Presidential Memorandum--Major Illicit Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
SUBJECT: Presidential Determination on Major Illicit Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2011
Pursuant to section 706(1) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228)(FRAA), I hereby identify the following countries as major drug transit or major illicit drug-producing countries: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.
A country's presence on the Majors List is not necessarily an adverse reflection of its government's counternarcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States. Consistent with the statutory definition of a major drug transit or drug producing country set forth in section 481(e)(2) and (5) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA), one of the reasons that major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries are placed on the list is the combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced despite the concerned government's most assiduous enforcement measures.
Pursuant to section 706(2)(A) of the FRAA, I hereby designate Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela as countries that have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and take the measures set forth in section 489(a)(1) of the FAA. Accompanying this report are justifications for the determinations on Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela, as required by section 706(2)(B).
I have also determined, in accordance with provisions of section 706(3)(A) of the FRAA, that continued support for bilateral programs in Bolivia and limited programs in Venezuela are vital to the national interests of the United States.
Afghanistan continues to be the world's largest producer of opium poppies and a major source of heroin. The United States Government recognized the Government of Afghanistan's ongoing commitment to combat narcotics and the range of initiatives undertaken in this regard under the auspices of the government of President Karzai. A noteworthy achievement is the reduction of opium poppy cultivation from 157,000 hectares in 2008, to 131,000 hectares in 2009, a 17 percent decline.
The connections between opium production, the resulting narcotics trade, corruption, and the insurgency continue to be among the most challenging obstacles to reducing the drug threat in Afghanistan. Poppy cultivation remains largely confined to provinces in the south and west where security problems greatly impede counternarcotics efforts. Nearly all significant poppy cultivation occurs in insecure areas with active insurgent elements, although progress has been made in stabilizing these regions. Nevertheless, the country must demonstrate even greater political will and programmatic effort to combat opium trafficking and production nationwide.
Pakistan is a major transit country for opiates and hashish for markets around the world, especially for narcotics originating in Afghanistan. Pakistan also is a major transit country for precursor chemicals illegally smuggled to Afghanistan where they are used to process heroin.
Pakistan is still challenged by extremist groups who have power over parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, particularly where most of Pakistan's poppy is grown. These extremist groups are also found in settled areas of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province such as its capital, Peshawar, and the Swat Valley. The Government of Pakistan is forced to divert law enforcement resources and equipment from poppy eradication efforts to address these incursions.
The Government of Pakistan remains concerned about opium poppy cultivation in Pakistan and is working to return to opium poppy-free status soon. A joint U.S.-Pakistan survey in 2009 estimated that 1,779 hectares of opium poppies were under cultivation in Pakistan, approximately 130 hectares less than was under cultivation in the country during the previous year.
The range of U.S.-Pakistan initiatives, which include programs to defeat the insurgency on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and prevent terrorist safe-havens, have the spin-off effect of helping Pakistan to fortify its land borders and seacoast against drug trafficking and terrorists, support expanded regional cooperation, and encourages Pakistan to return to opium poppy-free status. United States Government support focuses especially on upgrading the institutional capacity of Pakistan's law enforcement agencies.
Although Brazil no longer qualifies as a major drug transit country to the United States, narcotics control in this country which occupies such a large landmass in the hemisphere is of serious concern. Dynamic drug trafficking trends from Brazil are directed primarily at other countries, especially to and through Africa, and onward to Europe. For example, seizures of maritime vessels that departed Brazil in 2009, primarily to European destinations, recorded an unprecedented 2.2 metric tons of cocaine. With its vast terrain and shared borders with so many other countries, Brazil faces unique challenges in terms of patrolling so much illegal land, air, and sea activity. Brazil is seeking to reduce its growing domestic drug use at home, especially the use of cocaine, cocaine base, and crack cocaine, primarily from Bolivia; and marijuana. The United States recognizes Brazil's emergence as a forward-leaning regional leader for cooperation among neighboring states to thwart drug production, trafficking, and use. Like all hemispheric countries, it is important for Brazil to place narcotics and crime control at the top of its national security agenda to thwart these negative influences.
