Drug Control

Observations on U.S. Interdiction in the Caribbean Gao ID: T-NSIAD-96-171 May 23, 1996

Budget reductions and a lack of resources among island nations have hampered efforts to intercept drug traffickers in the Caribbean--the transit route for nearly one-third of the cocaine now entering the United States. As a result, cocaine seizures in the Caribbean fell from a peak of 70,000 kilograms in 1992 to 37,000 kilograms in 1995. In recent years, drug traffickers in the Caribbean have increasingly relied on ships rather than planes to transport drugs. Traffickers are also using sophisticated technologies, such as global positioning systems, to counter U.S. efforts to monitor their activities. Although most Caribbean nations have cooperated in fighting drug trafficking, a lack of finances and effective law enforcement operations have stymied their efforts. Corruption has also been a concern. U.S. budget cuts have undermined the ability of the Defense Department and law enforcement agencies to track and intercept drug traffickers. Funding for drug interdiction declined from $1 billion in fiscal year 1992 to $569 million in fiscal year 1995. The executive branch has yet to develop a regional plan to implement the U.S. cocaine strategy in the transit zone, fully staff interagency organizations, or resolve issues on intelligence sharing.

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