lnternational illicit drug traffic : the United States response
Lower supply: crop eradication
International crop control programmes
Support to international programme
Domestic crop eradication programme
Lower supply : interdiction
Author: R. S. WILLIAMSON
Pages: 33 to 45
Creation Date: 1983/01/01
The Government of the United States of America recognizes the serious threat of illicit drug abuse and trafficking and the associated economic costs and social destruction. The United States Government is waging a major battle to fight drug abuse and is working to lower demand at home through education and prevention, detoxification and treatment, and research as well as to lower supply through bilateral and multilateral crop eradication programmes. The Government is also working to lower supply within the United States through a campaign of illicit drug traffic interdiction of unprecedented size and scope. Among the actions taken to counter the illegal trade were: the creation of the South Florida Task Force headed by the Vice President; the establishment of 12 Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement task forces around the country; the setting up of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System; the increased use of military resources to assist law enforcement agencies; and the initiation of a widespread cannabis eradication programme involving aerial spraying of paraquat.
Fighting drug abuse is a priority concern in the United States of America.
On 24 June 1982, President Reagan issued a comprehensive Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking. 1 The President has stated that "this is a campaign we cannot afford to lose. . . . Let's take down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug abuse efforts. We are running up a battle flag in the fight against drug abuse and we intend to win," 2
1This document was prepared for the President pursuant to the Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act of 1972, 21 United States Code(USC)1161.
2"Open letter to the American people from President Ronald Reagan", 20 August 1982.
To wage this battle, the President has established a system for White House supervision and co-ordination to implement his federal strategy. Nine cabinet departments and over 30 federal agencies are involved in the broad federal effort. 3
The United States has increased budget contributions to bilateral and multilateral drug abuse related programmes, to domestic federal drug abuse programmes and to provide local jurisdictions with funding flexibility to meet local drug abuse priorities.
The initiatives are a result of the United States Government fully recognizing the serious social, psychological, economic and health problems caused by abuse of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and other illicit drugs, not only within the United States but also in nations where these drugs are produced and transshipped.
In 1980, there were an estimated 453,000 to 532,000 heroin addicts in the United States 4 as well as a large number of young people abusing cocaine, cannabis and other dangerous drugs. It is estimated that, in 198() millions of people in the United States spent approximately $ US 79 billion on illicit drugs, an increase of approximately 50 per cent compared with 1977. 5 Illicit drug trafficking is a criminal activity that undermines legitimate business through "narco-dollar" investment, increases real estate prices, diverts labor away from traditional commercial enterprises and fosters public corruption at many levels of government. Further, illicit drug trafficking is a violent enterprise.
The United States Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking seeks : to lower demand through effective education and prevention projects, detoxification and treatment and research ; to lower supply through extensive international bilateral and multilateral crop eradication programmes ; and to prevent illicit drug traffic from entering into the United States.*
Portions of this article are abridged summaries of sections of the offical United States Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking (Drug Abuse Policy Office, Office of Policy Development, Washington, D.C. 1982).
3The major participating cabinet departments and agencies are: the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation and the Treasury, and ACTION, the United States International Communication Agency and the Veterans Administration.
4Estimates of National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee, 1980, cited in testimony by Assistant Secretary D. DiCarlo, Bureau of International Narcotics Matters, Department of State, to the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, House of Representatives, United States Congress, 22 June 1983.
5Attorney General William French Smith, "Organized crime today", address delivered at the United States Justice Department, 14 October 1983.
The United States Government recognizes the importance of cutting the demand for illicit drugs. President Reagan has said, "As important as intercepting the drug traffic might be, it cannot possibly equal the results in turning off the customers, the users, and making them take a different course in deciding to no longer be customers". 6 Consequently, a major part of the United States campaign against illicit drugs is domestic programmes for education and prevention, detoxification and treatment and research.
In the area of education, the United States Government is seeking to raise the awareness of drug problems and provide practical and credible information to those in a position to influence potential users ; to encourage the support of prevention programmes by local and national business and private organizations ; to provide information to local leaders about previous successful prevention efforts ; and to disseminate useful research findings in a timely and understandable way on the effects of drugs and alcohol.
