------------------------------------------------------------------- Yellow Journalism (Feature In 'Salon' Magazine About Urine Testing In The Journalism Business Says The Fact That The Press Is Submitting With Barely A Whimper To The Drug-Testing Juggernaut Has A Seeping, Insidious Effect Upon Everyone's Civil Liberties) Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 17:18:03 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US: OPED: Yellow Journalism Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: "Frank S. World"
Source: Salon Magazine Contact: email@example.com Fax: 415 882 8731 Website: http://www.salon1999.com/ Pubdate: Wed, 01 Apr 1998 Author: Carol Lloyd YELLOW JOURNALISM Why are reporters, those vigilant guardians of constitutional freedoms, cravenly unzipping themselves for drug testing? Fifteen years ago if you presented your prospective employer with a plastic cup brimming with your fresh, warm piss, chances are you might not land the job. Now such ritual offerings of bodily fluid are not only acceptable but practically mandatory as pre-employment drug testing spreads like a urine stain throughout our corporate culture. It isn't difficult to imagine why a company like Exxon -- with a disaster like the Valdez oil spill tarnishing its history -- would institute a strict drug-screening policy among its safety-sensitive workers. Or even a traditional consumer company like Clorox, whose corporate culture tends to mirror its product: all-American, old-fashioned and homogeneous. But the fact that drug testing has become almost ubiquitous at newspapers -- those bastions of free speech and individual rights -- is pretty damn strange. This month the Washington Post joined the ranks of other venerable newsrooms -- New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and all Knight-Ridder publications, to name just a few -with its implementation of pre-employment drug testing. "We simply wanted to support a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace," said deputy editor Milton Coleman, explaining that the policy had been in place for some time but that the editorial offices had ignored it. When asked if the decision had been prompted by an incident -- say, two editors mainlining in a bathroom stall while deadlines flew by like hallucinations -- Coleman replied, "No. There was no precipitating event." Although not all newspaper officials were as enthusiastic as Coleman, many of those surveyed by Salon gave their whole-hearted approval of the policy. Marianne Chin, director of editorial hiring at the San Francisco Chronicle, said the paper's two-year policy came from wanting "a drug-free workplace to insure the safety of our employees." Jim White, editor for hiring and development for the L.A. Times, said he has no qualms about the usefulness or appropriateness of drug testing, adding, "It just hasn't been an issue, and it doesn't seem to bother anybody." A moment before, however, he told me that a few applicants had refused to take the test, citing their principles. "But there's the assumption that they refuse because they fear they'll fail," he explained. Perhaps that is why objections to the test are so rare. Any protest may sully your reputation and paint you as an addict in denial. Coleman was careful to add that the Washington Post maintains a "very compassionate policy" toward currently employed drug abusers and alcoholics. "Many of our newsroom employees have formed a network of their own and some of them have even committed journalism about their addictions," he said. Coleman's comments imply that the Post has left behind the era of hard-drinking journalists for wholesome 12-step groups and first-person confessionals. That may be true at the Post, but elsewhere many editors and writers asserted that alcoholism is still pervasive in newsrooms. But, of course, the whiz quiz can't screen for alcohol abuse, since booze stays in your bloodstream for only a few hours. Urine tests are leaky in other ways as well. Since they only detect levels of metabolites in the body, the tests often misread over-the-counter medication and food as illegal drugs. Ibuprofen has been known to show up as marijuana; poppy seeds as heroin; and Nyquil as amphetamines. Coleman assured me that individuals can inform the laboratory of any medications that might be mistaken as drug traces, but employees who want to keep their medical history private are out of luck. Once an employer has your urine, moreover, many states don't have laws limiting what they can do with it. For example, in 1988, the Washington, D.C., police admitted that they had used drug tests to screen female employees for pregnancy without their consent or knowledge. With newspapers being bought out by big media conglomerates and newspaper chains' cookie-cutter journalism taking over newsrooms, maybe it's no surprise to see reporters becoming just another bunch of cogs in the corporate machine. But the fact that the press is submitting with barely a whimper to the drug-testing juggernaut has a seeping, insidious effect upon everyone's civil liberties. When the issue of workplace screening first hit the courts in the mid-1980s, no newspapers had drug-testing programs, and the practice was hotly debated in the press. Lately, however, criticism seems to have dwindled to a wee trickle, even though numerous cases are still being litigated and both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Newspaper Guild still argue that suspicionless drug testing constitutes an infringement of Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Drug-testing laws differ from state to state, and as of mid-1997, only Montana, Iowa, Vermont and Rhode Island had explicit bans against suspicionless testing. "About seven years ago there was a lot of talk about drug-testing policy and laws," said Jeremy Gruber, legal director of the ACLU's task force on civil liberties in the workplace. "Since then the situation has partly solidified, giving the employers cart blanche. But it's true, there has not been a lot of attention to it from the press." As director of the national office of the Newspaper Guild, Linda Foley has been fighting against the policy of pre-employment testing (and often losing) since 1988, when the union lost the right to bargain for job applicants at the Minneapolis Star. "Now virtually all major newspapers do pre-employment drug testing," Foley bemoaned. When asked if individual journalists had filed many court cases objecting to the practice, she hesitated. "I do get calls from people sometimes, but they rarely leave their names," Foley said. "I suppose they're afraid they won't get hired." John True, a lawyer who has argued several ACLU cases against pre-employment screening, couldn't remember any cases brought by journalists either. High school athletes? Sure. Government workers? Yes. Even some technical writers -- but journalists? "I'm almost sure there hasn't been one," he said. N E X T+P A G E | Big Nurse at the New York Times [page 2 of 2] Slate's Michael Kinsley recently skewered the hypocrisy of the New York Times editorial page for criticizing the state of Georgia's recent attempt to compel political candidates to undergo drug testing, while staying quiet about the Times' own pre-employment drug screening policy. Such glaring contradictions between newspapers' editorial stances and corporate practices reinforce the image of a pathetically spineless and hypocritical press: willing to take others to task while ignoring its own stern counsel. Little wonder then that many of the reporters and editors I contacted declined to comment on their experience on or off the record. Don't get me wrong -- if I truly needed (or even desperately wanted) a job, I might sacrifice my uric acid and my Fourth Amendment rights to the cause. But to do it and then be afraid to even talk about it? Journalists make their livings by asking -- and sometimes hounding -others to stand up for their rights and reveal their secrets. But when it comes to their own companies' piss policies, journalists' lips are zipped. "I completely caved on the issue," admitted Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times rock critic and one of the few journalists brave enough to discuss his experience with pre-employment drug testing. "I'm totally against it, but did I piss in the cup for them? You betcha." When DeRogatis first heard about the drug test, he wondered if the Sun-Times editors were testing the depth of his professional commitment. "Since I'd written a book about psychedelic drugs and rock music, I thought they would only hire me if I failed the test," he joked. He had "no reason to worry" the first time he took the test (he was hired by the newspaper twice), but "just in case" he drank a special detoxifying tea from the health food store. "It turned me green," DeRogatis told me, explaining that his candor stems in part from his assumption that the Sun-Times only cares about drug testing insofar as it affects the paper's insurance rates. "If there wasn't a tea, I suppose a lot more people would object to the testing," he said. "But as it is, it's more of a formality." A New York Times reporter who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity recalled his pre-employment whiz quiz. He thought a colleague was joking when he told him to start "studying for your drug test." Then his prospective boss sat him down, told him how wonderful it was to work for the Times and added ominously: "If you fail the drug test, you can never work here as long as you live." Unexpectedly hired a month early, the reporter found an excuse to bow out of the first physical to let his system go clean, but a week later went in for his test. "You have to take off your clothes, then this nurse follows you into the bathroom and unscrews the handles of the sink so you can't dilute your urine. Then she stood outside the stall listening to me," he said. "It was oddly paramilitary. "It's pretty mind-boggling," he added. "Because there's absolutely no relationship between me smoking marijuana on the weekend and my job performance." Like DeRogatis, the Times reporter also believes the paper's policy stems from insurance company requirements. Many states have a "drug-free workplace program" that allows participating employers to get a 5 percent break on their workers' compensation insurance. This sounds relatively harmless, but there's a kicker. If a journalist was injured, say, while covering a riot at the World Cup, he would immediately be drug tested. If the pot he smoked six weeks earlier showed up on his urine test, he would lose his workers' compensation coverage and medical benefits. While they tend to cower in silence, many journalists privately complain that the pass-fail drug test is absurd at best and fascist at worst. But Donald Lewis, president of Foley Laboratory Services in Connecticut, one of the country's largest drug testing companies, strongly disagrees. "I'd rather hire an alcoholic than an occasional marijuana smoker," he told me, explaining that he learned his lesson with a pot-smoking employee at his very own company. "He was rear-ended, then he was broad-sided, and then he ate a two-week old pizza in the back of his car and had to have his stomach pumped. I've seen how drugs can destroy a workplace." Lewis estimates that drug testing is a $2 billion to $3 billion annual business. His industry's meteoric growth in the past decade is a testament to the political and rhetorical success of the nation's "drug war" -- a war that has now conscripted most newsrooms in America. "The deeper issue here is that the media has been enlisted as soldiers in the drug war," said Jeff Cohen, executive director of the liberal media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. "No one ever says anymore that the drug war is itself a controversy with legitimate points of view on both sides." Indeed, the drug war has seeped into the fabric of our everyday lives, and even journalists who do still fight for their First Amendment free speech rights have quietly surrendered other rights. But what good is free speech, if the only way you have access to it is by forfeiting your right to privacy? Granted, when the Founding Fathers wrote the statute protecting unwarranted searches and seizures, they probably were thinking grain silos, not bladders -- but can there even be an argument about which one is the more private place? And the drug testing craze may be only the beginning of aggressive workplace intrusions. In response to criticism that urine tests are inaccurate, companies are eagerly inventing new, more precisely intrusive products. Psychemedics Corp. in Boston holds the patent for a drug test in which a swath of hair roughly the size of a crayon can detect drugs taken 90 days before the test. If the person is bald, he must submit body hair. CERA, a Florida testing company, has developed the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory, a psychological test involving sophisticated questions designed to ferret out liars and defensive thinking. Some companies have even begun using tests meant for mental patients that delve into the sexual feelings and religious beliefs of the potential employee. When these perfected drug tests begin to screen for psychological eccentricity, independent thinking, hereditary diseases and political persuasions, then we will need the power of the press more than ever. The question is, will we have journalists with backbones enough for the job?
------------------------------------------------------------------- America's Drug Problem And Its Policy Of Denial (A Survey Of The Ineffectiveness Of The US War On Some Drugs In 'Current History' By Mathea Falco, Drug Warrior President Of Drug Strategies, Nevertheless Concludes Law Enforcement Has A 'Critically Important Role To Play') Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 21:01:54 -0400 To: DrugSense News Service
From: Richard Lake Subject: MN: US: America's Drug Problem and Its Policy of Denial Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: email@example.com Source: Current History - April issue Pubdate: April, 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org FAX: 215-482-9923 Mail: Current History Inc. 4225 Main Street Philadelphia, PA 19127 Website: http://www.currenthistory.com/ Author: Mathea Falco Note: Mathea Falco is a president of Drug Strategies, a nonprofit research institute in Washington, D.C. The author of The Making of a Drug-Free America: Programs that Work (New York: Times Books, 1994), she served as assistant secretary of state for international narcotics matters from 1977 to 1981. AMERICA'S DRUG PROBLEM AND ITS POLICY OF DENIAL For almost 100 years, Americans have considered other countries the primary source of their drug problems. When the first drug laws were adopted in the early decades of this century, the public associated drugs with immigrant groups and minorities: opium with Chinese laborers in the west, cocaine with blacks, and marijuana with Mexican immigrants in the southwest. These drugs were seen as foreign threats to the social fabric, undermining traditional moral values and political stability. Today this link between foreigners and illicit drugs continues to influence United States international drug policy, prompting the government to use diplomacy, economic assistance, coercion, and military force to try to stop drugs from entering the country. Americans strongly support government efforts to cut off foreign drug supplies. More than two-thirds of the respondents in a 1997 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press considered drug control to be a "top priority" goal of United States foreign policy; only protecting American jobs and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons received higher scores. Similar views have prevailed in other surveys. A 1995 Chicago Council on Foreign Relations nationwide poll found that 86 percent of Americans consider "stopping the flow of drugs" one of the country's most important foreign policy goals. The close connection in the public mind between international initiatives and drug abuse, which is often experienced as an intensely local problem involving families, schools, and communities, gives this issue particular resonance in public views of foreign policy. SUPPLYING AMERICA'S DEMAND America's drug habit has historically been supplied from foreign sources: cocaine and marijuana from Latin America and the Caribbean; heroin from Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle (Burma, Laos, and Thailand) and South Asia's Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran). However, in recent years a substantial percentage of illicit drug consumption in the United States has been met by illegal domestic production. In particular, many of the drugs gaining popularity among teenagers--marijuana, methamphetamines, and LSD--are produced at home as well as imported. While much of the marijuana the country uses continues to be imported through Mexico and the Caribbean, domestic production now supplies an estimated one-third to one-half of America's consumption. Although a complete nationwide survey of illegal marijuana cultivation has never been made, government officials report major cultivation areas in states as diverse as New York, Kentucky, California, and Hawaii. Increased indoor cultivation, which allows for more selective hybridization, has accelerated the trend toward higher-potency marijuana. In 1996, the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content of high-grade "sinsemilla" (seedless) marijuana ranged from 12 to 24 percent, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), compared to less than 2 percent THC in marijuana cultivated in the early 1970s. Even as potency has increased, marijuana prices, after rising during the 1980s, have in the 1990s fallen back to levels of the early 1980s. Depending on its quality, marijuana now sells for roughly the same as in 1982--as little as $40 per ounce, although prices for high-quality "boutique" marijuana strains can reach $900 per ounce. The historic view that America's drug problems are predominantly foreign in origin is thus harder to sustain, given increasing domestic illegal drug production, not only of marijuana, LSD, and amphetamines but also of newer "designer" psychoactive drugs such as MDMA (known as Ecstasy). Nonetheless, United States drug policy continues to concentrate on trying to reduce the foreign supply of drugs, both through efforts to reduce drug cultivation in other countries and to interdict drug traffic before it crosses America's borders. Unfortunately, the strategy of trying to reduce United States drug use by attacking drug supplies overseas is fundamentally flawed. CERTIFICATION: THE "TOUGH" APPROACH Emblematic of this focus on foreign sources is the United States government's annual "certification" process. Imposed by Congress on the executive branch in 1986, the concept of certification reflects a worldview that still classifies countries into producer, consumer, and transit categories. The intent of Congress was to put teeth into United States efforts to compel cooperation as well as to make the president accountable for enforcing a more vigorous international drug policy. The certification legislation requires the president to identify