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Lack of Regional Plan Hampers Interdiction Effort

Air seizures accounted for the greatest amount of decline, from about 40,000 kilograms in fiscal year 1992 to only 14,500 kilograms in fiscal year 1995. The decline in recorded seizures is likely due to a combination of factors, including reduced capability of U.S. agencies to detect air activities and a shift from air to maritime trafficking, limited host nation law enforcement capabilities, and cocaine traffickers’ increased smuggling sophistication.

We found that the executive branch had not developed a plan to implement the U.S. antidrug strategy in the Caribbean. DOD, the State Department, and law enforcement agencies have various agreements to implement the national drug strategy in the region. However, counternarcotics officials expressed concern over the lack of overall responsibility for implementing the current cocaine strategy in the Caribbean. U.S. officials noted that neither the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) nor the U.S. Interdiction Coordinator had the authority to command the use of any agency’s operations resources.

Various U.S. officials noted that there is a need for leadership and commitment by the ONDCP to ensure that agencies are carrying out their missions to achieve U.S. counternarcotics objectives. We also found that interagency staffing responses were inadequate, and that intelligence sharing remains a contentious issue. For example, we noted staffing shortfalls at both Joint Interagency Task Force-East, located in Key West, Florida, and the U.S. Interdiction Coordinator.

In our report, we recommended that the Director of ONDCP develop a regional action plan focused on the Caribbean part of the transit zone to fully implement the U.S. policy for cocaine in the Western Hemisphere. We stated that, at a minimum, the plan should determine resources and staffing needed and delineate a comprehensive strategy to improve host nation capabilities and commitment to counternarcotics interdiction. ONDCP stated that the recommendation was sound and was carefully examining our recommendation in preparing the 1996 National Drug Control Strategy.

This concludes my prepared remarks. I would be happy to respond to any questions.

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GAO/T-NSIAD-96-171

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