The lead United States agencies in the federal drug abuse prevention effort are the National Institute on Drug Abuse and ACTION, a federal agency concerned with volunteerism. They are engaged in releasing major new research studies through the media, developing their own media materials on the health hazards of illicit drug abuse, working with the private sector such as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Associations and Communicating the latest most effective prevention approaches to the public and private sector nation-wide. ACTION has made its regional office resources available to assist local citizen efforts, provided technical assistance to parent groups and developed new publications for nation-wide dissemination. The Education Department has developed and maintained drug abuse prevention programmes in over 4,500 School communities.
The President's wife, Nancy Reagan, has helped the call to arms against drug abuse throughout the United States. Calling drug abuse by young people "a plague that is ruining the minds and bodies of our children", Mrs. Reagan stated that :
"Our top priority is prevention. It is safer and more effective to thwart drug abuse before it begins, than to wait after the fact. . . . We must begin to educate parents, as well as their children, to the dangers of drugs." 7
Her own efforts to educate the population about drug abuse and thereby help curb demand for illicit drugs has included : travelling thousands of miles coast to coast to visit drug rehabilitation centres, visit schools and make speeches on the problem ; giving a number of media interviews on the subject; taking part in television programmes including co-hosting "The chemical people", a three-part Public Broadcasting System special televised in November 1983. Some 10,675 town meetings throughout the United States viewed the television special and discussed its implications - a landmark in the use of media for community action that has served as a catalyst for continuing community action to curb drug abuse within the United States.
6 Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking(Washington, D.C., Drug Abuse Policy Office. Office of Policy Development, 1982), p.41.
7Nancy Reagan, "The drug abuse epidemic", a guest editorial about youth abuse of drugs and alcohol, available from the White House, November 1983.
Simultaneously, detoxification and treatment efforts continue to grow. The drug abuse treatment network in the United States has grown from 1 83 programmes in 1968 to 3,449 in 1980. In the United States, the financing of the national drug abuse treatment rehabilitation and prevention system has been a joint effort of the Government and the private sector. In 1980, $US 487 million was spent for drug abuse treatment nation-wide : 38 per cent federal funding, 24 per cent state funding and 37 per cent private sector, third-party reimbursements and local contributions. 8 Seven agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services are involved in aspects of drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation. 9
To Support these educational and treatment campaigns, the Government supports basic and applied research, epidemiological surveys and the dissemination of new knowledge in understandable and timely ways to health care professionals, educators, law enforcement officials and the public.
These combined programmes of education and prevention, detoxification and treatment and research are the front line for the United States Government to battle illicit drugs by curbing demand. But this is only part of the battle.
While working vigorously to curb demand at home, the United States Government engages in an extremely large international programme to reduce the supply of illicit drugs entering the United States.
8in 1980, federal support to drug abuse treatment services was $US 187 million, state governments provided $US 1 119 million and private sector, third-party reimbursements and local contributions amounted to $US 181 million. Comparable figures are not available for 1983 because the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (PL-97-35) authorized the Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services (ADM) block grant programme, which permits states to shift funds between the alcohol, drug abuse and mental health components of the ADM block grant.
9These seven agencies are: the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration: the Centre for Disease Control: the Food and Drug Administration: the Health Resources Administration: the Health Care Financing Administration: the Office of Human Development Sources; and the Social Security Administration.
It is estimated that 90 per cent of the illicit drugs consumed in the United States are of foreign origin. 10 The primary mission of the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics Matters is to prevent the flow of illicit drugs into the United States. Since the world-wide supply of illicit drugs is so great and trafficking channels to the United States so diverse, it is necessary to work to control simultaneously the production in all key geographic areas from which illicit drugs are exported to the United States. Such a sweeping objective requires an effective programme of crop control in source countries. The United States engages in both bilateral and multilateral assistance for eradication of illicit drug crops.