annually those countries that are "significant direct or indirect sources" of illicit drugs "significantly affecting the United States." Inclusion on this list, which currently comprises 30 countries, automatically triggers certain sanctions unless the president decides to "certify" the country. Those deemed to have fully cooperated in drug control efforts are certified. Those deemed less cooperative are decertified, which results in the termination of United States assistance (except for humanitarian and drug control funds), United States opposition to multilateral development loans for that country, and the stigma of being branded a drug-trafficking nation. This may carry negative economic repercussions beyond the aid-related sanctions included in the law; The Wall Street Journal reported in August 1997 that Colombia's decertification had contributed to an atmosphere of uncertainty, causing investors to put off new projects. A "national interest" waiver is used to justify suspending the penalties for a country that would otherwise have been decertified--a way to improve performance without actually cutting off assistance. Congress has the authority to overturn presidential decisions by passing a joint resolution within 30 days, but has never done so. Under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, the certification process was predictable and went largely unnoticed. Decertification was reserved for countries like Iran and Syria, with which the United States had limited or no relations, as well as Burma and Afghanistan, which together produce 90 percent of the world's illicit opium. Lebanon was consistently granted a national interest waiver. In 1988 and 1989, Panama was added to the decertification list, just before the United States intervened militarily to remove President Manuel Noriega for his involvement in drug trafficking. Under President Bill Clinton, certification has become more rigorous. In 1994, Nigeria, a key trafficking country and a significant source of oil for the United States, was decertified for the first time. Also, Bolivia and Peru, the world's largest coca producers, joined a growing list of countries given a national interest waiver. In 1995, Colombia, a major source of cocaine and heroin; Paraguay, a cocaine transit country; and Pakistan, a prime producer of heroin, were added to the waiver list. By 1996, certification had emerged as a major source of tension between the United States and its Latin American neighbors. The administration decertified Colombia for the first time because of alleged links between President Ernesto Samper and the drug cartels, which were believed to have contributed to his presidential campaign. Colombia was again decertified in 1997; Mexico, however, was certified, despite revelations of extensive drug-related government corruption that, as some observers noted, paralleled the situation in Colombia. Critics both in the United States and Latin America argued that the certification process harmed relations with Mexico and Colombia without producing any measurable benefits. Moreover, a double standard appeared to influence the ultimate decisions. In 1996, trade between the United States and Colombia totaled $9 billion, while United States-Mexico trade reached $130 billion. Additionally, Mexico shares a border with the United States, making Mexican cooperation on a range of issues such as crime, immigration, and environmental protection essential to Washington. Media coverage of the certification decisions was intense, especially in Latin America, where the decisions were widely viewed as demonstrations of United States imperialism. The idea of being formally judged by the United States remains objectionable to many countries. During the 1997 certification debate, the Mexican government rejected the concept of certification, pointing out that the United States is responsible for its own drug problem and has no right to pass unilateral judgment on other countries when it does not also judge its own performance. Although Congress did not overturn the administration's 1997 decision to certify Mexico, some members of the House of Representatives have indicated that a similar decision in 1998 will be met with stiff congressional opposition. In practice, the consequences of decertification vary widely, depending on a country's reliance on United States and international aid. For major producer countries such as Burma, which is already isolated from the international community (and subject to United States sanctions on investment), the material consequences of decertification are virtually zero. However, for some countries, such as Bolivia, Haiti, Laos, and Cambodia, annual United States and multilateral bank aid amounts to a significant proportion of their gdp, making them especially vulnerable to the threat of decertification. Relative vulnerability is only one part of the equation as to whether United States pressure will affect cooperation; even more important is the government's capacity to address illicit drug production and trafficking, as well as the sheer scale of the problem. The degree of United States leverage does not determine whether pressure will compel action. For example, the United States has considerable influence over a country like Haiti, but the Haitian government is so weak, particularly in the area of law enforcement, that it is largely incapable of producing drug control results, regardless of United States pressure. A CERTIFIED FAILURE? What impact has certification had in its 11-year history? From the United States perspective, the primary measure of the success of drug control efforts overseas would be reductions in foreign opium, coca, and marijuana cultivation as well as declining availability of foreign drug supplies coming into the United States. Reductions would presumably lead to higher domestic drug prices. However, worldwide opium production has doubled in the past decade, while coca production has nearly doubled. The price and purity of drugs in the United States market are also traditional measures of drug control success. Reductions in supplies should make drugs more expensive and less pure (as dealers dilute purity to maintain profit margins). This in turn should prevent new drug use and drive addicts to go "cold turkey" or find treatment. However, since 1981, heroin's average retail price has fallen by more than half while its purity now approaches 50 percent, compared to only 16 percent in 1986. During the same period, the price of cocaine has dropped by almost half. Administration officials point to some successes from the certification process: increased numbers of arrests of major traffickers in Colombia following decertification; reorganization of the antinarcotics police in Mexico after indications of widespread corruption made decertification a strong possibility in 1997; more vigorous efforts to reduce coca cultivation by the Bolivian government following national interest waivers in 1994 and 1995. However, these examples of government action that may have been influenced by the certification process have not produced measurable results in terms of reduced drug availability in the United States, the ultimate goal of United States international drug control efforts. The certification process also has negative consequences for other United States interests. Focusing on one aspect of often complex bilateral relations can distort the management of foreign policy. In Latin America, where the process has been especially acrimonious, relations with half a dozen countries are dominated by United States narcotics control concerns. The unilateral nature of certification--where the United States passes judgment on other countries--undermines the administration's position that the nations of the Western Hemisphere should look to the United States as a partner in a broader effort to establish a community of democracies. In the past year, momentum has been building for finding alternatives to the current certification process. Both the administration and the Organization of American States (OAS) are exploring new multilateral approaches to determining whether countries are fully cooperating in international drug control efforts. Discussion of these new approaches is on the agenda for the April 1998 Summit of the Americas meeting in Santiago, Chile. A more comprehensive system that would include an assessment of United States efforts along with those of other drug producing, consuming, and transiting countries, could be administered through an independent organization, perhaps linked to the OAS or the United Nations. This would broaden the approach beyond its current unilateral context as well as encourage political recognition of the global nature of the drug problem. A KEY TO LASTING PROGRESS The United States is the world's largest drug market in terms of revenue. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 22 million Americans reported using illicit drugs at least once in 1996, while 12 million used drugs regularly (once a month or more). During the past five years, drug use among teens, especially of marijuana, has climbed dramatically. What progress has been made in the past decade has come from reduced demand, which has declined in the face of increasing supplies of ever cheaper drugs. Between 1986 and 1992, marijuana and cocaine use dropped by half, reflecting the power of health concerns and negative social attitudes toward drugs (accelerated by the sudden cocaine overdose death of sports star Len Bias in 1986). However, public perceptions of the dangers of drugs have changed, and both adults and teens are more tolerant of drug use than they were five years ago. Reversing this trend will require intensive prevention and education efforts that build on the research of the past decade. Extensive studies have found that school prevention programs can reduce drug use by half and new alcohol use by a third among young teens. These programs, built on social-learning theory, teach children to recognize the internal and external pressures that influence them to smoke, drink, and use drugs. Children also learn how to resist these pressures through role-playing in the classroom. The cost of these programs ranges from $15 to $25 per pupil, including classroom materials and teacher training. Program results are stronger when prevention includes families, media, and the community in a comprehensive attack on alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. Anti-drug ads by the Partnership for a Drug Free America have intensified negative attitudes toward illegal drugs, particularly in markets where the ads appear frequently. Treatment has also proved effective in reducing drug abuse and drug crime. National studies that have followed tens of thousands of addicts through different kinds of programs report that the single most important factor in measuring a program's success is length of time in treatment. One-third of those who stay in treatment longer than three months are drug-free a year after leaving treatment. The success rate jumps to two-thirds when treatment lasts a year or longer. Programs that provide intensive, highly structured treatment with supportive follow-up services, such as job training and housing referral, report even better results. Treatment is less expensive than the alternatives. An untreated addict can cost society an estimated $44,000 annually, compared with an average of $19,000 for a year of residential treatment or $2,500 for an outpatient program. A 1994 statewide study in California found that $1 invested in alcohol and drug treatment saved taxpayers $7.14 in future costs. Drug courts, which divert nonviolent drug offenders from prison to court-supervised treatment, are also cost-effective. Studies report that drug courts cut recidivism by half among treated offenders at a small fraction of the cost of incarceration, which runs about $30,000 a year. Treatment is also more cost-effective than supply reduction efforts. According to a 1994 RAND Corporation study, $34 million invested in treatment reduces cocaine use in the United States as much as $783 million spent for foreign source country supply control programs or $366 million spent for interdiction. Domestic enforcement produces equivalent results for about seven times the amount invested in treatment; $246 million in domestic enforcement reduces cocaine use as much as $34 million in treatment. MORE MONEY, FEWER RESULTS? In the past decade, the government's drug control spending has more than tripled, climbing from $4.7 billion in 1987 to $16 billion in 1997. Most of this growth has supported domestic drug enforcement and international interdiction, which account for more than half the total $105 billion spent on federal drug control since 1989. The single largest enforcement expenditure is for prisons. Increasing prison costs stem not only from climbing drug arrests but also from mandatory federal minimum sentences that have resulted in longer prison stays for drug offenders. More than 1.7 million people are behind bars in America. More than two-thirds have serious drug problems, yet intensive, rigorous treatment is available for less than 10 percent of these offenders. In 1997, the federal drug budget spent more for prisons than for prevention. Although President Clinton has clearly articulated the importance of reducing the demand for drugs in the 1997 and 1998 National Drug Control Strategy reports, federal spending priorities have remained essentially unchanged. Efforts to cut off supplies of drugs through interdiction and enforcement continue to dominate the government's drug budget, accounting for two-thirds of total spending. Despite impressive seizures at the border, on the high seas, and in other countries, foreign drugs are cheaper and more readily available today than two decades ago. Domestic production of illegal drugs such as marijuana and methamphetamines is increasing, further reducing the potential impact of interdiction on United States drug use. United States foreign supply reduction efforts have also caused problems of their own, especially in Latin America, where narcotics control dominates the diplomatic agenda with the United States. The unintended consequences of these programs have sometimes been severe, including political unrest among peasant farmers who rely on drug crops for their livelihood; human rights abuses as governments try to suppress drug cultivation; increased corruption among police and military forces; and expanding roles for the military in drug enforcement and internal security in countries where democracy is still fragile. Ultimately, the costs incurred--both in the United States and overseas--in pursuing the supply-side drug strategy will not produce the promised benefits of reduced drug availability and higher drug prices. The largest drug profits are made within the United States at street-level sales, not in foreign poppy or coca fields or on the high seas. The total cost of cultivating, refining, and smuggling cocaine to the United States accounts for less than 15 percent of domestic retail prices. Recent anecdotal evidence from the southwestern United States suggests that smuggling costs may have increased as a result of intensified border interdiction: Mexican traffickers are said to be offering as much as half their cocaine shipments in exchange for safe passage. Still, the value of drugs at that point is only a fraction of their retail price on American streets. As one DEA official explained, "The average drug organization can afford to lose as much as 80 percent of its product and still be profitable." MAKING DEMAND THE FOCUS The nation's drug control strategy should shift from a primary focus on reducing drug supplies to reducing the demand for drugs through prevention, education, treatment, and community anti-drug coalitions. Law enforcement has a critically important role to play; studies indicate that street-level enforcement is more effective in driving up drug prices and has the added benefit of making neighborhoods safer. In the international arena, greater emphasis should be placed on attacking the growing power of the drug cartels that challenge the integrity of political, financial, and judicial institutions in this country and abroad. The United States should concentrate on efforts both to strengthen democratic governments and to combat money laundering, drug-related corruption, and violence through bilateral and multilateral initiatives. For too long, United States drug policy has been driven by the need to appear "tough" on drugs, regardless of results. The United States should leave behind the distinction between "tough" and "soft" approaches to drug abuse and concentrate its attention, research, and resources on determining what actually works. Copyright (c) 1998 by Current History, Inc.