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Cablegate: 13 Thousand Hectares Sprayed in Colombia: Nas

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 009117

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

DEPT FOR INL/RM, INL/LP

DEPT FOR WHA/AND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM PTER CO
SUBJECT: 13 THOUSAND HECTARES SPRAYED IN COLOMBIA: NAS
Monthly Report, August 2004:

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Eradication aircraft sprayed a total of
12,959 hectares of coca and 658 hectares of poppy in August.
Anti-Narcotics Police units captured and/or destroyed over
67 metric tons of cocaine, 1.2 metric tons of cocaine base,
10 tons of pressed marijuana, and 24 kilograms of heroin
this month.

Eradication and Interdiction
----------------------------

2. (SBU) Eradication: During the month of August, aircraft
operating from San Jose del Guaviare sprayed approximately
6,389 hectares and operations in Santander and Norte de
Santander Departments sprayed approximately 6,568 hectares
of coca. Spray operations in Cauca and Huila Departments
eradicated 658 hectares of poppy. This combined effort
resulted in the eradication of a total of approximately
12,959 hectares of coca and 658 hectares of poppy.

3. (SBU) Eradication and COLAR aircraft were involved in 14
hostile fire incidents, resulting in 19 impacts. Both the
number of incidents and impacts remain well below comparable
levels from last year.

4. (SBU) Anti-Narcotics Police (DIRAN): In August, DIRAN
broke interdiction records. Three Airmobile Interdiction
(Jungla) Companies of DIRAN destroyed more than 58 metric
tons of HCl and coca base, while the DIRAN Interdiction
Group captured 9.3 metric tons of cocaine, 1.2 metric tons
of cocaine base, 10 tons of pressed marijuana, and 24
kilograms of heroin this month. The DIRAN Interdiction
Group also destroyed one potassium permanganate lab and the
first two heroin labs of the year.

5. (SBU) DIRAN Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
(ISR) Project: The C-26B ISR aircraft continues to provide
excellent intelligence collection, with the DIRAN Air
Intelligence and Analysis Center producing quality reports.
Since the project started in late 2000, the ISRs have flown
nearly 800 missions in support of eradication and
interdiction operations, as well as joint DIRAN and military
operations.

6. (SBU) DEA coordinated a joint operation conducted by the
DIRAN Interdiction Group, the Colombian Navy, Marines, Coast
Guard, and Air Force. The operation, conducted on
Colombia's Pacific Coast, resulted in the destruction of one
cocaine HCL lab.

Air Bridge Denial (ABD)
-----------------------

7. (SBU) In August, 2004, 3,583 tracks were identified over
Colombia, of which 32 were declared Unidentified, Assumed
Suspect (UAS) aircraft. Phase I was conducted on two tracks.
One track was identified as friendly and one resulted in the
CNP arresting the pilot and impounding the aircraft. Two
Phase III events were conducted, on August 8 and 24. Both
aircraft were destroyed on the ground.

CNP Aviation (ARAVI)
--------------------

8. (SBU) In August, the three largest components of ARAVI's
fleet clocked 1,365 mission hours. The UH-1 helicopters
flew 895 mission hours with an operational readiness rate of
75 percent, Bell 212 helicopters flew 302 mission hours with
an operational readiness rate of 78 percent, and UH-60
helicopters flew 168 mission hours with an operational rate
of 61 percent. ARAVI also participated in highly successful
interdiction missions with several other CNP units and
national security forces in southwestern Colombia. ARAVI
helped brief Staffdel Mackey in Bogot and at the ARAVI
training academy in Mariquita on August 27.

Colombian Army (COLAR) Aviation
-------------------------------

9. (SBU) During the month of August, the third battalion of
the Counternarcotics (CD) Brigade was dedicated to
operations conducted under Plan Patriota while COLAR Plan
Colombia helicopters continued to support CD Brigade troops,
Plan Patriota, and eradication operations, as well as
conducting training operations in Tolemaida. Plan Colombia
helicopters flew over 2,113 hours, accounting for more than
1,062 sorties. They transported 3,487 passengers and
258,720 pounds of cargo. Over 17 flight hours were
dedicated to medical evacuation missions, resulting in the
evacuation of eight patients.

10. (SBU) Plan Colombia helicopter assets conducted an air
assault and inserted 125 CD Brigade troops near
Barrancabermeja, Santander Department. During ground
combat, Pastor Alapi, a senior FARC figure, was seen in the
area by both ground forces and non-combatants. During this
incident, 275 Colombian Army personnel engaged an estimated
125 FARC, which resulted in 15 guerillas killed and one
Colombian Army soldier wounded.
11. (SBU) During a night fire training exercise a GAU-17
mini-gun suffered a malfunction caused by cartridge case
head separation. The gunnery instructor and student received
minor injuries.

Law Enforcement/Public Security
-------------------------------

12. (SBU) A total of 450 police officers, composing three
Carabineros Mobil Squadrons (EMCAR), graduated from a
specialized training course in Espinal. One of these
Squadrons will relieve the DIRAN Junglas that now occupy the
town of Penas Coloradas, which was taken as part of Plan
Patriota.

13. (SBU) EMCAR Carabineros captured four extraditable
narcoterrorists, 38 other narcotraffickers, and 243
guerrillas. They seized 140 weapons. Over four tons of
coca base were destroyed and nine hectares of poppy and 159
hectares of coca were manually eradicated. Additionally, CD
Brigade forces captured 76 kilograms of cocaine base.

Demobilization program:
-----------------------

14. (SBU) During the first two years of the Uribe
administration a total of 5,163 members of terrorist groups
(FARC, ELN, AUC) have renounced terrorism and joined the
GOC's Demobilization/Reinsertion program. The MOD has
organized intelligence collection and analysis elements into
a centralized database. The database will permit sharing
information among various Colombian security agencies. The
intelligence derived from the program has contributed to
over 50 percent of the successful operations by the
military, police, and prosecutor's office. Vice-Minister of
Defense Peate briefed the operational success of the
program to about 50 Ambassadors and stressed his need for
assistance in the employment of this information.

Environmental
-------------

15. (U) The NAS continued to engage NGO's opposed to the
spray program and sent volunteer doctors into areas
previously controlled by insurgent forces to provide free
medical assistance. This provides a check of public health
conditions in areas previously sprayed by the aerial
aspersion program. In August, DIRAN notified the NAS of its
intention to create an experimental coca field on a police
base in Guaviare Department to conduct chemical and manual
eradication studies.

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