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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 28, 1997


1997 Presidential Certifications for
Major Narcotics Producing and Transit Countries

Under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the President must identify and notify the Congress of those countries he has determined are major illicit drug producing and/or drug transit countries. President Clinton identified the present list of 32 major illicit drug producing and/or drug transit countries and notified the Congress in December 1996. One country, Aruba, was added to this year's list.

By March 1 of each year, the President must determine whether to certify if each of the listed countries is cooperating fully with the United States, or has taken adequate steps on its own, in the fight against drugs to achieve the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In reaching these determinations the President must consider efforts taken by these states to stop the cultivation and export of, and reduce the domestic demand for, illegal drugs. The President is required to examine each country's performance in areas such as stemming illicit cultivation and production, extraditing drug traffickers, and taking legal steps and law enforcement measures to prevent and punish public corruption that facilitates drug trafficking or impedes prosecution of drug-related crimes.

On February 28, President Clinton certified that twenty three countries cooperated fully with the United States or took adequate steps on their own to meet the international counternarcotics performance standards of the law. The countries are: Aruba, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

The law also provides the President with the authority to certify that the vital national interests of the United States require that the country be certified - even if it does not fully meet the criteria for certification. The President has granted a vital national interests certification for three countries: Belize, Lebanon, and Pakistan.

The President denied certification to the following six countries which do not meet the statutory standards for certification: Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Iran, Nigeria and Syria.

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Presidential Certifications for Major Narcotics Producing and Transit Countries

In 1996, President Zedillo continued to demonstrate his strong commitment to combating narcotrafficking, which he recognizes to be the primary threat to Mexico's national security.

In carrying out that commitment, the Government of Mexico (GOM) continued to strengthen its comprehensive national counternarcotics efforts.

Positive results in the effort to fight naroctics trafficking:

     Mexican officials seized 30 percent more marijuana (1015 
       metric tons) than in 1995, when seizures were up 40 
     Cocaine seizures increased from 22.2 to 23.8 metric tons.
       Heroin seizures increased 78 percent from 1995 to 363 kgs.
     Eradication of marijuana and opium, both manual and aerial, 
       continued at record levels -- 22,769 hectares of cannabis 
       and 14,671 hectares of opium poppy.  Cultivation levels of 
       both crops were stagnant.
     Mexican officals uncovered more than twice the number of  
       clandestine drug labs than in 1995.
     Drug-related arrests were up significantly, from 9,901 to 
       11,283, and included several high-level narcotraffickers 
       and their henchmen.
       Interagency cooperation among Mexican anti-drug police and 
       military forces improved.
       President Zedillo substantially increased the role of the 
       Mexican military in interdiction and combatting drug 
       trafficking organizations. 
     Organized crime task forces were established in key 
       locations in northern and western Mexico.

President Zedillo's Administration took aggressive steps to fight corruption:

     In February 1997, President Zedillo quickly ordered the 
       arrest of Gutierrez Rebollo, the recently-appointed 
       Commissioner of the National Counternarcotics Institute 
       (INCD), after an internal military investigation revealed 
       ties to the Juarez Cartel.  This bold action is a dramatic 
       example of President Zedillo's commitment to punish 
       corruption and to send a message that no one is above the 
        The Attorney General dismissed (for corruption or 
       incompetence) over 1250 federal law enforcement officers 
       and technical personnel and placed names on national 
       register to ensure they were not re-hired by another 
       The Zedillo Administration continued efforts to overhaul 
       the counterdrug establishments (PGR and the INCD) to 
       improve both effectiveness and integrity, including 
       recruitment of qualified personnel.
     Two former senior GOM officials were indicted on 
       corruption/money laundering charges.  A current Under 
       Secretary of Tourism was arrested for corruption.

