Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report May 2005: Aerial Eradication

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






E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: NAS Monthly Report May 2005: Aerial Eradication
Still At Record Levels

1. (SBU) Summary: In May, the spray program eradicated
11,305 hectares of coca and 45 hectares of poppy. The
Colombian National Police (CNP) and Colombian Navy
accomplished the largest cocaine HCL fast boat seizure ever-
over 15 metric tons. During May, the CNP seized over 18
metric tons of cocaine HCl/cocaine base and destroyed three
cocaine HCL laboratories.

Eradication and Interdiction

2. (SBU) Eradication: During May, OV-10s operating from
Apiay, Meta Department, sprayed approximately 1,604 hectares
of coca. AT-802s operating from Caucausia, Antioquia
Department, sprayed approximately 8,508 hectares of coca. T-
65s operating from Popayan, Cauca Department, and later from
Valledupar, Cesar Department, sprayed 45 hectares of poppy
and 1,193 hectares of coca. In total, CNP aircraft sprayed
approximately 11,305 hectares of coca and 45 hectares of
poppy during the month of May. Thus far in 2005 the CNP
eradication program has sprayed more than 85,620 hectares of
coca and 979 hectares of poppy.

3. (SBU) Armed narco-terrorists fired on eradication and
COLAR aircraft eight times in May, resulting in 18
individual impacts. The AT-802's were struck once and OV-
10's 11 times. They also hit Plan Colombia Program UH-1N
helicopters six times.

4. (SBU) During May, COLAR Plan Colombia helicopters
continued to support CD Brigade troops and eradication
operations in Caucausia and Apiay, as well as training
operations in Tolemaida. Plan Colombia helicopters
transported 2,609 passengers and 151,665 pounds of cargo
during 1,980 flight hours. Twenty-seven patients required
108 hours of flight time for medical evacuations.

5. (SBU) On May 31, the Plan Colombia helicopter program
deployed 5 UH-1HII aircraft to Saravena, Arauca Department,
to protect the 174 kilometers of petroleum pipeline in
Arauca Department under the Infrastructure Security Strategy
Program. These aircraft will support a Quick Reaction Force
trained to respond to attacks along the pipeline.

6. (SBU) On May 5, Plan Colombia helicopters were used to
conduct a joint air assault with elements of the 1st
Battalion, CD Brigade on two FARC bases in the vicinity of
Tumaco, Narino Department. The Plan Colombia support
package of three UH-60 Black Hawks, four gun ships, and one
command and control (C2) aircraft ferried the troops to
field operations areas. Colombian forces captured seven
prisoners, 32 kilograms of cocaine base, and several
thousand gallons of liquid precursor chemicals, all without
injury to personnel or aircraft.

7. (SBU) The OV-10 aircraft were shut down for a 10-day
maintenance period to improve availability rates of OV-10
spray aircraft. During this time, all personnel attended
refresher safety classes and aircrews and search and rescue
personnel received additional survival and evasion training.

8. (SBU) The U.S. Military Group and their Training
Assistance Fielding Team (TAFT), working in conjunction with
the NAS Aviation Unit, established a Basic Instrumentation
Course for all Colombian Army pilots that had not completed
the Basic Instrument Training Course during their Initial
Entry Rotary Wing courses. This ensures that every pilot
operating Plan Colombia helicopters is trained to U.S.

9. (SBU) From May 2-16 an INL Air Wing Aviation Resource
Management Survey inspected in-country Air Wing programs.
They inspected records for safety, standardization,
security, operations, administration, logistics,
maintenance, training, armament, and non-rated crewmember
personnel. They noted only a few minor discrepancies.

10. (SBU) Interdiction: In May, the CNP seized a total of
over 18 Metric Tons of HCl and cocaine base and destroyed
three cocaine HCL labs. To date, in 2005 the CNP has seized
more than 44 Metric Tons of HCl and 397 kilos of heroin and
destroyed 66 HCl laboratories.

11. (SBU) During May, the CNP and Colombian Navy made the
largest single cocaine HCL seizure ever, over 15 metric
tons. CNP intelligence, supported by the Embassy, indicated
the presence of a storage site on the Mira River in Narino
Department. Upon arriving at the site the CNP forces
observed that the cocaine HCL had already been loaded on go-
fast boats.

12. (SBU) The CNP, led by NAS-supported Junglas,
Carabineros, and aircraft, deployed to Cordoba Department
and conducted a major operation May 24-27 to capture Diego
Fernando Murillo, aka "Don Berna", the third ranking AUC
(paramilitary) leader in Colombia. He is wanted for
multiple homicides, terrorism, and is extraditable for narco-
trafficking. "Don Berna" surrendered and is now under a
form of house arrest. On June 9, 2005, the Embassy
transmitted to the Government of Colombia a request for
Murillo's extradition.

