Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report for April


DE RUEHBO #1838/01 1371640
R 161640Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In April the Government of Colombia (GOC)
aerially eradicated 10,630 hectares of coca and manually eradicated
another 1,607 hectares of coca and 48 hectares of poppy. The
Colombian National Police (CNP) seized 7.46 metric tons of cocaine
HCl and coca base, 11.50 metric tons of marijuana, and 17 kilos of
heroin. They also captured 781.40 metric tons of precursor
chemicals. END SUMMARY


2. (SBU) In April, the aerial eradication program sprayed 10,630
hectares of coca. AT-802s operating from Larandia, Tumaco, and
Barrancabermeja sprayed 3,759, 5,569, and 1,302 hectares,
respectively. This brings the year-to-date total to 43,109 hectares
of coca sprayed. Eradication aircraft were involved in seven
hostile fire incidents resulting in ten impacts. This year there
have been eighteen incidents and 48 impacts.

3. (SBU) For the first time in the program's history all three
forward operating locations (FOLs) have standardized their spray
packages, and each are using four or five AT-802s and their
accompanying helicopter support. Year-to-date the Tumaco FOL has
sprayed more than 25,000 hectares and has concentrated its efforts
on the coca rich Rio Patia area. The Barrancabermeja FOL has
concentrated its efforts on the Serrania de San Lucas area of
southern Bolivar, which has been a traditional stronghold of an
illegal armed group. These eradication efforts have been part of a
coordinated effort of the GOC to wrest control from the armed groups
that have controlled these areas.


4. (SBU) Due to numerous security incidents, two GME deployment
delays, and overly optimistic initial planning, the GOC is severely
behind schedule in meeting its manual eradication goal of 100,000
hectares. In April, there was limited GME activity. The GMEs were
supposed to have returned from leave on the 15th, but "Accion
Social" did not receive their budget allocation in time and the
deployment was postponed until early May. In fact, the MOD had to
transfer the equivalent of almost $30 million dollars to "Accion
Social" for manual eradication. For April, the GOC reported that
its forces manually eradicated 1,607 hectares of coca and 48
hectares of opium poppy - bringing the year-to-date totals to 18,662
hectares of coca, 167 hectares of opium poppy, and 12 hectares of
marijuana. GMEs continued their work along the Ecuador border in
Putumayo and Narino. On the 30th one civilian eradicator was killed
and another injured by a mine explosion in Puerto Asis, Putumayo.
On the 25th a few GME groups began operating in Vista Hermosa, Meta.
There are plans to have as many as ten GMEs operating there in
support of the Center for Integrated Action (CCAI, by its Spanish
acronym). CCAI is an inter-agency (USAID, MLGRP and NAS) supported
project in which the GOC plans to bring a full array of government
services to the area in an attempt to consolidate and solidify the
territorial gains the Colombian Army has achieved there.


5. (SBU) The GOC and USG confirmed that October 1, will be the date
the GOC assumes fuel costs for all NAS aircraft. The GOC also
responded officially that it would like to lease and not take title
of the eighteen UH-1N helicopters offered to it. Those helicopters
were grounded from operations after April 30, pending the conclusion
of the ongoing (lease) negotiations. NAS completed the title
transfer for the four Colombian Air Force (COLAF) Schweitzer
helicopters and one Colombian Navy (CONAV) Caravan airplane. NAS
awaits the GOC to finalize the title transfer agreements for COLAR
UH-1H helicopters at the flight training school in Melgar.


6. (SBU) In April, the interagency complaints committee received 52
new claims of alleged spray damage to legal crops. Currently, there
are 1,005 complaints pending (and a total of 8,042 complaints
received since the program began). The committee admitted two
complaints for future on-site verification, and remanded 120 for
more information from the complainants. NAS paid $13,000 USD to
four complainants from Putumayo. Since the program began, NAS has
compensated a total of 92 complaints for approximately $475,000 USD.
An additional eighteen complaints have been approved for future
compensation. The NAS complaints lawyer conducted three trainings
with DIRAN for local leaders involved in the complaints process in
the Departments of Antioquia, Narino, Bolivar, and Santander.

7. (SBU) NAS coordinated two events with Colombia's Foreign Ministry
showcasing the environmental photo exhibit. On the 22nd, Foreign
Minister Araujo (FM) hosted an Earth Day event at the Foreign
Ministry to present the newly redesigned exhibit which illistrates
the harmful environmental impact of illicit crops. On the 29th, the
FM participated in the opening ceremony of the International
Vallenato Festival in Valledupar. Participants included the city's
Mayor, the Governor of Cesar, and the NAS Deputy Director. Araujo
presented "Environmental Ambassador" awards at both events, which
were widely covered by local press.