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Nature Of Drug-Trafficking Networks ('Current History' Says Prohibitionists Fail To Understand How The Illegal Drug Industry Operates - Police Assume Such Groups Are Hierarchical, But They Are Networks, Not To Be Confused With Disorganized Crime) Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 22:42:09 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: The Nature of Drug-Trafficking Networks Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Current History Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: April 1998 Author: Phil Williams Section: Page 154 THE NATURE OF DRUG-TRAFFICKING NETWORKS There are many reasons why the war on drugs has failed. One of the most important has been the inability of law enforcement efforts and military interdiction to degrade, disrupt, or destroy the networks trafficking drugs into the United States and Western Europe. This inability stems from a failure to understand fully the structure of these networks and their capacity to counter or circumvent law enforcement and military interdiction. The predominant conception - especially in the case of cocaine trafficking - has been of large, hierarchical, vertically integrated organizations forming cartels and dominating the market. Government strategy has targeted the leaders of these organizations, the so-called kingpins. But although the leaderships of both the Medellin and Cali cartels have been "decapitated," it has had only a limited impact on the flow of drugs to the United States. Critics of supply reduction efforts claim that this is not surprising: interfering directly or indirectly with the supply of drugs serves merely to raise prices, which in turn makes the market more attractive and encourages new suppliers. The argument here is not intended to challenge the idea that the market contains self-adjusting mechanisms of this kind. It does suggest that this does not tell the whole story A large part of the supply reduction failure can be understood in terms of the organizational superiority of drug-trafficking supply networks over the more traditional bureaucratic organizations that dominate interdiction and law enforcement efforts. In recent years many business analysts and management consultants have emphasized that networks are far superior to traditional hierarchies in terms of organizational effectiveness, especially when it comes to innovation and teamwork. But what licit business appears to be discovering is something that has long been known to criminal organizations, which have been at the forefront in embracing network structures. This is hardly surprising since network structures are resistant to disruption and have a degree of resilience that other forms of organization lack. By using networks, transnational criminal enterprises and drug-trafficking organizations also enjoy enormous flexibility and are able to respond rapidly to new strategies or innovative techniques developed by law enforcement. Ironically this reliance on networks is something many observers of criminal organizations have generally ignored. There is a tendency in law enforcement circles and among some academic analysts to treat centralized hierarchies as synonymous with organized crime and to treat networks as disorganized crime. This is a mistake. A network is a highly sophisticated organizational form. David Ronfeldt of the RAND Corporation has argued that society has gone through a long evolutionary process that has been dominated successively by tribes, hierarchies, and markets. In each case the new form of organization did not replace the previous one but surpassed it in effectiveness and efficiency Ronfeldt argues that society is now at a fourth stage in which networks are emerging as the predominant organizational form, a form that has significant advantages over more traditional bureaucratic hierarchies. If this is the case, law enforcement and military agencies engaged in supply reduction need to recognize network characteristics and modify their strategy accordingly. While such an adjustment would not guarantee total success in the war on drugs, it could help level the playing field. WHAT IS A NETWORK? A network can be understood as a series of connected nodes. The nodes can be individuals, organizations, firms, or even computers, but the critical element is that there are significant linkages among them. Networks can vary in size, shape, membership, cohesion, and purpose. They can be large or all, local or global, cohesive or diffuse, centrally directed or highly decentralized, purposeful or directionless. A network can be narrowly focused one goal or broadly oriented toward many goals, and its membership can be exclusive or encompassing. Networks are at once pervasive and intangible, everywhere and nowhere. More prosaically, they facilitate flows of information, knowledge, and communication as well as more tangible commodities. They operate in licit as well as illicit sectors of the economy and society. This enormous variability makes the network concept an elusive one; at a practical level, it also makes networks difficult combat. The purposes of a network can vary. Networks provide a means to achieve a variety of goals. In effect, they are neutral regarding the nature of the goals and can be used for positive or negative ends. This discussion, of course, is about networks that are highly functional in their own terms yet are inimical to society at large. In the case of drug-trafficking networks there is a common purpose, which is to ensure that drugs move from the source countries through a variety of transshipment points to the customers (with minimum disruption and, loss from law enforcement activity) and that profits accrue, in varying degrees, to members of the network. The networks provide essential links between suppliers and customers, and are critical to the effective functioning of the market. Still there are many gaps in our understanding of drug-trafficking networks. The pattern of authority and direction in these networks is not always evident, the balance between competing and cooperating networks is not readily discernible, and the nature of information flows through them is often elusive. Nevertheless, it is clear that networks have several characteristics that make it difficult for law enforcement to combat them effectively. CORE, PERIPHERY, AND GLOBALIZATION A drug-trafficking network of any substantial size will have both a core and a periphery. The core is likely to consist of dense network connections among a group of individuals or small organizations that provide the steering mechanism and sense of direction for the entire network. The core members will also have bonding mechanisms that afford a high degree of trust and cohesion in their relationships. Bonding can be achieved through a variety of means - common ethnicity, tribal connections, family or lineage, common experience in youth gangs or prison - but is critical to the network core. The periphery is likely to be less dense, with somewhat looser relationships in which the bonding mechanisms are not as strong. Peripheries of networks exhibit what in the business literature has been termed the strength of weak relationships, which allows the network to operate far more extensively and with greater impact. The links in the periphery of drug-trafficking networks also seem to correspond with what Francis Ianni has called criminal relationships: "links based upon a common core of activity in crime that keep people working together once they have joined in a network." Two-tiered networks of this kind with both core and periphery have formidable internal defense mechanisms. While it is possible for law enforcement to infiltrate the periphery of the network, getting to the core is much more difficult partly because entry is dependent on a high level of trust that is based on bonding rather than functional utility. Moreover, there will usually be several nodes in the network that act as built-in insulators between core and periphery; these distance the core leaders from operations and impede law enforcement efforts to strike at the center of gravity as opposed to nibbling around the edges. The concomitant of this is that the periphery is where the risks from law enforcement are greatest. Ultimately this is not too serious a problem; if parts of the periphery are seriously infiltrated or compromised, the core can simply discard them and recruit new members for the outer reaches of the network. Networks display a remarkable capacity to flow around physical barriers and across legal or geographical boundaries. They in effect transcend borders, and are the perfect means of conducting business in a globalizing world. While not all network organizations are transnational in scope or ambition, there is a natural congruence between transnational or cross-border activities and network structures, irrespective of whether the networks operate exclusively in the legitimate sector or in supplying illicit goods and services. In this connection, the capacity of individual criminals or groups in one country to extend their network through linkages with their counterparts in other countries gives organized crime and drug trafficking a transnational character that makes it much more difficult to combat. Criminal networks have become borderless while law enforcement agencies are still constrained by national borders. Their transnational character also places criminal networks in an excellent position to exploit the global financial or global trade system. Global trade has become so extensive that it is easy for criminal networks to embed and conceal illicit products among licit goods. Indeed, containerization is becoming an increasingly important mode of moving drugs from suppliers to consumers. Similarly the capacity of drug-trafficking networks to move the proceeds of their activities through multiple jurisdictions complicates law enforcement's efforts to follow the money trail with a high degree of confidence or in a timely manner. The synergy between social networks and technological or information networks is huge. The ability of transnational drug-trafficking networks to exploit globalization means that in the twenty-first century national and even regional law enforcement efforts will become even more difficult. Another important feature of networks is that they cross easily from the illicit to the licit sector. Drug-traffickers can enlarge their networks to include lawyers, doctors, and bankers to help them conceal and invest their profits. Criminal networks can readily extend their reach, co-opting individuals and organizations in ways that facilitate, enhance, or protect their activities. Co-option can be achieved through bribery, coercion, and intimidation. These links are dynamic rather than static and increase in importance and value over time. A network link between a low-level criminal and a junior official will become much more significant as the criminal becomes more powerful and the official becomes more senior. In these circumstances, the exchange relationship becomes much more substantial in terms of the favors done by the official and the payoffs provided by the criminal. The official is not part of the criminal enterprise per se, but is a vital node in the criminal network. As such, he or she provides important services to the network, including critical and timely intelligence about government and law enforcement activities. If enough people in important government positions are corrupted and co-opted in this manner, the network can almost certainly count on a high degree of protection against vigorous enforcement efforts. The link between organized crime and corruption and the importance of corruption networks in facilitating criminal activities such as drug trafficking have been given scant attention. Yet in countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Nigeria, and Russia the linkages between criminals and officials have become one of the most serious impediments to achieving democratic governance and a free market economy Collusive links also exist at lower levels, with law enforcement and customs officials accepting or imposing bribes in return for free passage of drugs. A good example of this is the Turkey-Iraq border where, according to one report, "drug trafficking is always taxed, but seldom checked and never stopped. " Corruption networks, at the political and operational levels, are as insidious as they are pervasive and make both drug trafficking and organized crime increasingly difficult to counter. INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE Another important characteristic of networks is their efficiency and effectiveness in procuring information. In the case of drug-trafficking networks, the need is for counterintelligence that allows the networks to anticipate and negate law enforcement initiatives. The Cali drug-trafficking organization was especially adept at this and used an extensive network of taxi drivers and street vendors to gain intelligence about law enforcement activities in Cali. Extension of the network into government and law enforcement agencies is also important in this context, resulting in the corruption described earlier. While this is a phenomenon that occurs primarily in supplier or transshipment countries - and has become a predominant feature of political life Colombia and Mexico - criminal network infiltration of law enforcement also occurs in the United Sates. There have been numerous instances of street gang members joining the police, thereby obtaining ready access to early warning information that provides an opportunity for defensive actions against law enforcement. Members of the Gangster Disciples, the Latin Kings, and the Latin Lovers are known to have penetrated the Chicago police force, thereby augmenting their understanding of police methods and their capacity to detect undercover agents. Accompanying the efficient acquisition and dissemination of certain kinds of information is the capacity to contain and protect other types of information. Drug-trafficking networks often operate in cellular fashion in which information is compartmentalized or shared only on a need-to-know basis. As a result, arrests tend to be limited to those on the periphery, who do not yield usable connections to those in the core. Moreover, drug-trafficking networks have tried to increase the reluctance of their members to pass information to law enforcement authorities by their readiness to harm the families of informants and by their willingness to support the families of those who remain loyal and resist blandishments such as offers of leniency in return for information. In addition to this, many networks have two characteristics that make them hard to penetrate ethnicity and language. Moreover, many of the networks use languages or dialects unfamiliar to law enforcement personnel in the host countries. Consequently electronic surveillance efforts directed against, for example, Chinese or Nigerian drug-trafficking networks are either neutralized or rendered much more difficult. Furthermore, ethnic drug-trafficking networks do not exist in a vacuum but instead operate in and from ethnic communities that provide concealment and protection as well as an important source of new recruits. Some networks, such as Chinese drug-trafficking groups, are based largely on ethnicity They are global in scope and operate according to the principle of "guanxi" (notions of reciprocal obligation), which can span generations and continents and provides a basis for trust and cooperation. Such networks are especially difficult for law enforcement to infiltrate. In short, drug-trafficking networks have a significant capacity to protect their information and to defend themselves against law enforcement initiatives. Networks are also able to expand or contract as circumstances demand. Their capacity for rapid reconfiguration enables them to respond quickly to law enforcement and interdiction efforts by relocating their activities. Networks have some fixed assets, but are able to move their operations in ways that exploit the paths of least resistance. Most Colombian cocaine was initially transported to the United States through the Caribbean and Florida. When the interdiction effort in this region was increased in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many of the trafficking networks moved to Mexico and the southwestern border of the United States. More recently as law enforcement and military interdiction efforts have increased on that border, there has been a return to Florida. Similarly on a global level, during the 1990s much greater use has been made of African states as transshipment points for drugs destined for the United States and Europe. According to a 1997 study by the Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues (Geopolitical Drug Watch) in Paris, almost 30 percent of heroin shipments seized in Europe or the United States passed through Africa, which is an easy place for traffickers to do business. As the group has noted, "There are plenty of under-policed air or sea ports-like Mombasa (Kenya), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Maputo (Mozambique) - and civil wars in countries like Angola, Somalia, and Liberia mean porous borders - where drugs can be shipped or traded with impunity." Closely related to this, networks can respond to law enforcement profiles of network participants by recruiting new network members to act as couriers. Nigerian drug traffickers in particular increasingly face the profiling problem: because many Nigerians are known to be heavily involved in the trafficking of cocaine and heroin, they are more likely to be stopped at airports and other points of entry and searched by customs inspectors. Nigerian traffickers have dealt with this partly by recruiting network members who do not fit the profile and therefore tend to make more successful couriers. This extension of the network typically involves recruitment of middle-aged white women, but in one case (in June 1996) included a group of American sailors with the Sixth Fleet. In other cases, Nigerian men have married Polish or Hungarian women and then sent them to buy cocaine in South America. The cocaine is delivered to countries such as the Netherlands and transferred to other women who travel to other countries, such as Britain, where the cocaine is sold. Neither the Nigerian connection nor the South American link is evident, and the network is itself virtually invisible. MANAGING RISK Networks are excellent organizations for managing risk and limiting damage to the criminal enterprise. If the network is compromised or degraded in some way it can alter its shape and still function. This is achieved in part through compartmentalizing organizational activities, disseminating knowledge on a need-to-know basis, and separating operators and strategic managers. This makes it possible to maintain within a network a series of safety devices that not only insulate the core but also limit damage. Networks are highly resilient, partly because of what might be termed loose coupling. In his 1984 book "Normal Accidents," Charles Perrow distinguishes between tightly coupled and loosely coupled systems. The most vulnerable are tightly coupled systems where disturbances involve a chain reaction or, at the very least, serious cascading effects. In contrast, "'loose coupling gives time, resources, and alternative paths to cope with the disturbance and limits its impact." Drug-trafficking networks, by their very nature, involve loose coupling and can more effectively manage the risks they face. Another crucial characteristic of networks is that they have built-in redundancy that allows for recovery if part of the network is impaired. Some of the literature on business networks has noted that a network, left to its own devices, will tend to produce redundant contacts that are not especially efficient. In the case of drug-trafficking networks, the inefficiency associated with redundant contacts is negligible when compared to the benefits. For networks, which almost invariably face the problems of degradation and attack by law enforcement, redundancy is a virtue. It provides a range of options to move the commodities to the market and to repatriate profits, allowing the network to exploit the path of least resistance. Even more important, it enables network members to take over tasks and responsibilities from those who have been arrested or killed. While there is specialization in drug-trafficking networks, roles are rarely so specialized that substitutes cannot readily be found. Consequently redundancy allows networks to mitigate the impact of successful law enforcement actions. Because of this characteristic, the network is the ideal form for maintaining organizational integrity in an inhospitable environment. THE VIRTUE OF DIVERSITY Networks can take various forms and their members can exhibit enormous similarities or enormous differences. A money-laundering network in New York that was not very sophisticated in its operations but still succeeded in laundering over $70 million for Colombian drug-traffickers included a taxi driver, an honorary consul-general for Bulgaria, a New York City police officer, an assistant bank manager in Citibank, two rabbis, and a firefighter. The network transferred drug-trafficking proceeds to a bank in Zurich, where two employees forwarded the funds to the Caribbean account of a major Colombian drug trafficker. While some networks consist of individuals, others, according to Aaron Hollen, consist of both individuals and organizations, including some that might be hierarchical in character. In this connection, there is an important difference