Drug Control: U.S. Counternarcotics Efforts in Colombia Face Continuing Challenges - GAO Report
|Date:||Feb. 12, 1998|
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Federal aid to foreign countries
International economic relations
Black Hawk Helicopter
Dept. of State International Narcotics Control Program
The narcotics threat continues from Colombia--the world's leading manufacturer and distributor of cocaine. According to State Department and Drug Enforcement Administration reports, the cultivation of coca leaf in Colombia increased by 50 percent between 1994 and 1996. The prevalence of Colombian heroin on the streets of the United States has steadily increased. Significant obstacles, including widespread corruption and extensive violence, have impeded U.S. and Colombian counternarcotics efforts. Colombian insurgent groups, which are increasingly involved in drug trafficking, have further complicated the situation. Since the initial decertification decision in March 1996, Colombia has taken several steps to address U.S. concerns, including passing laws to hinder drug trafficking, eradicating illicit drug crops, interdicting drugs, and combating drug-trafficking organizations and activities. U.S. officials believe that Colombia must now fully implement newly passed laws on asset forfeiture, money laundering, and trafficker sentencing and show a willingness to investigate and punish corrupt officials. Decertification had little impact on Colombia's economy because the President chose not to apply discretionary sanctions against Colombia. However, mandatory economic sanctions required by the decertification decision have led to the termination of some U.S. economic aid and may have hurt some U.S. businesses. Management problems continue to plague the U.S. counternarcotics program in Colombia. GAO summarized this report in testimony before Congress; see: Drug Control: Counternarcotics Efforts in Colombia Face Continuing Challenges, by Henry L. Hinton, Jr., Assistant Comptroller General for National Security and International Affairs Programs, before the House Committee on International Relations. GAO/T-NSIAD-98-103, Feb. 26 (nine pages).