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U.S. Department of State
1997 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, March 1998

Released by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC, March 1998




The preeminent responsibility of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to reduce and ultimately minimize the impact posed by illicit drugs to our nation. All cocaine and heroin as well as some marijuana and other dangerous drugs are produced outside the United States. These illicit drugs are smuggled from countries of their source, usually through other countries to the US. Therefore, the reduction of illicit drug availability in the US requires a strong international counternarcotics strategy. In cooperation and coordination with other nations, as well as other US agencies, DEA strives to concurrently suppress illicit drug production; disrupt the availability of these drugs in the distribution chain; arrest and prosecute those involved in any aspect of illegal drug trafficking; and seize their profits and assets.

The primary contribution of DEA in implementing our international counternarcotics strategy is accomplished through the 70 offices that DEA maintains in 50 countries worldwide. The DEA overseas mission is fivefold:

(1) Conduct bilateral investigative activities,
(2) Coordinate intelligence gathering,
(3) Engage in foreign liaison,
(4) Coordinate training programs for host country police agencies, and
(5) Assist in the development of host country drug law enforcement institutions.

In most countries where DEA maintains offices, DEA carries out all of the above functions with emphasis determined on the basis of the conditions existing in each country. In some instances, where the Host Nation's drug enforcement system is advanced, a DEA Country Office may limit its function to selected activities instead of the full range of programs indicated above.

With the exception of DEA's training mission which is addressed elsewhere, the following are a few examples of the assistance DEA provided host nation counterparts in furtherance of our mission during 1997:

(1) Bilateral Investigations

DEA's Country Offices work with elements of the Host Nations (HN) Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) to investigate activities of drug traffickers that lead to indictments and prosecutions in either the host country, the US or a third country. Whenever appropriate and feasible, intelligence information on major traffickers operating in host countries is shared with HN LEAs to enhance their investigative knowledge. Some examples of DEA's work with HN LEAs follow:

The DEA Mexico City Country Office played an instrumental role in the arrest and prosecution of Gulf Cartel boss Juan Garcia-Abrego. The DEA assisted Mexican authorities in collecting much of the evidence leading to Garcia's conviction in January 1997 in Texas. His conviction served as a significant benchmark in improved bilateral investigations between the United States and Mexico.

In addition to the DEA's efforts concerning the Gulf Cartel, the DEA continued pursuing in conjunction with Mexican authorities counternarcotics investigations targeting the Amado Carillo-Fuentes organizations, the Arellano-Felix Brothers (AFO) , the Miguel Caro-Quintero Organization, and the Amezcua Brothers. As a result of these joint investigations, the Mexican government seized $32 million from Vicente Carillo-Fuentes, the present leader of the Amado Carillo-Fuentes organization. At the end of fiscal year 1997, the Mexican government issued twelve warrants and seized over one-hundred related properties of the Amezcua Brothers, the premier methamphetamine organization in North America. The Mexican government turned-over custody of AFO assassin Jesus Alberto Bayardo-Robles to the United States government after he agreed to cooperate and testify against the AFO.

The efforts of the DEA Bangkok, Thailand, Country Office resulted in the June 5, 1997, extradition of DEA fugitive Li Yun Chung from Thailand to the United States. According to direct evidence and intelligence information developed by the DEA, Li operated as an international heroin broker working on-behalf of the Shan United Army. United States authorities indicted Li in connection with the November 1996 seizure of 486 kilograms of heroin in Hayward, California (the largest domestic seizure of heroin in US, history). The cooperative efforts of the governments of the United States, Thailand, and Burma brought Li to justice.

The coordinated efforts of the DEA San Jose, Costa Rica, Country Office with other national and neighboring countries' law enforcement agencies resulted in major arrests and seizures. During 1997, Costa Rican police arrested 830 drug traffickers, including a major cocaine dispatcher, Jose Meza, as he transited Costa Rica on a commercial flight. One case, which resulted in massive press coverage in Costa Rica involved the February 27, 1997, arrest in Costa Rica of former Costa Rican congressman and chairman of the Congressional Committee on Narcotics Trafficking and Corruption, Leonel Villalobos-Salazar. Villalobos-Salazar was forced to resign from his political post due to his alleged ties to traffickers. The arrests of Villalobos-Salazar and well-known female trafficker, Jeanette Loria, developed through the coordinated efforts of the DEA and Drug Control Police agents. Villalobos-Salazar and Ricardo Alem, another well-known trafficker, currently in custody in Miami, were attributed with moving an excess of 3,000 kilograms of cocaine from Costa Rica to the US between 1993 and 1995.

