug-related cases are pending, including those of the four Colombians arrested in 1992 as part of the "Green Ice" investigation. Costa Rica complies fully with the terms of the letter of agreement (LOA) covering bilateral USG assistance to drug control agencies.
Cultivation/Production. An estimated 800 hectares of cannabis are cultivated near the Panamanian border. While the marijuana produced probably exceeds domestic demand, law enforcement agencies have detected no significant evidence of exports.
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs
U.S Goals and Objectives. The US seeks to promote the detection and interdiction of cocaine shipments; strengthened GOCR law enforcement institutions; public drug education and awareness programs; and closer regional and international cooperation.
Bilateral Cooperation. INM provided the Air Section of the Ministry of Public Security with spares for aircraft maintenance. INM also helped CICAD to replace its central computer, upgrade its information processing capability, build a nationwide information network, and assist other countries install software systems. The USG provided surveillance support equipment and additional vehicles to the OIJ and helped CONADRO launch a drug awareness publicity campaign. With US training, CICAD personnel helped operate the Cerro Azul CBRN facility. The US Air Force installed a secure communications link between CICAD and the US Southern Command in Panama.
Road Ahead. USG programs will aim at limiting the use of Costa Rica as a drug transit point, and at strengthening Costa Rican narcotics control institutions and capabilities. Key activities for 1994 include an enforcement course for the DNCD; promotion of police professionalization and legal reforms, including a wire tap law; training and maintenance support for the CICAD; coordination of intelligence obtained from the Caribbean Basin Radar Network (CBRN) site at Cerro Azul; improvements in the operational capabilities of the Air and Maritime Sections; and additional demand reduction support for CONADRO.
[Chart: Statistical Tables]
El Salvador lies on the major land, sea and air shipment routes for narcotics, primarily cocaine, moving from South America to the United States. President Cristiani made narcotics control a priority throughout his administration, and the Executive Anti-narcotics Unit (UEA), which he established early in his presidency, has been incorporated into the new National Civilian Police (PNC) and remains an effective, motivated force. Marijuana production for domestic consumption is the only illicit drug produced in El Salvador. Cocaine use is limited, but increasing. Despite El Salvador's weak legal regime and liberal currency laws, the USG is not aware of any significant money laundering activity. El Salvador is now a party to the 1988 UN Convention.
II. Status of Country
There are reliable reports that traffickers use the Pan American Highway which passes through El Salvador to move significant quantities of cocaine and smaller quantities of heroin destined for the US. Traffickers also use Salvadoran waters to transship cocaine, sometimes passing though Salvadoran ports. Airborne traffickers fly the Pacific Coast corridor, where there is limited radar coverage, on their way north. Although their immediate destination is usually Guatemala or Mexico, they occasionally make airdrops in Salvadoran waters or off-load shipments in El Salvador itself.
Although the USG has not detected any significant money laundering in El Salvador, its stable and freely traded currency, liberal foreign exchange regime, large volume of remittances from the US, and weak judicial system provide opportunities for such activities.
III. Country Action Against Drug in 1993
Policy Initiatives. El Salvador's National Assembly ratified the 1988 UN Convention in September 1993. A 1991 law imposes tough penalties for trafficking, drug-related money laundering, and the unregistered sale of precursor chemicals. To implement the law effectively, the Attorney General established a special division to prosecute narcotics offenses. The law also provides for the seizure and forfeiture of drug-related assets which the UEA employed during the year to seize vehicles.
Created by President Cristiani in 1990, the UEA became a regionally respected and effective narcotics enforcement force. In June, the UEA made the largest cocaine seizure in El Salvador's history, capturing nearly six metric tons of cocaine in the capital. This was part of an operation that culminated in the capture in Guatemala of a major Mexican trafficker. The UEA arrested 280 drug suspects during the year. The UEA's strong narcotics control performance was particularly impressive since its staff was increasingly diverted by President Cristiani to combat non-drug crimes as well.
Accomplishments. In September, the National Assembly passed legislation which converted the UEA into the anti-narcotics division of the new National Civilian Police (PNC), the police force created by the 1992 Peace Accords. The law extends to the PNC anti-narcotics division (DAN) the wide investigatory authority which the UEA enjoyed under the 1991 anti-narcotics law and terminates the previous Anti-Narcotics Commission (COAN) which had provided policy oversight to the UEA. In the new GOES administration the PNC/DAN will report to the Minister of the Interior.
Corruption. We have had no reports of significant cases of public corruption during the year. However, Salvadoran courts twice released narcotics or weapons traffickers, calling into question the judicial branch's commitment to strict law enforcement. The Attorney General's office and the PNC/DAN promoted modest demand reduction programs, but the private foundation, Fundasalva, maintained its lead in sponsoring public awareness campaigns to combat drug abuse.
Agreements and Treaties. A 1911 extradition treaty is in force between the US and El Salvador, but the US made no requests to El Salvador for the extradition of drug traffickers, nor are any requests pending from prior years. El Salvador does not extradite its own nationals.
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. The USG seeks to promote GOES anti-narcotics efforts and to support its cooperation with other Central American narcotics control agencies. DEA is active in professional exchanges and training. INM funded regional DEA training in investigatory techniques and provided $205,000 for the PNC/DAN's JICC computer program, its detector-dog unit, regional training exchanges, and the acquisition of vehicles, communications and office equipment. INM also funded regional US Customs courses in El Salvador on interdiction techniques and detector-dog operations. The USG sponsored two regional demand reduction seminars. US Customs will conduct a Regional Overseas Enforcement Training program in interdiction in El Salvador to promote greater cooperation and information exchange in regional interdiction efforts.
Road Ahead. The terms of the 1992 Peace Accords ending El Salvador's civil war mandated a restructuring of the Salvadoran Police. While the National Assembly approved the UEA's transformation into the PNC anti-narcotics division in September, the UN Peacekeeping Mission (ONUSAL) would not approve the UEA's incorporation until a careful review was completed of the UEA personnel to be transferred into the new police force. The USG has been working with ONUSAL, the GOES, and other interested parties to ensure that ONUSAL's concerns are satisfied, and that the UEA's expertise and experience are effectively incorporated into the PNC. The USG also will continue to work with GOES authorities in efforts to bring El Salvador's laws into full compliance with the 1988 UN Convention, particularly in terms of the implementation of the provisions on money laundering asset forfeiture, and international cooperation.