The major producer nations are signatories to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which requires establishing controls limiting the production, manufacture and distribution of opium, cocaine, cannabis and their derivatives. 11 Further, all non-Signatory nations have been requested by the United Nations to participate in such international control systems. 12 However, because of political and economic considerations, some countries need help in solving drug problems. The United States works within the international community to assist those nations that require help.
Particular crop control programmes can take many forms, such as : chemical eradication, which is used by Mexico in its opium and Cannabis control programmes ; manual eradication, which Burma and Colombia practise to control opium poppy and coca leaf cultivation, respectively ; and government bans on cultivation such as that enforced successfully in Turkey and more recently, in parts of Pakistan.
The United States strategy in negotiating agreements focuses on reducing coca production through crop control and increased enforcement assistance; close co-ordination of rural development assistance and crop control schemes in the illicit drug cultivation areas ; increased diplomatic initiatives towards gaining serious commitment and co-operation from Governments to eradicate illicit drug crops; and immobilizing the traffickers and interdicting the suppliers.
The United States international drug control programme emphasizes specific objectives for each of the three major producing regions : Latin America, south-east Asia and South-west Asia. Increasing amounts of cannabis, cocaine and methaqualone come from Latin America. The goal of the United States is to assist the region to reduce coca production to the level required for traditional domestic consumption and licit needs and to eliminate cannabis before it leaves the country of origin.
10 "The Supply of Drugs to the United States Illicit Market from Foreign and Domestic Sources in 1981" (Washington D.C., National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee, Drug Enforcement Administration 1983), pp. 18-42, 52.
11Federal Strategy ... , op. cit., p. 21.
12 United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, resolution 2(XXVII) 23 February 1977.
The "Golden Triangle" of south-east Asia is a major area of illicit opium production. Here, United States resources are concentrated on eradication and interdiction of opium and heroin.
The opium production of the "Golden Crescent" of south-west Asia provides a principal source for heroin in the United States. Here the United States strategy supports narcotics control programmes in Pakistan and interdiction programmes in Turkey, which is a conduit for opiates moving from south-west Asia to Europe and the United States.
In 1983, the United States spent $U S 28,250,000 for country crop eradication programmes. bilateral agreements included extensive programmes for crop control of coca, opium and cannabis production in each of these regions.
Further, the United States supports international organizations. The United Nations programmes, principally through the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control and the Division of Narcotic Drugs, provide the vehicles for co-operation with countries that do not undertake drug control programmes on a multilateral basis. The United States also has encouraged the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to become involved in international drug control. The United States activity in these international organizations is consistent with its active involvement with the key policy-making international body on drug control, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. United States funding for international organizations in this area in 1983 rose to $US 2,575,000. The United States is also aware and supportive of the fine work done by the International Narcotics Control board in monitoring compliance with the two major treaties on narcotics and psychotropic substances.
Consistent with these efforts to lower the supply of illicit drugs internationally through bilateral and multilateral programmes of crop eradication, the Government initiated a widespread cannabis eradication drive within the United States in the summer of l 983. United States domestic cultivation of cannabis had increased ; the Government's response was to attack it through a programme of aerial spraying of paraquat. While some legal and administrative questions remain to be addressed regarding the extent of this programme, the United States experience with paraquat spraying shows it to be a safe and effective method for eradicating cannabis. 13
The United States international programme of crop eradication is supported by major, sweeping law enforcement efforts to disrupt key trafficking networks and to intercept illicit drugs that are en route to the United States. In announcing an unprecedented federal effort to halt drug trafficking, President Reagan recognized the importance of this programme when he said "one of the most critical duties that we faced upon taking office was controlling the influx of illegal drugs into this country". 14
The chief law enforcement officer of the United States, Attorney General William French Smith, also recognized the priority of this problem when he said that "the combination of drug trafficking and organized crime represents the most serious crime problem facing this country today". 15
A goal of the United States Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking is to bring to bear the full range of federal, state and local government resources in order to stop illicit drug traffic and apprehend those responsible for transporting and distributing illicit drugs. The Cabinet Council on Legal Policy, chaired by the Attorney General, has a Working Group on Drug Supply Reduction to ensure continued high-level attention and co-ordination of these efforts. The Working Group is responsible for the ongoing development of aggressive implementation plans and for directing follow-up action in en forcing drug laws.