between the cocaine and heroin networks. The cocaine-trafficking networks operating from Medellin and Cali in Colombia had a considerable degree of vertical integration, with a relatively small number of organizations controlling the flow of drugs from leaf to nose. In the case of heroin, however, there are multiple supply sources such as Southwest Asia (especially Afghanistan and Pakistan), Southeast Asia (especially Burma), and Colombia which, during the 1990s, has diversified into opium poppy cultivation and heroin processing. There are also multiple suppliers, including Chinese networks, Nigerian drug-traffickers, Turkish groups, various Italian mafia organizations, and the smaller Colombian drug-trafficking organizations that have effectively superseded the Medellin and Cali cartels. Much of the heroin trade, especially in and near the source countries, occurs through network transactions in which brokers appear to play a major role. Moreover, many of these brokers and middlemen (particularly the Chinese) are extensively engaged in licit as well as illicit business. These variations in network structure and membership make the task of law enforcement even more formidable. Another characteristic of networks is that they can easily forge links with one another. A network does not lack an organizational identity, but it is not overly preoccupied with organizational form. Consequently networks can come together when it is convenient or beneficial without this being in any way a threat to their identity or raison d'etre. Indeed, one of the most important trends in drug trafficking and organized crime in recent years has been the growing connections among different criminal enterprises. Colombian-Sicilian networks, for example, were critical in developing the cocaine market in Western Europe. They joined Colombian suppliers with the Sicilian mafia, which had local knowledge, well-established heroin distribution networks, extensive bribery and corruption networks, and a full-fledged capability to launder money. In a similar vein, Italian and Russian criminals have forged their own networks while Colombian and Russian criminals have been meeting in various Caribbean islands including Aruba. The extension of influence through networks of this kind provides new opportunities for criminals. One result of the Colombian-Russian contacts has been increased amounts of cocaine both imported to and transshipped through Russia. Colombian money-laundering activities could also be extended into and through Russian banks and companies. In this case, two powerful networks of criminal enterprises seem to be allying for mutual advantage. Not all connections among networks are reciprocal. Mexican drug-trafficking families have used Hispanic street gangs in southern California for retailing drugs and for contract killings. Indeed, the relationships between criminal networks cover a spectrum from spot sales at the lowest level to joint ventures and strategic alliances at the highest. In between are a series of arrangements such as contracting out or franchising for particular functions or roles. A recent development noted by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, for example, has been the willingness of some Colombian groups to franchise smuggling and transportation operations to Puerto Rican and Dominican groups, which then transfer the drugs to Colombian wholesalers in the United States or retail the drugs themselves. Extending their networks in this way allows the Colombians to operate without going through Mexico and paying the Mexican drug-trafficking organizations the large percentage of profits they demand. Such an approach also minimizes the need for an extensive Colombian presence in Puerto Rico. The critical point about networks is that they facilitate cooperation of this kind among criminal enterprises just as they do in the licit business world. FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE Networks are a highly efficient and effective organizational structure for drug traffickers. Network organizations are fast, flexible, and forward looking. They put function over form and are far less concerned with neat organizational charts and jurisdictional niceties than with their overall effectiveness in achieving their goals. In contrast, governments are composed of and rely on large, bureaucratic hierarchies that operate according to standard operational procedures, are bound by budgetary constraints, and are, for the most part, cumbersome. If governments are to make significant inroads against drug-trafficking networks, they have to acknowledge and act on the fundamental point made by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt: it takes a network to defeat a network. Governments and law enforcement agencies have to think and act much more in network terms; they need to develop the same kind of flexibility to operate both nationally and transnationally through the creation of informal transnational law enforcement networks based on trust that is exhibited by drug-trafficking networks. Greater care also needs to be given to devising strategies for more effective attacks on networks. Such strategies need to identify both critical nodes (those where redundancy is minimal) and critical connections - especially those to government and the legitimate financial sector. They also need to attack the network both externally through the removal or elimination of key nodes and connections, and internally through such tactics as disinformation and the creation of mistrust. While this approach does not guarantee success, it does at least conform to the first precept of effective strategy, which is to know your enemy and adjust your actions accordingly.  See David Ronfeldt, Tribes, Institutions, Markets, Networks:A Framework about Societal Evolution (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1996).  Mark Granovetter, 'The Strength of Weak Ties," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 78 (1973). This idea is further developed in Ronald S. Burt, Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992).  Francis J.Ianni, Black Mafia: Ethnic Succession in Organized Crime (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974), p.281. Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues (Geopolitical Drug Watch), Annual Report 1995-1996, September 1997 on the OGD home page (http://www.ogd.org).  See John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, eds., In Athena's Cam p: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1997).
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Political Economy Of Narco-Corruption In Mexico ('Current History' Explains Mexico's Drug Problem Is Created Largely By Its Northern Neighbor) Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 22:38:29 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Mexico: The Political Economy of Narco-Corruption in Mexico Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Current History Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: April 1998 Author: Peter Andreas Section: Page 160 THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF NARCO-CORRUPTION IN MEXICO The corrupting influence of the illicit drug trade is widely perceived as an especially extreme example of the weakness of the state in many developing countries. Although there is obviously much truth in this view the Mexican experience of recent years reveals a more complex and negotiated relationship between the business of drugs and the business of policing drugs. In his final state of the union speech on November 1, 1994, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari declared that "Mexico has changed intensely." Although he lauded the establishment of a new relationship between the state and society "and Mexico's achievement of an advantageous position in the new international reality," Salinas failed to mention that part of these changes has been Mexico's rising place in the illegal drug export business. Indeed, although the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - the crowning achievement of the Salinas administration - does not officially include them, drug exports are an integral part of Mexico's comparative advantage in an expanding regional trade relationship. While Mexico has long been enmeshed in the drug trade, its role has grown significantly in the 1990s. According to Eduardo Valle, who resigned as personal adviser to the Mexican attorney general in May 1994 Mexico's leading drug traffickers have become "driving forces, pillars even, of our economic growth." The United States State Department estimates that as much as 70 percent of the South American cocaine bound for the United States market enters through Mexico; Mexico also supplies between 20 and 30 percent of the heroin consumed in the United States, and up to 80 percent of the imported marijuana. (Of course, any official drug statistics represent at best rough estimates.) In addition, Mexican traffickers now dominate much of the American market for methamphetamines. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) believes that Mexico earns more than $7 billion a year from the drug trade, while Mexico's prosecutor general's office calculates that drug traffickers operating in Mexico accumulated revenues of about $30 billion in 1994. The drug business is a significant employer: there are roughly 200,000 people earning a living growing drug crops (the Mexican attorney general's office calculates that the figure may be as high as 300,000). This number does not include the thousands of other jobs directly or indirectly generated by the drug trade in areas such as transportation, security banking, and communications. This underground exit option has been especially important during a time of falling wages and limited employment prospects in the formal economy. Ironically Mexico's prominence in the drug trade is partly an unintended by-product of United States policy: American law enforcement pressure on cocaine shipments through the Caribbean and south Florida in the 1980s helped make Mexico the primary transshipment point for Colombian cocaine bound for the American market. While this expensive interdiction campaign provided political rewards for United States officials eager to show progress in the anti-drug effort, the effect of such a Maginot Line-style enforcement strategy was to create incentives for Colombian traffickers to shift to Mexican smuggling routes. Thus, while the percentage of cocaine entering the American market from Mexico was negligible in the early 1980s, by the early 1990s Mexico was the route of choice for the majority of Colombian cocaine shipments. Perhaps not surprisingly the Bush and Clinton administrations conveniently downplayed the profound consequences of this geographic shift for Mexico in order to assure the smooth negotiation and passage of NAFTA. As drug trafficking in Mexico has expanded in the past decade, so too has Mexican drug enforcement. Partly in an effort to pacify its northern neighbor, Mexico tripled its federal anti-drug budget between 1987 and 1989, and tripled it again in the 1990s. The growth of Mexico's anti-drug program is particularly striking given that it has occurred during a time of deep cuts in overall government spending: drug control stands out as one of the few areas where state intervention in the economy is increasing. Drug control now dominates the Mexican criminal justice system, with the majority of the federal budget for the administration of justice devoted to the effort. The "Mexican attorney general's office," notes Mexican scholar Maria Celia Toro, "has basically become an anti-drug law enforcement agency" President Miguel de La Madrid Hurtado officially declared drug trafficking a national security threat in early 1988. And this declaration was reinforced by the administration of Carlos Salinas. President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon has gone even further, repeatedly declaring that drug trafficking is the country's number one security threat. Given that invoking national security is rare in Mexican political discourse, these calls mark a significant departure from the past. For Salinas, classifying drugs as a national security issue was both a rhetorical move to improve relations with the United States and an attempt to provide the rationale for a revitalized national security apparatus. Salinas created a national security council and a new intelligence agency set up a unit in the attorney general's office for drug enforcement, and developed new anti-drug units in the federal judicial police. He also reinforced the anti-drug role of the military, designating a new army staff section that focused on drug control. By the late 1980s about one-third of the military's budget was devoted to the anti-drug effort, and some 25,000 Mexican soldiers were involved in drug control operations-compared with only 5,000 in the 1970s. As a result of its anti-drug role, the military has become the "supreme authority, or in some cases the only authority" in parts of some states, such as Oaxaca, Sinaba, Jalisco, and Guerrero, according to Mexico watcher Roderic Ai Camp. While the military has traditionally concentrated on crop eradication, its anti-drug mission has significantly expanded in recent years. "In the past, there was always a reluctance to allow the military to play a stronger role," notes one United States official. "But with the Zedillo administration, that mindset has dissolved." As a consequence, military ties between the United States and Mexico have deepened in recent years through military assistance and training for anti-drug programs. THE LOGIC OF NARCO-CORRUPTION Increased Mexican drug enforcement has generated a growing number of arrests and seizures and a rise in crop eradication levels (Mexico boasts that it destroys more illicit crops than any country in the world). These measures of policy progress are high-lighted in the annual political ritual of the certification process, in which the United States determines whether Mexico and other drug-exporting countries are fully cooperating with American anti-drug objectives. While these "body count" statistics are politically necessary to maintain good relations with the United States and avoid the stigma of being "decertified," the reality is that the drug trade has not only survived but has thrived in the face of intensified Mexican drug control efforts. United States and Mexican officials alike place much of the blame on the corrupting power of the drug trade. Yet corruption is a two-way relationship: it reflects the influence of drug smuggling over the state and the state's influence over drug smuggling-and greater drug control capacity has arguably only deepened this influence. Corruption involves not only the penetration of the state but also penetration by the state. Drug smugglers must purchase an essential service monopolized by government officials: the non-enforcement of the law. Those in charge of enforcement must be bribed because they cannot be entirely bullied or bypassed. The extent of drug-related corruption in Mexico is revealed by the series of high-profile murders and scandals in recent years (including the arrest of Raul Salinas, the brother of Carlos Salinas) that have profoundly shaken the political system. The primary purpose here is not to focus on the mystery and intrigue that necessarily surround these controversial events (the complex and often speculative details about who did what, when, and why), but rather to try to make sense of the underlying logic of drug corruption. Perhaps more than any other state regulatory activity, drug enforcement provides extraordinary incentives to use public authority for private gain. And these incentives only increase under conditions of fiscal austerity, economic uncertainty and low wages. At its core, drug corruption is a cost of doing business. While corruption in the form of bribes and payoffs has long been a part of the relationship between business and the state, it plays a more vital role in the case of drug smuggling because of the illicit nature of the activity The enormous profits from drug smuggling (inflated by the drug's criminalized status) provide the financial means to corrupt. In the case of Mexico, a study by the Autonomous National University in Mexico City has found that cocaine traffickers spend as much as $500 million a year on bribery, which is more than double the annual budget of the Mexican attorney general's office. (These calculations are derived from a widely used model that assumes $1,000 in payoffs for each kilogram of smuggled cocaine.) TAXING THE DRUG TRADE A useful way to make sense of drug corruption is to view the act of corruption as the equivalent of paying a tax. Levels of corruption-the tax rate-often depend on the intensity of the drug enforcement effort. As enforcement increases, so does the drug smuggler's need to corrupt those who are doing the enforcing (the tax collectors). As Gianluca Fiorentini and Sam Peltzman suggest in their 1995 book The Economics of Organized Crime, the greater the deterrent effort, "the more [it creates] incentives to invest in corruption and manipulation of the deterrence agencies themselves." This general observation is certainly applicable to the Mexican drug control experience. Even though increased drug enforcement capacity has failed to significantly deter the drug trade, it has increased the capacity to tax the trade in the form of corruption. Smugglers who pay the "corruption tax" are less pressured by "tax collectors" than those who do not. One senior Mexican official described the process this way: "[Drug enforcement agents] receive money from one group of traffickers and they cannot act against people from that group. But they have their hands free to arrest people from other groups." This type of selective enforcement allows officials to do their job-seizing drugs and arresting smugglers-while also collecting taxes from the drug trade. This dynamic favors large, well-connected smuggling organizations. Those smugglers with the greatest resources and contacts can most afford the corruption tax and pay it to the most appropriate tax collectors, while the smaller smuggling entrepreneurs are treated as tax evaders. Not surprisingly it is the smalltime smugglers who are most often "audited" and penalized. Taxing the drug trade sometimes takes the form of seizing a drug shipment and then reselling all or part of it. Thus, confiscated drugs often disappear while in custody In such cases, those charged with policing smuggling actually become smugglers themselves. This reflects the larger difficulty in Mexico of distinguishing between the police and the criminals. An internal report from the Interior Ministry estimates that by 1995 there were about 900 armed criminal bands in the country-of which more than 50 percent were made up of current or former law enforcement agents. Police often double as drug enforcers and as drug-smuggling protectors. When Sinaba drug cartel leader Hector "El Guerro" Palma was arrested by the military in June 1995, he was at the home of the local police commander; the majority of the armed men protecting him were federal judicial police. Subsequent investigations revealed that Palma had bought off the senior