In August 1997, the Costa Rican Drug Control Police, with assistance from DEA, targeted a Costa-Rican based heroin group headed by Juan Carlos Carpio-Aguilar. Authorities suspected Carpio-Aguilar smuggled heroin from Panama into Costa Rica, for eventual re-export into New York. After expanding the investigation into Panama, Panamanian police seized 5 kilograms of heroin and arrested two individuals. US law enforcement authorities arrested one courier and seized 1 kilogram of heroin in Miami. In Costa Rica, authorities arrested Carpio and six others.

In concert with the American Embassy Country Team, the DEA Lima, Peru Country Office, assisted the Peruvian National Police (PNP) in the gathering of intelligence and apprehension of the leaders of Peru's three most important cocaine trafficking organizations. These "drug lords" manufactured and shipped multi-ton quantities of cocaine base from Peru to Colombia on a monthly basis. On March 3, 1997, based on one of these investigations, the Colombian National Police (CNP) located and captured Peruvian national Carlos Cardenas Guzman. Following Guzman's arrest, the DEA assisted in the apprehension of Cardenas's brother Luis Cardenas Guzman in Lima, Peru, on February 7, 1997. On August 10, 1997, in another example of a successful joint investigation, the DEA aided the CNP and PNP in apprehending Peruvian Waldo Simeon Vargas Arias.

During June 1997, the DEA Bern, Switzerland, Country Office played a significant role in a US domestic cocaine and heroin investigation of Chicago based drug trafficker Rifat Fteja and his Kosovo-Albanian drug trafficking organization. The Bern Country Office, based on intelligence received from the DEA Chicago Field Division, developed an investigation, in conjunction with Swiss and Mexican police, that resulted in the arrest of thirteen subjects in Switzerland, and the seizure of 84 kilograms of heroin.

The DEA Guatemala City, Guatemala, Country Office played an integral part in twenty-five bilateral investigations with Guatemalan drug law enforcement units. Working closely with their DEA counterparts, Guatemalan drug law enforcement units improved their investigative abilities. These bilateral investigations led to the seizure of 5,267 kilograms of cocaine, 11 kilograms of heroin, and $255,600.

During 1997, the Panama Country Office, in conjunction with Panamanian law enforcement agencies, initiated numerous investigations targeting Panama-based Colombian cocaine and heroin trafficking organizations. These Colombian organizations used Panama as a storage and staging for their US and European distribution operations. Authorities seized over 10,000 kilograms of cocaine in Panama during 1997 as a result of both joint and independent investigations.

In 1981, the state of Florida convicted Norwegian citizen Thor Holm Hansen on four felony drug counts in the Southern District of Florida. He fled the United States and returned to Norway where he remained a DEA fugitive for sixteen years. In March 1997, Hansen traveled to Brussels, Belgium, from Oslo, Norway. At the request of the Brussels, Belgium, Country Office and the Miami Field Division, the Belgian Gendarmerie arrested Hanson. The Belgian government approved US extradition requests in August 1997, and Hansen currently awaits sentencing.

A joint investigation conducted by the Canberra, Australia, Country Office, the DEA Los Angeles Field Division, and the Australian Federal Police resulted in the seizure of twenty-five tons of hashish from an organization headed by David Zulik. Intelligence information and direct evidence developed by both the DEA Los Angeles Field Division and the Australian Federal Police indicated this organization planned to import twenty-five tons of hashish into the United States and Australia utilizing maritime resources.

During July and August 1997, an investigation conducted by the DEA Manila, Philippines, Country Office and the Philippine National Police resulted in the seizure of approximately 2.25 kilograms of Southeast Asian heroin as well as the arrest of several individuals including the Nigerian source of supply. A subsequent investigation indicated that those arrested used the Philippines as a transshipment point for a smuggling operation that shipped heroin from Thailand to the United States. Subsequently, DEA investigative activity succeeded in linking this organization to a series of domestic seizures totaling more than sixty kilograms of heroin.

On July 20, 1997, Venezuelan authorities, working with the DEA Caracas, Venezuela Country Office, seized the coastal freighter, Ricky II, in Port Cabello, Venezuela. An exhaustive search of the vessel revealed hidden compartments which contained 4,181 kilograms of cocaine. This was the single largest cocaine seizure in Venezuelan law enforcement history. Information leading to this seizure originated from a joint investigation by the DEA Barranquilla, Colombia Resident Office and the Colombian Prosecutors Office.