[Chart: Statistical Talbes]
Guatemala is a major transit country for cocaine as well as an opium- and marijuana-producing country. The Government of Guatemala (GOG) recognizes the threat to its sovereignty and public health posed by illicit drugs. As a result, GOG cooperation with the USG is excellent. Guatemalan law enforcement agencies have worked closely with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Operation CADENCE, an enhanced cocaine interdiction program combining the assets and intelligence of various USG agencies. The Guatemalan Treasury Police carry out the ongoing opium poppy eradication campaign, with support from the USG.
Increasing cooperation between Guatemalan and Mexican authorities on their border offers the opportunity for more effective action against drug trafficking. In 1993, combined USG-GOG interdiction operations seized 7.6 metric tons of cocaine, while eradication operations destroyed about 426 hectares of opium poppy grown in remote areas of Guatemala's interior.
II. Status of Country
Guatemala, situated halfway between the US and Colombia, has no radar capability and is within the range of most aircraft on the South American drug route. Guatemala is a staging area for overland drug shipments originating in Panama and for direct air shipments from Colombia. Peasant farmers cultivate opium poppy in small plots in northwestern Guatemala. Difficulties in communications and logistics, and guerrilla activity complicate eradication operations in this rugged and remote part of the country. The USG-sponsored aerial eradication program destroyed about 176 hectares during 1993. Farmers have taken to camouflaging or dispersing plots to make detection and eradication more difficult. These efforts, however, may have resulted in lower opium yields.
There are no confirmed reports of heroin labs in Guatemala. Combined USG-GOG interdiction operations netted 7.6 metric tons of cocaine that transited Guatemala in 1993 via light aircraft, private boats, trucks and automobiles. Most shipments were in the 500-1,000 kilograms range. Intelligence indicates that traffickers are shifting from aircraft to vehicular and maritime smuggling.
Cannabis is grown in significant quantities in northeastern Guatemala, near the Belizean border. Small amounts of cannabis are also grown throughout the country for domestic consumption. Treasury Police units conducted eradication operations, destroyed marijuana drying sheds, made several arrests and manually eradicated 200 hectares during the year. Aerial eradication totaled 78 hectares. Guatemalans working in drug and alcohol education and rehabilitation estimate that 25 percent of all adults suffer from some sort of chemical dependency, mainly alcohol abuse. However, most agree that illicit drug use has increased markedly over the last three years.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1993
Policy Initiatives. President De Leon Carpio (who was selected by the Guatemalan Congress in June after former President Serrano illegally suspended the Constitution) recognizes the danger that narcotics pose to Guatemalan society and has publicly called for effective countermeasures. Under his leadership, the GOG has continued to provide political and logistical support to bilateral narcotics control efforts. With the support of the previous administration, the Congress enacted a comprehensive narcotics law to facilitate successful prosecution of drug traffickers in Guatemalan courts.
Accomplishments. The GOG seized 7.6 metric tons of cocaine and eradicated about two-thirds of the country's detected opium poppy crop.
Law Enforcement Efforts. DEA works closely with the Guatemalan Treasury Police in conducting investigations against major cocaine transshipment organizations operating in Guatemala. DEA also works with a small task force of National Police who specialize in undercover and surveillance operations. All drug enforcement activities must be coordinated with military intelligence (D-2), which actively collects intelligence against traffickers.
The jointly run GOG/DEA Operation CADENCE (Central American Drug Enforcement Center), based primarily in Guatemala, deploys rapid reaction teams of host country police specially trained by DEA for cocaine interdiction in Central America. CADENCE also provided assistance to Belize, Honduras and El Salvador in 1993. In Guatemala, CADENCE agents work with the Treasury Police and utilize INM helicopters to react to suspect aircraft and other smuggling threats in Guatemala. CADENCE provided assistance in most of the cases resulting in the 7.6 metric tons of cocaine and four (4) aircraft seized in 1993. In support of USG objectives, the GOG, primarily Treasury Police and the D-2, worked with the country team in two important operations against major Colombian narcotrafficking organizations.
Since starting manual opium poppy eradication operations in September of 1991, Guatemala has committed to the effort over one hundred men in seven teams in San Marcos and Huehuetenango departments. These units operate about three times a month, and have arrested more than 60 growers (Guatemala is one of the very few countries that does arrest farmers), seized over two kgs of opium and destroyed 250 hectares of poppy. Eight of the units' officers received USG-sponsored training with the Colombian National Police. The units also use USG-supplied vehicles, radios, and rations. These units eradicated more than 50 percent of the 426 hectares eradicated in 1993.
No significant quantities of narcotics are manufactured in Guatemala. Diversion of precursor chemicals for domestic processing of illegal substances is not a problem.
The US has had mixed success in recent years in obtaining the extradition of fugitives from Guatemala. One accused US drug trafficker was extradited at the beginning of 1994--the first successful extradition from Guatemala in over a year. Extradition proceedings have been initiated against two other US citizens wanted for drug offenses. Both are in Guatemalan custody. Four extradition requests are pending concerning Guatemalan citizens wanted in the US for drug trafficking. In two of those cases, the Guatemalan courts initially rejected the US extradition request, but appellate courts agreed to reopen the cases. In another case, extradition was approved but the fugitive remains free pending reissuance of an arrest warrant and the transmittal of the extradition order to the executive branch. The fourth case has not yet gone to court.
Corruption. The USG knows of no senior officials of the current government who engage in money laundering or encourage, or facilitate the production or distribution of illicit narcotics. The De Leon administration has taken a strong stance against public corruption and has prosecuted corrupt officials from the prior government. Guatemalan military officers strongly suspected of trafficking in narcotics rarely face criminal prosecution. Military authorities normally conduct investigations of these cases. The investigations have not proven sufficient to allow the military to take the suspects to military trial on narcotics charges, but they have led the army to expel some officers. In most cases, the officers continue on with their suspicious activities.
Agreements and Treaties. Guatemala is party to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and its 1972 protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 U.N. Convention. Aggressive interdiction, eradication, monitoring of chemicals, efforts to come to grips with money laundering, and other narcotics law enforcement by the GOG is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Convention. Better results in the court system will bring Guatemala closer to full compliance. The De Leon Administration in 1993 signed a far reaching bilateral drug-control agreement, committing the Guatemalan Government to continued budgetary, policy and manpower support for joint counternarcotics activities. The GOG has strived to meet the goals of that agreement, although it has not always received budgetary support from the Guatemalan congress.
Cultivation and Production. Peasant farmers cultivate opium poppy in the rugged mountains of northwestern Guatemala. Most fields are small (approximately .03-.05 ha), but represent a significant portion of the land holdings of the average farmer in the area. Opium poppy is not a traditional crop, being cultivated in Guatemala in significant quantities only since 1988. The poppy growing region of Guatemala is still fairly densely cultivated with traditional crops of corn, beans, potatoes, lettuce and squash.