federal judicial police commanders in Guadalajara with several $40 million payments. The lucrative payoffs from the drug trade mean that there is intense competition within and between law enforcement agencies-for example, between local and federal police, who sometimes end up shooting at each other. Violent conflicts often erupt between police operating as law enforcers and police operating as law breakers. In one incident on March 3, 1994, members of the federal judicial police came under fire from the judicial police of Baja California as they were attempting a drug bust. There is also enormous competition within law enforcement agencies to be assigned to key posts along major smuggling corridors. Eduardo Valle claims that while he was in office, the top Mexican drug enforcement posts were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The price of a law enforcement position, he said, depends on changes in drug smuggling routes: "In Coahuila, for example, there are four or five entrances into the United States. If one crossing point is closed, the price of the federal police chief's position in that area goes down because the post is irrelevant, but the price of the police chief positions in other places goes up. This is openly discussed inside the federal police." The case of Mario Ruiz Massieu, Salinas's top anti-drug prosecutor between March and November 1994, provides a glimpse into how the system of drug corruption can be organized. During his tenure in office, cocaine seizures plummeted. Federal prosecutors and police commanders allegedly paid Ruiz Massieu as much as $1 million to be assigned to profitable posts along the border and in other major drug areas. Officials regularly brought him suitcases with up to $150,000 in kickbacks. One official familiar with Ruiz Massieu's operation described it as a 'franchising system." Ruiz Massieu apparently inherited rather than created this system of selling lucrative posts and receiving large kickbacks. Payoffs are made at each level of enforcement-the higher the position, the higher the payoff. For example, a notebook recovered from the smuggling organization run by Juan Garcia Abrego included this list of payoffs: $1 million to the national commander of Mexico's federal judicial police; $500,000 to the forces' operations chief; $100,000 to federal police commander in the city of Matamoros. Abrego's cousin, Francisco Perez, testified in a federal trial in Texas in 1994 that he had delivered $500,000 to Javier Coello, Mexico's deputy attorney general, between 1988 and 1991. Coello was eventually dismissed but never charged. The particular shape and form of drug corruption in some ways mirrors the structure and character of the Mexican state. As Peter Lupsha argues, "because of the institutionalized authoritarian clientelism and centralization built into the national dominance of the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI, transnational groups like the Colombians must work with and through Mexican organized crime groups who have corruptive and collusive support of national institutions. . .for protection. In other words, Colombian traffickers must operate in Mexico on Mexican terms. In practice this means that the Colombians have become increasingly reliant on their Mexican business partners, who have the necessary political connections and long-established trafficking networks. Consequently the power and wealth of Mexican traffickers has dramatically increased in a relatively short period of time. Mexico's comparative advantage in the cocaine trade is based on its access to the United States market-and such access has only grown as economic barriers between Mexico and the United States have fallen. Mexican traffickers and their protectors within the state apparatus collect a sizable fee from their Colombian counterparts for entry into the North American free trade zone. As more cocaine is shipped through Mexico to the United States market by way of legitimate commercial channels, drug payoffs reach beyond law-enforcement to other regulatory agencies. The Mexican Office of Communication and Transportation, Lupsha notes in his article, "is as critical to the evolution of the Cali cartel's drug transportation system as it is to NAFTA. Its portfolio includes the administration of airports, seaports, highways, communications lines, and the Federal Highway Police." Lupsha contends that "Cali's new transportation methodology requires commercial airports, business fronts, the use of ports, free trade zones, container facilities, trailer trucking firms, and railroads. In short, it requires access, information, official forms, and seals that only an Office of Communication and Transportation can provide." Drug corruption in Mexico thus reflects a paradox: the state's drug enforcement effort is undermined by the corrupting influence of the drug trade, yet the drug trade cannot survive without the protection of compromised elements within the state. Lupsha goes so far as to argue that because of the centralized authoritarian nature of the Mexican political system, drug traffickers must operate con permiso (with permission). The trafficker must go beyond simply sharing drug profits and is "expected to assist the police and the political system by providing grist for the judicial mill, as well as public relations materials to give U.S. drug enforcers. Thus, the trafficker could gain protection and warning information; the police could gain credit, praise, and promotions; the political system gained campaign monies and control; and the U.S., statistics, to justify a job well done." Lupsha notes that this clandestine relationship between law enforcers and law evaders is unstable, given the frequent changes in government leadership, the transfer or promotion of key officials, and the often violent competition between smuggling organizations over trafficking routes. This instability is evident in the rise and demise of one of Mexico's leading traffickers, Juan Garcia Abrego. Abrego's trafficking operations, which had flourished in the Salinas years, lost high-level protection after President Zedillo entered office, and soon also lost market share to competitors based in Tijuana and Juarez. Having fallen out of favor, Abrego became a hunted fugitive. By the time he was arrested in early 1996 and extradited to the United States, his business was in shambles. Nevertheless, Abrego's capture was applauded by the United States and Mexico as a sign of official resolve in the anti-drug campaign. THE STATE RESPONSE When drug corruption scandals have erupted in Mexico, the official response has been to fire or transfer individual officers and at times even disband entire agencies and create new ones. A report by the attorney general's office indicates that over 400 agents of the federal judicial police (more than 10 percent of total personnel) were fired or suspended between mid-1992 and mid-1995 on drug-related charges. On August 14, 1996, 737 federal law enforcement officers were dismissed, including Horacio Brunt, the celebrated police commander who had captured Abrego. An additional 270 employees of the attorney general's office were fired between December 1996 and August 1997. Such mass firings, however, only begin to dent the problem: in 1996, the attorney general estimated that 70 to 80 percent" of the judicial police force was corrupt. Moreover, many fired police officers have simply been rehired in other regions of the country and hundreds of other officers have been reinstated after challenging their dismissals in court. Although the Zedillo administration has demonstrated a new resolve, past patterns suggest a lack of sustained high-level political commitment to confronting corruption. Salinas, for example, appointed Enrique Alvarez del Castillo, who had been the governor of the state of Jalisco, attorney general. Under his governorship the drug trade had thrived and traffickers had operated with little to fear from the authorities. Salinas also tried to appoint Miguel Nazar Hurtado Mexico City police intelligence chief despite the fact that he had been indicted in 1982 by a United States grand jury in San Diego on car theft and conspiracy charges. Institutionalized corruption within Mexican law enforcement has generated growing pressures to turn to the military to take on more drug control tasks. But while militarization is interpreted by American officials as a sign of Mexico's heightened resolve to fight drug trafficking, a greater military role in drug control (and thus proximity to drug smugglers) is also likely to generate greater corruption in the military. In late 1991, in one of the most notorious cases of military corruption, ten federal judicial police agents attempted to apprehend smugglers delivering 800 pounds of cocaine from a small airplane on a remote airstrip in the state of Veracruz. The bust was interrupted when members of the Mexican army opened fire on the agents, killing seven of them. The traffickers escaped. A videotape of the incident by a United States Customs surveillance flight overhead indicated that the Mexican soldiers were protecting the traffickers. According to Mexican press reports at the time, this was just one of a number of incidents in which the military thwarted a police anti-drug operation. A series of high-profile drug-related scandals in 1997 further exposed the depth of the corruption problem in the Mexican military In February the head of the federal anti-drug agency, General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, was arrested on charges of working for Juarez cartel leader Amado Carrillo Fuentes. The agency was quickly disbanded and is now slowly being rebuilt. Then in March, General Alfredo Navarro Lara was arrested for attempting to bribe the head federal justice official in Baja California on behalf of the Arellano Felix brothers, the leaders of the Tijuana drug cartel. A recent report by the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy notes that 34 senior military officers have been targeted for disciplinary action because of drug-related corruption. In the face of such high-level military corruption, Zedillo has remained firmly committed to the militarization of law enforcement, putting the military in charge of federal police functions in at least eight states, as well as in Mexico City. Meanwhile, the incentive for the PRI-dominated political system to turn to illicit revenue may be increasing as other sources of funding dry up. As Nora Lustig observed in the spring 1996 issue of the Brookings Review, "One facet of the PRI crisis is financial. Long dependent on contributions from (or raised through) the government, the party is ill-prepared to find alternatives." Some of the more militant officials may be tempted "to turn to 'donations' from unsavory sources, such as narco-traffickers." Concerns about economic stability may also inhibit major anticorruption initiatives. "Unfortunately the rule of law is to a certain extent hostage to Mexico's financial vulnerability" Lustig explains. "The nation's leaders can probably not afford to uncover the questionable or illegal activities [engaged in] by prominent members of the political and business elites. The attempt to change the rules of the game too swiftly and prosecute people for past wrongdoings could trigger a wave of capital outflows large enough to threaten the fragile recovery" FROM "CRISIS CORRUPTION" TO "NORMAL CORRUPTION" Clues as to how the dynamics of corruption will eventually play out in Mexico's most important illegal export sector may be found by looking at the past dynamics of corruption in Mexico's most important legal export sector: oil. Drug corruption in Mexico may be a particularly striking example of "crisis corruption," in which there are "many suppliers trading in extraordinary stakes."4 This highly disruptive form of corruption is not unfamiliar to Mexico. In the late 1970s Mexico experienced a rapid influx of oil revenues that, while not generating the violence associated with the drug trade, nevertheless shares some similarities with the more recent influx of drug profits. Michael Johnston notes that "key figures in PEMEX (the state oil corporation), the Oil Workers Union, and the dominant political party (PRI) had long enjoyed a number of politically significant and mutually profitable corrupt arrangements. But when oil revenues began to grow rapidly in 1977, this corruption became particularly flagrant and disruptive. Old arrangements' in the oil industry gave way to intense competition over shares of the new wealth. The new abuses became matters of considerable controversy and PEMEX, PRI, and union figures came under political attack from several quarters." By 1982, when the oil boom went bust, "it was evident that the nation had been 'sacked' by more than one set of actors. . . According to the government's own admission, the oil boom had whetted unsavory appetites in the nation and had spawned a substantial increase in the level of corruption throughout the nation. "6 The influx of oil revenue had, Johnston notes, "thus placed extraordinary resources in many hands, transforming formerly integrative forms of corruption into disintegrative crisis corruption." This may describe the current Mexican situation in relation to drug profits. If Mexico's earlier oil boom experience is any indication, today's drug-related crisis corruption will not necessarily produce political disintegration. Crisis corruption can be resolved in a number of ways. For example, Johnston explains that a "leveling off in the influx of resources might make the stakes of corruption more predictable, and thus less extraordinary, with improved chances of repeated profits over longer periods of time serving to moderate prices and to regulate terms of exchange. Mexico's oil industry had gone through earlier phases of rapid growth and flagrant corruption, reverting to more accustomed forms of corruption during periods of more stable revenues." Alternatively he notes that "a few suppliers of corrupt stakes might become sufficiently powerful to impose a degree of order upon corrupt processes, perhaps producing one or more systems of cronyism or patronage." Applied to the drug trade in Mexico, either scenario suggests that the relationship between drug smuggling and the state may eventually settle down, resulting in a more stable, predictable, and less violent business environment. Perhaps the best news for Mexico is that there are preliminary signs that Colombian cocaine traffickers are starting to reduce their reliance on Mexican smuggling routes by redeveloping routes through the Caribbean and south Florida. It seems that the high cost of moving their product through Mexico is scaring at least some of the illicit business away. A greater diversification of smuggling routes may help to reduce corruption in Mexico. Yet as long as America's seemingly insatiable appetite for imported psychoactive substances persists, Mexico's close proximity to the United States market assures that the logic of narco-corruption will remain entrenched.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Militarization Of The Drug War In Latin America ('Current History' Says The United States Is Empowering The Same Forces It Supported During The Cold War, Blocking The Transition To More Democratic Societies) Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 22:45:52 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: The Militarization of the Drug War in Latin America Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Current History Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: April 1998 Author: Peter Zirnite Section: Page 166 THE MILITARIZATION OF THE DRUG WAR IN LATIN AMERICA Despite the end of the cold war and the transitions toward more democratic societies in Latin America, the United States has launched a number of initiatives that strengthen the power of Latin American security forces, increase the resources available to them, and expand their role within society - precisely when struggling civilian elected governments are striving to keep them in check. Rather than encouraging Latin American militaries to limit their role to the defense of national borders, Washington has instead provided the training, resources, and doctrinal justification for militaries to move into the business of building roads and schools, offering veterinary and child inoculation services, and protecting the environment. Of greatest concern, however, is America's insistence that the region's armed forces - including the United States military itself - play a significant role in domestic counternarcotics operations, a law enforcement function reserved in most democracies for civilian police. Although United States international narcotics control efforts have borne little fruit to date, Congress and the Clinton administration have dramatically increased security assistance to Latin America in the last two years in the name of fighting the war on drugs. For 1997 (all date references are to fiscal years, unless otherwise noted), the budget for international drug control programs was $213 million, double the previous year's figure. In addition, the administration approved a package of $112 million in military equipment and training for Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, and select Caribbean countries for antinarcotics purposes. Through the provision of foreign aid, military equipment, and training, American antinarcotics support for the region's military and police forces, primarily in the Andean region and Mexico, more than tripled from 1996 to 1997. While there is little reason to believe that the militarization of the drug war will produce results in terms of controlling illicit drugs, its impact could be devastating in countries where the drug war is being waged. In the Andean region and Mexico, the United States is forging ever closer ties with abusive police and military forces. In Peru and Colombia, Washington is providing assistance to intelligence services and militaries that are the worst human rights violators in the hemisphere. Moreover, through its drug program, Washington is reinforcing a trend in Latin America of ceding more and more civilian responsibilities to militaries, which themselves present the greatest threat to democracy in the region. In short, in country after country in Latin America, the United States war on drugs undermines efforts to promote human rights, democracy and regional security. Among the 50 or so government agencies involved in drug control efforts, the United States military is on the front line of the war on drugs in Latin America. The military's anti-drug plans call for it to provide the intelligence, strategic planning, resources, and training needed for the region's security forces to carry out antinarcotics efforts. In addition, the military is in charge of costly interdiction efforts and participates in domestic law enforcement attempts to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. In 1997 alone, the Defense Department's budget allocated nearly $1 billion to drug control efforts. Yet more than eight years after the drug war supplanted the cold war as the central United States military mission in the hemisphere - and after the expenditure of billions of dollars, the