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Cablegate: Interior Minister Making Push On Counternarcotics

VZCZCXYZ0027
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1208/01 1721706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211706Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8466
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6256
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1064
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1578
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6121
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1304
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LIMA 2071
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 1853
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 6526
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1271
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 0941
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1351
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0488
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLP/DEA LA PAZ BL
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001208

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SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

INL/LP:JIM HIDES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PGOV PREL KCRM AR
SUBJECT: INTERIOR MINISTER MAKING PUSH ON COUNTERNARCOTICS
COORDINATION

1. (SBU) Summary and Comment: Minister of Interior Anibal
Fernandez is making a public push to enhance counternarcotics
cooperation and effectiveness in Argentina, initiating such
ideas as a sole national registry for collecting CN
information and analyzing trends, creating a scientific
advisory committee on counternarcotics and complex crimes,
and creating a specific training body for security forces in
techniques for investigating narcotrafficking and organized
crime. As part of the initiative to focus increasingly on
trafficking networks, Fernandez also indicated a policy shift
away from targeting narcotics users. On June 8, Fernandez
convoked the Ambassadors of UK, Spain, France, Germany,
Italy, the U.S. Charge, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay,
Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador to present what he
characterized as a new initiative to promote greater
cooperation and exchange of information on drug related
issues as well as to promote the signing of new bilateral
agreements for cooperation on CN issues with countries that
do not already have such agreements with the GoA. He
pointed to the agreements the MoI signed recently with Peru
and Spain as models of what the GoA is seeking. Fernandez
spoke briefly about these agreements as well as Mercosur
agreements on the same issue. He said that he hoped that
there could be not just better cooperation and communication
bilaterally with Argentina but among the many countries that
for Argentina are producer/transit and consumer countries.
Fernandez highlighted the excellent and valued cooperation of
the U.S. Mission and its focus on improving GoA and regional
coordination in the fight against narcotrafficking. While
much of the rollout was clearly for political effect , this
Mission has been pursuing and advocating for some time most
of what the Minister is proposing and we see the Minister's
public highlighting of the CN problem as positive and
providing momentum for moving forward with Post's CN
initiatives. End Summary.

-------------------------------
The Minister's Initiative
-------------------------------
2. (U) On June 8, CDA attended a meeting with Interior
Minister Anibal Fernandez, who convoked the Ambassadors of
UK, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, US, Bolivia, Brazil,
Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador to
present what he characterized as a new initiative to promote
greater cooperation and exchange of information on drug
related issues as well as to promote the signing of new
bilateral agreements for cooperation on CN issues with
countries that do not already have such agreements with the
GOA. He pointed to the bilateral CN agreements Argentina
signed recently with Peru and Spain as models of what the GOA
is seeking. Fernandez spoke briefly about these agreements
as well as Mercosur agreements on the same issue. He said
that he hoped that there could be not just better cooperation
and communication bilaterally with Argentina but among the
many countries that for Argentina are producer/transit and
consumer countries.

3. (U) In a report Fernandez provided the Charge and invited
Ambassadors, he highlighted the need for much of what is
already known about the fight against narcotrafficking, i.e.
the need for close international coordination and an
international legal framework that effectively targets the
drug cartels and their money laundering mechanisms. He also
noted the limitations of what he described as "repressive"
policies focused too heavily on the first link in the
narcotrafficking chain, resulting in courts and jails
overwhelmed with small-time offenders and consumers.
Instead, Fernandez, noted that the individual countries and

the international community should focus more attention on
prevention and provide more assistance and services to
consumers and efforts to reduce the damages resulting from
narcotics consumption.

4. (SBU) Several times during his presentation, the Minister
cited the excellent cooperation he has had from the U.S.
Mission, particularly our DEA office, and how the Embassy has
been focused on the issue of improving coordination among GoA
entities, as well as between GoA entities and USG
institutions like the DEA and FBI. Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Under Secretary for Multilateral Affairs, Ambassador
Raul Ricardes, who was present, said that the MFA would be
involved in trying to promote this greater collaboration and
exchange of information and would be getting back to
embassies with parameters for expanded cooperation,
bilaterally and multilaterally. He said that they would then
look to individual countries to get back to the MFA and MoI
on ideas on how to expand cooperation. Each Ambassador made
brief statements on the level of cooperation already
existent. Charge noted our Northern Border Task Force as an
example of an effort whose main objective is improving the
exchange of information (including with Bolivian authorities
across the border from Salta/Jujuy) and coordination among
different federal (both Argentine and U.S.) and provincial
agencies.

5. (U) As part of his new focus on CN, the Minister has
announced a shift away from what he described as the "failed
policies" and short-term focus of going after consumers and
small time dealers. The Minister has cited the high costs of
prosecuting and jailing users and small time dealers; money
he says that could be used more effectively for instance in
the treatment of HIV patients, many of whom are drug addicts.
Forty-five percent of cases in federal courts, the Minister
stated, are drug related. All this, he noted, is taking the
needed resources away from the more complex investigation of
the trafficking networks.

-----------------------
New Legal Tools
-----------------------
6. (SBU) Fernandez also mentions in his report, without
endorsing them, that various legal tools such as controlled
deliveries, undercover agents and plea bargaining are being
contemplated. (Note: These are issues various Embassy
agencies have raised with appropriate GoA and judicial
officials for years as essential tools in combating
narcotrafficking and related crimes. Actually, both
controlled deliveries and undercover agents are contemplated
under Argentine law; there is just no history or practice of
using these tools and therefore a great reluctance by many
judges and prosecutors to "risk" using these untried methods.
Plea bargaining, however, is still not permitted under
Argentine law. End Note.)

7. (U) The Minister has also issued a number of decrees
recently in an effort to increase interagency coordination
and standardize investigative and analytical practices. He
has announced the creation of a Single Registry for the
Analysis of NarcoTrafficking (RUAN) that will be responsible
for the "design, development, implementation and maintenance"
of a central data base to collect information on all
narcotics-related complaints, investigations and evidence in
drug trafficking-related cases. The existing Internal
Security Council, which brings together representatives from
the various security agencies, the Attorney General's office
and provincial counterparts, will meet once a month to

specifically coordinate CN policy. A special "Training
Group" will be formed under the auspices of the Criminal
Intelligence Office of the MoI, comprised of specialized
trainers from each of the security agencies to development,
coordinate and implement the special investigative techniques
involved in complex crimes related to narcotrafficking. The
Minister has also created an "intern program" for provincial
security personnel with federal agencies in order train
provincial forces in investigative techniques.

8. (SBU) Comment: While there was nothing particularly new
in the Minister's analysis of the current narcotrafficking
situation or his recommendations for confronting it, his
public highlighting of the situation is positive and his
recognition of the need to better coordinate the GoA's CN
activities facilitates the Embassy's CN efforts. The
creation of central databases, the sharing of information
between GoA security forces and regionally, training in
specific investigative techniques, and proposed issues such
as controlled deliveries and the complexities involved in
developing an undercover capacity are all areas where this
Mission is already working or is in active discussion with
GoA counterparts.
WAYNE

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