The Zedillo Administration strengthened counterdrug cooperation with U.S. agencies:

     The U.S. and Mexico established the High-Level Contact Group 
       on Narcotics Control (HLCG) to promote cooperation, 
       troubleshoot problems or disagreements, and raise public 
       awareness of the serious threat facing both countries.
     Extraditions:  Significant improvements were made in 
       bilateral extraditions largely due to the work of the 
       Fugitive Working Group co-chaired by the Justice 
       Department and the Mexican Attorney General's Office.
          The Zedillo Administration set an important precedent 
            by extraditing four fugitives with claims to Mexican 
            citizenship and expelled two major drug figures in 
            1996, including Juan Garcia Abrego in January, 1996, 
            head of the so-called Gulf Cartel.  Garcia Abrego was 
            convicted in US courts in November and is serving 11 
            life terms in a U.S. jail.
     The United States and Mexico made major strides in forging a 
       more productive military-to-military relationship. 
       Counter-drug cooperation, training and technical 
       assistance was a primary focus of this relationship.
       Bilateral cooperation on money laundering control was 
          The Mexican Treasury testified in two U.S. money 
            laundering cases and provided referral information to 
            USG agencies on 26 cases in Mexico; 40 joint 
            investigations were conducted.

Passed Major Anti-Crime Legislation:

     Criminalized money laundering through a Penal Reform Bill 
       passed in May.
          The Mexican Treasury conducted 97 unilateral 
            investigations, resulting in 13 convictions
     New Organized Crime Law authorizes a whole new arsenal of 
       investigative and prosecutorial tools, including 
       electronic surveillance, witness protection, undercover 
       operations, plea bargaining, and prosecution for criminal 
     The Organized Crime Law also permits asset forfeiture, 
       including assets not directly tied to the commission of a 
       crime.  The Mexican Government froze local and regional 
       bank accounts and confiscated suspected trafficker assets, 
       including approximately $3 million in real estate 
       belonging to Juan Garcia Abrego.
     Multilaterally, Mexico signed the Summit of the Americas 
       Money Laundering Agreement, sought membership in the 
       Financial Action Task Force (agreeing to undergo a mutual 
       evaluation), and entered into bilateral financial 
       information sharing agreements with seven other countries.

Mexico improves chemical controls:

     The May penal code reforms contained provisions to control 
       the diversion of precursor chemicals for methamphetamine 
     Mexico physically restricted the importation of precursor 
       chemicals to four ports and is assigning trained 
       inspectors to those ports.
     A bilateral U.S./Mexico Chemical Working Group was created 
       to advance cooperation in this area and to identify 
       training and technical assistance needs.

On these key indicators, Mexico's cooperation, and the results achieved, were better than in 1995, when Mexico was also fully certified. In 1996, the United States and Mexico built new avenues for cooperation that promise to yield better results in the years ahead.

Even with these important achievements, there is much, much more that needs to be done.

The GOM must combat corruption at both high levels of government and at the lower levels. Corruption at the highest levels jeapordizes the integrity of the entire Mexican Counternarcotics program and should be the most important aspect of future efforts.:

     While there has been progress in removing corrupt personnel 
       from police and other agencies, greater steps must be 
       taken to vet and investigate all counterdrug personnel on 
       a regular basis.
          The February 1997 arrest of National Counternarcotics 
            Institute (INCD) Commissioner Jesus Gutierrez Rebello 
            sent shock waves through the nation's anti-drug 
            forces and the investigation is likely to implicate 
            others.  This illustrates vividly the need for a 
            major, system-wide reform and anti-corruption effort.
          In the wake of the Gutierrez Rebollo affair, Mexico has 
            announced plans to institute a comprehensive 
            reorganization of its counternarcotics effort, 
            including vetting and investigation of 
            counternarcotics officials from top to bottom.  We 
            are committed to providing technical assistance in 
            this effort.

