Drug Control

U.S. Antidrug Efforts in Peru's Upper Huallaga Valley Gao ID: NSIAD-95-11 December 7, 1994

Nearly two-thirds of the world's coca crop is grown in Peru. Most of that coca is processed into a cocaine base, which is flown to Colombia to make cocaine for shipment to the United States and Europe. Since the 1980s, the primary coca-growing and drug-trafficking activities in Peru have been in the Upper Huallaga Valley. The United States has supported Peruvian efforts to eradicate coca seedbeds and conduct law enforcement operations against drug traffickers. This report discusses (1) the rationale for, and costs associated with, the construction, the maintenance, and the operations of the Santa Lucia base, an antidrug base in the Upper Huallaga Valley; (2) the subsequent rationale for discontinuing support of the Santa Lucia base; and (3) the current status of U.S. efforts to restructure antidrug programs in Peru.

GAO found that: (1) the Santa Lucia base was constructed to place U.S. personnel in the safest possible environment from which to conduct antidrug activities; (2) between fiscal years 1988 and 1993, the State Department spent about $49.2 million to construct, maintain, and operate the Santa Lucia base; (3) in December 1993, the U.S embassy restructured its antidrug programs in Peru because it could not continue to support the base while also supporting other U.S. antidrug efforts; (4) although the executive branch has approved a formal mobile basing concept to implement antidrug efforts, the U.S. embassy has been slow in implementing the concept because of maintenance problems with helicopters, internal differences within the U.S. embassy over how the operational planning group would function to coordinate law enforcement operations, and the decision to stop sharing information with the government of Peru that could be used to shoot down civilian aircraft suspected of drug trafficking; and (5) although legislation has been passed to allow information sharing on drug activities, the Administration has not reached agreement with Peru on certain required preconditions.

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