deployment of thousands of personnel and much sophisticated equipment, and the provision of massive assistance to its Latin American allies - the Defense Department has made little headway against its new foe. While the militarization of anti-drug operations may have produced occasional tactical victories - such as the destruction of cocaine-processing labs, which are quickly replaced by facilities in more remote locations - even its most ardent supporters admit it has done little, if anything, to stanch the flow of cocaine into the United States. AIDING SECURITY FORCES - The primary tool for United States forces waging the drug war abroad is "security assistance," which can include economic assistance, training, intelligence support, equipment transfer and maintenance support, and advice. International counternarcotics programs are one of the few areas of growth in United States foreign assistance, and an increasing percentage of this aid is earmarked for Latin America. According to the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (the INL, which coordinates all drug-related United States aid), of the $213 million budgeted for in-country narcotics programs in 1997, $116.2 million went directly to Latin America, an increase of more than 40 percent over 1996. By comparison, the rest of the world - Asia, Africa, and Europe - was slated to receive only $18.9 million. The remaining funds were for regional programs, which were primarily oriented toward Latin America. For 1998, of the $230 million requested for international drug control programs, INL has earmarked $132.7 million for Latin America. Traditionally, foreign security assistance has taken the form of Foreign Military Financing and Economic Support Fund grants under the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, but the end of the cold war and concerns about the federal budget deficit resulted in reduced appropriations for these grants. To fill the void, Washington has turned to surplus United States weapons stocks, using the Defense Department's Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program, which was established in 1976. Although EDA transfers are limited to $10 million per country per year, congressional investigators have found that the Defense Department routinely underestimates the original acquisition value of the equipment on which this limit is based. At the same time, millions of dollars in military equipment, services, and training are pumped directly into the region for counternarcotics purposes by the president through use of his special "drawdown" authority Section 506 of the Foreign Assistance Act gives the president the power to transfer up to $150 million of excess United States defense articles annually to meet "unforeseen" emergencies that cannot be met through other aid channels if he determines that doing so is "in the national interest of the United States." On September 30, 1996, President Bill Clinton determined it would be in the United States national interest to draw down up to $112 million in articles, services, and military education and training from Defense Department inventories to provide antinarcotics assistance to Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, and the seven countries of the Eastern Caribbean Regional Security System (a group established in the early 1980s to address defense and law enforcement concerns, including drug trafficking, on a multilateral basis). . . .AND TRAINING THEM These various forms of security assistance are accompanied by training and other forms of support provided directly by the United States military. A key element are Tactical Analysis Teams (TATS), which are made up of a small number of United States Special Forces and military intelligence personnel. The teams pull together intelligence from human and technical sources to select targets and plan operations to be carried out by host nation military and police forces and United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. While TATS determine collection priorities and act as data managers, they do not actually conduct intelligence collection operations. These activities, like the counter-drug operations they support, are carried out by the DEA and other United States and host nation agencies. After the first two TATS, established in Peru and Bolivia in 1989, proved successful in the eyes of United States military planners, their number rapidly expanded. In mid-February 1997, the number stood at 14, with three countries hosting two teams - Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil - and single teams in eight other countries -Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia. As the TATS evolved, they began to integrate tactical operations into an overall strategy to attack drug trafficking organizations, with the goal of establishing evidentiary links between raided cocaine labs and other components of the organization. "The optimum scenario," according to the Office of the Department of Defense Coordinator for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support, "is a 'full court press' on all trafficking organization members and critical nodes to completely disrupt or destroy their production and shipping capabilities." The host nation's ability to execute this highly desired "full court press" is being enhanced by Special Forces trainers who, as David Isenberg at the Center for Defense Information has noted, provide in-country instruction in "drug interdiction and search-and-destroy techniques." These training teams typically are composed of six Navy Seal and Army Green Beret officers who spend about three weeks in a country providing instruction, but they can be as small as a single officer or as large as an entire platoon (20 to 30 people). A vital part of their instruction, United States officials stress, is human rights training. However, training is provided regardless of the human rights record and political will for human rights-related reforms exhibited by recipient forces. For 1997, SOUTHCOM (Southern Command, the military command that is the center of United States anti-drug efforts) planned 37 training deployments- 1 to Ecuador, 9 to Venezuela, 6 each to Peru and Bolivia, and 5 to Colombia-that were to involve 633 personnel. In-country training is supplemented by instruction at United States military facilities. Among the United States-based facilities used for counternarcotics instruction is the School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia, which was rocked by revelations in 1996 that as recently as 1991 it used manuals advocating torture and murder of political opponents. The SOA currently offers officers an 11-week course that provides instruction in planning, leading, and executing drug interdiction operations, including weapons, infiltration, and surveillance techniques; patrolling; demolition; and close-quarters combat. Counternarcotics training, whether conducted in-country or at United States facilities, is viewed by many Defense Department officials as an important opportunity to foster closer ties with the region's armed forces, one of the key goals of the department's post-cold war strategy for the hemisphere. A case in point is the training currently being provided to Mexican troops, who were called in to fill the void created in 1996 by the dismissal of some 800 federal police officers for ethical breaches. Before the United States began providing counter-drug training to Mexico's military "essentially we had no relations with them," one Defense Department official said. "The idea of building military-to-military relations is very important." United States officials insist that corruption among the Mexican police makes a military role in the drug war necessary. Yet in bringing in the military, the United States may be setting in motion a trend that will be difficult if not impossible to reverse: increased Mexican military involvement in domestic political matters. Mexico's military now commands police forces in two-thirds of the states, looking for drug traffickers, patrolling Mexico City streets, directing traffic, and combating petty crime. By encouraging the militarization of Mexican society in the interest of combating narcotics, the United States undermines its own long-term goal of a stable, civilian, democratic regime in Mexico. Nor is there any evidence that the Mexican military is less susceptible to corruption than the police; it is, however, less transparent and accountable, making corruption even more difficult to root out. Human rights groups point to a number of other problems inherent in United States military counternarcotics training programs. The jungle warfare-type training that the United States military is providing to Latin American security forces is not well suited for drug control efforts, which should be oriented toward sound investigations and criminal prosecutions. Moreover, the law enforcement training that does take place would be more appropriately carried out by United States law enforcement agencies. It is deeply disturbing that the United States military is training local forces in surveillance tactics to be used on their own citizens, given that such practices have been used in the past to systematically violate basic human rights. Moreover, the United States is aiding and training troops within whose ranks are some of the worst human rights violators in the hemisphere without first insisting on fundamental reforms to ensure significant reductions in human rights violations and effective prosecution of those responsible. Also of deep concern, by the early 1990s - with the authority equipment, and funding to plan operations, bolster host nation forces, and transport these personnel to the front - United States military forces appeared to be perilously close to a direct combat role in the war against the South American drug cartels and, at least indirectly, insurgencies. THE PENTAGON'S MEAT AND POTATOES The flow of United States military personnel and equipment to the Andean region has drawn considerable attention, but it is a mere trickle compared to the resources the military has spent on its congressionally mandated role as the lead United States agency for the detection and monitoring of air and maritime shipments of illegal drugs into the United States. Beginning at $212 million in 1989, the Defense Department's detection and monitoring budget mushroomed to more than $950 million in 1992, the peak year for spending on this program. During that same period, the military's overall spending on counternarcotics jumped from $501.6 million to $1.14 billion. Spending on surveillance grew rapidly, as the General Accounting Office (GAO) pointed out in a September 1993 report, "despite the lack of clear-cut objectives." As a result, the eventual cost of the program grew "out of proportion to the benefits it provide[d]." The military's inventory of radar-equipped ships and aircraft was a major reason for giving it the lead detection and monitoring role, but it soon discovered that many of these assets were intrinsically ineffective in combating the drug-smuggling threat. As the GAO pointed out in a scathing 1993 report, "Sensors designed to detect large supersonic aircraft and nuclear-powered submarines are less proficient against low-flying planes and small wooden boats." Agency investigators reported that these problems were exacerbated by the "absence of intelligence tips" necessary to sort out smugglers from the considerable legitimate maritime traffic heading toward the United States. Moreover, drug traffickers quickly adopted new tactics and routes-as interdiction efforts in the Caribbean intensified, other United States agencies reported that the bulk of cocaine traffic entering the United States began coming overland through Mexico. Yet the military continued to expand air and maritime surveillance. The military's drug surveillance activities illustrate a critical point about the war on drugs: performance and effectiveness are not synonymous. It is a distinction that advocates of further militarization still do not make, allowing them to declare small, tactical successes "victories" even though they contribute little, if anything, to the ultimate objective of the drug war-reducing domestic drug use. Defense Department officials frequently cite such indicators as their high level of effort, praise from their colleagues in law enforcement, and increasing drug seizures and arrests. But the level of effort is an indication of their commitment to the mission, not its success. Nor are increased arrests and drug seizures accurate measures of effectiveness, because they may reflect a rise in drug trafficking rather than an actual reduction in drug availability TARGETING THE SOURCE COUNTRIES Congress began cutting funds for the military's detection and monitoring mission in 1993. But it was a decision by President Clinton late that year that resulted in a drastic reduction in detection and monitoring funding and another shift in the focus of United States drug control strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean. Following a review of the United States counter-drug strategy completed in November 1993, Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 14 (PDD-14), which shifted the emphasis from interdicting cocaine as it moved through the transit zones to stopping it at its source in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Despite the steady increase in coca production since the Andean strategy was launched, the Clinton administration in early 1994 refocused anti-drug efforts on coca plants, the leaves of which are mixed with chemicals to make cocaine. Because fewer alternatives exist for growing coca than for any other link in the drug trafficking chain, argues Robert E. Brown, deputy director for supply reduction in the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), source country operations should focus more on crop eradication and substitution programs than on the disruption of processing and transportation. ONDCP announced last year its intention to eliminate worldwide coca production within ten years, a laughable proposition at best and an invitation to direct United States intervention in coca-growing regions at worst. Coca substitution programs, under which farmers are paid to produce oranges, bananas, cacao, and other crops instead of coca, are expensive, and Brown and other United States officials acknowledge that because Washington is unable to pay the tab, it is encouraging its Latin American allies, most of whom have other development priorities, to seek assistance for crop substitution programs from multilateral institutions. The ability of these institutions to shoulder the burden is also questionable. The annual budget of the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), for example, is about $70 million, or roughly half the State Department's international narcotics funding in 1996. In 1995, UNDCP could provide just $2.2 million in supplemental funding to Peru, compared to an estimated $15 million provided by Washington. The Clinton administration's announced shift in strategy touched off a battle between the Republican-controlled Congress and the Democratic White House over United States drug control policy that reached a fever pitch in 1996, an election year, and still rages today Republicans attempt to blame the increasing flow of cocaine into the country on the president's decision to reduce transit zone interdiction efforts. Clinton administration officials counter by arguing that Congress cut back funding for interdiction faster than the White House had originally proposed, while failing to provide the full funding requested for source country programs. The administration has attempted to offset transit zone funding cuts by encouraging greater cooperation from its Caribbean allies, but its efforts have met with strong resistance from leaders concerned about a further erosion of their national sovereignty Although Trinidad and Tobago quickly agreed to a "hot pursuit" treaty Barbados and Jamaica both strongly opposed attempts by Washington to forge bilateral antinarcotics agreements that would allow United States forces to pursue suspected drug traffickers within the territorial waters and airspace of another country and only signed treaties after intense United States pressure. Regional leaders accused the United States of using "unfounded allegations, innuendoes, and the threat of punitive measures aimed at the economic welfare of Caribbean states" in its efforts to force them to provide the carte blanche for hot pursuits. ATTACKING THE "AIR BRIDGE" While the Defense Department continues to spend more money on transit zone interdiction programs and assistance to domestic law enforcement agencies, most of the military's energy at least in terms of public promotion, is now being spent on source country programs, and in particular its attack on the so-called air bridge that connects coca growers and coca paste manufacturers in Peru and Bolivia with Colombian cocaine refiners and distributors. The aim is to interdict drugs before they enter the transit zone. By targeting the small aircraft that ferry coca paste from Peru and Bolivia to Colombia for refining, United States military planners argue, coca farmers will no longer be able to get their product to the "market," thus driving down the price paid to growers and forcing them to convert their coca fields to more lucrative, licit crops. At the same time, it will drive up the cost of transport for Colombian drug traffickers, an increase that will then be passed on to United States consumers, who will be discouraged from using cocaine by the higher price. This strategy temporarily became entangled in a dispute over policies adopted by the Peruvian and Colombian governments-with strong United States encouragement-to shoot down planes of suspected drug traffickers. When Colombia announced in early 1994 that it too, like Peru, would adopt a shoot-down policy, some United States officials in Washington became concerned that the policy would violate international law After the Justice Department ruled that "United States officials who knowingly provide information that leads to the shooting down of civilian aircraft could be subject to criminal prosecution," the Defense Department halted the sharing of "real-time" aircraft tracking information with Colombia and Peru in May 1994. Congress responded that fall by providing official immunity for authorized United States personnel engaging in assisting foreign countries in anti-drug aircraft interdiction. Freed of legal constraints, the military began its attack on the air bridge in early 1995 by supplying the Peruvian and Colombian armed forces with sophisticated radar and surveillance equipment. By October of that year these efforts had evolved into a formal, classified mission dubbed Operation Green Clover, a three-month operation in which more than 300 United States soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines worked in tandem with forces from Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. "We assist with what we call the 'end game,' which is the actual capturing of a plane, but it is the host nations themselves that do any chasing or shooting," explained Brigadier General George