Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report for May


DE RUEHBO #2179/01 1692055
R 172055Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In May the Government of Colombia (GOC) aerially
eradicated 9,540 hectares of coca and manually eradicated another
9,358 hectares of coca and 62 hectares of poppy. The Colombian
National Police (CNP) seized 8.21 metric tons of cocaine HCl and
coca base, sixteen metric tons of marijuana, and 42 kilos of heroin.
They also captured 527.75 metric tons of precursor chemicals. END


2. (SBU) In May, the aerial eradication program sprayed 9,540
hectares of coca. AT-802s operating from Cucuta, Tumaco, and
Barrancabermeja sprayed 2,453, 5,295 and 1,792 hectares,
respectively. This brings the year-to-date total to 52,649 hectares
of coca sprayed. Due to consistently poor weather, the 2,000
hectare spray goal for Barrancabermeja was not met; however, the
spray campaign in Narino continues to produce good results. There,
the high coca re-plant rate appears to be a major factor in the
abundance of viable eradication targets, especially in the Rio Patia

3. (SBU) Eradication aircraft were involved in eleven hostile fire
incidents resulting in seventeen impacts. This year there have been
28 hostile fire incidents and 62 impacts.
Spray aircraft from Cucuta, working the FARC-controlled Catatumbo
area, have sustained many of these impacts. COLAR intelligence
sources have reported that FARC in the region have been instructed
to fire at any spray aircraft. This order implies that the FARC
believe that aerial eradication is a threat to their coca growing


4. (SBU) Year-to-date May was the most productive month in the GOC's
2008 manual eradication campaign. The GOC manually eradicated 9,358
hectares of coca and 62 hectares of poppy - bringing the
year-to-date totals to 28,087 hectares of coca, 235 hectares of
poppy, and 12 hectares of marijuana. During the month, 189 GME
groups (consisting of 5,576 civilian personnel) were operating,
primarily in "zone one" - Antioquia (79 GMEs), Bolivar (29 groups),
Cordoba (20 groups), and Santander (6 groups) - and along the
Ecuador border in Putumayo (35 groups) and Narino (9 groups).
Operations also continued in Meta (8 groups) in support of the GOC's
"Center for Integrated Action," and for the first time in Cauca,
where three GMEs began operations. A landmine killed one
eradicator, one carabinero was killed in an ambush, and one CD
brigade soldier lost both legs and an eye to a landmine. Through
May, sixteen people (6 civilians and 10 security personnel) have
died during this year's manual eradication operations, equaling the
total for all of 2007.


5. (U) Ambassador Garza and the nationalization team met with
Colombian Vice Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon to discuss
INL's "road ahead" for nationalization. Pinzon said he would
respond to the presentation at a later date, and also suggested that
he might request the Embassy to provide the same briefing to his
service chiefs. NAS-Colombia continued to coordinate with the GOC
to finalize the loan agreement conditions for eighteen UH-1N
helicopters for the Colombian Army.


6. (SBU) In May, the interagency complaints committee received
eight new claims of alleged spray damage to legal crops. NAS paid
approximately $41,575 USD to ten complainants, including two
claimants from Narino who received initial payments of approximately
$292.74 USD and will receive final compensation in June. There are
currently 1,003 pending complaints.

7. (SBU) NAS and the GOC are working to standardize the methodology
used to determine the amount of money received by an individual
whose crops are damaged by spray activities. Under the current
system crop damage values are assessed using local crop information.
Due to reporting discrepancies and depending on the month, these
values drastically fluctuate. The new system will more uniformly
assess crop damage and restitution.


8. (SBU) PCHP aircraft flew a total of 806 hours. Aircraft
operating from Tumaco, Cumaribo, Barrancabermeja and Tolemaida
continued to provide air assaults, air movements, reconnaissance,
medical evacuations, and support missions for the Colombian army's
counter-drug (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
28.6 hours supporting nine medical evacuation flights that
transported eight military personnel. Year-to-date PCHP aircraft
have accumulated 241.2 hours supporting the GOC's manual eradication

9. (SBU) In May COLAR aircrew training on the UH-60 and UH-II
aircraft was limited due to the need to reassign aircraft usually
designated to training for higher priority mission support


10. (SBU) ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet flew 1,782 mission hours. The
seven UH-60 Black Hawks closed out the month with 176 flight hours.
The manufacturer completed structural repairs on the UH-60 that had
been grounded for a year. The aircraft is in final maintenance
evaluations and should return to operational duties shortly.

