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Host Nation Impediments Hinder Counternarcotics Efforts

Capabilities to Interdict Drug Traffickers in the Transit Zone Have Been Reduced

drug traffickers to avoid detection such as global positioning systems and cellular equipment.

According to the State Department and U.S. law enforcement officials, most Caribbean host nations are cooperating in fighting drug trafficking. However, most Caribbean nations lack resources and law enforcement capabilities and have some corruption problems that hamper their efforts to combat drug trafficking. The Department of State’s March 1996 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report provides a detailed discussion on the Caribbean countries. The report concluded that cooperation with U.S. authorities was generally excellent in 1995. However, the report noted that the governments of many Caribbean countries were unable to finance their law enforcement operations at a level commensurate with the trafficker threat.

U.S. officials stated that Caribbean nations will always have limited capabilities because they have small populations and limited funds available for counternarcotics. As a result, U.S. officials are trying to improve interdiction capabilities by signing agreements that allow U.S. personnel to conduct antidrug sea and air operations within the territorial waters and airspace of these nations. U.S. agencies are also providing limited supplies and training to the police forces and the judicial institutions.

Since 1992, U.S. capabilities to interdict drug trafficking activities in the transit zone have declined. From fiscal years 1992 to 1995, the budgets for most federal agencies in the transit zone declined significantly. The amount of U.S. interdiction funding devoted to the transit zone declined by about 43 percent, from $1 billion in fiscal year 1992 to $569 million in fiscal year 1995. In November 1993, a presidential directive called for a gradual shift in emphasis from the transit zone to the source countries. Various agencies stressed that decisions to reduce the funding devoted to drug interdiction were often beyond their control. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard noted that, during the early 1990s, assets were reallocated from counterdrug missions to respond to two mass exoduses of emigrants from Haiti and Cuba.

Moreover, the anticipated shift to the source countries did not materialize. Counternarcotics funding in the source countries declined from fiscal year 1993 to lower levels in fiscal years 1994 and 1995. (See attach. II.)

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GAO/T-NSIAD-96-171

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