Majority of illicit drugs in the U.S. are produced in the Western Hemisphere. For example, the cocaine and heroin consumed in the U.S. originate from Columbia and Mexico respectively. This is the reason why Congress introduced the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission in 2016 with the role of evaluating the U.S. counternarcotics programs in the Western Hemisphere (GAO-18-10, 2017). Some of the nations in the Western hemisphere that are the major producers of narcotic are Peru and Columbia while the major producers, as well as the major transit countries, are Mexico, Jamaica, and Bolivia (GAO-18-10, 2017). The current assignment will explore on the ability of the U.S. agencies and foreign partners to address coordinating counter-narcotics operations, which will be attained by comparing the U.S.-Columbia (major producer) efforts and US-Mexico (major producer and transit).
Generally, the US counternarcotic regime follows the demand side and supply side measures. The U.S. uses the interdiction strategies to disrupt drug trafficking channels through strategies like arresting drug traffickers, disrupting methods and routes used to smuggle drugs, and destroying processing labs. The U.S. applies eradication strategies in its counternarcotics programs to destroy the production of illicit drugs (Felbab-Brown, 2008). Felbab-Brown (2008) adds that since the 1980s, the U.S. together with the Columbian, Peru, and Bolivia governments disrupts the production of coca. For example, the U.S. has partnered with the Columbian government to eradicate the production of Coca through aerial spraying.
Beittel and Rosen (2017) explain that there lacks a single comprehensive US counternarcotic strategy for Colombia. However, the country has mission strategic resource plans (MSRPs), which are used in delineating the strategic approaches that guide the U.S. counternarcotics assistance. GAO (2012) explains that the MSRP is responsible for guiding ONDCP’s annual National Drug Control Strategy, which has set guidelines for the Western Hemisphere region. The core objective of MSRP is to reduce the use of illicit drugs, as well as its harmful effect in the U.S.
The counternarcotic efforts of the U.S. represented in the Columbian MSRPs illustrates the cornerstone of the U.S. bilateral relationship with Columbia. GAO (2012) explains that the counternarcotics strategy for Columbia focuses on demobilization of combatants, counterterrorism, interdiction, alternative development, and aerial eradication. The Columbian authorities funds and sustains the counternarcotics program. The program led to the formulation of Colombian Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI), which supports the government of Colombia’s National Territorial Consolidation Plan whose role is expanding the state’s presence in four primacy geographic zones, which beforehand were controlled by illegal armed groups.
Majority of the municipalities in the primacy regions suffer from the ineffective or absent justice system, limited police capabilities, lack of civilian authority, and weak local institutions, which perpetuates a vicious cycle on violence, drug trafficking, and undermines the rule of law. The CSDI assists the Columbian government through the provision of economic opportunities after establishing security and basic public services. The U.S. strategy uses the CSDI to help in the transference of security responsibilities from the military to the police in Columbia. The U.S. follows the CSDI to curtail illicit production and cultivation of cocaine in primacy conflict zones, which benefits in eliminating the vital source of financing the illegal armed groups.
U.S. Vs. Mexico on Narcotic
Mexico can be used as the pivotal for the success of any narcotic program, as it is the major transit point for methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. This is an illustration that the current U.S. and Mexican interdiction efforts have been ineffective. Beittel and Rosen (2017) argue that, “. . . no country in the world poses a more immediate narcotics threat to the United States than Mexico” (p3). However, the current Mexican government is more than committed to drug trafficking. Nonetheless, limited counternarcotics and law enforcement capabilities, political and economic issues, and pervasive corruption of key institutions hamper the US officials and the efforts of the Mexican government.
In 1991, the U.S. developed a strategy for Mexico to develop operational initiatives like drug interdiction, target major drug-trafficking organizations, and to strengthen the institutional capability and political obligation of the Mexican government. In 1993, the U.S. reviewed its international cocaine strategy, which engrossed the resources and activities on drug interception in the transiting region like the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America to one that curbs the production of cocaine in South America. Felbab-Brown (2008) suggests that the U.S. has reduced their counternarcotics activities in Mexico but they have increased their funding on drug interdiction in the transit zone.
Comparatively, the narcotic traffickers use the sea, land, and air routes and conveyances to transport cocaine from Columbia to Mexico. From Columbia, the narcotic traffickers transport the cocaine through Mexico by land and enter the U.S. through the Mexican border. The Mexican trafficking organization is replacing the U.S. based outlaw motorcycle gangs who were predominantly producing and manufacturing methamphetamine in the U.S. Sullivan and Elkus (2014) explain that the U.S. and Mexico share their security interests where Mexicans desire to reduce the high violence levels that are affecting the well-being of the residents. In addition, the country desires to illustrate their desirability to achieve the North American security on counterterrorism and drug policy, as well as improving the capability of justice and law enforcement institutions.
Beittel, J., & Rosen, L. (2017). Colombia’s Changing Approach to Drug Policy. Congressional Research Service.
Felbab-Brown, V. (2008). Counternarcotics Policy Overview: Global Trends & Strategies. Brookings.
GAO. (2012). COUNTERNARCOTICS ASSISTANCE U.S. Agencies Have Allotted Billions in Andean Countries, but DOD Should Improve Its Reporting of Results. GAO. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592241.pdf
GAO-18-10. (2017). Overview of U.S. Efforts in the Western Hemisphere. GAO.Gov. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-10Sullivan, J., & Elkus, A. (2014). Cartel v. Cartel: Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency. Small War Journals.
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