The active aerial and manual eradication programs in 1993 cut opium hectarage by half from 1992; hectarage is down almost 80 percent from the peak of about 2,000 in 1991. Faced with the increasing economic risk of having their opium fields destroyed and the threat of arrest by Guatemalan ground forces, many opium poppy farmers appear to have returned to traditional cultivation.
Domestic Programs. The GOG and Guatemalan society have become much more aware in 1993 of the danger of international narcotics trafficking and of drug abuse in Guatemala. The Treasury Police and the National Police regularly brief the national press on their anti-drug activities including
arrests and manual eradication efforts. Media coverage has been helpful to the image of these two institutions, while also demonstrating to the public that drug abuse is prevalent in Guatemala. Private efforts by voluntary organizations and new public service initiatives such as an anti-drug hotline, anti-drug topics discussed at professional medical conferences and in media medical columns, all indicate that Guatemala is working to solve its problems. USIA-funded opinion polling has reconfirmed the public perception that drugs are a serious problem for Guatemalan youths, that drugs are increasingly available in Guatemala, and that the GOG is trying to deal with the situation.
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. Many of Guatemala's current counternarcotics programs began as US policy initiatives. All drug control programs--Operation CADENCE, aerial and manual eradication--rely upon USG technical assistance and funding. Their success, however, hinges on firm GOG political commitment and cooperation. The US also is working with the GOG to increase its budgetary support for counternarcotics activities, and to encourage involvement in more effective regional cooperation. Other USG initiatives include various efforts to heighten public awareness of the drug problem, and plans to strengthen the still-weak and corruptible prosecutorial and court systems. US Customs is providing a two-phase Contraband Enforcement Team program for personnel at the high threat facilities in the port of Santo Tomas.
Bilateral Cooperation. During 1993, US Navy and Marines conducted a small joint exercise with Guatemalan Naval Forces that focused on coastal and riverine counter-drug operations on Guatemala's Pacific and Caribbean coasts, respectively.
The Road Ahead. Available evidence from a wide range of sources suggests that local drug abuse is increasing despite the increased public awareness. The price of a gram of cocaine is 22 US dollars and falling; abuse of illegally sold amphetamines and barbituates is spreading; and glue sniffing among street children remains prevalent.
Major cocaine transshipment is expected to continue. Money laundering is becoming a more significant drug-related activity in Guatemala. In contrast to previous years where the US and Guatemala concentrated on immediate reaction interdiction forces and ground eradication efforts, the Guatemalan security forces are interested in emphasizing more sophisticated investigations. The US fully intends to support this goal over the next year.
[Chart: Statistical Tables]
Honduras is a transit route for cocaine destined for the United States and Europe. There is no coca or opium poppy cultivation, although crack cocaine and marijuana are produced for local consumption. Cocaine consumption continues to increase as traffickers pay their Honduran accomplices in kind. The Government of Honduras (GOH) has taken steps to combat drug trafficking, including the creation of a National Anti-Drug Council. The Honduran Joint Information Coordination Center (JICC) was established in 1993 and was integrated into the regional JICC network. Honduras and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding to bring the Honduran radar at Cerro la Mole into the Caribbean Basin Radar Network (CBRN). Honduras ratified the 1988 UN Convention in 1991.
The Honduran Air Force effectively deters traffickers from entering national air space, but maritime and land transit of cocaine is virtually unhindered. The GOH admits that widespread corruption is a serious impediment to its anti-drug efforts. A 1988 US-Honduran bilateral agreement, renewed annually, governs anti-drug cooperation. INM funding this year helped Honduras to equip its rapid reaction task forces, and establish the JICC.
II. Status of Country
Honduras' poorly guarded coastline, its bay islands region with a long history of smuggling, its active fishing industry, and the containerized export of seafood products to the US make the Honduras attractive for maritime drug trafficking. Airborne traffickers generally avoid Honduras because on three occasions--most recently in 1992--the Honduran Air Force shot down drug smuggling aircraft. Honduras may also become attractive to traffickers avoiding tighter enforcement in Mexico and Guatemala. Large cocaine shipments will continue to transit Honduras, in part because of several institutional weaknesses. Besides the practical difficulties in detecting maritime shipments, Honduran enforcement efforts are hindered by an underpaid and insufficiently trained police force, an inadequate judicial system, and widespread corruption.
Honduras also needs to move against money laundering and precursor chemical diversion. Some foreign investment in the service sector of the economy may be drug-financed, particularly the growing tourism industry of the bay islands. A money laundering law is still pending before the congress. Honduras has an asset seizure law, but it has only been used to confiscate some vehicles. There is no law governing chemical precursors. However, the Honduran Customs Service does seek to prevent the transit of chemicals for illegal purposes.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs
Policy Initiatives. With USG support, Honduras in 1993 established a Joint Information Coordination Center (JICC). The Honduran Armed Forces (HOAF) continued to participate in anti-drug operations, and to coordinate with the HOAF's new police anti-drug directorate, the National Anti-Narcotics Directorate (DNA), on all narcotics investigations. The DNA is now staffed by police officers who are graduates of the National Police Academy.
The National Council on Drug Trafficking has taken an active role in promoting drug control activities. It has joined with similar organizations in Central American to form the Central American Permanent Drug Control Commission (CCP). Honduras is currently the seat of the CCP secretariat.
In 1993, Honduras passed and implemented asset seizure legislation, and sought to coordinate the activities of Honduran counternarcotics agencies in this area.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Honduran authorities arrested 122 persons for drug-related offenses from January through October, seized over 2.6 metric tons of cocaine and 360 kgs of marijuana, and destroyed 4,092 cannabis plants.
Corruption. Corruption is endemic in Honduras. Efforts to punish corruption are ineffective, sporadic, and often inspired by personal considerations. Indeed, there is no national-level effort to prevent or punish corruption by public officials. Most Hondurans arrested on drug charges are released prematurely; those convicted or awaiting trial frequently escape under suspicious circumstances. Police officials, some paid as little as $60 per month, are easily bribed.
Honduras does not as a matter of government policy encourage or facilitate drug related activity, and we have no solid evidence of any specific senior officials involved in drug trafficking or money laundering. The compromise of information in a number of DEA cases, however, underscores the problem of corruption.
