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Cablegate: Colombia: Majors List Certification

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


1. (SBU) Summary: Though Colombia remains a major illicit
drug producing and trafficking country, the GOC is an
unwavering ally in the fight against narcotics production
and distribution. Colombia has been an enthusiastic partner
in the development of innovative approaches to narcotics
interdiction. Under President Uribe's leadership, cocaine
seizures are at all-time record levels and the GOC is on
track to set new aerial eradication records again in 2005.
The attached certification report card highlights the GOC's
commitment to U.S. counter-narcotics goals and suggests
areas requiring further attention. End summary.

2. (SBU) In 2004, the GOC once again set new aerial
eradication records.

-- The Colombian National Police (CNP) sprayed more than
136,500 hectares of coca and over 3000 hectares of opium
poppy in CY2004. Through June 30, 2005, the CNP had sprayed
over 95,500 hectares of coca and 1100 hectares of opium
poppy. In addition to spray operations, the GOC has
embarked on an ambitious manual eradication program that
entails the mobilization of over 40 mobile eradication
teams. By mid-year these teams had manually eradicated over
9,500 hectares of coca. The Uribe government has identified
an ambitious target of 40,000 hectares over two years. The
GOC will have to earmark more resources to this program,
including shifting of additional security personnel from
other public security duties, if this goal is to be

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-- The GOC has taken steps to ensure that the aerial
eradication program is conducted without undue risk to human
health and the environment, as specified by Colombian and
U.S. law. These measures include semi-annual spray program
monitoring and verification, as required by the
Environmental Management Plan for aerial eradication. A
scientific study commissioned by the Organization of
American States concluded that glyphosate, as used in the
eradication program in Colombia, does not present a
significant risk to human health. Nonetheless, there
remains vigorous opposition to aerial eradication-especially
in national parks and protected areas.

3. (SBU) In 2003, the GOC restarted an aerial interdiction
program (Air Bridge Denial, or ABD program) to interdict
aircraft carrying illicit drugs and related contraband.

-- The GOC worked with the USG to establish safety and legal
procedures as a prerequisite for restarting USG assistance
for an ABD program in Colombia. The ABD program was
restarted in August 2003 and since then has led to the
interdiction and/or destruction of 21 illegal aircraft. The
ABD program is constrained by the lack of Colombian
interceptors, dedicated ground forces, and other resources
to follow up Unidentified, Assumed Suspect (UAS) tracks and
to terminate law enforcement actions on the ground. As a
result, abandoned aircraft are destroyed from the air
without the seizure of drugs and other contraband, or the
apprehension of suspect aircrew.

4. (SBU) In 2004, the GOC expanded its airport, port, and
road interdiction programs.

-- Airport interdiction: The Airport Interdiction Project
(AIP) was initiated in 2001 to share intelligence to
interdict illegal drug shipments originating at Colombia's
international airports. Units from airport security, the
National Security Service (DAS), and the CNP's Anti-
narcotics Directorate (DIRAN) received special equipment and
training to identify drug-carrying couriers and detect
hidden compartments, as well as to identify the
organizations behind these illegal activities. In 2004, the
AIP led to the seizure of 3.7 metric tons of cocaine and 360
kilograms of heroin and the arrest of 215 couriers. With
the assistance of DEA and NAS, the GOC expanded the airport
interdiction program in 2004 to include airports at
Medellin, Cali, and Barranquilla. Medellin and Cali AIP
units have begun X-ray operations and negotiations are
ongoing for the construction of facilities for the AIP in

-- Seaport Security Program: Colombia's eight seaports have
active port security programs staffed by DIRAN teams. All
ports lack adequate DIRAN personnel, including binomial
teams (canine and guide), to inspect an acceptable
percentage of export cargo. The CNP is cognizant of this
shortcoming but is unable to assign additional personnel at
this time due to pressing security demands elsewhere. As an
alternative, NAS and U.S. ICE representatives are exploring
ways to enhance the effectiveness of current DIRAN forces
through more effective utilization of mechanical detection

-- Road interdiction: The CNP Antinarcotics Police (DIRAN)
and other units employ their INL-funded Road Interdiction
equipment at both fixed and mobile checkpoints.

-- GOC Public Forces (Military and Police) seized a combined
178 metric tons of cocaine HCl and cocaine base in 2004.
Through the first half of 2005, seizures amounted to 101
metric tons of cocaine/base. Thus far in 2005, Public
Forces have seized 468 kilograms of heroin compared to 721
kilograms in all of 2004.

-- With assistance from the Narcotics Affairs Section and
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the CNP Antinarcotics
Police established the largest polygraph unit in Latin
America. This unit completed training in early 2005, is
fully-equipped, and has begun the process of vetting police
and other personnel assigned to security tasks in Colombia's
air and sea ports.

5. (SBU) The GOC continues to extradite suspected criminals
indicted by the United States. Most were indicted on
narcotics charges.

-- Colombia extradited 91 fugitives to the United States
during CY 2004. Thus far in CY 2005, an additional 41
suspects have been extradited to stand trial in the United
States and 57 cases are pending. The GOC has repeatedly
stated that it will continue to extradite criminals who have
violated the laws of other countries.

6. (SBU) The USG encouraged the GOC to decrease the time and
streamline procedures required for forfeiture of assets
seized from convicted drug traffickers.

-- The GOC has intervened three large firms recently.
First, the Drogas la Rebaja, the largest retail pharmacy
chain in the country was intervened to prevent the Rodriguez-
Orjuela family from continuing to make use of the Drogas la
Rebaja assets. Similarly, the GOC intervened the Grajales
Group of firms to prevent the Henao clan from using these
assets. Grajales is a large, integrated producer of fresh
produce, wine, and processed foods in the Valle de Cauca
area (near Cali). The GOC also intervened a large retail
chain, Casas Estrellas, which had significant financial
participation by the Henao clan. The GOC continues to
operate all three firms pending their definitive takeover by
the GOC and eventual sale.

-- The GOC revised its assets forfeiture law in 2002 and has
moved aggressively on its asset seizure program in 2004.
The GOC has also embarked on a campaign to seize property
from small-scale narcotics producers as well. Targeting
small landowners engaged in illicit crop production is being
combined with aggressive manual eradication to reinforce the
Uribe government's zero-tolerance policy.


© Scoop Media

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