Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report for December 2009


DE RUEHBO #0244/01 0222134
R 222132Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 09 BOGOTA 3604

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The aerial eradication team reached its CY-2009
goal of 100,000 hectares (ha) of coca sprayed, with a total True
Ground Area Coverage of 101,573 ha for the year. Manual
eradication of coca for 2009 totaled approximately 61,000 ha, short
of the goal of 70,000 ha; total eradication for 2009 was 162,500
ha, a decline of 29 percent from 2008's 229,000 ha (see reftel).
In 2009, the Colombian National Police (CNP) seized 127.07 metric
tons of cocaine/cocaine base, 460.93 metric tons of coca leaf,
180.35 metric tons of marijuana and 732 kgs of heroin. Total
interdiction numbers for all GOC efforts will follow septel when
results are complete. In December, the CNP Jungla International
Course graduated 57 students, including 44 international students
from Panama, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Mexico, the Dominican Republic,
Belize, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil; students from Argentina,
Jamaica, and Peru also completed the Jungla Explosives and
Demolitions Course. Illegal flights detected decreased 95 percent
from 2003 to 2009, and the Air Bridge Denial (ABD) Program was
nationalized on December 31. The Government of Colombia (GOC)
demonstrated its political will to fight against domestic drug
consumption when it passed a bill ending legal possession of a
minimum dose of drugs for personal use. END SUMMARY.

I. Program Notes

II. Aerial Eradication Program

III. Manual Eradication Program

IV. Plan Colombia Helicopter Program (PCHP)

V. Colombia National Police Air Service Support (ARAVI)

VI. Interdiction Program

VII. Base Security/Road Interdiction/NVD Program

VIII. Maritime Interdiction Program

IX. Communications/Weapons Program

X. Port Security Program (PSP)

XI. Reestablish Police Presence Program (Carabineros)

XII. Air Bridge Denial (ABD) Program

XIII. Environmental Program

XIV. Individual Demobilization Program

XV. Drug Demand Prevention (DDP) Program




2. (SBU) NAS Director and Deputy CNP Commander, Major General
Parra, discussed how to improve NAS support mechanisms for the CNP.
Both agreed that CNP leadership would assist NAS by providing CNP
priority assistance projects and programs, with the major focus on

Embassy Colombia Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI) priority
zones. In a December 29 meeting with Vice Minister of Defense
Alejandro Arbalaez, NAS Director discussed CSDI, eradication,
nationalization, and aircraft insurance issues. Arbalaez noted his
desire to approach manual eradication more strategically in 2010
and suggested future meetings between Accion Social, the Ministry
of Defense, NAS and other Embassy partners to develop a more
comprehensive 2010 manual eradication plan and to better integrate
Embassy CSDI planning. Vice Minister Arbalaez agreed that the
Colombian police and military should continue to increasingly
absorb the majority of operational costs for its units, and
promised to assist the USG in prioritizing security-force
assistance more along the lines of institutional capacity building.
He agreed to pursue development of a longer-term nationalization
plan to follow after the existing agreement for the GOC to assume
title and financial responsibility for numerous INL-funded elements
between now and 2012.

3. (SBU) NAS Director, along with USAID and MILGP representatives,
visited former FARC strongholds Cano Amarillo and Vista Hermosa,
communities in transition under the GOC's Macarena Consolidation
Plan (PCIM). While these areas have made notable progress under
PCIM, NAS Director assessed the overall situation as tenuous, a
view shared by regional consolidation leaders (to be reported
septel). Local residents and leaders raised concerns about
challenges facing development initiatives at a community meeting in
Cano Amarillo, citing severe difficulty in eking out a living due
to: clarification of land ownership, inferior infrastructure
(particularly roads/bridges), technical expertise, and lack of
adequate credit and resources. In a separate PCIM meeting GOC
officials noted the void created in the wake of military clearing
operations, the shortfall of police in the area and the military's
constitutional inability to carry out civilian law enforcement, and
their perception of a lack of clear, sustained political will at
the national level to ensure effective participation of responsible
line ministries and other resource drivers. As the PCIM has been
presented as a consolidation model for other areas and its
implications may well transfer to other CSDI efforts, NAS is
working with USAID and MILGP to further explore the stated

4. (SBU) NAS Director and Major General Pinilla, Chief of
operations for Colombia's Air Force (COLAF), discussed the
possibility of COLAF providing airlift assistance to NAS
eradication logistics efforts. The Narcotics Aviation Unit (NAU)
and COLAF staff agreed to investigate options and payment
possibilities to determine viability. Brigadier General Rey,
Commander of the Colombian Army's (COLAR) Aviation Brigade, briefed
NAS Director on COLAR's strategic aviation plan. BG Rey noted a
need for infrastructure assistance to improve COLAR aviation's
agility and ability to adequately cover some problematic regions,
and agreed to develop priorities for economical, quickly completed
projects for NAS consideration. Rey also advocated strongly for
continued NAS advisor support after the Plan Colombia Helicopter
Program (PCHP) is fully nationalized in 2012.