In early 1997, the DEA Singapore Country Office and the Indonesian National Police initiated a bilateral investigation into the activities of Michael and Paul Miller. Authorities alleged the Millers smuggled multi-ton shipments of marijuana from Thailand to the United States and laundered the proceeds. Subsequently, this case developed into a multi-jurisdictional conspiracy involving DEA offices in Hawaii, Idaho, Hong Kong, and Thailand. This investigation ultimately resulted in the arrest of Michael and Paul Miller in May 1997 as well as the seizure of assets valued at more than $12 million.

Working with the Bulgarian Central Service for Combating Organized Crime, the Athens, Greece, Country Office initiated an investigation resulting in the dismantling of an opium smuggling ring operating out-of Sofia, Bulgaria. Intelligence gathered from the initial investigation resulted in a subsequent case in California. In this California case, authorities seized $300,000. Consequently, the DEA developed a major conspiracy investigation targeting Turkish and Iranian drug traffickers and money launderers in the United States.

In June 1997 the Karachi, Pakistan, Resident Office provided information to the Pakistani Anti-Narcotic Force (ANF) leading to the seizure of 580 kilograms of heroin destined for western markets. As a result of the seizure, ANF made four arrests and identified the head of the drug trafficking organization. This represents the largest heroin seizure in Pakistan's history.

A bilateral investigation conducted by the DEA Tokyo, Japan, Country Office and the Japanese National Police Agency resulted in the seizure of 58 kilograms of methamphetamine from a North Korean vessel in April 1997. Traffickers concealed the methamphetamine in large commercial cans of honey. The DEA further assisted Japanese law enforcement authorities in conducting data systems reviews, deciphering a suspected drug ledger, and sent investigative leads to the DEA Seoul Country Office.

The DEA Belize City, Belize Country Office assisted its counterparts in three major operations conducted in 1997. In March, a joint air, land, and sea interdiction effort netted a record seizure of 1,322 kilograms of cocaine.

(2) Coordinate Intelligence Gathering

The Brazilian Federal Police and the DEA Brasilia Country Office spearheaded a regional intelligence program, based on an International Drug Enforcement Conference initiative, disrupting the transshipment of cocaine and precursor chemicals across the contiguous borders of Brazil with the three cocaine source countries of Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela. The Brazilian Federal Police program used police officers from Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia who work with the Brazilian Federal Police, at eight strategically located Brazilian bases, to review and coordinate the dissemination of drug intelligence.

Intelligence information developed by the Rangoon, Burma Country Office (as well as other DEA offices in Southeast Asia) enabled the Burmese government to significantly increase the seizure of heroin and heroin refineries during the past year. During 1997, Burmese police, acting on information provided by the Rangoon Country Office, seized thirty-three heroin refineries, 1,400 kilograms of heroin, and more than 7.800 kilograms of opiate products in the Shan State. At the same time, the Burmese army eradicated approximately 41,000 acres of opium during the 1997-98 cultivation cycle. While these seizures represent only a small fraction of the heroin produced in this region, the sizable increase in enforcement activity appears to reflect a stronger commitment by the Burmese government in the fight against drug traffickers.

The DEA Panama Country Office used in conjunction with Panamanian authorities developed an intelligence operation to monitor and target organizations suspected of transporting illicit narcotics via vessel and/or land vehicles from Colombia through Panama to the United States. Using intelligence gained from this effort, the Panama Country Office and host country counterparts coordinated with other Central and South American DEA Offices to target organizations involved in both overland and maritime smuggling

The DEA Bogota, Colombia Country Office continues working closely with the Colombian National Police's Anti-narcotics Division to develop effective operational standards and intelligence bases to support and conduct bilateral jungle operations. This program directly supports the DEA/Country Team Flow Reduction Strategy which targets transportation and drug processing organizations operating from Colombia's source zones. This program contributed significantly to Colombia's 1997 total cocaine seizures of forty-two tons.

The DEA The Hague, Netherlands Country Office, the Dutch Prisma Police Team, the Bogota Country Office, and the Miami Field Division targeted the OREJUELA and QUINCENO-BOTERO cocaine organizations. Dutch officials traced the bulk of the cocaine entering Holland to these organizations. As a result of this coordinated intelligence effort, Dutch officials arrested Luis Arnaldo Quinceno-Botero.