United States efforts to stop drug trafficking are directed at stopping shipments of illicit drugs into the United States. Efforts on the high seas, along the borders and at ports of entry have been expanded significantly. These efforts are receiving more funding and using more advanced technology for detection and apprehension.
Working together in the drug law enforcement effort are several federal agencies with law enforcement authority, prosecutors, United States military personnel and state and local officials.
13Testimony of Dr. Carlton Turner before the Judiciary Committee. United States House of Representatives, 5 October 1983. Also note the following statement of Francis M. Mullen, Jr., Administrator of the Federal Drug Administration on 23 August 1983 in his letter to A. M. Rosenthal, Executive Editor, New York Times: "The use of the herbicide paraquat to destroy cannabis is both appropriate and environmentally sound. . . . In the United States alone, it [paraquat] is used on over 10.7 million acres annually. For the record, paraquat is regularly applied to orchards, soybeans, sugarcane, potatoes, numerous other crops, and along public roadways and around railroads to kill weeds."
14President Ronald Reagan, "A turning point in the battle against crime", address delivered at the United States Justice Department, Washington, D.C., 14 October 1983.
15Attorney General William French Smith, "Organized crime today.", address delivered at the United States Justice Department, Washington, D.C., 14 October 1983.
The United States Coast Guard is the primary agency directed at smuggling by sea. In the past few years, it has increased efforts to intercept drug smugglers. It conducts increasingly effective anti-drug operations within coastal waters and on the high seas, utilizing coastal patrols and large cutters. The Coast Guard provides a law enforcement force and a visible deterrent to drug smugglers.
The United States Customs Service provides the primary anti-smuggling effort at ports of entry and along United States land and water borders. The Customs Service also is the primary agency concerned with smuggling by air and has developed a responsive interception capability made effective by the collection, analysis and dissemination of drug smuggling intelligence.
The United States border Patrol, in the immigration and Nationalization Service, is responsible for control of illegal entry along United States borders and provides assistance in catching smugglers.
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is the lead agency for developing interdiction intelligence, participating in joint operations along United States borders and investigating drug trafficking inside the United States.
Recent legislation amending the United States Posse Comitatus law 16 allows use of tracking and intelligence capabilities of military resources to provide information and equipment support to law enforcement agencies. This provides a valuable new tool in the United States attack on drug smuggling. One of the major reasons why the United States has had more success in catching drug traffickers in the past two years, according to President Reagan's Special Assistant for Drug Abuse Policy Dr. Carlton Turner is : "the sharing of intelligence and the use of radar tracking planes from our Navy and Air Force and the use of our military equipment to apprehend [them] and to share that information with our customs people and our Drug Enforcement Agency. . . . The idea that we are using our military aircraft is a very significant point. It has played a significant role in making some of the traffickers divert their normal routes, and every time they divert from their normal routes they are more vulnerable." 17
1610 USC 371 -378.
17Dr. Carlton Turner, 25 October 1983, telepress conference.
Adequate, timely and reliable intelligence on the source, destination and persons directly and indirectly involved in smuggling is critical in the fight against illicit drug traffic. In 1978, the United States established the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee (NNICC) which works with the United States foreign intelligence community in developing an annual report on the supply of drugs entering the United States illicit drug market and the money associated with that traffic.
The El Paso Intelligence Centre (EPIC) in the United States is managed by the Drug Enforcement Agency and involves eight other federal agencies and working agreements with 45 states nation-wide. EPIC provides a clearing-house for drug enforcement information. Its role is to facilitate coordination and exchange of information between widely dispersed law enforcement agencies.
