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Briefing Drug Producing and Trafficking Countries

Special Briefing on the President's Determination on National Drug Producing and Trafficking Countries

Christy McCampbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Washington, DC
September 18, 2006

(12:33 EDT)

MR. CASEY: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to the start of another week here at the State Department. As I think most of you know, the decisions on the Majors List -- the list of those countries that are major suppliers, producers, transporters of narcotics was released by the White House today. Before we go into the regular part of our briefing, I'd like to provide you an opportunity to hear from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Christy McCampbell about that decision and to provide you with a little bit more of the details of some of the thinking behind it.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Well, good morning. I'm Christy McCampbell and I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. I'm here to talk with you a little bit this morning about the President's 2007 designation of the Majors List of illegal drug-transit and drug-producing countries.

Just a little bit on my background. I'm a career, 30-year law enforcement officer, narcotic enforcement specifically, and headed up for the state of California drug enforcement in that state. So I've been working this issue for many, many years.

Each year at this time the President is required under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act to notify Congress of countries that are considered either illegal transit countries or drug-producing countries. And this results in what is known as the Majors List. To be designated on the Majors List does not necessarily mean that the country is supporting drug trafficking or lacking in counter-narcotics efforts. The designation is simply -- or can come from a combination of geographical, commercial or other economic factors that allow drugs to transit or to be illegally produced.

On the other hand, being on the Majors List can also signify a country's lack of interest or blatant refusal to adhere to the obligations of counter-narcotic conventions and international agreements. In that case a country will be determined to have "failed demonstrably" and be subject to sanctions. A country can also be determined to have "failed demonstrably" but be given a waiver against sanctions if there is a vital national interest in continuing assistance.

This year the countries on the Majors List are the same as last year. They are: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. That's 20 countries.

The President has determined that two countries, Burma and Venezuela, failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to make substantial efforts to adhere to their obligations. Venezuela has been given a waiver to possible sanctions under U.S. law because support for the programs to aid Venezuela's democratic institutions and community development projects is vital to the national interests of the United States. The determination on Venezuela is based on a variety of poor performance indicators, including a lack of cooperation with neighboring countries, soaring drug transshipments, plummeting seizures, failure to prosecute corrupt officials and the indeterminate status of our DEA presence in the country.

For Burma, the President's Statement of Justification for the world's second largest producer of opium and a major trafficker of meth-type stimulants, notes that the country has not taken decisive action against drug gangs and its actions against methamphetamine are unsatisfactory. Burma's performance is also lackluster in the areas of demand reduction, interdiction, anti-money laundering and combating corruption.

Countries singled out for specific comment in the President's determination include a number of countries: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, Haiti, and North Korea; although Canada and North Korea are not on the Majors List.

For Afghanistan the Administration recognizes that President Karzai has strongly attacked narco-trafficking as the greatest threat to Afghanistan. But we are, of course, still concerned that failure to act decisively now will undermine Afghanistan's security, democratic processes and international support.

Bolivia is the world's third largest producer of cocaine and since October of 2005, it has undertaken policies that have allowed the expansion of coca cultivation and slowed the pace of eradication until just recently. Bolivia's policy of "zero cocaine, but not zero coca," has focused on interdiction to the near exclusion of eradication and alternative development. Over the next six months, the U.S. is encouraging this country to eradicate at least 5,000 hectares of illegal coca, establish tight controls on the sale of licit coca leaf for traditional use and strengthen controls on chemicals used to make cocaine.

We are also concerned about Bolivia's actions to undermine specific provisions in UN counter-narcotics conventions relating to the coca leaf. Now I want to be specific in that the President wants very much Bolivia to have every opportunity to collaborate bilaterally and in the region to reduce the availability of cocaine and the raw materials necessary for cocaine trafficking.

President Morales frequently notes that his goal is to reduce Bolivia's cocaine production to zero. The United States shares that objective, but does have serious, very serious concerns about Bolivia's ability to achieve that. President Morales has been in office for just nine months. So it was felt that it would be premature to reach any conclusion about Bolivian efforts to comply with their counter-drug obligations at this time. The United States will continue to offer counter-drug assistance to Bolivia and we will review the benchmarks in six months time.

In Canada, the U.S. is especially pleased with their continued work to curb diversion of chemicals and to combat methamphetamine production. The U.S. however is still concerned about large-scale "indoor" marijuana planting operations in Canada. In Ecuador increased flow of cocaine destined for the U.S. makes our cooperation on maritime operational procedures especially important.