The Bangkok, Thailand, Country office participated in debriefing numerous drug trafficking defendants incarcerated both in Thailand and the United States. Those interviewed included seven high level members of the Shan United Army as well as the most significant Thai trafficker ever extradited to the United States. Direct evidence and intelligence information developed as a result of these interviews documents the exportation of more than twelve tons of Southeast Asian heroin from the Golden Triangle to the US and other international markets since 1988.

The DEA Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Country Office and Seoul Country Office cooperated in the initiation of a multilateral investigation involving law enforcement agencies from the United States, Malaysia, and Korea. This cooperative effort produced an investigation that obtained and integrated information provided by their law enforcement counterparts regarding the operations of a Nigerian heroin trafficking organization. The information gathered from this investigation allowed Korean Customs to obtain approval for the first "wiretap" investigation ever effected by Korean authorities in drug enforcement operations.

Throughout 1997, DEA Seoul, Korea, Country Office participated with law enforcement agencies from Korea and seventeen other Asian countries in the establishment of an intelligence information group (ALDOMECICO) that collects, analyzes, and disseminates information on the activities of major drug smugglers operating in Seoul. Information provided by ALDOMECICO thus far led to the arrests of five Nigerian traffickers and will greatly assist law enforcement in disrupting West African traffickers active in East Asia.

In 1997, the Nicosia, Cyprus, Country Office initiated Operation Sham in which DEA Agents investigated alleged Lebanese, Israeli, Syrian and Eastern European drug traffickers and money launderers. Through Operation Sham, the Nicosia Country Office cultivated eight confidential sources who provided banking transactions of alleged traffickers from four Lebanese banks. This information shed light on the breadth of money laundering occurring in the Middle East.

(3) Engage in Foreign Liaison

In April, DEA sponsored the 15th annual International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC). At the conference, hosted by the Royal Bahamas Police Force, 86 senior drug law enforcement officials from 29 member countries throughout the Western Hemisphere and observers from Europe, Asia, and Australia met to discuss and exchange insights on counternarcotics enforcement activities. Police officials from several countries, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and the Bahamas for example, outlined their counternarcotics law enforcement strategies and shared lessons learned from multilateral investigations and operations. During the conference, members adopted initiatives pertaining to the development of regional multinational enforcement investigations and operations targeting major traffickers in the hemisphere. The conference provided a forum for the delegates to exchange information and build personal relationships that are key to enhancing closer coordination among law enforcement agencies.

In an effort to stem the increased flow of narcotics through Vietnam, the government of Vietnam (GOV) established the Anti-Narcotics Police Division(AND) in February 1997. Established following a series of liaison visits by DEA personnel (Bangkok Country Office), AND's mission involves Vietnam's attempt to centralize and increase efficiency in its drug law enforcement.

During 1997, the DEA Peshawar, Pakistan, Resident Office maintained and developed ties with the Taliban leadership involved in counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan. The DEA primarily worked with the Jalalabad-based Nangarhar Drug Control and Development Unit. In the latter part of 1997, personnel from the Peshawar traveled to Jalalabad and Kabul, Afghanistan, as this event marked the first DEA visit to Kabul in twenty years. Officials from the State High Commission for Drug Control organized meetings with DEA as well as with department heads within the Commission. The trip allowed DEA Agents to evaluate the sincerity of the Taliban to enforce its interpretation of the Koran as it applies to narcotics. The Commission enthusiastically greeted the proposal for limited training by the DEA.

The DEA Ottawa, Canada Country Office in conjunction with the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) was instrumental in obtaining the Mounted Canadian Police's participation in EPIC as an associate. DEA Ottawa assisted in drafting the DEA/EPIC/RCMP Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU provides for real time direct intelligence sharing between the RCMP and EPIC member agencies.

In 1997, the Singapore Country Office encouraged the government of Singapore to enter into an agreement with the United States providing for the exchange of information relating to the laundering of drug proceeds. This agreement facilitates the initiation of cooperative investigators and bolsters the enforcement capability of both the United States and Singapore (under Singapore law, a designation agreement must be in place prior to the exchange of drug related financial information). Both sides expressed a firm commitment for the implementation of this agreement.

Building upon the prior successes of the People's Republic of China (PRC) Chemical Control Program, the DEA continued playing a major role in the technological enhancement of this effective monitoring program. During 1997, DEA installed a PC Computer Telecommunications Network at the Public Security Bureau's National Narcotic Control Commission in Beijing. This new computer system provides the PRC with real-time chemical import/export information to target suspect chemical shipments.