11. (SBU) The Bell 212 fleet flew 245 mission hours. One aircraft
is 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 839 hours. Five
aircraft are down for depot maintenance. The DC-3 fleet flew 304
hours. ARAVI awaits delivery of the first C-26 undergoing upgrades
of intelligence gathering equipment at factory in the United States.
The estimated arrival date is September.


12. (SBU) During May the CNP seized 8.21 metric tons of cocaine HCl
and coca base, 16.00 metric tons of marijuana, and 42 kilos of
heroin. The CNP also destroyed nineteen cocaine HCl labs, 70 coca
base labs and captured 527.75 metric tons of precursor chemicals.

13. (SBU) On May 2, the DIRAN heroin group seized 27 kilos of heroin
being transported in a taxi near Cucuta. On the 13th, DIRAN's
northern zone captured seven members of a former AUC
narcotrafficking organization responsible for producing and
transporting cocaine from southern Bolivar to La Guajira. On the
14th, DIRAN's southern zone captured 91.57 kilos of cocaine at a
vehicle checkpoint near Florencia, Caqueta. On the 15th, the Tulua
airmobile company destroyed a cocaine HCl lab in Choco containing
1.5 metric tons of cocaine, 2,570 gallons of liquid and 3 metric
tons of solid precursors. On the 16th, the Tulua airmobile company
captured a weapons cache containing 5,639 rounds of 5.56, 77 AK-47
rifle butts, and seven 40mm grenade rounds near Popayan. On the
17th, the Santa Marta airmobile company destroyed a cocaine HCl lab
along with 215 kilos of cocaine, 3,067 gallons of liquid precursors,
and 229 kilos of solid precursors in Norte de Santander. On the
21st, DIRAN's Villavicencio company arrested thirteen
narcotraffickers and seized 1.04 metric tons of sulfuric acid near
Granada, Meta. On the 21st, the Santa Marta airmobile company
destroyed two cocaine HCl labs containing 2,699 gallons of liquid
precursors and 169 kilos of solid precursors.

14. (SBU) On-going training courses include the eight-week
explosives and demolitions course (with 40 students), the 21-week
combat medic course (with 40 students), the long range
reconnaissance course (with 40 students), and the eighteen-week
Jungla international course with 107 students, including eighteen
from other Latin American countries.

15. (SBU) In May DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) unit seized
39 kilos of cocaine at the Port of Buenaventura; 226 kilos of
cocaine at the Port of Cartagena; three kilos of marijuana at the
Port of Barranquilla; 20 kilos of cocaine at the Port of San Andres;
86 kilos of cocaine, four kilos of heroin, 11 kilos of marijuana and
eight people arrested at the Bogota airport; 24 kilos of cocaine, 95
kilos of marijuana and two people arrested at the Cali airport; two
kilos of cocaine at the Pereira airport; and five kilos of cocaine
and two people arrested at Medellin's Rionegro airport. The CNP
Director authorized to use the CNP canine academy for the U.S.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to train Peruvian customs
officials in June. In turn, CBP agreed to include select CNP
personnel in this regional training initiative. The CNP Director
also agreed to create a DIRAN canine company.

16. (SBU) The DIRAN polygraph unit conducted polygraph exams on 149
members of DIRAN. This included support for several internal
affairs investigations of ARPAE personnel. One hundred seven passed
the exam, 33 failed, and nine were inconclusive. Two Immigrations
and Customs Enforcement (ICE) polygraphists conducted polygraph
exams on six DIRAN polygraphists and five CNP Directorate
polygraphist candidates. Three polygraphists and two candidates
failed. The three CNP Directorate candidates that passed the exam
will start a basic polygraph course in June.


17. (SBU) The GOC sorted 6,543 tracks over Colombia in May of which
four were declared "unknown, assumed suspect" (UAS). The GOC
responded to all four UAS aircraft. The trackers were unable to
locate two of them. The third was visually identified over the
Caribbean en route to Central America. The fourth was inspected
after it landed, but no illegal items were found.


