THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
NARCOTICS CONTROL FACT SHEET
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.
# # #
NARCOTICS CONTROL FACT SHEET: MEXICO
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 percent. 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 law. 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 agency. 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 excellent. 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 association. 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 production. 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, 1997. 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.
# # #
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
NARCOTICS CONTROL FACT SHEET: Colombia
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:
Corruption: 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. Extradition: The Colombia government did not respond to the USG?s request for extradition for four major drug traffickers. - 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. Eradication: 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 cultivation. 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.
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.
# # #
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
NARCOTICS CONTROL FACT SHEET: BELIZE
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 Guatemala. 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 Substances - 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.
# # #