(4) Coordinate Training Programs for Host Country Police Agencies

This topic is addressed in the International Training Section.

(5) Assist in the Development of Host Country Drug Law Enforcement Institutions

The DEA La Paz, Bolivia, Country Office and the Bolivian National Police established the FELCN Sensitive Unit (SIU) in 1997. By September 1997, the SIU outfitted seventy-five fully vetted and trained police officers. The SIU became an instant force multiplier to the FELCN Special Intelligence and Operations Group (GIOE). Presently, the GIOE consists of ninety-eight police officers extensively trained to conduct Bolivian drug investigations. The GIOE combined with the SIU culminated a banner enforcement year with 213 investigations resulting in 680 arrests and 4.3 metric tons of cocaine, 108 parcel of real property, 183 vehicles, 10 aircraft, and 43 weapons seized.

The DEA Bogota, Colombia, Country Office and the Colombian National Police (CNP) established a Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU) which possesses semi-vetted CNP units working with fully vetted investigative units. Based in Bogota, the current SIU strength is thirty-seven. To date, the SIU coordinated over 300 seizure operations from the drug trafficking organizations of Jose Santacruz-Londono, Pablo Escobar-Gaviria, and Ivan Urdinola and the Ochoa family. The CNP/SIU relied heavily on Colombia's new asset forfeiture legislation which became law in December 1996.

In February 1997, Mexican authorities arrested General Jesus Gutierrez-Rebollo, head of the National Institute to Combat Drugs, for collusion with reputed drug trafficker Amado Carrillo-Fuentes. Abolishing the INCD, the Mexican government created the Fiscalía Especial para Atención de Delitos Contra la Salud (FEADS) in May 1997. The DEA Mexico City Country Office works closely with FEADS to assist with current investigations. DEA assists Mexican authorities through the process of vetting candidates for components of FEADS. The aim of the process is to develop an uncorrupted corps of narcotic investigators committed to the prosecution of high level traffickers.

The DEA Bangkok, Thailand Country Office, in concert with the Department of State and other United States law enforcement elements, provided assistance to the Office of the Narcotics Control Board of Thailand in an attempt to enhance the efforts in establishing a Drug Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok similar to the mission of the International Law Academy in Budapest. The academy in Bangkok will concentrate on improving cooperation among the various Southeast Asian drug law enforcement agencies. The DEA in Thailand worked closely with Thai authorities toward the completion of the Songkhla Intelligence Center (SIC). This center operates as a multi-discipline tactical intelligence center.

In 1997, the Government of Turkey passed the Control of Narcotic Substance Act and Amendments to Executive Decree #178. These bills revised Turkey's anti-drug legislation by allowing controlled deliveries and establishing a separate agency to investigate and prevent money laundering. DEA played an instrumental role in passing these two bills. Within days of the implementation of these laws, DEA Turkey initiated and successfully completed the first ever controlled delivery from Turkey, a 4.5 kilogram seizure of opium to Los Angeles. The subsequent investigation identified a major opium smuggling organization operating in California and Texas.

The DEA Singapore Country Office provided strong encouragement to Indonesian authorities which served as the impetus for the recent passage of tough anti-drug legislation. The new law empowers police and prosecutors with the necessary tools to increase their effectiveness. The law includes provisions for the investigation/prosecution of conspiracy cases, the forfeiture of drug related assets, the use of undercover operatives, and the imposition of mandatory-minimum sentences for drug related crimes.

The DEA Seoul, Korea Country Office assisted Korean law enforcement authorities by providing model US money laundering legislation. The Korean legislature passed money laundering legislation similar to money laundering US laws in June 1997. Legislators expect the law to deter Korea from becoming a major money laundering hub, particularly in light of the illegal Nigerian suspects operating in the region.

The DEA Buenos Aires, Argentina, Country Office continues providing support to the Northern Border Task Force in the Province of Salta, Argentina. The task force consisted of twenty officers from the local provincial police and the national Gendarmeria. The task force's mission involves conducting investigations against major Argentine, Bolivian, and Paraguayan trafficking groups operating along the northern Argentine border.


Combined Operations

Coast Guard counterdrug law enforcement in the Caribbean and maritime borders of Latin America is largely dependent on international combined operations. Partnering with law enforcement officials of other nation helps develop indigenous interdiction forces and enhances the cumulative impact of interdiction against drug traffickers in the region. Combined operations with foreign maritime forces provide practical training for foreign, as well as Coast Guard personnel.

