Cooperation Between the United States and Colombia on Counter-Drug Programs (08/30/2000)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                           (Cartagena, Colombia)

For Immediate Release                                         August 30,

                                FACT SHEET

            Cooperation Between the United States and Colombia
                         on Counter-Drug Programs

The increased U.S. assistance for Colombia provided in the Emergency
Supplemental Act, as enacted in the Military Construction Appropriations
Act of 2001, includes substantial funding for counter-drug programs.  The
major counter-drug components of this initiative are:

?    $442 million for support to counter-drug operations in the
coca-growing regions of southern Colombia, to include the training and
equipping of three special counter-narcotics battalions of the Colombian
Army that will provide security for law enforcement operations by the
Colombian National Police;

?    $466 million for enhancement of the capability to interdict shipments
of illicit drugs from the Andean region, to include radar, aircraft and
airfield upgrades and support for counter-drug intelligence gathering in

?    $116 million for direct support to the Colombian National Police, to
include equipment and operating expenses needed to expand the illicit crop
eradication program targeting coca and poppy fields.

U.S. assistance for Colombian counter-drug programs is fully in line with
our $18.5 billion National Drug Control Strategy, which outlines a
comprehensive attack on the illicit drug trade.  Its goals and related
programs include eliminating production at the source, interdicting drug
shipments and prosecuting traffickers, and reducing U.S. domestic
consumption through $6 billion worth of prevention, treatment, and
rehabilitation programs.

This increased assistance for Colombia also reflects significant recent
trends in the Andean source zone.  Andean net coca cultivation and
potential cocaine production continued to decline in 1999 and are now at
the lowest levels since 1987.  Overall Andean net coca cultivation declined
to 183,000 hectares in 1999, four percent less than the 1998 figure, and 15
percent less than in 1995.  Potential cocaine production fell to 765 metric
tons, a drop of seven percent from the 1998 figure, and an 18 percent drop
since 1995.

              Andean Coca Cultivation (Estimate in Hectares)

           1995      1996      1997       1998      1999
Peru      115,300    94,400    68,800     51,000    38,700
Bolivia    48,600    48,100    45,800     38,000    21,800
Colombia   50,900    67,200    79,500    101,800   122,500
Totals              214,800   209,700    194,100   190,800   183,000

       Andean Potential Cocaine Production (Estimate in Metric Tons)

           1995      1996      1997       1998      1999
Peru        460       435       325        240       175
Bolivia     240       215       200        150        70
Colombia    230       300       350        435       520
Totals      930       950       875        825       765

While the overall regional trend is positive, Colombia?s role in drug
production has increased dramatically over the last several years.  Until
1997, most of the world?s coca was grown in Peru and Bolivia, and coca base
was then shipped to Colombia for processing and distribution.  Aggressive
drug crop eradication and interdiction operations in combination with
alternative economic development programs in Peru and Bolivia have reduced
coca cultivation in those countries by 66 percent and 55 percent,
respectively, since 1995.

Unfortunately, the traffickers found favorable conditions to move coca
cultivation to Colombia, particularly to areas dominated by insurgent or
paramilitary groups.  Recent estimates of coca cultivation in Colombia show
a 140-percent increase over the past five years in the basic raw material
for cocaine.  Colombia now is the source of two-thirds of the world?s
cocaine.  Ninety percent of the cocaine in the U.S. market comes from
Colombia as does an estimated two-thirds of the heroin on the East Coast.

The Government of Colombia recognizes the severity of the threat and is
committed to cooperating with the United States on counter-drug issues.
President Pastrana has responded to this threat with Plan Colombia, a
comprehensive strategy which addresses not only the drug trafficking
problem, but also the broader rule of law and socioeconomic challenges
Colombia faces.

For the United States, this is an historic opportunity to help President
Pastrana implement a strategy which serves important national security
interests of both countries.  Each year, illegal drug abuse is linked to
52,000 American deaths and costs our society nearly $110 billion dollars in
health care, accidents, and lost productivity.

The supply reduction efforts being implemented by Colombian authorities
pursuant to Plan Colombia include illicit crop eradication and related
alternative development initiatives, lab destruction operations, control of
precursor and essential chemicals, interdiction of drug smuggling
shipments, and investigation and prosecution of major drug traffickers.
All of these efforts are essential to reducing the availability of illegal
drugs and affording U.S. domestic demand reduction programs a better chance
of success.

"Operation Journey" is an excellent recent example of effective law
enforcement cooperation between the United States and Colombia.  A two
year, multi-national initiative against a Colombian drug transportation
organization that used commercial ships to haul multi-ton loads of cocaine
to 12 countries, "Operation Journey" resulted in the seizure of nearly 25
tons of cocaine and the arrest of 43 individuals, including the
organization?s alleged leader, Ivan De La Vega.  De La Vega was arrested in
Venezuela earlier this month and turned over to U.S. custody.

Colombia also recently extradited accused drug kingpin Alberto
Orlandez-Gamboa, alias "Caracol", to the United States, the third Colombian
drug trafficker extradited since the constitutional reform legislation
passed in December 1997 authorized extradition of Colombian nationals for
crimes committed after the effective date of enactment.

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