8. (SBU) In April PCHP aircraft flew a total 1,201.2 hours.
Aircraft operating from Tumaco, Purificacion, Barrancabermeja, and
Tolemaida continued to provide air assaults, air movements,
reconnaissance, medical evacuations, and support missions for the CD
Brigade and other vetted COLAR units. Air assaults continue to be
effective in securing spray blocks for the eradication program and
interdiction operations. PCHP accumulated 35.4 hours supporting ten
medical evacuation flights that transported eighteen military and
civilian personnel. Year-to-date PCHP aircraft have accumulated 150
flight hours supporting the GOC's manual eradication program.

9. (SBU) PCHP helicopter EJC-401 suffered an engine failure near
Tumaco. No injuries were sustained when the crew landed the
aircraft in a jungle clearing. The aircraft was later sling loaded
to Tumaco by a COLAR MI-17 helicopter, air lifted to Bogota aboard a
COLAF C-130 cargo aircraft and trucked to the CNP hangar at
Guaymaral for repairs.


10. (SBU) ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet flew 1,616 mission hours. The
seven UH-60 Black Hawks closed out the month with 126 flight hours.
The manufacturer completed structural repairs on a UH-60 that had
been grounded for a year. The aircraft should return to operational
duties shortly.

11. (SBU) The Bell 212 fleet flew 184 mission hours. One aircraft
is in the final stages of depot maintenance consisting of rewiring
and night vision goggle compatibility upgrades, and should return to
flight operations shortly. The Huey II fleet flew 840 hours. Five
Huey II aircraft are down for depot maintenance. The ARAVI program
continues using the acquired second structural jig to correct
defects in the UH-II and Bell 212 aircraft. This should greatly
increase the operational readiness (OR) rate in the coming months.
The DC-3 fleet flew 364 hours. ARAVI awaits delivery of the first
C-26 undergoing upgrades of intelligence gathering equipment at
factory in the U.S. The estimated arrival date is September.


12. (SBU) During April the CNP seized 7.46 metric tons of cocaine
HCl and coca base, 11.50 metric tons of marijuana, and 17 kilos of
heroin. The CNP also destroyed sixteen cocaine HCl labs, 190 coca
base labs, and captured 781.4 metric tons of precursor chemicals.

13. (SBU) On April 2, the Tulua airmobile company captured 592 kilos
of cocaine hidden near El Plateado, Cauca. On the 5th, the DIRAN
Cucuta Company destroyed an HCl lab along with 300 kilos of cocaine,
6,955 gallons of liquid precursors, and 550 kilos of solid
precursors near Cucuta, Norte de Santander. On the 9th, the Santa
Marta jungla company eradicated four hectares of marijuana
(estimated to be 1.2 metric tons) near Cienaga, Magdalena. On the
10th, the Tulua judicial police captured three key narcotraffickers
in Buenaventura. On the 16th, the Bogota Airmobile Company
destroyed an HCl lab containing 517.5 kilos of cocaine, 323 kilos of
coca base, 2,500 gallons of liquid precursors and 1.4 metric tons of
solid precursor chemicals near Puerto Salgar, Cundinamarca. On the
24th, DIRAN captured three extraditables in Cali who were
responsible for organizing a "go-fast" boat transportation system.
On the 25th, the Bogota airmobile company destroyed a cocaine HCl
lab in Mapiripan, Meta containing 4,395 gallons of liquid and 6.4
metric tons of solid precursors. On the 27th, DIRAN intercepted 392
kilos of cocaine hidden in a taxi in Buenaventura.

14. (SBU) On-going training courses include the second eight week
ODE (explosives and demolitions) course (with 40 students), the
21-week combat medic course (with 40 students), and the 18-week
jungla international course with 107 students, including 18 from
other countries in the Americas. Jungla instructors also conducted
training seminars for thirteen EMCAR squadrons that are supporting
manual eradication. These seminars are designed to reduce the
casualties and fatalities of manual eradicators and security
personnel. Finally, jungla instructors trained 130 Colombian United
Nations manual eradication supervisors. The five-day course
included classes on patrolling, survival, explosives, weapons, land
navigation, and combat first aid.


15. (SBU) In April DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) unit
seized 2.4 tons of cocaine at the Port of Buenaventura, 125 kilos of
cocaine at the Port of Cartagena, 125 kilos of cocaine at the Port
of Uraba, 130 kilos of cocaine, five kilos of heroin and 38 kilos of
marijuana at the Bogota airport, five kilos of cocaine and 36 kilos
of marijuana at the Cali airport, and 21 kilos of cocaine at the
airport of Pereira. Two U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
canine experts, one assigned to NAS-Peru and the other from the CBP
Front Royal canine academy performed an assessment of all of the
canine assets at the international air and seaports on the North

16. (SBU) The DIRAN polygraph unit conducted polygraph exams on 41
members of the DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) unit in
support of several internal affairs investigations. Twenty-seven
passed the exam, eleven failed, and three were inconclusive. Four
members of the polygraph unit received training on
counter-intelligence polygraph techniques.