And in the case of Haiti, we encourage the new government to strengthen law enforcement reforms to bring drug trafficking and crime under control. In Nigeria, as in previous years, we are concerned about official corruption, although the country has taken substantive steps to combat this corrosive problem. With respect to North Korea, we have made it clear that stopping state directed criminal activity is a necessary prerequisite to accepted entry into the international community.

I would like to take a moment to say a few words about drug control progress in Colombia. This Andean country's strong commitment against illegal drugs and the terrorist-drug connection has produced record positive results, especially in terms of eradication, interdiction and extradition of suspected major traffickers in the United States and the U.S. does laud their efforts and their partnership.

On a final note, I'd just like to say that Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act passed by Congress this year enhances current measures to address the growing concerns about meth-type drugs. It would also strengthen our ability to work with international partners, to act against this ravaging drug which is affecting countries all over the world. In March of next year, the Administration will identify the top five exporters of meth precursor chemicals and also the top five importers with the interest -- highest rates of diversion for illegal use.

As you know, we're all aware that illegal drugs and transnational organized crime threatens us all -- it takes a global effort to combat this problem. And combining eradication with interdiction, alternative development, criminal justice modernization, anti-corruption and demand reduction programs is essential to tackle these common threats to our well-being. So with that, I'm happy to try to answer any questions for you.

QUESTION: One question on the mechanics. If a country is deemed to have failed demonstrably and is not granted a national interest waiver what are the sanctions? Am I correct in understanding that that mandates the cutting off of all U.S. aid to other than counter-narcotics aid or are the sanctions more --

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Well, humanitarian aid as well. But the President has the option to look at how to sanction a country and can make a determination. But generally, they can -- the President can deny sales or financing. They can deny the provision of agricultural commodities. They can deny financing under the Export-Import Bank Act, withhold most assistance with the exception generally of specified humanitarian and counter-narcotics assistance and also vote against proposed loans from six multilateral development banks.

QUESTION: But all of that is discretionary or is that mandatory? In other words, that unless he grants or she grants a waiver, that the President would have to withhold all aid except the humanitarian and the counternarcotics.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: I believe that there is some discretion to it.

QUESTION: Okay. Is there a way that we could get maybe afterwards the exact language on that?


QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, did you find anything on laundering money corruption, threat of narcotics in Albania and more specifically in Kosovo, since both places have a long, long (inaudible)?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: They do and yet they're not on the list of majors at this time.

QUESTION: Yes, and one more question. And where Turkey stands on this crucial list?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: No, it's not. It's not on the list.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) if you have anything to say about this under the designated countries, but I'm saying as an area, you are interested and you notice anything to this effect?


QUESTION: Bolivia's Vice President Garcia, who was here last week talking to Secretary Patterson, I believe and he was over at the White House. Surely he knows about your concerns. Did he give you any assurances that Bolivia will try harder in the future?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: He did indicate that they certainly want to work with the United States and we did have a cordial meeting with the Vice President. We expressed our concerns. He listened to it and there was not any kind of meeting of the minds at this meeting. That was just this morning that the Vice President, and actually through the ambassador here, learned of what our five benchmarks are for them to meet.

QUESTION: From time to time, we have been hearing about the excellent cooperation between Mexico and U.S. in the war against drugs. Nevertheless, the country appears again, as one of the major transit points in the hemisphere, especially for coca and marijuana. And besides that we hear a couple of days ago in the Senate the fear that this new trend of chemical drugs is taken. So I mean, could you explain why, you know, at the same time Mexico appears to be doing good in the war against drugs, you know, the country is still one of the major transit points?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Well, I just recently visited Mexico City. And part of our -- the purpose of our trip to go to Mexico was to bring a greater awareness to the problems that we're having with methamphetamine. Having worked in California, they are close to the southwest border, we did have a very cooperative working relationship with Mexico and Mexican officials and they were concerned about our issues, particularly on meth at this time is what we were talking about. We are working with them to come up with better precursor controls and trying to work on subjects that -- where we can monitor chemicals coming into Mexico and monitor the -- whether it's already produced methamphetamine or the chemicals going back out of California. We were relatively successful at the southwest border there and would have to say in California keeping the drugs -- getting the drugs out of California, which had been at one time a major producer of methamphetamine. Because of precursor controls, we were able to move some of it out of California. Unfortunately, a lot of it went back to Mexico. But we are working with Mexico and under the Fox administration he has been very cooperative and open to any of our suggestions on what we can do better about the drug problem.