Close, SOUTHCOM's director of operations. SOUTHCOM officials trumpet Green Clover's success in terms of disrupting the air bridge, but reports on the extent of this success vary According to the January 19, 1996, issue of the command's own newspaper, Tropic Times, the operation "resulted in the shooting down of 27 drug-smuggling aircraft by allied nations." When touting the success of Green Clover three months later, Secretary of Defense William Perry said, "Twelve drug-smuggling aircraft were interdicted or shot down by allied nation forces during the operation." Nonetheless, the "superbly executed military operation" led to an expansion of the source country strategy according to its self-proclaimed "principal architect," General Barry McCaffrey the commander of SOUTHCOM. In April 1996, a month after McCaffrey stepped down as SOUTHCOM'5 commander to become national drug czar, the military announced the launch of its successor mission, Operation Laser Strike. As part of the ongoing operation, United States military personnel work cooperatively with nine Latin American countries, operating ground-based radar sites, flying detection and monitoring aircraft, and providing operation and intelligence support to host nation forces. While the air bridge between Peru and Colombia was the sole focus of Green Clover, Laser Strike expanded the source country strategy; it now includes operations aimed at disrupting the river and coastal smuggling routes developed by drug traffickers as an alternative to air transportation in neighboring Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia, as well as in Peru and Colombia. In October 1996 McCaffrey told Congress that "results of this multinational, cooperative effort have yielded stunning tactical results. The so-called 'air bridge' between Peru and Colombia saw a greater than 50 percent temporary reduction of flights as aircraft were intercepted and, in some cases, shot down. The cost of shipments increased fivefold, as pilots demanded more money as their personal risk increased dramatically Movement was reduced so dramatically that there was a glut of coca base on the market and the price of the product being shipped fell by 50 percent overall and as much as 80 percent in some areas. The "success" of the air bridge attacks is noted widely by the Clinton administration, even as the flow of drugs into the country continues to rise and South American coca and poppy production expand. While acknowledging that these operations have had no impact on the availability and price of cocaine in the United States, a high-ranking National Security Council official, Peter Boynton, director of global issues and multilateral affairs, still argued in March 1997 that the administration has "been successful to an extent that no one has had before." Because of a dramatic drop in profits from coca leaf production, farmers are now "more open" to growing alternative, licit crops, he explained, adding that intelligence reports indicate there has been "significant abandonment of coca fields in Peru." The administration's assertion that coca production in Peru in 1996 fell precipitously - l8 percent according to its figures - is not in dispute. What is in dispute are the reasons for that fall. Coca fields continue to be abandoned due to the spread of a fungus that has recently plagued coca production in Peru. (In fact, Peruvian coca farmers have been clamoring for years for economic support in order to switch to alternative crops.) In addition, Peruvian coca and cocaine base have traditionally been purchased by the Cali cartel; hence, coca production in Peru was significantly affected by the Colombian government's gains against the cartel, most of whose leadership is now behind bars. More important, Colombian drug analysts point out that Colombian traffickers have sought to "verticalize" the cocaine industry by eliminating the need to transport a raw material, coca or cocaine base, from other countries. As a result, coca production in Colombia increased by a huge 32 percent in 1997 alone, according to the United States government's own figures. Colombian traffickers are now importing and promoting domestic production of a more potent and productive variety of Peruvian coca from the Tingo Maria region. Finally administration officials themselves note that as a result of the "successful" air interdiction program, more cocaine-related products are transported by river - hence the need for more resources for greatly expanded riverine interdiction programs. A POLICY DOOMED TO FAILURE Even as the Defense Department plans further expansion of its counternarcotics efforts, many within its ranks remain highly critical of the military's involvement in the drug war. Like their civilian counterparts, these critics question the underlying rationale for the mission, its effectiveness, and its impact on the region's democratic institutions. They also challenge the strategy and tactics being used to carry out the mission, arguing that they work at cross-purposes with the desired result. The military's counternarcotics operations in Latin America have also been hurt by its poor understanding of the Clausewitzian principle of attacking the enemy's "center of gravity" according to critics. If, as Clausewitz suggests, the "center of gravity" is the "hub of all power" and "the point against which all energies should be directed," then, by its own estimation, the military is fighting a foe whose defeat is improbable. SOUTRCOM officials have identified 14 "centers of gravity" in the drug war, including "narcoguerrillas," coca farmers, drug labs, coca and poppy growing areas, and drug mafias, as well as drug users in the United States and Latin America. That there are this many centers of gravity would indicate that the mission nears the impossible. Analysts Eva Bertram and Kenneth Sharpe argued in the Winter 1996 issue of World Policy Journal that the real "center of gravity" is the demand for drugs in the United States, which creates the economic incentive to supply them. In that case, "the enemy in the drug war is not a foreign army of insurgency but an economic market." The current supply-side approach is further hampered by the "balloon effect" of applying pressure in one place only to see the problem pop up some-where else. Perhaps an even more accurate description is the "hydra effect" noted by Bertram and Sharpe in their World Policy Journal article: "Like the mythical sea serpent that Hercules battled, the drug trade is an evasive enemy: Each time one of the hydra's heads is cut off, two more grow in its place." Repeated counternarcotics operations have caused traffickers to diversify their supply routes, while sometimes forcing coca growers and processors to move their fields and labs to more remote areas. The potential for controlling the impact of the hydra effect on drug interdiction efforts is severely limited by the sheer size of the geographic area involved. Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia combined are as large as the United States east of the Mississippi, and the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico equal slightly less than half the land area of the United States. Despite the best intentions of the Defense Department and other United States government agencies, all evidence points to a glut of coca, cocaine, and heroin on the international and United States markets. Beyond the failure of the drug war to date to stem the flow of illicit drugs into this country United States military personnel express concern about the unintended consequences of a drug war that has led Washington to forge closer ties with military forces that are notorious human rights violators. In calling for the demilitarization of United States anti-drug efforts, one Navy commander cited a report on drug policy produced by an Inter-American commission that noted that the increased military role in drug enforcement in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia resulted in "greater violence and increased violations of human rights." Others warn that by tightening its alliance with local military forces, the United States government undermines people's faith in civilian institutions at a time when democratic development remains delicate. THE ADMINISTRATION IN DENIAL Clinton administration officials respond vociferously to suggestions that human rights and democratization are taking a back seat to the objectives of the drug war. They stress that all counternarcotics training provided to the region's militaries includes human rights instruction and that all United State's personnel receive human rights training before they are sent to the region, where they are required to report any suspected abuses by their allies. Bu through the drug war, United States assistance is provided prior to actual improvements in human rights performance or demonstrated political will on the part of aid recipients to hold accountable those responsible for abuses. Washington works most closely with local military forces because there are few alternatives, explains ONDCP's Brown, noting that police in the region are "most typically corrupt because they are vastly underpaid." The alternative of strengthening civilian institutions to increase their effectiveness in countering drug trafficking "is not a viable approach anywhere in the near term." However, as described earlier, the long-term consequences of increasing military involvement in the drug war may be even more detrimental to the prospects for democratic consolidation and regional stability, both of which are fundamental for international drug control efforts to ultimately succeed. Calling out the troops may satisfy short-term needs to score political points at home, but it undermines effort' to rein in Latin American militaries and redefine their roles to encompass only traditional national defense. Nor is it clear that bringing in the military will allow local governments to circumvent the very real problem of corruption. As Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozado, who completed his term in office last year, once put it, "When you have corrupt chief of police, you fire him. When you have a corrupt chief of the army he fires you." The check of accountability and transparency for the region's armed forces makes routing out the inevitable corruption that accompanies anti-drug efforts even more difficult. WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS The future course of the military's counternarcotics efforts is unlikely to be shaped as much by he debate within the United States military or the Clinton administration as it will be by developments on Capitol Hill, where the purse strings are controlled. In the drug war, as a Defense Department official put it, the military does "what we have been told to do" by Congress. Political pressure by Congress for further militarization of the drug war 5 undeniable, with lawmakers displaying their enthusiasm by consistently providing Defense with more counternarcotics funding than the White House requests, including an additional $143 million in 1997 One of the United States Navy's highest-ranking officials, retired Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, has dismissed the heated rhetoric by noting that "when congressmen and senators sound off, it is usually 10 percent body and 90 percent odor." How noxious the current stink becomes may depend on how effective general-turned-drug czar Barry McCaffrey is in his post. When Clinton named General McCaffrey the Persian Gulf War hero and former SOUTHGOM commander, head of the ONDCP in March 1996, it was widely seen as a direct response to Republican election-year criticisms that the president was "soft" on drugs. And many people argued, some favorably that the appointment presaged a further militarization of the drug war. Since taking office, however, McCaffrey has eschewed use of the war metaphor when discussing United States anti-drug efforts, preferring to cast the enemy not as a military foe but rather a social "cancer" that requires a different sort of response. "At the end of the day I would suggest that this actually isn't a war and it's not to be won by anybody's army," he told Congress soon after being named drug czar. "At the end of the day prosecutors, law enforcement officers, teachers, school superintendents, religious leaders, that is who the front-line troops are. Nevertheless, while McCaffrey may be inclined to view the surgeon general as the most appropriate commander for the overall United States counternarcotics effort, it is clear that he believes there still is a vital role for United States military forces to play In a March 1997 speech at the Heritage Foundation, he reiterated his argument that the use of the war metaphor is inappropriate, but then quickly made an exception for Latin America, where "the language is pretty useful for us." Despite General McCaffrey's rhetoric highlighting the problem of demand for illegal drugs, programs and resources have not shifted accordingly. The expanded ONDCP staff is stacked with his military proteges, and he has proved himself to be more adept at obtaining funds for his Latin American military allies than for domestic, demand-related programs. The 1997 National Drug Control Strategy the first the ONDCP produced fully under his tenure, provided additional evidence that McCaffrey will keep United States military personnel active in the fight against illegal drugs, both internationally and domestically United States forces and their regional allies must continue to "give the traffickers no quarter," the report urged, and to do so will require "taking aggressive action in source countries, throughout the transit zone, and at our borders." Since politics shapes the course of United States policy more than the realities of the drug problem, the future role of the military in fighting drugs ultimately may be decided by whichever of two strong popular currents proves to be the more powerful in terms of generating public pressure. The first is the desire to slash government spending, which raises the question of how long the public will tolerate the expenditure of nearly a billion dollars a year on military counternarcotics efforts that have yielded little in terms of reducing the demand for and availability of drugs in the United States. Defense spending, however, traditionally has been the last area hit by the congressional budget ax, and this is a result of the second driving force, the near-childlike faith Americans have in the ability of their armed forces. They believe the military solution to the national drug problem will be relatively painless since it will occur outside the country As long as the national drug control strategy continues its overwhelming emphasis on supply-side controls, much of the action in the drug war is guaranteed to occur beyond United States borders under the Defense Department's command. The principal question that remains is how "aggressive" that action will be. The costs to democratization and human rights throughout the region will no doubt continue to be high.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Asia's Drug Menace And The Poverty Of Diplomacy ('Current History' Says That, Contrary To Expectations, Asia's Economic Boom Has Increased Demand For Illicit Drugs And Helped Expand Production, Transportation And Political Corruption) Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 22:20:17 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Asia: Asia's Drug Menace and the Poverty of Diplomacy Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Current History Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: April 1998 Author: James Shinn Section: Page 174 ASIA'S DRUG MENACE AND THE POVERTY OF DIPLOMACY Optimists on both sides of the Pacific hoped that the end of the cold war would also hasten the end of Asia's undeclared drug war. Rapid economic development would ease the grinding poverty that fostered both poppy cultivation and narcotics addiction, political liberalization would root out corrupt officials and impose the rule of law on criminal dealers, and multilateral cooperation by Pacific Rim governments would crush Asia's narcotrafficantes. The optimists were wrong. Rising incomes have stimulated demand for narcotics throughout the region, creating a booming market for opium cultivators in the rural backwaters left untouched by Asia's economic miracle. Politicians and police in Asian democracies have shown themselves no more immune to "donations" from drug syndicates than their counterparts in South or North America. Meanwhile, lingering suspicion, bureaucratic distaste, and multilateral sloth impede regional efforts to suppress the drug trade; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the UN have been equally impotent in addressing the foreign policy problem of narcotics. THE MIRACLE'S OTHER SIDE Asia's rising economic tide has made the drug problem worse, since the demand for narcotics increases with higher income levels. High incomes also lead to more variety in drug consumption. Hmong tribesmen in the Vietnamese highlands may still smoke raw opium, but urban Asians can choose from a wide assortment refined narcotics that range from heroin, cocaine and crystal methamphetamine (known as 'ice") to so-called designer drugs - synthetic narcotics hallucinogens - such as Ecstasy. The narcotics problem in Asia is not primarily an issue of drug smuggling from the Golden Triangle to the United States but of new consumption patterns on both sides the Pacific (the Golden Triangle is the traditional opium-growing region that incorporates parts northern Thailand, eastern Burma, and western Laos). Laos is a classic example of this change in consumption habits: Laotian addicts now consume almost half the estimated 200 metric tons of opium produced in Laos each year, most of which used be exported. Overall, at least 50 percent of the 3,000 metric tons of opium grown in Asia is consumed within the region. Ominously, Asia has become the largest and fastest-growing narcotic market in the world, accounting for 40 percent world consumption. The number of drug addicts the region is huge: 1.2 million heroin addicts in Thailand and 400,000 in Burma, and 500,000 addicts in Japan. China has 500,000 registered heroin addicts, but estimates of the actual number range from 1 million to 2 million. Along with higher incomes, rapid urbanization and internal migration are fueling this explosion in demand. Asian megacities such as Jakarta, Bangkok, and Guangdong are ringed with teeming slums where young men and women are cut off from their rural roots and community support networks. China has at least 100 million people drifting around the country in search of work. The onslaught of "modernity" corrodes traditional values quickly, and drug consumption is a tempting form of relief and recreation. Soaring drug demand has been accompanied by supply-side improvements in price, quality, and delivery. For example, heroin street prices in the United States have fallen by two-thirds over the past 15 years, from $3,400 per gram in 1981 to $1,200 per gram in 1995, and purity has soared from 15 percent to 50 percent because of better production technology in Asia and more sophisticated smuggling around the Pacific. PUTTING