13. (SBU) On May 30, the Colombian National Police (DIRAN
and Carabineros), conducted a joint operation with the
Colombian Air Force against Diego Montoya, leader of the
Norte de Valle Cartel. Diego Montoya eluded capture, but
four of his AUC security forces were killed in the assault.

14. (SBU) In Espinal, Tolima, the four-month Jungle Commando
basic course entered its final phase. Fifty-five new
"Junglas" will graduate on June 10. The US Army 7th Special
Forces began a three-week Sniper Course for 20 police
students. The Anti-Narcotics Police began an 18-week
medical course for 33 students. Additionally, 35 DIRAN, 11
Carabineros, and 12 Colombian Army personnel departed for
various training courses in the United States.

DIRAN Base Defense

15. (SBU) DIRAN completed base defense upgrades at
Villagarzon and San Miguel, Putumayo Department, and
Toribio, Cauca. During May, DIRAN instructors began Road
Interdiction Inspection equipment training.

Law Enforcement/Public Security

16. (SBU) During May the CNP EMCAR (Carabineros) squadrons
captured 483 individuals (36 Narco-traffickers, 53 FARC/ELN,
30 AUC and 364 common criminals), 171 weapons, 5,197 gals of
liquid precursors, 15,182 kilograms of solid precursors,
2,108 kilograms of marihuana and 24 kilograms of cocaine
base. They also manually eradicated 11 hectares of poppy
and 825 hectares of coca (this includes the amounts reported
by the units in support of the manual eradication groups).
On May 17, the CNP National Training Center at Espinal
graduated three new squadrons. The school also graduated 11
new Basic EMCAR Course instructors.

17. (SBU) During the first week of May, the FARC attacked
the Tolima EMCAR Squadron and killed three EMCAR police
officers near Ibague, the capital of Tolima Department.
Reinforcements immediately helped secure the area. On May
19, the FARC attacked a pipeline in Putumayo. When the
EMCAR reacted, they walked into an ambush using Improvised
Explosive Devices (IED) which killed three EMCAR police
officers. Later in the day, approximately 70 guerrillas
ambushed the Choco EMCAR Squadron using IEDs and gunfire.
Ten police officers were killed and three EMCAR members were
able to escape. The guerrillas executed the wounded police

Air Bridge Denial (ABD)

18. (SBU) CNP followed 3011 aircraft contacts over Colombia;
37 were declared Unidentified, Assumed Suspect (UAS). JIATF-
S declared five contacts as friendly and one invalid. Of
the 31 remaining, the GOC reacted to 18 UAS but located
none. The GOC did not react to 13 UAS: two due to bad
weather, five suspects reached international borders, four
were in international waters, one track relied on old
information, and one aircraft was out of range.

CNP Aviation (ARAVI)

19. (SBU) In May, the three largest components of ARAVI's
fleet clocked 1,465 mission hours. The UH-1H helicopters
flew 468 mission hours with an operational readiness (O.R.)
rate of 43 percent. Thirty-one percent of the helicopters
required depot level major structural repairs. Bell 212
helicopters flew 172 mission hours with an operational
readiness rate of 71 percent, and UH-60 helicopters flew 121
mission hours with an operational readiness rate of 75
percent. ARAVI aircraft and personnel supported extradition,
interdiction and high value target missions, including the
pursuit of AUC official Diego Murillo (alias "Don Berna" or
"Adolfo Paz"). Representatives from INL, NAS, Lockheed
Martin, and Lockheed's subcontractor met in Fort Lauderdale
May 25-26 for a program management review. The team
identified 46 priority action items, including the purchase
of USD 1.12 million in Black Hawk spare parts, for the
coming three months.

Port Security
20. (SBU) DIRAN's new 12-member polygraph unit, established
to ensure the integrity of police working in the airports
and seaports, completed training May 21. After an
orientation period at the airports and seaports they will
begin polygraphing police officers under the guidance of a
polgyraphist from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement


21. (SBU) In May, the spray complaints group received 40
complaints and is investigating 104 other cases. No
complaints were paid during the month. NAS Environmental
Officer assisted the DIRAN chief of eradication with answers
during a one-hour live interview explaining the aerial
eradication program and scientific studies regarding any
potential environmental and health impact on Colombia. With
NAS funding, 10 DIRAN police specialists started a course in
advanced satellite imagery analysis at the University
Militaire in Bogota. The office has also engaged in several
public meetings with NGO's to discuss the eradication
program. DIRAN and NAS distributed the first of the new GOC
field guides to all military and police forces to identify
and report the location of coca and poppy fields they may
encounter. During May, the Medical Civilian Action Program
(MEDCAP) sent groups of approximately 25 doctors each to
Saravena and Arauca City, Arauca Department, and Miraflores,
Guaviare Department, to provide free medical and surgical
assistance and monitor the health of the population.


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