Agreements and Treaties. Honduras and the USG signed an anti-drug agreement in 1988, and have renewed it annually. It is the basis for USG financial assistance for the Honduran drug control effort. The GOH has complied fully with the terms of the agreement. Honduras and the US have an extradition treaty in force. In 1993, Honduras extradited to the US one suspected drug trafficker; it also expelled to American custody several other individuals wanted in the US on narcotics-related charges. Honduras and the US signed a tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) in 1991 and a bilateral customs agreement in 1992. Honduras also has bilateral agreements with Mexico that provide for information exchange and training in prevention and interdiction. Honduran agreements with Colombia and Venezuela cover information sharing. The government does make a good faith effort, and devotes scarce resources, to meeting the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Convention.
Cultivation. The only illicit drug grown domestically is cannabis, almost exclusively for local consumption.
Drug Flow/Transit. While trafficking aircraft avoid Honduras, there is substantial maritime and land transit, but it is difficult to estimate the amount. Traffickers show considerable sophistication in concealing drugs in truck frames and in maritime containers of perishable produce.
Domestic Programs. Honduras has an active demand reduction program. The Honduran Institute for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (IHADFA) coordinates demand reduction activities. In cooperation with the Ministries of Health and Education and private sector groups, IHADFA produces radio and television public service announcements designed to promote sports and cultural activities as alternatives to drug use, conducts seminars on drug-related themes, and disseminates anti-drug materials.
IV. USG Policy and Initiatives
USG Goals/Programs. The USG encourages intensified Honduran drug interdiction efforts, while stressing greater civilian control over law enforcement activities. The USG has encouraged the GOH to strengthen laws on asset seizure and money laundering, to engage in programs to reduce growing domestic consumption, to carry out effective prosecution of drug traffickers, and to counter corruption. The USG is also promoting GOH cooperation with the other Central American countries.
Bilateral Cooperation. The establishment of the Honduran JICC was a major accomplishment in 1993. The GOH improved operating efficiency by separating the narcotics investigative function from the main police investigative agency. The new unit (DNA) is fully staffed by more senior officers who have received the equivalent of a degree in Criminology at the Honduran Police Academy. The DNA and its predecessor organization improved coordination within the Honduran Government and Armed Forces.
The Honduran legislature in December established a new public prosecutor's office to manage all aspects of crimes against public order. The law authorizes the creation of a civilian narcotics investigation unit. It is not clear if the unit would share responsibilities and access to resources with the DNA.
The GOH and HOAF cooperate fully with USG-led regional counter drug detection and monitoring efforts, including the stationing of a USG mobile radar at Swan Island. On December 23, Honduras and the US signed a memorandum of understanding to integrate the Honduran radar at Cerro la Mole into the CBRN.
The Road Ahead. Honduras clearly sees the threat to its sovereignty and institutions posed by trafficking, as well as the danger of increased domestic consumption. The outgoing government made notable progress in its anti-drug efforts, but institutional weaknesses hampered its performance. The newly elected GOH can be expected to seek USG advice and assistance to combat the drug transit problem.
[Chart: Statistical Tables]
Mexico, a key country for US drug control policy, is a major source country for marijuana and heroin, as well as the principal transit route for cocaine entering the US. In 1993, Mexico completed full assumption of financial responsibility for its anti-drug programs and activities. Under Mexicanization (assuming financial responsibility for the antidrug program), the Government of Mexico's (GOM) performance in areas such as aviation maintenance and cocaine seizures surpassed 1992 levels.
Former Mexican Attorney General (AG) Carpizo (who moved to another ministerial position in January 1994) intensified the reform efforts of his predecessor and initiated aggressive attacks on corruption among Mexican officials. The GOM refocused and expanded its counternarcotics effort by establishing a National Institute to Combat Drugs (INCD). At the GOM's request--and with GOM funding--the USG provided technical advice and training to INCD personnel. US and Mexican law enforcement agencies cooperated extensively on drug investigations, intelligence sharing, and tracing seized weapons. This cooperation contributed to an 18percent increase over 1992 levels in Mexico's cocaine seizures. Despite close cooperation and progress, entrenched corruption remains the GOM's principal challenge. The GOM also needs to improve its legal tools for combatting money laundering and controlling the trade in precursor and essential chemicals.
II. Status of Country
Although the GOM does not make annual production estimates, it stated in March 1993 that increasing amounts of land were being devoted to the cultivation of opium poppy and marijuana. According to USG estimates, Mexico currently supplies over 20 percent of the heroin and some 60 percent of the foreign-grown marijuana available in US markets. Despite USG and GOM interdiction efforts, at least 50 percent of the cocaine entering the US is believed to be transshipped through Mexico. Mexico has also become a significant source of "designer drugs" and illicit steroids consumed in the US.
Illicit drug abuse in Mexico remains comparatively low, but the GOM is concerned about drug use along its border with the US, in tourist areas, as well as continued abuse of alcohol, solvents, and licit pharmaceuticals. The GOM is conducting a drug use survey which will provide a sharper picture of drug abuse trends country-wide.
While the GOM has increased civil penalties against money laundering in its fiscal code, USG experts believe the Mexican financial system remains vulnerable to drug-related financial transactions. For example, the Mexican banking system has no controls or reporting requirements on the movement of foreign or domestic currency.
Mexico produces and imports precursor and essential chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs. While the chemicals used in heroin production are manufactured domestically, Mexico imports large quantities of chemicals used in the conversion of coca paste to base. Many of the chemicals necessary to produce methamphetamine are also imported freely. Mexico needs to strengthen its control regime to prevent such chemicals from being diverted to illegal drug labs in South America.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs
Policy Initiatives. Mexico views drug trafficking as a threat both to the health of its citizenry and to its national security. To combat this threat, the GOM pursues an anti-drug strategy that focuses on demand reduction, interdiction, eradication, and international cooperation. Mexican performance in all those areas in 1993, highlighted by improved interdiction, arrests of major traffickers, and leadership in international fora, was consistent with Mexico's obligations under the 1988 UN Convention. Mexico has acknowledged that it needs to do more, however, in the area of combatting corruption.
On January 1, 1993, in accordance with a policy decision taken in mid--programs. As a result of this decision to "Mexicanize" its drug control effort, the GOM assumed full responsibility for funding key programs such as maintenance of the air fleet of the Attorney General's Office (PGR), which is critical to both cocaine interdiction and eradication of marijuana and opium poppy. Mexico invested $30 million in the aviation maintenance program, and improved its aircraft availability rates to 80 percent--the highest levels since the 1980's.