CARIBE VENTURE is a recurrent series of multinational operations in the Eastern Caribbean. The Coast Guard sponsored three of these operations in FY 1997 and has extended CARIBE VENTURE 1/98 throughout the first half of FY 1997. Participants extend legal authority to law enforcement officials of other nations that permit entry and pursuit of suspects through sovereign sea an air spaces. International partners presently include: United Kingdom and dependent territories, the Netherlands and Netherlands Antilles, France and the French West Indies, Dominican Republic, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Anguilla & Montserrat, and Dominica. Other RSS member nations participate in combined operations that are conducted in the vicinity of territorial sea and airspace's.

HALCON is a series of counterdrug and alien migrant operations between the Coast Guard and Dominican Republic (DOMREP) Coast Guard. HALCON V, November 1996, resulted in the seizure of 25 pounds of marijuana and 3 migrant interdictions with 222 turn backs. Several operations are planned for FY98, HALCON 1-98 was completed in December with negative results.

OPBAT is an ongoing interdiction program involving forward staged Coast Guard and Army air assets, DEA agents, along with Bahamian Police and Turks and Caicos Islands Police forces. During FY 97 OPBAT forces seized; 5,137 pounds of cocaine, 21,953 pounds of marijuana, 5 pounds of heroin, 4 vessels and made 27 arrests. There are three primary staging sites for Coast Guard and Army helicopters which may respond to targets throughout the Bahamas and Florida Straits. OPBAT style techniques were exported to other regions of the transit zone (Operation BLUE SKIES) and is being considered for implementation in other regions of the Caribbean in FY98. During FY97 the Coast Guard also conducted 6 separate operations with the Bahamian government.

BLUE SKIES was an operation designed to use OPBAT techniques in Antigua, St. Kitts, Dominica, Grenada, Trinidad, St. Lucia, and Netherlands Antilles. The operation involved two Coast Guard helicopters, several foreign and US vessels. The operation was very successful seizing 10,250 pounds of marijuana, locating and eradicating an additional 80,500 pounds of marijuana, and the seizure of 67 rocks of cocaine.

OPVISTA missions were conducted frequently during the year by a high or medium endurance cutter operating in the Caribbean or Eastern Pacific. In FY97 OPVISTA's were conducted in Honduras and Dominican Republic. The Coast Guard cutter crew conducted training with members of the host nations navy for 1 week and provided domestic support in the form of humanitarian aid.

OP LAMBI and FRONTIER ADVANCE operations were conducted with the Haitian Coast Guard for the first time in FY97. These operations were very successful and provided a tremendous amount of training to the Haitian Coast Guard. In addition, the Coast Guard has been embarking a Haitian Coast Guard shiprider on its cutters for most of FY 97 to conduct combined operations in the territorial waters surrounding Haiti. The embarkation of Haitian Shipriders has been very successful resulting in 6 counterdrug cases yielding the seizure of 9,600 pounds of marijuana and 6,405 pounds of cocaine.

The Coast Guard also conducts coincidental operations with the Mexican Navy in the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific. During these operations, Coast Guard and Mexican Naval units operate simultaneously, and exchange on-scene information which may assist in interdiction of drug traffickers. The coordination and frequency of these operations is expected to increase in FY 1998. The Coast Guard assisted the Mexican Navy with the seizure of 12,868 pounds of cocaine and 4,000 pounds of marijuana in FY97. In addition Coast Guard LEDET's have provided dockside boarding technical assistance to the Mexican government several times in FY97.

In FY1997 the Coast Guard established communications protocols between the US Coast Guard and the Mexican Navy to facilitate the rapid, and accurate exchange of maritime tactical information in the Gulf of Mexico. This communications regime allows on scene commanders to respond in a timely fashion to operational events occurring across the Texas/Mexico maritime border. In FY98 efforts will be to establish a similar communications regime on the California/Mexico border.

Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETS) are largely responsible for the success of combined operations with foreign countries. Coast Guard currently deploys LEDETS on British and Dutch warships which extends the Coast Guard's unique maritime law enforcement authority. LEDETS assisted foreign countries with the seizure of over 13,000 pounds of cocaine in FY 97. LEDETS also provide technical support to foreign countries conducting dockside boardings when requested by the foreign country.

Maritime Counterdrug Agreements

Coast Guard officers are key members of interagency US delegations traveling to Caribbean countries to negotiate bilateral maritime counterdrug agreements. The "Six Part" model agreements include shipboarding, shiprider, pursuit, entry-to-investigate, overflight, and order to land provisions. Coast Guard officials are also assisting the State Department in negotiating agreements to improve maritime migrant interdiction operations.

