Drug Control

Interdiction Efforts in Central America Have Had Little Impact on the Flow of Drugs Gao ID: NSIAD-94-233 August 2, 1994

The supply of illegal drugs reaching the United States via Central America continues virtually uninterrupted despite years of U.S. drug interdiction efforts. Traffickers are now using sea and overland routes to move drugs, and the ability of Central American nations to combat the problem remains limited due to a variety of factors, including lack of resources and government corruption. GAO summarized this report in testimony before Congress; see: Drug Control: U.S. Counterdrug Activities in Central America, by Benjamin F. Nelson, Associate Director for International Affairs Issues, before the Subcommittee on Information, Justice, Transportation, and Agriculture, House Committee on Government Operations. GAO/T-NSIAD-94-251, Aug. 2, 1994 (11 pages).

GAO found that: (1) despite various U.S. government interdiction efforts, Central America continues to be the primary transshipment point for cocaine shipments to the United States; (2) the supply of drugs entering the United States via Central America has remained virtually uninterrupted; (3) law enforcement officials believe that drug traffickers have adjusted their modes of operations to evade U.S. air interdiction efforts and are increasing the use of sea and land transportation to move drugs through Central America to the United States; (4) the United States has had difficulty detecting and interdicting drugs moved by new trafficking modes; (5) Central American nations do not have the resources or institutional capabilities to combat new drug trafficking modes and depend heavily on U.S. assistance; (6) although various U.S. government agencies are working cooperatively with Central American countries to address new trafficking modes, the outcome of these efforts is uncertain due to limited host country capabilities and shifts in U.S. program emphasis; and (7) the U.S. interdiction strategy has changed from interdicting drugs in Central American transit countries to intercepting drugs and disrupting drug organizations in South American countries.

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