In order to combat organized crime and drug trafficking, we urge Mexico to:

     Move quickly to arrest key narcotraffickers and dismantle 
       their organizations and work with us to extradite key drug 
       kingpins for trial in the United States.
     Fully implement the Organized Crime Bill, with appropriate 
       training provided to law enforcement, prosecutorial and 
       judicial personnel.
     Improve anti-crime task forces.
          Although joint anti-crime task forces have been 
            established, we need to finalize official status for 
            U.S. liaison personnel in a way that protects their 
            personal security. The task forces are also not fully 
            funded or supported.
     Develop clearly-articulated mission statements for all GOM 
       forces involved in counter-drug missions, addressing both 
       personnel and assets.
          The newly-created military CN response teams, while a 
            promising addition to the GOM's CN effort, have not 
            yet been fully trained, equipped or deployed.  How 
            they will be integrated into the existing 
            interdiction frame work , and how command and control 
            will be exercised, is still unclear.

More extraditions to the U.S. will help with the prosecution of traffickers:

     The U.S. welcomes President Zedillo's decision to invoke 
       extraordinary circumstances to increase extraditions of 
       Mexican nationals like major drug lords and murderers of 
       U.S. law enforcement officers.  The test of this decision 
       will be in expediting the large backlogs of pending cases.
          Domestic prosecution in Mexico has had mixed success.  
            This may improve with the full implementation of the 
            Organized Crime Bill which will permit the GOM to use 
            more U.S. evidence in its court proceedings (e.g., 
            wiretap information).

Continue to improve upon and implement money laundering laws:

     Implement regulations on suspicious transaction reports and 
       currency transaction reports no later than September, 
       Increase controls over the money exchange houses (casas de 
       cambio) and Mexican bank drafts..

Increase the scope of its Chemical Diversion Control:

     While there has been progress in controlling precursor 
       chemicals, largely because of a concerted effort by the 
       USG to raise the GOM's awareness about the growing 
       methamphetamine crisis, there are no controls on the 
       essential chemicals that are used to manufacture cocaine, 
       heroin and other illicit drugs.

There continues to be a problem of diversion or fraudulent prescription of pharmaceuticals such as flunitrazepam (the 'date rape' pill) in Mexico, despite USG efforts to raise awareness of this problem.

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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 28, 1997


Presidential Certifications for MajorNarcotics Producing and Transit Countries

In 1996, as in previous years, Colombia remained the world?s leading producer and distributor of cocaine and an important supplier of heroin and marijuana. Coca cultivation in the country increased by approximately 30 percent.

Because of high-level corruption, the privileged treatment accorded to major traffickers currently in jail, light sentencing of traffickers and the government's wavering stand against extradition, the USG cannot certify Colombia as fully cooperating with the United States on drug control, or as having taken adequate steps on its own to meet the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

Inadequate Results in the Fight against Drugs:

          In 1996  as in 1995, the Colombian Government made only 
            limited progress  against the pervasive, 
            narcotics-related corruption from which it suffers.
     Legal and Regulatory Reform:
          Largely due to vigorous efforts on the part of the 
            Colombian private sector, stiffer sentencing and 
            money laundering bills were passed  and bank 
            regulations were established against money 
            laundering.  However, the new legislation was passed  
            in just the last few weeks and more time is needed to 
            determine the Colombian Government's resolve to 
            enforce these laws.
          - Pressure by private Colombia citizens on the Congress 
            also resulted in the passage, with retroactivity, of 
            an asset forfeiture law in December 1996.  However, 
            its constitutionality is already being challenged by 
            those who would be affected by its implementation.
     Punishment for traffickers:
          President Samper pledged to push for stricter 
            sentencing laws in 1994, but there was only limited 
            progress in 1996 to advance Congressional passage of 
            legislation which would increase sentences for 
            traffickers and money launderers.  
          - Due to weak sentencing laws, the Rodriguez Orejuela 
            brothers-the notorious Cali drug leaders-received 
            very light prison sentences which were not 
            commensurate with their crimes.  However, we are 
            encouraged by the tough sentence imposed on one of 
            the brothers just this week.
          - The Government failed to crack down on imprisoned 
            drug traffickers who continue to conduct their 
            illegal activities from jail and to influence 
            Congress against strong counterdrug legislation.