The creation of the INCD in June unified responsibility for planning, executing, supervising, and evaluating all counternarcotics activities in Mexico. The Institute targets drug trafficking and production, money laundering, and arms smuggling. The first class of narcotics investigative police cadets graduated in August. These officers received additional specialized training from DEA instructors under a program funded by the GOM.
President Salinas strongly supported proposals to reform the Mexican Criminal Code during 1993. These were introduced in the Mexican Congress following the May killing of Mexican Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo at the Guadalajara airport during a gun battle between rival drug gangs. Key elements of the reform package, which was passed in December, extended jail sentences and revoked the right of bail for drug traffickers, expanded the period for evidence gathering against a detained suspect, increased the number of days suspected traffickers can be held before going before a judge, permitted seizure and sale of assets of convicted traffickers, and allowed GOM authorities to offer rewards for drug trafficking information.
In July, the GOM published new regulations under its fiscal code requiring persons entering the country to declare currency and checks in excess of 30,000 (new) pesos (roughly 10,000 US dollars). In the fall, the GOM adopted changes in the 1990 tax code designed to enhance its ability to pursue money laundering as an independent offense related to drug trafficking. The new Mexican legislation has increased civil penalties for money laundering. The Mexican fiscal/tax code provides a penalty of three to nine years imprisonment for money laundering.
Also on the financial front, the PGR and the Mexican Treasury (Hacienda) signed an agreement to coordinate actions taken against the properties of narcotraffickers. The PGR agreed to inform Hacienda when properties were seized so that Hacienda could investigate whether the narcotrafficker had evaded income taxes. This will allow the GOM to use existing legal sanctions and penalties more effectively against drug traffickers. Furthermore, the GOM proposed constitutional changes which would streamline asset forfeiture procedures. Current law requires the GOM to manage seized assets until a case is finally adjudicated. The accused has the right to sue the GOM for mismanagement if exonerated.
In an effort to improve controls over the flow of precursor chemicals into and through Mexico, the GOM formed an interagency task force whose activities will be coordinated by the Center for Drug-Control Planning (CENDRO--part of the INCD). To enhance bilateral cooperation in this area the US Embassy and GOM formed a bilateral working group, which held its first meeting in December 1993. In addition, the GOM submitted draft legislation based on the CICAD model to the Mexican Congress for consideration during the session.
Accomplishments. Based on official GOM statistics, the PGR and the Mexican military increased their eradication of opium poppy by 12 percent over 1992, while marijuana eradication fell approximately one percent. A new aerial survey program, initiated by the Secretariat of Defense, is supporting eradication efforts.
Interdiction of illegal drugs being transshipped through Mexico focused principally on South American cocaine. CENDRO reports that the GOM seized 46.2 metric tons of cocaine, an increase of 19 percent over 1992 (38.8 metric tons). Marijuana seizures increased by 22 percent, from 404.6 metric tons in 1992 to 494.7 metric tons in 1993. Heroin seizures declined by 36 percent, however, from 96.7 to 61.7 kilograms.
Law Enforcement Actions. During 1993, close US/Mexican law enforcement cooperation continued. The centerpiece of this effort focused on the interdiction of cocaine shipments, primarily by the DEA/PGR's "Northern Border Response Force" (NBRF), the interdiction program known to the GOM as "Operacion Halcon."
Despite a decrease in detected air smuggling flights (65 in 1993, down from 174 in 1992 and 339 in 1991), NBRF forces seized 28 metric tons of cocaine, 14 aircraft, 9 vessels and 32 vehicles and arrested 114 traffickers. NBRF referrals of air and maritime interdiction information to other countries resulted in the seizure of an additional 5 metric tons of cocaine.
During 1993, the GOM reestablished federal highway checkpoints throughout the country. The checkpoints have been responsible for substantial seizures of illegal drugs, primarily marijuana.
GOM authorities arrested a number of major narcotraffickers. In June, information provided by the GOM enabled Guatemalan security forces to arrest of the drug traffickers wanted in connection with the in slaying of Cardinal Posadas. The trafficker is currently in the maximum security prison outside Mexico City. Law enforcement officials arrested a member of the family that allegedly had direct involvement in the Posadas killing in November. Authorities also arrested an alleged member of the Cali cartel as well as one of the leaders of a major trafficking organization in Tijuana.
Corruption. During 1993 President Salinas moved against official corruption by appointing Jorge Carpizo McGregor, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, as Attorney General. Carpizo announced in February a campaign to clean up the PGR. In addition to background investigations, he ordered the use of annual lie detector tests for Federal Judicial Police, district attorneys, and new agents. Those who fail are removed. A PGR investigation in June of 67 officials led to the firing of eight commanders for "loss of confidence." The PGR has not limited its clean-up efforts to the police. In 1993, the GOM filed corruption charges against three Hermosillo judges and a former Supreme Court Justice. Nevertheless, official corruption, including drug-related corruption, remains a deep-rooted and persistent problem, particularly at middle and lower levels of Mexican government.
To balance the prosecution of corrupt officials with public recognition for those who perform with distinction, the AG announced a program of financial incentives to federal police officers for exemplary service. He also announced a plan to upgrade and professionalize the careers of federal law enforcement agents.
Agreements and Treaties. Mexico has bilateral narcotics accords with 21 countries and is a party to the 1988 UN Convention. Mexico is also a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and its 1972 protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Mexico has signed several other international anti-drug agreements, such as the Declaration of Ixtapa (1990), which commits signatories to enact money-laundering and chemical-control legislation and regulations.
The US and Mexico have a modern extradition treaty, in force since 1980. Extradition proceedings in Mexico are generally slow. Only a handful of fugitives have been extradited in the past few years, and no one was extradited to the United States in 1993. The USG currently has a number of requests pending for the extradition of suspected drug traffickers. It is Mexican policy not to extradite Mexican nationals. The US and Mexico also are parties to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which facilitated the exchange of evidence during 1993 in a manner generally satisfactory to both sides.
In response to ongoing GOM concerns over transborder abductions stemming from the Alvarez Machain case, the USG and GOM held a series of meetings during 1993 to negotiate an agreement that would prohibit such actions. Those discussions are continuing.
Cultivation and Production. Mexico is a leading supplier of heroin and marijuana to the US; its annual output is convertible to 4 metric tons of heroin and 7,800 metric tons of marijuana. The GOM continues to pursue UN Convention objectives aimed at reducing and eliminating illegal drug cultivation.