17. (SBU) The GOC sorted 6,859 tracks over Colombia in April of
which four were declared "unknown, assumed suspect" (UAS). The GOC
responded to all UAS aircraft. Two were located and visually
identified, and the information was passed on to Central American
law enforcement agencies. Guatemalan authorities impounded one of
these after it landed. The pilot escaped, but 459 kilos of cocaine
were seized.


18. (SBU) The CD Brigade 1st and 3rd battalions continued
supporting both aerial and manual eradication efforts and conducting
interdiction operations from operational bases in Tumaco, Narino and
Barrancabermeja, Santander. The 2nd battalion conducted light
infantry and air assault training from San Jose del Guaviare. In
April the Brigade carried out counternarcotics operations against
the FARC's 1st and Mahecha Fronts and the Daniel Aldana Mobil Column
in Narino, Guaviare, and Bolivar. The Brigade secured a total of
6,828 hectares during eradication operations and 48 hectares during
manual eradication. The Brigade destroyed one HCl lab, nine coca
base labs, one enemy cache, 4,265 gallons of liquid coca, 6,782
gallons of liquid precursors, 2,509 kilos of solid precursors, 1,075
kilos of freshly picked coca leaf, 1,625 kilos of coca leaf
in-process, and 120,000 coca seedlings.

--------------------------------------------- ----
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19. (SBU) In response to the murder of two policemen in Antioquia,
CNP Director General Naranjo ordered the formation of a task force
(bloque de busqueda, in Spanish)to apprehend Daniel Rendon (alias
'Don Mario'). The multi-directorate operation included two
carabinero squadrons that were deployed to the area to conduct area
control and search operations. So far during the operation, the
carabineros have seized one ton of cocaine along with 22 kilos of
20. (SBU) Carabineros in Putumayo captured sixteen members of a new
emerging criminal group (BACRIM in Spanish) known as "Rastrojos."
The Cauca carabinero squadron captured seven members of the FARC's
Jacobo Arena mobile column, and the Antioquia carabineros captured
another five combatants from the FARC's 18th Front. Other
operational highlights include three enemy combatants killed in
action and 240 captured (17 narcotraffickers, 20 FARC/ELN, 38 BACRIM
and 165 common criminals). Additionally, the EMCAR seized 234
weapons, 159 grenades, 260 kilograms of explosives, 5,389 gallons of
liquid precursors, 6,083 kilos of solid precursors, 287 kilos of
coca base and 196 kilos of marijuana. They also recovered 39
vehicles and destroyed 19 coca base labs.


21. (SBU) On the 17th, the ninth carabinero-specific base defense
"train-the-trainer" course graduated fifty students. Preparations
are ongoing for the next month-long base defense course which will
take place in the Gulf of Uraba region of Antioquia. The course
will address upgrades, renovations, and emerging security
requirements at the antinarcotics base there.


22. (SBU) In April the COLNAV tactical intelligence unit (GRUIN)
participated in Operation Power Play, which was supported by
JIATF-S, NAS, DEA, and the British government. During the operation
the unit infiltrated and verified a number of targets as well as
seized approximately 1.3 tons of cocaine. The operation temporarily
expanded the unit's operational capability to extend itself. Also
in April, twelve GRUIN Commandos completed the requisite COLNAV
intelligence course.


23. (SBU) In April a total of 207 individuals deserted from
Colombian terrorist organizations. Since the program began in
August of 2002, a total of 15,575 individuals have deserted. Of
this number, almost 9,400 deserted from the FARC. Deserters
continue to provide invaluable information that has led many major
police and military successes.


24. (SBU) In April the DIRAN telematica office conducted
communication training in Santa Marta and Tulua. This training was
given to operational commandos, base personnel, and all radio
operators. Training consisted of single channel radio wave theory,
antenna theory, and practical application on all the radios in the
CNP inventory. A team from telematica visited the Ports of
Cartagena, Santa Marta, and Barranquilla to gather information
exchange requirements to support a new software connectivity plan
for the ports along the North Coast.


25. (U) The Direccion Nacional de Estupefacientes (DNE) reports
that preparations for Colombia's first nationwide comprehensive drug
survey in more than twelve years are on schedule and that it expects
the preliminary results to be ready as early as October. The survey
results will determine whether anecdotal evidence alleging increased
drug consumption in Colombia is accurate. The project has USG


26. (U) In April NAS unified its dedicated internet network (DIN)
users onto a single LAN dramatically improving mobility, interaction
with in-house applications and simplifying system administration.
The management section also shared position description information
with NAS Mexico to assist in hiring locally engaged staff (LES) in
the future.


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