Coast Guard officers are also posted in key embassies of source and transit zone countries. Current billets include: Bahamas, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela. Additional countries are going to be added in FY98. These officers coordinate a significant amount of informal training and assistance to host nation forces by visiting Coast Guard cutter and aircraft crewmembers.

Transferred Ships in FY97 and Planned FY98

FY 97Planned in FY 98
82 ft. Patrol Boat(1) Estonia(1) St. Lucia
(1) Ecuador(1) Antigua
(2) Venezuela
(2) Panama
(2) Colombia
(1) Guinea
(2) Trinidad
(1) Cape Verde
180 ft. Buoy Tender(1) Colombia
(1) Ecuador
(1) Philippines
157 ft. Buoy Tender(2) Argentina
133 ft. Buoy Tender(1) Tunisia
(1) Morocco


The US Coast Guard can provide training in ALL Coast Guard Core Mission Area skills, from the basic to advanced levels. The four Core Mission areas are Maritime Law Enforcement, Maritime Safety, Marine Environmental Protection and Defense Readiness. Specific skill sets include enforcement of laws and treaties (counter-narcotics, fisheries, smuggling, alien interdiction); search and rescue; marine environmental response and protection; safety and security of marine transportation, ports, waterways and shore facilities; contingency and response planning; legal authority and jurisdiction; resource management to include budget formulation and workforce planning, training and retention; and national defense preparedness.

The training program development process begins by first assessing the state of the partner nation's maritime program, resources and the organization designated as the lead for this responsibility. A tailored, and possibly joint, training plan is then developed to meet the partner nation's program goals. Ultimately, in-country teams assist the partner organization carry out the developed training plan to the point of established self-sufficiency. The team can assist a country in achieving national maritime goals in non-defense areas within the US Coast Guard's area of expertise. Should the partner nation have a mission or issue that is covered by multiple US agencies, which includes the US Coast Guard, the team leader will assist in acquisition of personnel from other US agencies. Mission Areas that have been addressed by previous Coast Guard and Joint training teams have been: evaluation of maritime law enforcement programs, development of model ports relative to narcotics intervention, creation of an implementation plan for a multi-mission, multi-agency maritime service management model, and development of training plans and institutions for multi-agency marine safety and maritime law enforcement programs.

The following pages provide actual and projected training and assistance events for FY 97 and FY 98.


International drug interdiction training is a vital segment of the activities, interests, and mission of the US Customs Service. Training is funded and approved by the Department of State and provided to drug control agencies with interdiction responsibilities in countries considered significant to US narcotics control efforts.

In FY 1997, 2 International Visitor Programs (IVP), involving 9 participants, were conducted in the US. A total of 35 programs were conducted outside of the US, involving 1,926 participants in 32 countries. These included 10 Overseas Enforcement Training (OET) Programs for individual countries; 5 Regional Overseas Enforcement Training (ROET) Programs for two or more countries; 4 Train-the-Trainer Workshops (T3W) for individual countries; 2 Regional Train-the-Trainer Workshops (RT3W) for two or more countries; and 14 Money Laundering Seminars (MLS), with two of these programs being regional programs. In addition, Short Term Advisory Programs were conducted in three countries.

FY 1997 was the seventh year in which INL funded US Customs' international training for the Carrier Initiative Program (CIP), and the first in which INL funding was provided for the Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition (BASC). BASC is a business-led, US Customs-supported alliance created to combat narcotic smuggling via commercial trade. FY 1997 INL funds were used to present CIP and BASC training to 1,098 employees in six programs. These programs were offered in the following countries: Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru (two programs), and Mexico. Furthermore, site surveys were conducted in Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, and Antigua. Costs relating to these programs are partially offset by the sponsoring commercial transportation companies.

At present, 2,775 sea carriers, 875 land border carriers, and 150 airlines participate in the Carrier Initiative Program, for a total of 3,800 signatories. In FY 1997, CIP participants effected 87 foreign interceptions of illegal drugs, with a total weight of 13,698 pounds. They also provided information and assistance leading to 74 drug seizures at the US border, with a weight of 12,727 pounds. In total, CIP signatories participated in 161 interceptions and seizures, preventing 26,425 pounds of illegal drugs from entering the US. Over 140 foreign manufacturers and exporters have begun participating in the BASC since its inception in 1996. Information and/or action taken by companies involved in the BASC resulted in five (5) seizures (domestic and foreign) totaling over 6,000 pounds of cocaine.