Drug Flow/Transit. The continued success of the NBRF interdiction program has caused drug traffickers to search for alternate routes and methods; in 1993 there was a decline in detected illegal flights entering and landing in Mexico but an increase in maritime smuggling. However, South American cocaine traffickers have taken evasive measures to avoid detection, and the flow of illegal drugs from Mexico to the US remains undiminished. Methods used include use of air-drops, legitimate flight plans and short flights from Central America, in particular Guatemala.
In response to these trends, the NBRF effort focused increasingly on maritime interdiction operations during 1993. These operations resulted in an 8.2 metric ton cocaine seizure in October and a seven metric ton seizure in November.
Demand Reduction Programs. The number of government, volunteer and community organizations involved in drug prevention, research, treatment, and education in Mexico continued to grow during 1993, although many operated with minimal resources.
The GOM conducted a national drug use survey during 1993 to update data collected in the 1988 survey. A related survey focused on high drug use areas along the country's northern border. Survey results will be available in early 1994. In September, GOM, US, and Canadian instructors jointly conducted, in Mexico, a regional training program on community--and school--based drug demand reduction techniques for drug abuse professionals from El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
IV. US Policy initiatives and programs:
Policy Initiatives. USG narcotics control policy toward Mexico has four objectives: 1) strengthening the political commitment and institutional capability of the GOM to enable it to take effective measures against drug production and trafficking; 2) working with the GOM to cripple the trafficking organizations that operate in Mexico by apprehending and prosecuting the trafficker leadership and disrupting or dismantling their operations; 3) developing cooperative initiatives along our common border to increase the effectiveness of counternarcotics activities; and, 4) strengthening US interdiction efforts on our southwest border to complement Mexican efforts.
Bilateral Cooperation. US/Mexican cooperation during 1993 involved no new USG commitments of traditional foreign aid. USG funds from prior years still remain, and are being spent on enhancements to the PGR's Guadalajara aviation maintenance base and improvement of the communications systems used in the NBRF program. Throughout 1993, the GOM fully carried out its commitments to bilateral agreements and project memoranda of understanding covering these areas of bilateral cooperation. The USG and the GOM also agreed to extend until December 31, 1994, the lease on 20 UH-1H helicopters being used by the PGR for counternarcotics operations.
Mexicanization of the GOM's counternarcotics efforts has helped to move the relationship beyond that of donor-recipient to one of active collaboration between partners. This effort is reflected in increased information sharing, operational coordination and international collaboration. Ongoing discussions are aimed at improving mechanisms for providing evidence for the prosecution in Mexico of Mexican traffickers who are accused of drug crimes in the US and who are in Mexico.
The Road Ahead. Despite many achievements, continued and increased bilateral cooperation is needed to meet daunting challenges: drug traffickers are becoming increasingly sophisticated; illicit cultivation of opium poppy is expanding; the Mexican economy remains relatively open to money laundering and the diversion of chemicals; corruption of public officials remains a serious problem. We will continue to assist Mexico to develop and strengthen its counternarcotics infrastructure, institutions and domestic interdiction capabilities.
Nicaragua is a drug transit country that is also experiencing a growing domestic consumption problem. In 1993, the police expanded and upgraded its anti-narcotics unit which took some actions against trafficking organizations. The Government of Nicaragua (GON) showed little progress in 1993 in complying with the 1988 U.N. Convention, which it ratified in 1990. The GON passed no new narcotics legislation, took no steps against government corruption, and did not move forward on the bilateral and regional agreements signed in previous years.
II. Status of Country
The extent and significance of drug trafficking in Nicaragua is not fully known. There is little doubt, however, that Nicaragua's tremendous financial and political problems make the country an obvious target. Nicaragua's poor transportation system and minuscule financial sector appear to have kept major trafficking organizations from establishing a strong foothold in Nicaragua. A declining economy, however, combined with more efficient enforcement in neighboring countries, could lead to a major increase in drug and drug money smuggling activity.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs
Policy Initiatives. The GON announced it would upgrade the civilian coordinator of the Interagency Narcotics Committee to a full-time position in early 1994.
Accomplishments. Nicaragua's central bank has established a reporting requirement for cash transactions over $10,000. In 1993, the Nicaraguan police finally established a separate anti-narcotics unit. While severely lacking in resources, the unit has captured small and medium shipments of cocaine transiting the country. Nicaragua currently serves as the executive secretary of the Central American Anti-narcotics Commission (CCP). The Central American countries, however, must ratify the CCP's convention to establish and fund its Executive Secretariat.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Nicaragua's antiquated narcotics laws define narcotics problems primarily as health care rather than as enforcement issues. Although in 1992 the GON had promised to present a law bringing it into compliance with the 1988 UN Convention, it has chosen not to use any political capital to derail a competing and weaker Sandinista draft. Despite some modest successes in 1993 , the police force did not fully engage until early 1994, when it mounted its first-ever cocaine bust in cooperation with the DEA. At the upper levels it is still largely staffed by Sandinistas, whose commitment to impartial application of the law is questionable.
Corruption. In January 1993, the GON fired the Comptroller General charged with investigating official corruption, after he accused Presidency Minister Antonio Lacayo of bribing legislators. A new Comptroller General is to be named in early 1994. The press and political opponents often level charges of corruption, including narcotics trafficking, against senior military officials. In 1993, the GON launched no inquiries, nor did it arrest, prosecute or convict government or active military officials for narcotics trafficking. In March 1993, an ex-Sandinista Army Captain was arrested attempting to smuggle 40 kgs of cocaine from Nicaragua to Miami.
Agreements and Treaties. While Nicaragua is party to the 1988 UN Convention on drug trafficking, it has taken few, in any, steps to implement its objectives. President Chamorro attended the Belize drug summit in February; her foreign minister signed the CCP Agreement at a Central American summit in Guatemala in October.
Drug Flow/Transit. It is difficult to measure accurately the amount of illicit narcotics transiting Nicaragua. Some shipments of cocaine have been seized, including a 40 kg shipment transiting the international airport, and over a metric ton (1,000 kg) aboard a Nicaragua-bound ship off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Nicaragua's geographic location makes cocaine transit nearly inevitable, given the shipping routes along its Caribbean coast. Traffickers have used Colombia's San Andreas Island, roughly 100 miles offshore, as a staging area for shipments through Nicaragua.
Domestic Programs. Small narcotics education programs exist, primarily among NGOs. The Ministry of Health has plans to establish a narcotics dependency treatment clinic.