18. (SBU) The CD Brigade long-range surveillance detachment (LRSD),
the 1st, and 3rd battalions continued supporting both aerial and
manual eradication efforts and conducting interdiction operations
from bases in Tumaco, Narino and Barrancabermeja, Santander. The
2nd battalion continued to conduct light infantry and air assault
training in San Jose del Guaviare. In May the Brigade carried out
counternarcotics operations against the FARC's 1st and Mahecha
fronts and the Daniel Aldana Mobil Column and other criminal
organizations in Valle del Cauca, Narino, Guaviare, and Bolivar.
The Brigade secured a total of 6,932 hectares during aerial
eradication operations and 560 hectares during manual eradication.
The Brigade destroyed four HCl labs, five coca base labs, three
enemy caches and seized 55 kilos of cocaine, 545 gallons of liquid
coca, 11,800 gallons of liquid precursors, 3,894 kilos of solid
precursors, 120 kilos of coca leaf in-process, and 334,884 coca
seedlings. The Brigade also confiscated 607 rifles, one revolver,
1,490 magazines, two hand grenades, three radios, and one radio base
with communications equipment. One Brigade soldier was seriously
wounded by a landmine.

--------------------------------------------- ----
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19. (SBU) The "Don Mario" search block continued operating in
Cordoba, northern Antioquia and Choco throughout May. On the 15th,
the Cordoba units seized 1.8 tons of cocaine in Santa Cruz. That
same day, EMCAR squadrons in Cesar, working with an informant
supplied by the search block, seized a large cache of weapons
reportedly belonging to alias "Don Mario." Other EMCAR squadrons
throughout Colombia continued to provide rural security.

20. (SBU) Operational highlights included 111 captured (10
narcotraffickers, 6 FARC/ELN, 8 BACRIM and 87 common criminals).
Additionally, the EMCAR seized 380 weapons, 217 grenades, 12,143
gallons of liquid precursors, 1,836 kilos of solid precursors, 447
kilos of coca base, 2,385 kilos of cocaine, 95 kilos of marihuana,
and 57 radios. They also destroyed fifteen base labs.


21. (SBU) Preparations are ongoing for next month's base defense
course which will take place in the Gulf of Uraba region of
Antioquia. The month-long course will address upgrades,
renovations, and emerging security requirements at the antinarcotics
base there.

22. (SBU) The site survey for improvements to the perimeter defense
system at the antinarcotics base in San Jose de Guaviare was
completed. The project, which entails refurbishing the bunker
facilities and replacing the non-repairable bastion walls will begin
as soon as the IDIQ for the materials is complete and the contract
is awarded.


23. (SBU) GRUIN operational highlights for May include the seizure
of 297 kilos of cocaine on the 9th near Boca Tinajones and the
seizure of another 825 kilos of cocaine and the capture of four
narcotraffickers on the 16th near Monitos.


24. (SBU) In May a total of 305 individuals demobilized from
Colombian terrorist organizations. Since the program began in
August of 2002, a total of 15,883 individuals have deserted. Of
this number, more than 9,700 deserted from the FARC. Interviews of
demobilized individuals continue to provide invaluable information
that has led to many major police and military successes. One
mid-level FARC leader, Elda Nellys Mosquera Garcia (alias "Karina"),
who demobilized this month, will certainly lead to such successes.
Her demobilization is a great psychological blow to the FARC and is
being used to encourage her comrades to also demobilize.


25. (SBU) In May, DIRAN held the first of six MBITR communications
training courses. Contractors conducted a site survey for the data
expansion project taking place at DIRAN's Cali airport facility.
This project will connect DIRAN's airport police to the CNP


26. (U) OAS-Trust for the Americas (OAS-TA) held a three day,
NAS-sponsored capacity building training for NGOs working in the
areas of drug prevention and treatment. Representatives from
eighteen NGOs from ten Colombian departments participated. On the
16th, OAS-TA held part one of a two-part conference for journalists
to discuss the media's role in drug prevention. Forty journalists
and academics participated.


27. (U) Twenty four NAS employees or contractors completed the
contracting officer representative (COR) course.


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