As Mexico and Colombia continue to apply pressure on drug traffickers, the countries of Central America are increasingly targeted for trafficking of cocaine and other drugs primarily destined for the United States. This growing problem resulted in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua meeting the threshold for inclusion in the Majors List. Panama and Guatemala, already on the Majors List, are especially vulnerable because of their geographic location. Enhanced and effective counternarcotics measures are needed to thwart smugglers from moving illegal drugs through the seven countries on the isthmus, as well as the waters along the region's long Atlantic and Pacific coastlines between the coca producing Andes to the south and determined and flexible criminal trafficking organizations based in Mexico. United States Government support through the Central American Regional Security Initiative provides Central American countries with the opportunity to boost their rule of law institutions and promote greater regional law enforcement cooperation to counter drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.
United States and international data show a continued strengthening of illegal drug trafficking between Latin America and West Africa, especially via Brazil and Venezuela, with a considerable portion of illegal product destined for Europe. Nigeria, a worldwide drug trafficking focal point, makes counternarcotics a top national security concern for the country, but Nigeria's efforts are often thwarted by lack of resources, institutional capability, and corruption. A number of U.S. projects in Nigeria and other West African countries are aimed at building limited capacity to investigate and prosecute organized drug traffickers.
Drug traffickers continue to move significant quantities of cocaine through West Africa. For example, Gambian officials recently discovered over two tons of cocaine being stockpiled in the country. The crash of a Boeing 727 in Mali, which was believed to be carrying cocaine, points to new trafficking methods being used in the region. Drug trafficking remains a threat to security, good governance, and increasingly, public health in West Africa. Many countries in the region have weak criminal justice institutions and are vulnerable to corruption. The facilitation of drug trafficking by government officials continues to be a significant challenge, especially in Guinea-Bissau. The United States is encouraged that some countries are actively investigating illegal drug traffickers. Liberia, for example, worked closely with the United States to arrest suspects and deliver them into U.S. custody to stand trial.
The assistance of international donors and organizations to West African governments to improve their counternarcotics capability is increasingly urgent. The United States fully supports all efforts to promote, preserve, and protect the stability and positive growth of countries in West Africa.
The United States continues to maintain a strong and productive law enforcement relationship with Canada. Both countries are making significant efforts to disrupt the two-way flow of drugs, bulk currency, and other contraband. Canadian criminal groups continue to produce large quantities of MDMA (ecstasy) and high-potency marijuana that is trafficked to the United States. The frequent mixing of methamphetamine and other unknown substances into pills marketed as MDMA by Canada-based criminal groups poses an emerging public health risk in the United States, as well as in Canada.
The stealth with which both natural and synthetic drugs including marijuana, MDMA, and methamphetamine are produced in Canada and trafficked to the United States, makes it extremely difficult to measure the overall impact of such transshipments from this shared border country, although U.S. law enforcement agencies record considerable seizures of these substances from Canada.
At the same time, the Drug Enforcement Administration reports that of the amount of MDMA seized in the United States, about half was traced to Canada as its country of origin in 2009.
You are hereby authorized and directed to submit this determination under section 706 of the FRAA, transmit it to the Congress, and publish it in the Federal Register.
Memorandum of Justification for Major Illicit Drug Transit or Illicit Drug Producing Countries for FY 2011
The United States remains committed to the bilateral dialogue process designed to reach agreement on joint actions to be taken regarding issues of mutual interest, including counternarcotics, and to achieve an improved overall bilateral relationship.
We recognize the efforts of the Bolivian government to combat the production and trafficking of illegal narcotics. However, during the past year Bolivia failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements or to take the counternarcotics measures set forth in Section 489(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA).
Over the past 12 months, the United States maintained its counternarcotics support for Government of Bolivia counternarcotics efforts. While the program efforts continued to achieve some goals in interdiction and eradication, the efforts failed to diminish the production of coca leaf and cocaine products.