QUESTION: But may -- if I follow up. I mean the fact that we have seen reports of increasing violence in some areas of the country, that doesn't mean to you that in some way that the drug problem is getting out of hand of the Mexican Government? I mean, they can certainly not control the flow of drugs from Mexico toward the U.S. and also there seems to do no -- any effect on the operation of these criminal organizations.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Well, I would have to answer -- I mean, every country almost in the world, including the United States, is having a terrible problem with drugs. And we have for quite a few years. I think the point is some countries don't seem to be too worried about it and other countries, Mexico being one, certainly indicates that they are concerned about it and we've had many, many meetings with Mexico. They come here and we've gone down there to discuss these problems. If there was very specific answers to how to do this and keep drugs out of all of our countries, I think we'd all be drug free. But it's a matter of working cooperatively with each country, including Mexico.


QUESTION: I just -- I have a clarification question. I understand that back in 2002 or fiscal year 2003, this Majors List was consolidated into the certification process. So my question is: Is this what used to be called the Annual Certification Report? And if so, those countries that are on the list have been very vocal about saying, well, the U.S. also needs to do its part in reducing consumption in the U.S., which is triggering the offer -- you know the demanding offer question here. So can you address that?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Sure. Well, first of all, yes, this has been in the past called the certification or decertification list. I think it's important that that almost makes it sound kind of like it's a judgment, or judgmental, and we don't want it to be that way. It is not meant to be that way. This is why we've changed wording to "failed demonstrably," because nobody is sitting in judgment. We are actually trying to work together and figure out how we can solve these problems.

QUESTION: And what about the consumption issue?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: I would have to say on the consumption issue, we spend huge amounts of money in this country as well as other countries on demand reduction. It is a major part of our drug strategy.

MR. CASEY: We have time for a couple more. Arshad, I know you had one more and then we'll go to Scott in the back.

QUESTION: A quick one. Your comments on Afghanistan, although you note some of the efforts by President Karzai, you also say -- or the President says in his memo that the government at all levels must be held accountable. Are you, by that at all levels, you're clearly including Karzai. You feel that he has not done enough.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: I think the numbers, and we've had increased drugs in that country obviously. I think what we are saying is Karzai is certainly doing everything that we can see to better this problem -- to make this problem less. It's early in his administration and we know that there needs to be great improvement and we know also that we absolutely must address corruption throughout the government. And so once we can get corruption addressed a little bit better, I think then we can be -- have more success in the drug issue.

QUESTION: So he needs to do a little more?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Well, we all need to do more on the drug issue.

MR. CASEY: Let's go to the back here.

QUESTION: Thank you. On Colombia. You just mentioned and you applaud Colombia's efforts to reduce crops and cultivation of cocaine. What do (inaudible) have -- because we see press reports every day saying that Colombia has the same amount that it started when Plan Colombia started five years ago? What kind of support do you have for that -- applaud Colombia's efforts?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Actually there were numbers that came out that said that they'd found that more coca was growing in the country. That's a little bit of a misnomer because larger areas were reviewed than had been in the past. And so the way that we're looking at the country changed a bit. And so the areas that we had traditionally been eradicating, those numbers were down. But the larger areas in the country did increase and so we did find more coca.

MR. CASEY: Okay. Let's just take one more – in the back.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, I'm not fully understanding the situation with Venezuela. It sounded like there were ways in which they're falling short. But I -- but then you said they had been given a possible waiver and I don't quite understand. I can't reconcile those two. Can you help me?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: They have been given a waiver. They've been found to fail demonstrably in their efforts. But that is with a waiver, which means that's an exception and that we will -- the United States, the President will continue to provide certain funding for them. And they've -- we've had to terminate -- they've had to terminate a number of our programs there. There's a prosecution task force that they terminated. There's a cargo inspection facility that they did terminate. But the President believes in the interest of the United States it will be best to try to work with them and to continue funding certain of their programs.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) cooperating again on counternarcotics?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Well, it hasn't been zero cooperation in that they do some eradication and they do some interdiction. But their sharing of that information and letting us know is certainly less than upfront.

QUESTION: But no signs they want to start working again directly with the DEA following their decision to terminate that?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCAMPBELL: Well, that -- they have not signed the DEA agreement yet and we've been trying and trying to make that happen and had plenty of negotiations and it just hasn't occurred yet.

QUESTION: Thank you.



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