          The Colombia government did not respond to the USG?s 
            request for extradition for four major drug 
          - In light of the Constitutional Court's February, 1997 
            decision upholding the constitutional ban against 
            extradition, it is even more important that Colombia 
            pass a new extradition law.
          - We hope to work closely with the Colombian Government 
            as they continue a national debate on extradition.
          Our close cooperation with Colombia on eradication of 
            coca crops made good strides in 1996 but they were 
            undermined by the Colombia Government's strong 
            opposition to testing more than one granular 
            herbicide-in an effort to replace less effective 
            liquid herbicides.  This-is especially problematic in 
            light of the significant expansion in coca 
     Maritime Agreement:
          In November 1996, the United States and Colombia 
            reached a bilateral agreement  to expedite 
            shipboarding procedures and a maritime agreement was 
            signed in February 1997.  The agreement, however, is 
            narrow in scope and its effectiveness will have to be 
            closely evaluated.

     Law Enforcement:
          The serious work on the part of the Colombia National 
            Police (CNP) as well as select elements of the 
            military to confront drug trafficking must be 
            highlighted.  Government agreement to expand coca and 
            opium eradication was taken on with determination by 
            the CNP despite significant challenges including 
            physical threat and lack of proper resources.
          The Colombia National Police and the Prosecutor General 
            continued their efforts against corruption by firing 
            corrupt police and prosecutors and by continuing 
            investigations targeted against official corruption, 
            but progress remains slow.

Looking Ahead

     On balance, the results from 1996 do not warrant a change in 
       Colombia's status at this time.  We will continue to 
       closely review Colombia's in the coming months
     We are encouraged by positive developments since the end of 
       the 1996 evaluation period, as noted above (asset 
       forfeiture, sentencing, and money laundering legislation, 
       maritime agreement).
     We are also encouraged by the activism of the Colombian 
       private and civil society sectors in support of more 
       aggressive action against drug trafficking and hope they 
       can continue to bring positive results. 

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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 28, 1997


1997 Presidential Certifications for Major Narcotics Producing and Transit Countries

1 A year ago, in February 1996, Belize was added to the

'Major's List' as a major drug transit country.

2 In 1996, the Government of Belize will receive a vital

national interest waiver

3 The Government of Belize has failed to make progress in the

     following areas:
     1    Inadequate seizures:
          -1   Seizures for cocaine HCL and Marijuana plants were 
               down from 1995, although still above 1994 levels.   
               Seizures for cocaine HCL quadrupled in neighboring 
     2    Failed to move forward on bilateral agreements:
          -1   Although drafts of an extradition treaty and a 
               mutual legal assistance treaty were initialed in 
               December, the final treaties have not been signed.
          -2   Belize has not agreed to an overflight amendment 
               to the existing Maritime Counterdrug Cooperation 
               agreement which would assist in tracking and 
               intercepting drug trafficking aircraft.
     3    Failed to prosecute high profile defendants:
          -1   The son of Home Affairs Minister Elito Urbina was 
               not convicted in relation to alleged illegal air 
               drug activities due to mismanaged investigations 
               and destroyed files.

     1    Failed to implement Anti-corruption measures:
          -    Corruption at the highest levels of the government 
               continues to be a notable problem.  As a result, 
               investigations and arrests were stymied and drug 
               trafficking was facilitated.

1     Positive Steps:  The Government of Belize took the 
     following steps:
     -    Acceded to the 1988 UN Convention on Illicit 
          Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic 
     -    Passed new money laundering legislation
     -    Security forces seized a shipment of heroin for the 
          first time
     -    Conducted some aerial eradication operations of 
          marijuana fields along the border with Mexico and 
          participated with Mexico and Central American states on 
          interdiction operations.

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