Cablegate: Colombia: Narcotics Majors List Certification


DE RUEHBO #2051/01 1581321
O 061321Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 029120

1. (U) SUMMARY: Though Colombia remains a major producer and
trafficker of illicit narcotics, the Government of Colombia (GOC)
continues as an unwavering ally in the fight against both narcotics
production and trafficking. Our core bilateral counternarcotics
eradication and interdiction programs in Colombia are producing
record results. Extraditions, desertions, and justice programs also
contribute to the success of counternarcotics programs and
operations. U.S. assistance to Colombia continues to be a success
story and the Embassy recommends full narcotics cooperation
certification for Colombia in 2008.


2. (U) In 2007 the GOC eradicated 219,529 hectares of coca. This
is a new record for total eradication.

-- For the year the Colombian National Police (CNP) aerially sprayed
153,133 hectares of coca, and the GOC manually eradicated 66,396
hectares. In 2008, the GOC's goal for total eradication is 230,000
hectares. This will be a new record if reached.

-- The GOC continues to expand its manual eradication program. In
2007 the GOC manually eradicated 66,396 hectares of coca, a 59
percent increase from 2006. For 2008 the GOC plans to manually
eradicate 100,000 hectares-- The GOC continues to conduct monitoring
and verification missions to ensure the aerial eradication program
is conducted without undue risk to human health and the environment,
as required under Colombian and U.S. law. The Environmental
Management Plan for aerial eradication specifies verification on a
semi-annual basis, and the Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) has
increased the monitoring using a gyroscopic camera (gyrocam).

-- Spray verification and Crime and Narcotics Center (CNC) analysts
confirm that growers are adapting to aerial eradication by planting
smaller, irregularly shaped fields to evade successful chemical
application, and seeking out eradication free zones in isolated,
politically sensitive areas. Spraying and increased public security
presences have also removed coca from more densely populated areas
where cultivation had been practiced for years in the absence of law
enforcement efforts. This marginalization of the coca trade to
outlying areas is eating away at Colombia's cultural acceptance of
coca cultivation and increasing the costs of narcotics production,
but it also strains eradication flight hour and infrastructure
costs. The GOC is constantly changing tactics and strategies to
deal with this phenomenon.

-- In 2008 the CNP began to assign judicial police to manual
eradication teams to gather evidence for asset forfeiture
investigations against property owners who use their land for the
cultivation or processing of illegal crops. Despite legal,
procedural, and security obstacles, this asset seizure initiative is
a crucial step towards real deterrence of cultivation and replanting
after eradication.


3. (U) Interdiction continues near record levels.

-- In 2007, Colombia's security forces, led by the police and navy,
seized over 190 metric tons of cocaine and coca base. In addition,
security forces destroyed 141 cocaine HCl laboratories and over
2,000 base labs.

-- The Colombian Army's Counterdrug Brigade conducted interdiction
missions and High Value Target (HVT) operations and contributed
significantly to improved ground security for spray aircraft again
in 2007. This unit also seized a substantial amount of cocaine,
coca base, precursor chemicals, and coca seedlings.

Extradition and High Value Targets (HVT)

4. (U) 2007 were both record years for extradition and HVT missions
and 2008 is on track to be another record year.

-- The USG has no better international partner in the area of
extradition than the Government of Colombia. Colombia has
extradited 621 individuals to the United States between the
beginning of President Uribe's administration in August of 2002 and
the end of 2007. In 2007 the GOC extradited 164 people to the
United States, including major drug traffickers. Through May 2008,
another 54 individuals have been extradited. Furthermore, Colombia
is actively investigating and prosecuting cases against major drug
traffickers and cooperating with U.S. judicial authorities to
provide evidence and witnesses for prosecutions of extradited
Colombian nationals facing trial in the United States.

-- In 2007, the GOC security forces captured or killed a number of
High Value Targets (HVTs) that included high level FARC members
and/or narcotraffickers, many of whom have been, or are awaiting
extradition to the United States. In 2008, three members of the
FARC Secretariat have died, including the numbers one and two.

Rule of Law, Peace, and Justice

5. Colombia continues to expand governmental presence and the
government is now able to provide justice and other services due to
the improved security situation in many areas.

-- Contributing more broadly to the effort to combat illicit
narcotics production, Colombia has maintained a police presence in
every municipality. To further improve Colombia's security
situation, Mobile Carabineros Squadrons continue to actively patrol
rural Colombia. Increased law enforcement and expansion of
government control into previously hard-to-govern areas is a
dramatic success story. Homicides are at their lowest level in more
than twenty years. During Uribe's administration, kidnappings have
decreased more than 80 percent, homicides by 45 percent, and acts of
terrorism by 63 percent.

-- In 2008 the GOC completed the final phase of its implementation
of a new criminal procedure code and a transition to an efficient
and transparent oral accusatory justice system. The initial
indicators of the transition are very positive, with the time to
resolve criminal cases reduced by more than 75% and an increase in
prosecutions in criminal cases from 3% to over 60%. By year end
2007, Colombia had trained, with USG support, more than 40,000
judges, investigators, public prosecutors, forensic experts, and
defenders in the new system.

-- The Uribe administration continued its peace process efforts in
2007. To date, over 15,000 members of the FARC, ELN, AUC, and other
illegal armed groups have individually deserted, and another 31,000
have been demobilized in groups through negotiations with the GOC.

A Great Partner and A Success Story

7. (U) The GOC is a great partner and has met or exceeded all of
its identified narcotics cooperation certification criteria set
forth in section 481(h)(2)(A) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961
for eligibility for United States assistance. The GOC is firmly
committed to fighting the production and trade in illicit drugs and
remains a key USG ally in the fight against narcoterrorism.
President Uribe has repeatedly emphasized in public that the
narcotics threat is the single biggest enemy of democracy in
Colombia, and security forces have responded accordingly. U.S.
assistance to Colombia continues to be a success story and the
Embassy recommends full narcotics cooperation certification for
Colombia again in 2008.


© Scoop Media

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