The Inter-American Maritime Intelligence Network (IAMIN) was established by the Coast Guard in co-operation with the Department of State. IAMIN receives intelligence data on movements of suspect drug trafficking vessels from maritime entities of the Caribbean basin. These data are given to the United States Coast Guard and are passed to EPIC for dissemination to appropriate law enforcement agencies.
The Financial Law Enforcement Centre was established by the Treasury Department with the participation of two of its agencies. It supports the drug enforcement community by providing a clearing-house for financial information received pursuant to the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act as amended by the Tax Reform Act. 18 It also established a strategic intelligence analysis centre to examine the financial characteristics of criminal organizations in order to exploit their vulnerability to assist seizure and forfeiture. This intelligence, and its use in detecting and tracking money flows, has proven effective in charting and tracing "money laundering" activities of illicit drug traffickers.
1831 USC 1101.
The results of increased co-ordination of law enforcement activities within the United States, and between the United States and other nations, and increased sophistication in gathering and applying intelligence have made major contributions to curbing illicit drug traffic into the United States. There are many specific examples.
On 21 January 1982, the Attorney General assigned the Federal bureau of Investigation (FBI) concurrent jurisdiction with the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate drug law offences. He also assigned the Director of the FBI the responsibility of general supervision over drug law enforcement efforts and policies. While in July 1981 there were l2 cooperative FBI and DEA investigations ; two years later there were 475. The number of court-authorized wire-taps increased 178 per cent between 1981 and 1982. And, the value of trafficker assets seized by DEA increased from $US 94 million in 1980 to $US l 90 million in 1982. 19
19 Fact Sheet: Drug Law Enforcement Initiatives (Washington, D.C., Drug Abuse Policy Office, 1983).
The South Florida Task Force, created by President Reagan on 28 January 1982 and headed by Vice-President bush, is an excellent example of co-operation and the positive results possible through such co-ordination. It has served as a model for two major national initiatives in the United States.
The Task Force is a multi-agency effort against the serious crime problems in the Miami metropolitan area. The problem had grown acute. As Vice-President bush said, "Miami, once a vacation paradise for millions of Americans, became the playground for cocaine cowboys and thousands of other criminals involved in drug trafficking". 20 The Task Force has coordinated substantial increases in efforts to interdict illicit drug traffic by air, sea and on land. It has involved federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and military support activities. The Task Force also coordinates law enforcement programmes targeted on major criminal organizations operating in South Florida, attacking their financial base and seizing illegal profits.
The Task Force also aids the entire criminal justice system in that part of the country by contributing additional judges, prosecutors, investigators, court rooms, support personnel and prison capacity. DEA, Customs, the Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, FBI, the International Revenue Service, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and military personnel are working together in this Task Force.
As Head of the South Florida Task Force, Vice-President Bush leads this co-ordinated response. He has said :
"In a very brief period of time we sent to South Florida additional, federal judges, more prosecuting attorneys and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel. We beefed up the Coast Guard, solicited and received help from the Defence Department including the Navy, the Army, the Air Force and the Marines. We intensified our diplomatic initiatives which resulted in improved co-operation with the Bahamian Government and some of our Latin American friends. The results have been gratifying." 20
In the South Florida area, drug arrests increased 27 per cent. Seizures of cannabis increased 23 per cent and cocaine 54 per cent. In the first 15 months of the Task Force's operations, 10 million pounds (4.5 million kilograms) of cannabis and over 17 thousand pounds (7.7 thousand kilograms) of cocaine were seized in and around the South Florida area. The street value of those drugs is approximately $US 5 billion. 20
One consequence of the progress against illicit drugs in the South Florida region has been changing tactics and innovations by drug smugglers. The co-ordinated vigorous activities of the South Florida Task Force caused disruption in the patterns and routes of illicit drug traffic, especially operations out of the Caribbean and Central and South America. Consequently, there has been increased illicit drug traffic in other regions : the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican border. This diversion but continuation of illicit drug traffic led President Reagan to announce two major national initiatives modeled after the South Florida Task Force.
20Vice-President George Bush, remarks before the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., l 7 June 1983.