IV. US Policy Initiatives
Policy Initiatives. The USG continues to encourage the GON to establish an effective, independent anti-narcotics police force, and to enact a narcotics law to bring Nicaragua into compliance with the 1988 UN Convention. In August, the GON refused a US request to board and search a Nicaraguan-flagged vessel in international waters. Subsequently, the USG has attempted to establish an understanding with the GON on possible future vessel-boardings, in accordance with UN Convention guidelines.
Bilateral Cooperation. Because of GON performance, the USG has yet to implement its bilateral narcotics agreement with Nicaragua, signed in 1991 and amended in 1992. It calls for the use of INM funds to equip and train an anti-narcotics police unit; however, the GON never created the fully independent, civilian-controlled unit envisioned in the agreement. The USG intends to amend the agreement to allow use of INM funds for demand reduction projects. The GON has welcomed quarterly visits by DEA representatives, but there has been only a limited exchange of information.
Road Ahead. Pressing economic problems make Nicaragua an inviting place for drug traffickers and will not be resolved in the near future. The USG will continue to press for passage of an updated narcotics law to bring Nicaragua into compliance with the 1988 UN Convention and to establish a professional anti-narcotics police force. Public awareness and demand-reduction programs will seek to make responsible Nicaraguans aware of the dangers of narcotics trafficking and consumption.
[Chart: Statistical Talbes]
Panama made progress in some counternarcotics areas during 1993, but key actions remained incomplete in the critical area of money laundering control. The September seizure in Miami of five tons of cocaine originating in the Colon Free Zone (CFZ) was evidence that large-scale narcotics trafficking still takes place through Panamanian territory. Government of Panama (GOP) narcotics enforcement agencies carried out an increased number of independent operations and seizures, and the GOP showed its overall policy support for international narcotics control by ratifying the 1988 UN Convention. GOP and private demand reduction efforts continued to be active and widely supported. Key business and financial sectors more readily acknowledged that Panama has a money laundering problem, but the GOP did not take decisive new action to better limit opportunities for money launderers. The law (law 23 of 1986) needs strengthening, the agencies with money laundering control responsibilities are ineffective, and resources are inadequate. To improve control of money laundering the GOP must pass new legislation (submitted in Fall, 1993 and under consideration in early 1994), including provisions to strengthen the capabilities and legal resources of implementing agencies.
II. Status of country
Panama is a financial and commercial center whose geographic location makes it an ideal conduit for drugs, especially cocaine, from the Andean region to the US and Europe. Its dollar-based economy, the presence of the CFZ, weak controls on cash and commodity imports/exports, and lax incorporation regulations make Panama particularly vulnerable to the laundering of drug profits. While drug money laundering is illegal, neither the National Banking Commission nor the Attorney General's staff has carried out any sophisticated investigations on its own. Panama's slow judicial system frustrates swift prosecutorial efforts against traffickers. Panamanian authorities discovered two areas of coca cultivation totaling some 200-300 hectares near the Colombian border during 1993, apparently controlled by Colombian traffickers. With USG assistance, the National Police and Air Service aerially eradicated 70 hectares at one of the plantations and destroyed nearby coca paste processing facilities. The GOP plans to eradicate the other one in 1994.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1993
Policy Initiatives. The GOP's ratification of the 1988 UN Convention (passed in legislative assembly December 3, 1993 and instruments of ratification deposited with the UN on January 13, 1994) and a slightly increased budget for counternarcotics in 1993 reflected a general recognition among policymakers in the Endara administration that narcotics are a significant threat to Panama and to its fledgling democratic institutions. Law 23 addresses many of the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Convention; it criminalizes a broad range of narcotics trafficking and money laundering activities and provides for the seizure and forfeiture of trafficker assets, although it does not actually establish clear procedures for effecting final forfeiture.
The law, however, has proven difficult to enforce in certain areas and falls short of some of the provisions of the OAS model regulations on money laundering. For example, the GOP has effectively used law 23 to freeze suspect bank accounts, but has not been able to carry through with legal action to forfeit such accounts. In 1993, the National Legislature debated, but has not yet passed, a proposed redraft which addresses this and other deficiencies in current counternarcotics legislation.
Accomplishments. Panama is meeting goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Convention in areas such as illegal-drug eradication, demand reduction and chemical control. Panama has statutes and international agreements that, on paper, are fully consistent with the 1988 UN Convention. However, weak or selective enforcement of those statutes, particularly in the area of money laundering, is not fully consistent with the goals and objectives of the Convention.
Cultivation. The GOP reacted quickly in April to the discovery of illegal coca cultivation; its aerial eradication could conceivably provide impetus to coca eradication programs in more significant producing countries. Before providing support for the operation, the USG conducted environmental reviews pursuant to the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and Executive Order 12114, which require a study of potential environmental and health effects both in the US and abroad. USDA soil scientists present at the spraying, who also visited the site on three separate subsequent trips during 1993, reported no adverse environmental impact. Panama is poised to implement a similar campaign in the next dry season. Panama also staged several manual eradication operations against illicit marijuana plantations.
Law Enforcement. Law enforcement agencies expanded operations and training in 1993, and arrested 700 persons in 1993 for various drug offenses. Prosecuting these or even the major drug cases alone was slowed in part by the overloaded judicial system. Moreover, some detainees escaped from prison and others were released on technicalities. Cooperation with DEA was good at the working level. Unilateral drug seizures by the Judicial Technical Police (PTJ) and Customs increased in 1993. Panamanian authorities staged several combined US/Panama maritime interdiction campaigns and established a new drug detector dog unit in the CFZ. Overall seizures of cocaine (5.7 tons) decreased from the record 10 tons in 1992. The newly established Panama Joint Information Coordination Center (JICC) began to provide timely operational intelligence in 1993.
Money Laundering/Financing. (See detailed section in Money Laundering Section of the INCSR). Control of money laundering is the Primus Inter Pares issue on the bilateral counternarcotics agenda. The GOP in November discussed but did not institute cross-border currency declarations, but did eventually adopt cross-border currency controls on March 9, 1994. In 1993, a Panamanian court for the first time ever convicted a defendant in a money laundering case, although the defendant had already been convicted and was serving time for a related crime in the US. The newly-elected Panamanian Banking Association president has strongly endorsed "know your client" and other anti-money-laundering practices; major banks now have compliance officers sensitized to money laundering risks. The Supreme Court convicted and removed from office former Attorney General Rogelio Cruz for abuse of authority related to the illegal releasing of bank accounts of suspected drug traffickers.