The U.S. Government estimated that in 2009, net coca cultivation in Bolivia was approximately 35,000 hectares, nearly 9.4 percent higher than 2008 and the highest estimated level in a decade. In 2009, Bolivia eradicated 6,341 hectares of coca, about 1,100 more hectares than the previous year. These results have unfortunately not resulted in a net reduction in the cultivation of coca in Bolivia.
The U.S. government estimated that Bolivia’s potential cocaine hydrochloride production increased approximately 50 percent, from 130 MT in 2007 to 195 MT in 2008 and remained at 195 metric tons in 2009. Bolivian police seized approximately 27 metric tons of finished cocaine and coca paste in 2009, a figure slightly lower than 2008. Law enforcement in Bolivia also reported the destruction of 4,865 cocaine base labs, roughly the same number as in 2008. In 2009, the number of cocaine hydrochloride labs destroyed increased to 16, as compared to seven in the previous year. The U.S. government is unable to verify this data, but the trends track the rising prevalence of Colombian-style manufacturing methods and the increasing presence of Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers in Bolivia.
The Government of Bolivia continued its efforts to obtain counternarcotics assistance from other countries, especially Brazil. These efforts have not addressed the gap in operational support and enhanced investigative capabilities to target and dismantle drug trafficking organizations created by the government’s expulsion of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials.
In addition, Bolivia has not implemented some of the controls outlined by the international counterdrug conventions. Strict licensing for coca growers and controls to prevent diversion from licit coca markets is not enforced, illicit coca crops are not seized at the time of harvest, and illicit coca markets are not closed. The Government of Bolivia also failed to develop and execute a national drug strategy consistent with its international obligations.
The Bolivian government promotes a policy of “social control” of illicit and excess coca cultivation. The policy has diminished violence, but it has not yielded reductions in excess production. The Government of Bolivia maintained its intent to increase the amount of coca it deems licit to 20,000 hectares, in violation of its own laws and international obligations.
The total effort by the Government of Bolivia over the past 12 months falls short of its obligations to the international community as outlined in the United Nations and bilateral agreements. In accordance with Section 481(e)(4) of the FAA, the determination of having failed demonstrably does not result in the withholding of humanitarian and counternarcotics assistance. It is in the vital national interest of the United States to grant a waiver so that funding for other assistance programs may also be allowed to continue.
Burma has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under Section 489 (a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. While Burmese law enforcement have had some successes, Burma’s drug enforcement authorities have not suppressed drug production and trafficking from the cease fire enclaves of certain ethnic minorities, primarily the region controlled by the United Wa State Army (UWSA). The Government of Burma does not control those areas, and some Burmese government officials are implicated in the drug trade. In addition, opium cultivation, long on the decline in most regions of Burma, has been rising in the Shan State with minimal response from the Burmese regime. Due to these deficiencies in drug law enforcement, Burma has been unable to meet its international counternarcotics obligations.
From 2006 to 2009, opium cultivation in Burma increased from 21,500 hectares to 31,700 hectares, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. There continues to be an increase in production and transshipment of synthetic drugs, such as amphetamine-type stimulants, predominately in the Shan State and border areas controlled by ethnic minority groups. Unchallenged in their base areas, criminal gangs continue to manufacture dangerous drugs and traffic those drugs to surrounding countries. Methamphetamine pills and, increasingly, the crystal form of methamphetamine are the most important drugs exported from Burma. Burma’s illicit methamphetamine exported to Thailand has a devastating impact on drug users and this substance is having a growing negative impact on China and the countries of Southeast Asia. Burma’s lawless border regions and endemic corruption help facilitate the diversion and trafficking of precursor chemicals.
In terms of its enforcement efforts, Burma has eradicated narcotics operations of smaller groups such as the Kokang Chinese, but other more potent groups, such as the Wa, continue to operate. Burmese enforcement seized larger quantities of methamphetamine, precursors and heroin in 2009. Burma’s seizures included the largest heroin seizure (762 kg) ever made in Southeast Asia, the seizure of 13.1 million methamphetamine tablets, and more than 20 metric tons of chemical precursors. However, methamphetamine and heroin continued to flow out of Burma’s ethnic minority regions to the major surrounding countries.