On 14 October 1982, the President announced the Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Forces as part of a major programme headed by the Attorney General to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. In announcing the creation of these units, the President said:
"In view of the success of the South Florida Task Force, and because of increasing organized crime involvement in drug abuse, we will establish 12 additional task forces in key areas in the United States. . . . Following the South Florida example, they will utilize the resources of the Federal Government including the FBI , DEA, IRS, ATF, Immigration and Naturalization Service, United States Marshals Services, the United States Customs Service and the Coast Guard. In addition, in some regions, Department of Defence tracking and pursuit capabilities will be made available." 21
21President Ronald Reagan, "A turning point in the battle against crime", address delivered at the United States Justice Department, Washington, D.C., 14 October 1983.
These OCDE Task Forces are now operational in 12 key areas throughout the country to investigate and prosecute major organized criminal groups involved in drug trafficking.
The second major initiative modeled after the South Florida Task Force was creation of the National Narcotics border Interdiction System (NNBIS) on 23 March 1983. It is to interdict the flow of narcotics into the United States. The Executive board of the NNBIS is chaired by Vice-President Bush and includes the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defence and Transportation, the Attorney General, the Counsellor to the President, the Director of Central Intelligence and the Director of the White House Drug Abuse Policy Office. NNBIS is designed to complement the duties of the regional Justice Department Drug Enforcement Task Forces. It coordinates the work of those federal agencies with existing responsibilities and capabilities for interdiction of illicit drug traffic by sea and air and across borders. It monitors suspected smuggling activities originating outside national borders and destined for the United States. It coordinates the seizure of contraband and arrests of persons involved in illicit drug traffic. 22 NNBIS regional offices are located in New York, Miami, New Orleans, El Paso, Long beach and Chicago. These six NNBIS offices cover the entire United States border.
22Statement, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, 23 March 1983.
Other recent drug law enforcement initiatives in the United States include the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1983 proposed by President Reagan and sent to Congress on 16 March 1983. This legislative proposal includes a reform of the bail laws, comprehensive reforms in federal forfeiture laws and sentencing reform. Law Enforcement Co-ordinating Committees (LECCs) have been established by the Attorney General in 91 of the 94 federal jurisdictional districts. LECCs bring together the heads of federal, state and local prosecutional and law enforcement agencies in the area to focus all available resources on the most serious crime problems in each district. Drug trafficking has been identified as the single most serious problem by each LECC, The Departments of Justice and Treasury have established a National Centre for State and Local Law Enforcement Training at Glynco, Georgia. This Centre assists and trains local law enforcement officials in combating various serious crimes, including drug smuggling.
The United States Government recognizes the serious threat of illicit drugs, the economic cost and the social destruction. It is waging a major battle to fight drug abuse. The United States Government works to lower demand at home through education and prevention, detoxification and treatment and research. The United States is working to lower supply through bilateral and multilateral crop eradication programmes. And, the United States is working to lower supply within the United States through a campaign of illicit drug traffic interdiction of unprecedented size and scope. There have been some encouraging signs. As noted by Dr. Carlton Turner, "In the United States in the past year and a half . . . the demand for drugs is coming down by every indicator known". 23 but the people of the United States are by no means satisfied.
President Reagan, in proclaiming 2 November to 9 November as National Drug Abuse Education Week, noted the progress against illicit drugs in the United States but also issued a new call to arms for greater efforts yet. In signing the proclamation, he said, "Progress is being made, but it takes time to erase 20 years of lax attitudes". 24 And the Presidential Proclamation itself concludes with the words, "I call on all Americans to join the battle against drug abuse to protect our children so that we ensure a healthy and productive generation of Americans as our contribution to the future". 25
23Testimony of Dr. Carlton Turner before the Judiciary Committee, United States House of Representatives, 5 October 1983.
24President Ronald Reagan, remarks at the signing of the proclamation designating National Drug Abuse Education Week, 30 October 1981.
25Presidential Proclamation designating National Drug Abuse Education Week, 2 -9 November 1983.