Asset seizure. Although Panamanian law provides for seizure of assets involved in narcotics crimes or proceeds thereof, forfeiture of seized assets has rarely occurred. Panamanian authorities are hampered by the statutory standard of proof that requires the direct linkage of assets to drug transactions, and that their owner must be convicted in a criminal case in Panama. During 1993, US Customs proposed sharing approximately $40,000 with the GOP; this represents a portion of funds forfeited in the US with the assistance of the PTJ.
Demand Reduction. Panama has an active, widely supported demand reduction program both within government (public, health and education ministries) and without (PRIDE, White Cross Association; see below).
Precursor Chemicals. Panama is neither a major producer nor a significant illicit consumer of cocaine precursor chemicals; some precursor chemicals do transit Panama, however. The US and Panama have a bilateral agreement on chemical controls and the GOP has cooperated when approached on this matter.
Corruption. Public figures in Panama frequently make allegations of narcotics-related corruption. To their credit, GOP authorities moved swiftly to deal with publicized cases of such activity. For example, the GOP conducted an inquiry in the wake of a Panamanian congressman's arrest in Florida in October on drug trafficking and money-laundering charges. The prosecution and dismissal of former Attorney General Cruz put an end to one focal point of controversy among drug-control agencies. A similar, though less divisive, controversy surfaced in mid-year over an alleged cover-up of narcotics corruption charges against enforcement officials in Bocas del Toro province. Perhaps in reaction to Cruz' removal, political opponents charged Cruz's successor, Jorge Ramon Valdes, and his key appointees, of corruption and political patronage in late 1993. Valdes himself has asked the Solicitor General to investigate the charges. Corruption by lower-level officials in Customs, the police and the judiciary, though not often publicized, is an impediment to effective drug-control efforts. Although involvement in narcotics-related corruption and money laundering is illegal and officially discouraged, weak enforcement and controls allow much of it to go on unpunished.
Agreements and Treaties. In December 1993, the Panamanian legislative assembly approved Panamanian adherence to the 1988 UN Convention, adding one reservation on asset seizure. Panama deposited instruments of ratification with the UN in January, 1994. The GOP is also a party to the following international drug control treaties: The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1972 Protocol to the Single Convention, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. In 1991, Panama entered into an arrangement with the US for assistance from the US Coast Guard (USCG) for the National Maritime Service of the Ministry of Government and Justice. The GOP signed and ratified a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the US in 1991, but the US Senate has not yet given its advice and consent. The GOP also signed MLATs with Colombia and the United Kingdom during 1993. Panama joined Central American states in signing the Declaration of the Belize drug summit of 1993, which provides a basis for regional anti-narcotics cooperation.
Cultivation and Production. Thus far, verifiable evidence indicates only small-scale cultivation of coca in Panama and negligible production of derivative narcotics. Coca plots of 60-70 hectares and coca paste maceration pits were found in the remote Darien region near the Colombian border in early 1993. National Police later discovered a larger production area (more than 200 hectares) in the same region in mid-1993. Small amounts of cannabis are grown for local consumption.
Drug Flow/Transit. Panama is a major transshipment point for cocaine, from the Andean region to the US and Europe. The drugs are sent to Panama via sea and air, and commonly are transferred to larger ships in Panamanian waters or re-packaged and sent out of the country via commercial port or airport facilities. Smaller loads move by road to Central America, Mexico and the US
Most of the large seizures occurred in the CFZ or in port facilities servicing the CFZ, illustrating that area's leading role in drug transshipment, and causing continued concern within the CFZ and the GOP over the extent to which traffickers have manipulated zone facilities. During 1993, law enforcement authorities also seized small shipments of heroin that possibly were produced in Colombia.
Demand Reduction Program. Domestic drug abuse is increasing, as is public awareness of it as a serious problem at all levels of society. Demand reduction efforts enjoy wide public support, and are carried out by dedicated individuals working for several private as well as governmental agencies. These include the National Drug Prevention and Rehabilitation Committee (CONAPRED), the ministries of health and education, as well as Cruz Blanca ("White Cross") and PRIDE Panama.
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. The USG assists the GOP to improve the performance of its counternarcotics institutions through the provision of material, information, and training. This assistance, covered by a bilateral Letter of Agreement (LOA), is aimed at disrupting the flow of drug funds and illicit drugs moving through Panama, targeting trafficking organizations and their affiliates operating in Panama. The USG also seeks to strengthen Panama's judicial system, to encourage revision of Panamanian laws and regulations, and to ensure strict enforcement of existing laws and regulations.
Bilateral cooperation. USG and Panamanian law enforcement agencies conducted joint investigations, shared information and collaborated to interdict illegal narcotics shipments. The GOP also has cooperated in the extradition of certain individuals wanted on drug-trafficking charges in the US and has provided some assistance to US money-laundering investigations and prosecutions. USAID, ICITAP and INM have extensive narcotics-related assistance projects with the GOP. National Air Service personnel were trained through US-funded courses in the US, and over 600 police officers were trained in US-sponsored courses in Panama. Banking commission and CFZ officials attended US-funded executive observation programs, and a USAID Administration of Justice program continued to improve Panamanian judicial procedures and performance.
In addition to the LOA, the US and Panama have other bilateral agreements, including a "Chiles amendment" agreement and a bilateral agreement on the control of chemicals and a shiprider agreement. The latter allows US Coast Guard vessels to train and conduct combined operations with Panama's National Maritime Service (which operates US-donated vessels). Three joint USCG-GOP operations were staged in 1993. The PTJ has cooperated in providing information to the US on companies suspected of transporting precursor chemicals through Panama for illicit purposes. Panamanian working-level officials generally carried out the obligations described in these bilateral agreements.
The GOP extradited or expelled three persons to the US in 1993, and accepted two more extraditions requested by the US; there are six other narcotics related extradition requests still pending. Another person wanted for extradition to the US was released in 1993 by the Supreme Court. Despite many USG inquiries into the status of the case, the GOP attributed the release to lack of information and bureaucratic error.
The USG and Panama are continuing to negotiate a memorandum of understanding which would permit the continued operation of a Caribbean Basin Radar Network station in Panama after 1999.
Road ahead. The US will continue to assist Panama in developing national drug-control institutions. Tangible progress in this endeavor has occurred primarily in drug interdiction, crop control and demand reduction. Progress on money laundering will be the key to bilateral efforts; but the money laundering problem is clearly made more difficult because laundered money is intermingled with significant legitimate economic assets. Specific objectives in 1994 will include passage of a new drug law, implementation of cross-border currency declarations, and tighter customs controls at ports and airports. Another key objective will be to tighten enforcement of existing laws and prosecution of criminals by law enforcement agencies and the courts.
[Chart: Statistical Talbes]
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