It has been six years since the last U.S.-Burma joint opium yield survey, previously an annual exercise. In the absence of that survey, an annual survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is used to track opium cultivation and production. Opium yield surveys are clearly in the interest of both sides to track the implications of policy steps taken and to gauge future action based on concrete facts rather than estimates.
The number of injecting drug users and regular consumers of methamphetamine-type stimulants in Burma is increasing, and intravenous drug users contribute to the expansion of Burma's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Burma suffers from one of the most serious problems of illegal drug use in Asia. However, Burma’s prevention and drug treatment programs also suffer from inadequate resources and a lack of high-level government support.
Venezuela has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under international counternarcotics measures set forth in Section 489(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.
This determination takes into account actions taken by the Government of Venezuela during the past 12 months. Despite the opportunity for improved collaboration which could have been provided by the return of Ambassadors to Caracas and Washington, Venezuela has not responded to the majority of U.S. Government offers to work towards greater cooperation on counternarcotics. Venezuela’s President and Minister of Justice continue to refer to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a drug trafficking organization. Venezuela never replied to an invitation by the Office of National Drug Control Policy extended in September 19, 2009, to send experts to the Marijuana Potency Monitoring Program in Oxford, Mississippi. On December 14, 2009, the U.S. Ambassador extended an invitation to Venezuela’s National Anti-Drug Office (ONA) Director to discuss developing a mechanism for exchanging information on drug smuggling flights for Venezuelan interdiction. To date there has been no response.
Venezuela remains an important transshipment point for drugs bound for the United States and Europe and increasingly to West Africa. Corruption within the Venezuelan government and a weak and politicized judicial system contribute to the ease with which illicit drugs transit Venezuela. Trafficking through Venezuela increased from an estimated 50 metric tons of cocaine in 2004 to an estimated 143 metric tons in 2009.
While the ONA publicly reports seizures of illicit drugs, the Venezuelan government does not share the necessary data or evidence needed to verify seizures or the destruction of illicit drugs. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has received permission from the Government of Venezuela to board suspect Venezuelan-flagged vessels operating in the Caribbean. Venezuelan authorities require the return of confiscated vessels, people and any contraband located during these operations. There is no exchange of information regarding drug trafficking organizations, the prosecution of the suspects or the destruction of the drugs seized.
The Government of Venezuela took some positive steps regarding counternarcotics issues during the past year, including: the purchase of aircraft, radars and patrol vessels purportedly intended for combating drug trafficking; the destruction of numerous clandestine airstrips; and the transfer of several drug traffickers to Colombia, the United States, and Europe. However, Venezuela remains a pre-eminent transit country for cocaine shipments. The Venezuelan Navy and Coast Guard did not report making any at-sea drug seizures on their own in the last 12 months. The number of illicit flights that depart Venezuela to supply drug trafficking organizations remains unchanged, indicating that the new aircraft and radars are not effectively employed. In addition, Venezuela perceives illegal armed Colombian groups and designated foreign terrorist organizations such as the FARC and ELN as revolutionary fighters rather than drug traffickers. These groups continue to enjoy safe haven in Venezuela along its border with Colombia. The FARC’s ability to operate freely in large parts of western Venezuela facilitates its well-established involvement in narcotics trafficking. Further, members of the Venezuelan government and armed forces appear to tolerate this presence and have not taken effective steps to ensure that such groups do not operate with impunity in Venezuelan territory. Individual members of Venezuela’s National Guard and Police are reported to both facilitate and be directly involved in narcotics trafficking.
Venezuela’s efforts fall short of its obligations to the international community as outlined in the relevant U.N. Conventions and bilateral agreements. A determination as having failed demonstrably does not affect funding for humanitarian and counternarcotics programs. A U.S. vital national interest waiver to Venezuela will permit funding for other programs critical to U.S. foreign policy interests.