GLOBALIZATION TO WORK The Chinese criminal gangs that traffic most of Asia's narcotics have moved drug production labs into the jungles of Southeast Asia, near the opium harvest, taking advantage of better equipment and more easily obtainable precursor chemicals used in the refining process. These smaller portable labs can also be used to "cook" methamphetamines (a smelly and potentially dangerous process) and synthesize designer drugs. Taiwanese criminal syndicates have moved their ice production sites to China's coastal provinces such as Fujian, just as many legitimate Taiwanese chemical companies have moved their bulk production to the mainland while supplying complex precursor ingredients from Taiwan. The entrepreneurs behind this production innovation, Chinese criminal "triads" such as the Sun Yee On, Wo Hop To, United Bamboo, and the 14K gang, are equally skilled in delivering the finished product throughout Asia and to the United States and Europe. Narcotics are produced locally but sold globally. Two-thirds of the world's opium is grown in Southeast Asia, most of it in Burma, whose annual output is estimated at 2,500 metric tons (which equals 250 metric tons of heroin), grown under the protection of local drug warlords such as Khun Sa and his Mong Tai "Army." Once refined, the heroin is transported south to Bangkok where it is shipped to the wider world, or northeast across the border into China's Yunnan province and then overland to Guangdong and Hong Kong, where the triads can tap into the global shipping network. Chinese authorities were shocked in April 1996 when they stumbled across 600 kilograms of heroin in Guangdong on its way to Hong Kong. The triads have formed strategic alliances with other criminal organizations to distribute the entire pharmacopoeia of narcotics and to launder the resulting cash flow. The triads, for example, supply ice to Japanese yakuza or criminal gangs, such as the Inagawa-gai and the Yamaguchi-gumi, who import rather than produce most of Japan's methamphetamine supply They also assist the yakuza in recycling their revenues offshore, frequently through real estate investments in Asian cities or in Hawaii. The triads also work closely with Nigerian smuggling rings that supply Europe with Asian heroin, and with Latin American gangs, such as the infamous Cali syndicate, trading Burmese heroin for Colombian cocaine to satisfy Asia's burgeoning crack market. One of the engines of Asia's economic dynamism - free trade in goods and liberalized financial transactions - also makes it easy for the triads to smuggle narcotics and launder the revenues. In Taiwan, 3.8 million marine shipping containers arrive each year at the major ports of Keelung and Kaohsiung. Of these, 1.8 million are labeled transit containers; Taiwan Customs ignores these and merely samples the other 2 million containers on a random basis, resulting in an inspection - often cursory - of only about 300,000 containers. It is clear that even with the best of intentions, Taiwan's Customs authorities are overwhelmed by the scale of their country's trade - it would require an army of agents just to inspect the marine container traffic (United States Customs estimates that it takes 5 agents 3 hours to fully inspect a standard marine container). In the region's many free-trade zones, such as the ports of Hong Kong and Macau, Masan and In in South Korea, Batam in Indonesia, and China's special economic zones of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen, and Shantou, there is no customs revenue to be gained from inspecting freight traffic, so the authorities do not even try to inspect for drugs. Asia's stream of narcotics simply vanishes in the vast river of Asian commerce. Laundered drug money is even more difficult to trace. By "chaining" money transfers between multiple institutions (that is, making multiple transfers back-to-back), triads can effectively delete a paper trail. Even if law enforcement authorities successfully trace a transactions needle through a funds-transfer haystack, they often end up stymied by bank confidentiality. No longer an exclusive feature of the Channel or Cayman Islands banks, such confidentiality is now offered to Asian customers at new offshore banking facilities on the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu, Samoa, and Nauru. But the triads do not need to travel so far. With its unregulated and sophisticated financial markets, Hong Kong - the city built on the nineteenth-century opium trade - remains the Mecca of money laundering in Asia. The city's authorities have long turned a blind eye to this activity. A senior Chinese official bitterly observed to the author in June 1996 that "Soon we will recover Hong Kong from the British, who are already complaining that we will wreck the colony's rule of law. What rule of law? [This is] the transshipment point for most of Asia's narcotics, the place where most of the drug money is laundered, and where the triad criminals hide their investments in bank accounts or flats on Victoria Peak. If we move into Hong Kong in 1997 and clean up this nest of thieves, the Western press will pillory us for trampling on the colony's civil rights." MONEY'S CORROSIVE POLITICAL INFLUENCE Not only have economic growth, free trade, and unfettered financial flows compounded Asia's narcotics problem, but political liberalization and democratization throughout the region have failed to deliver on the promise of imposing "law and order" on the drug trade. It is ironic that criminal triads have been among the first beneficiaries of the transition from "hard" to "soft" authoritarianism in Vietnam and China. When an authoritarian state begins to liberalize, it creates more space free of government-space where criminals can thrive as easily as other citizens under the protection of law and due process. Law enforcement becomes essentially reactive: the police cannot simply swoop down on triads or yakuza and arrest their members. Once jailed, due process makes it harder to hold criminals; it also imposes rules governing evidence and property seizure, and forces the state to at least go through the motions of a trial. The political transition of states such as China and Vietnam has also compounded the pervasive corruption among police and customs officials and in the justice system and the armed forces. It is a mark of China's openness to the world trade system that customs officials no longer strictly regulate what crosses its borders. This has been a boon to the triads which, with modest gratuities to poorly paid Chinese officials, can now transit China with ease en route to Hong Kong. Vietnam is increasingly permeable for the same reason; the 1997 United States State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report concludes that "corruption is endemic at all levels of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's police and military authorities." Authoritarian states in Asia do not have monopoly on corruption: politicians in the democracies are as cash hungry as their counterparts in Latin America and the United States. Money is the mother's milk of electoral politics in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and criminal syndicates are eager contributors to campaign coffers. Why fight the police when you can buy political protection? The triads and the yakuza closely studied Colombia's narcotrafficantes. They saw the Medellin cartel, which virtually declared war on the government, killing 250 judges and even the minister of justice, provoked a campaign by the government that ultimately crushed their syndicate. The Cali cartel eschewed such violence. Instead quietly injected cash into the electoral pro including contributions to the campaign of president Ernesto Samper, and remained in business. In Asia, the triads sometimes cross the between smuggling and participating directly in politics, as in the case of Thanong Siriprechapo member of the Thai Parliament who was extradicted to the United States in January 1996 on narco-trafficking charges. The influence of drug money on Thai politics is pervasive: parliament has refused to pass a bill that would make it more difficult to disguise drug money, despite numerous entreaties from the United States. This has led the Department to complain that "Thailand's sophisticated banking system and an active quasi-legal non-bank financial system provide a hospitable climate for money launderers." GEOPOLITICAL ROADBLOCKS... Public opinion polls in Asia and North America regularly put narcotics near the top of the list of international problems. It is the most salient of all "global government" concerns, such as illegal immigration or pollution, and easily the most intrusive in the daily life and personal security of the average citizen. Narcotics busts, tales of addiction, and violent drug-related crimes grab headlines on a regular basis. But governments on both sides of the Pacific have been curiously slow in adding narcotics to the diplomatic agenda, unable to move beyond pious expressions of concern to tackle these problems together. What happened to the anticipated Golden Age of multilateral cooperation that was supposed to unfold in Asia in the post-cold war era? The passing of the cold war superpower standoff did not change Asian politics as dramatically as it transformed the political landscape of Europe. Two unresolved national unity problems - between China and Taiwan, and between the two Koreas - fuel a high level of suspicion in the region. And two failed states - Burma and Cambodia - are locked in violent internal struggles for power even as they provide a haven for narcotics production and organized crime. The Burmese junta known as the State Peace and Development Council (formerly SLORC) remains locked in a civil war that has been waged in the country's northeastern provinces for decades, opposed by the Mong Tai Army, the Eastern Shan State Army, the Kachin Defense Army, and the so-called Myanmar National Democratic Alliance - which field tens of thousands of irregulars, heavily armed with automatic weapons and SAM-7 missiles. Narcotics money keeps these separatist armies in business, and the junta itself is too weak, too illegitimate, and too corrupt to put them out of business. The Chinese government supports the Burmese junta for geopolitical reasons: Burma provides a window to the Indian Ocean for China's military, and it is a useful counterbalance to potentially hostile ASEAN states on China's southern borders. ASEAN, despite its ambivalence about the junta and its concern with the drug trade, has embraced Burma's military leadership as a counterbalance to Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. The United States, appalled by the junta's violent 1988 repression of Burma's indigenous democratic movement and its imprisonment of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyl, has kept the junta at arm's length. Yet the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) retains a 3-person liaison office in the Burmese capital of Rangoon. Officials in Washington face a wrenching dilemma: Which is worse, the brutal junta or the narcotrafficking separatist groups? Which is better, standing by the human rights champions of Burma's democracy movement, or suppressing the flow of heroin to American cities? China remains central to Asia's narcotics problem, as it does to Asia's other transnational problems, such as illegal migration and environmental pollution, because of its sneer size and the turbulence of its transformation from "hard" to "soft" authoritarian politics. The Communist authorities in Beijing have long feared the triads as potentially subversive organizations, a suspicion that goes back to 1927, when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government used triad gangsters to slaughter Communists. Since it came to power in 1949, the Communist Party has taken a strong stand against narcotics, beginning with a nationwide suppression campaign that detoxed 20 million addicts between 1950 and 1952. Today the authorities in Beijing are deeply concerned about a recent heroin plague and mounting disorder in southern provinces such as Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. In 1992 the government sent People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops with armored vehicles and tanks to regain control of the border town of Pingyuan, which had been taken over by narcotraffickers. However, China's economic growth since 1978 has been built on granting more authority to the country's regions, especially the southern coastal provinces. In the absence of the rule of law, and as the prestige and legitimacy of the Communist Party decline, "local corporatism" - interlocking interests between the local party apparatus, the local administrative bureaucracy, and the local state security organs - has become the de facto government in much of China. This creates an environment in which criminal enterprise and narcotrafficking flourish. Beijing finds it difficult to suppress China's growing narcotics business with an iron fist. In addition to resistance from local corporatist interests, the fist itself may be unreliable. Corrupt elements of the Public Security Bureau and the PLA are widely involved in the drug trade. Beijing's official tolerance of PLA involvement in private business has tempted many officers with the quick profits to be made from narcotics production and distribution. As China's senior party leaders compete to solidify their personal networks of support among the PLA, cracking down on military complicity in the drug trade is not an attractive policy option. As a result, although low-level criminals are periodically arrested and often executed as part of nationwide anticrime campaigns, these campaigns rarely do much harm to the narcotics trade or higher-level traffickers. A lack of faith in the integrity of Chinese law enforcement has made cooperation with foreign law enforcement difficult. This distrust is reciprocated; according to the United States State Department's 1997 narcotics report, Chinese authorities refused to allow the FBI and the DEA to establish offices in Beijing after an American court "ordered the release of alleged Chinese drug trafficker Wang Zongxiao, who had originally been escorted to the U.S. by Chinese police in 1989 to testify as a witness on the understanding that he would return to China." The Wang case is a classic example of the pitfalls that hinder both bilateral and multilateral cooperation to solve transnational problems such as narcotics. The legal and institutional bases for cooperation in law enforcement are weak in Asia. For example, the United States lacks an extradition treaty with many countries in the region, such as Burma and Indonesia, and even where a treaty exists, as with Thailand, it requires enormous pressure to extradite an alleged trafficker for trial in the United States. Conversely few American judges are eager to entrust an American citizen facing a drug charge to the tender mercies of Asian police. =85AND MULTILATERAL ROADBLOCKS Bilateral attempts to deal with narcotics are inevitably infused with bilateral tensions, and narcotraffickers can easily elude bilateral crackdowns by slipping through third countries; therefore much faith has been placed in the efficacy of multilateral institutions to construct a common framework of policies to suppress demand and interdict smugglers. The UN has passed a series of conventions and protocols on narcotics, culminating in the UN International Drug Control Program in 1991, which consolidated a variety of efforts. In 1996 the UN also coordinated a memorandum on controlling the trade in narcotics precursor chemicals and on trafficking with Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Unfortunately funding for the UN programs has been sparse, and few would argue that they have made much of a dent in Asia's narcotics markets. ASEAN has also dealt with narcotics, and the ASEAN ministers periodically issue statements deploring the problem. A special ASEAN forum was created to focus on the problem, but it has done little other than host regional seminars on treatment and law enforcement. Lack of funding is one problem, but a more serious roadblock is ASEAN's consensus decision-making style. With some high officials in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand compromised by the narcotics trade, it is not difficult to see how ASEAN's progress on narcotics would be glacial. APEC has a similar problem. Its larger umbrella covers not only Asia's drug-producing region also the big markets - China, Japan, and the United States. Beijing has adamantly opposed expanding APEC's charter to deal with problems such as narcotics for fear that other, more sensitive political issues, such as Taiwan or the South Chin islands dispute, might make their way onto the agenda. Once narcotics become a multilateral agenda item, diplomats are not comfortable with the topic. Narcotrafficking can be fairly technical, and controlling it requires close cooperation between enforcement agencies, which are rarely internationalist in any country. Nor does a diplomat want to be "typed" as a narcotics specialist. Moreover, there are few organized domestic constituencies to applaud multilateral successes in narcotics control or to press governments to negotiate multilateral agreements. The nongovernmwnt organizations (NGOS) that have been vocal and frequently successful in lobbying for multilateral agreements on the environment or for labor standards have been conspicuously absent from the narcotics debate. Many groups also oppose tough regulations to crack down on smuggling or money launding, especially business firms whose shipping or financial interests would be complicated by such regulations. Suppressing the supply of narcotics in requires more government and more regulations, not less; it requires movement against the current liberalization and deregulation that has powerful advocates in the United States and Asia. The apathy of officials, the silence of NGOs, and resistance from the business community in the Asian narcotics debate reflect the deep ambivalence toward drug policy that impedes solutions in Asia as well as in the United States. What combination of supply and demand suppression will be effective against the narcotics menace? Is it merely a fool's errand to spend money and political capital on interdiction efforts if the underlying demand for narcotics is so huge? Can demand suppression be dealt with independently of problems such as illegal migration, poverty and poor health care in the United States and Asia? Finally are the Asian nations, authoritarian and liberal alike, prepared to pay the price of interfering with free trade and finance that effective interdiction will require, and - above all - declaring war on the criminal syndicates that have so deeply twined themselves with Asian politics? These production and consumption figures are based on Stephen Flynn's chapter, "Asian Narcotics: Rethinking the War," in James Shinn, ed., Fires across the Water: Transnational Problems and Asian Politics (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, forthcoming). See Flynn, op. cit. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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