In addition to the normal schedule of International Narcotics Control Training programs conducted under the auspices of INL, US Customs carried out a number of narcotics control projects making use of funds outside of the annual INL allocation. These programs were in response to high priority concerns. Among these are the following:

  • Non-INL funded CIP/BASC programs were conducted in Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador. At each of the above stated presentations, 100-150 individuals were in attendance. It is anticipated that the ACSI program (discussed below) will help to officially enlist those companies that have expressed an interest.
  • A Carrier Initiative Conference was held in Orlando, Florida, with the purposes of increasing coordination, cooperation, and communication between US Customs and the trade community and to develop a strategy for the meaningful expansion of the Carrier Initiative and BASC Programs into the 21st Century.
  • America's Counter-Smuggling Initiative (ACSI) has been initiated. ACSI was one result of the above mentioned Orlando CIP conference. ACSI will build upon the success of the Carrier Initiative Program (CIP) and Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition (BASC) by expanding US Customs' anti-narcotics security programs with industry and governments throughout Central and South America. The Offices of Field Operations, Investigations, International Affairs, and Intelligence will detail officers to assist exporters, carriers, manufacturers, and other businesses in selected high-risk countries. The countries initially targeted by ACSI are as follows: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. A prototype team was in Venezuela from October to December, 1997. During that time, the team made BASC presentations to 528 individuals involved in export-related industries; provided training to 69 government officials on container examinations, concealment methods and aircraft search; and conducted security surveys of 89 manufacturing and transportation facilities.

Operation Laser Strike is a DOD-sponsored counterdrug initiative created to disrupt cocaine traffickers in the South American source zone. With the recent success of air bridge interdiction efforts in the region, it is expected that traffickers will resort to the oceans/waterways as a principal means of transporting their contraband. In support of Laser Strike, US Customs and the Coast Guard conducted INL-funded port assessments in Ecuador and Peru during FY 1997.

In 1997, the United States signed Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements (CMAAs) with Japan, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Venezuela, and the European Community. CMAAs provide for mutual assistance in the enforcement of any laws related to Customs, and US Customs uses these agreements to assist in the gathering of evidence for criminal cases involving narcotics smuggling and money laundering. US courts have ruled that evidence gathered via these executive agreements is fully admissible in US court cases.

Particularly noteworthy in assessing the US Customs INL-funded international training for FY 1997 are the following reports on the results of the training efforts in terms of narcotics seizures, improvement in the organization of anti-narcotics law enforcement and increased public awareness:

  • As a result of a multi-agency assessment participated in by US Customs, it was reported by the US Embassy in Pretoria that the government of South Africa set up an operational working group to coordinate the training activities of the major border control agencies. This body also undertook to sort out the functions of the participating agencies, looked at opportunities for cross-training among agencies, and worked to determine how to implement improvements recommended by the report of the assessment team.
  • The US Embassy in Bogota reported that a US Customs presentation in March to Colombian businessmen on ways in which exporters could help prevent drugs from being placed in their shipments resulted in what the representative of the Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce considered to be the largest turnout of businessmen which he had ever helped arrange.
  • The Swazi police indicated to the US Embassy in Mbabane that its seizure of over $1 million worth of marijuana resulted partly from INL-provided equipment and regional training delivered by US Customs with INL funding. This was the largest drug interdiction to date in Swaziland.
  • The Venezuelan National Guard informed the US Embassy in Caracas that its inspectors had immediately put to use profiling techniques derived from US Customs training to arrest two individuals smuggling cocaine into Venezuela from Colombia.
  • The Director of the Narcotics Affairs Section at the US Embassy in Lima stated that a seaport counter narcotics interdiction course offered by US Customs had helped to impart the concept of joint operations among personnel of the Peruvian Navy, Customs, Coast Guard, National Police, and the port authority.

In FY 1997, the US Customs Service shared financial assets on 7 occasions with three countries:

Canada$ 82,676.14
Royal Cayman Island$9,973.52

Training Statistics
Number of Programs
Number of Participants
Training in the US:
International Visitor Program29
Training in host countries:
Overseas Enforcement Training10314
Regional Overseas Enforcement Training5142
Train-the-Trainer Workshop451
Regional Train-the-Trainer Workshop225
Money Laundering Seminar141,394
Carrier Initiative Program/ Business

Anti-Smuggling Coalition



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