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5. (SBU) The aerial eradication team reached its CY-2009 goal of
100,000 hectares (ha) of coca sprayed on December 4, with a total
True Ground Area Coverage of 101,573 ha for the year, down from
133,500 ha in 2008 as a result of the decrease from 3 to 2 spray
bases. Manual eradication of coca for 2009 totaled approximately
61,000 ha, short of the goal of 70,000 ha and well below 2008's
almost 96,000 ha. Total eradication for 2009 was 162,500 ha, a
decline of 29 percent over 2008's 229,000 ha, due in large part to
resource constraints (see reftel). Aircraft based in Forward
Operating Locations (FOLs) in Tumaco, Barrancabermeja, and San Jose
del Guaviare sprayed a total of 7,120 hectares (ha) in December. A
total of 4,644 ha were sprayed out of Tumaco, 1,442 out of
Barrancabermeja, and 1,034 out of San Jose del Guaviare. During
December, eradication aircraft experienced no hostile fire
incidents. In 2009 there were 40 hostile fire incidents and 74
impacts; no deaths or injuries were sustained as a result of these

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6. (SBU) The GOC's 2009 manual eradication campaign finished on
December 20. Antinarcotics police units, with support from NAS,
continued eradicating coca through December 30 per an order from
the Director General of the CNP, eradicating approximately 1,500 ha
without civilian eradicator support. Total manual eradication of
coca for 2009 totaled approximately 61,000 ha, short of the 70,000
ha goal, and some 35,000 ha less than in 2008. The departments
with significant manual eradication operations were Narino (16,524
ha), Antioquia (7,179), Meta (4,900), Putumayo (4,668), Vichada
(4,758) and Caqueta (4,021). (NOTE: The official totals for manual
eradication will be available in late January after the United
Nations verifies manual eradication data.) Reduced funding for
manual eradication, an overall drop in coca cultivation resulting
in more dispersed coca, and an increase in attacks against manual
eradicators all contributed to the slower pace of eradication in

7. (SBU) Separate from the GOC's manual eradication campaign (GME),
COLAR and the CNP conducted manual eradication as part of their
normal operations. In 2009, COLAR eradicated a total of 5,803 ha
of coca and the CNP 5,510 ha (these numbers are included in the
FY-2009 61,000 ha total). Poppy eradication in 2009, carried out
mainly by the police in Cauca and Narino, totaled an estimated
550-600 ha, an increase from the 2008 total of 361 ha. Manual
eradication of marijuana totaled some 170 ha in 2009. In 2009,
approximately 40 people were killed during manual eradication
operations (25 security personnel, 14 civilian eradicators, and one
United Nations-hired topographer embedded within a manual
eradication group). (NOTE: The number of reported fatalities is
based on records held by the CNP, COLAR, Accion Social, reports
from the field and press reports. Final reporting of fatalities
during manual eradication is not yet available.) In all of 2008,
26 security personnel and civilian eradicators were killed in
manual eradication operations.

8. (SBU) The GOC's 2010 manual eradication program, with a goal of
70,000 ha, is expected to kick off on February 20, although some
groups will begin eradicating in late January. In addition to
fielding manual eradication groups across the country in 2010, the
GOC is planning a pilot program in northern Antioquia and southern

Cordoba to create a coca-free zone in this strategic area in
northern Colombia. The program integrates forced manual
eradication with food subsidies and alternative development
opportunities for coca farmers. The Embassy will be following this
pilot closely to monitor its success and the extent to which it
integrates into the GOC's consolidation plans for the northern
Antioquia region. Other priorities for manual eradication in 2010
include the PCIM zone and development of a mechanism to eliminate
low density, remnant coca in areas after GME and aerial eradication

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9. (SBU) PCHP aircraft flew a total of 436 hours in December 2009,
operating from bases in Tumaco, San Jose, Barrancabermeja, and
Tolemaida. PCHP aircraft provided air assaults, air movements,
reconnaissance, medical evacuations, and support missions for the
Counter-Drug (CD) Brigade and other vetted COLAR units. The CD
Brigade discovered one cocaine (HCl) laboratory with connections to
a commercial oil pipeline and refining equipment with the
capability of producing precursor chemicals, and another HCl
laboratory with a seed-bed nursery of more than 60,000 coca plants.
PCHP supported a GOC request to augment a high value target (HVT)
operation in Meta. Operations were executed on December 30 and 31
near La Macarena against a FARC New Year's gathering comprised of
elements of three FARC fronts, believed to include up to 100
guerillas. The GOC announced that FARC's 43rd Front leaders Miller
Ospina Correa, alias "El Abuelo," and Eliseo Caicedo Garzon, alias
"El Pitufo," were killed, along with 22 others, in the air raid and
ground combat operations. 13 guerillas were captured during the
raid, five others self demobilized, and armament, communication
equipment and logistical supplies were seized. During this
operation three PCHP helicopters experienced anomalies, but all
aircraft were safely recovered without injuries to COLAR aircrews.
PCHP helicopters flew 78 hours supporting 23 medical evacuation
operations transporting a total of 77 patients.

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10. (SBU) ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet flew 2,169 mission hours in
December. The seven UH-60 Black Hawks closed out the month with
179 flight hours and an operational readiness (OR) rate of 71
percent. One UH-60 is undergoing depot maintenance for structural
repair due to hostile fire. The 10 Bell 212s flew 288 mission
hours with an OR rate of 62 percent. One Bell 212 has yet to be
inducted to the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP)/Rewire, and
another Bell 212 is currently in depot for SLEP maintenance. The
CNP is conducting this SLEP without USG contractor support. The
Huey II section's OR rate was 60 percent while flying 1,040 hours.

Eight Huey II's are in depot maintenance, seven for structural
repairs, and one for power train inspection. The four DC-3s flew
306 hours in December with an OR rate of 56 percent. The last of
three C-26 Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Aerial
Platforms (ISRAP) arrived and final acceptance has been completed.




11. (SBU) During December, the CNP seized 5.98 metric tons of
cocaine hydrochloride (HCl) and cocaine base, 14.84 metric tons of
coca leaf, 15.57 metric tons of marijuana, 159 kgs of heroin, and
470 metric tons of precursor chemicals. The CNP also destroyed 11
cocaine HCl laboratories and 131 coca base laboratories. In 2009
(through December 31), the CNP seized 127.07 metric tons of
cocaine/cocaine base, 460.93 metric tons of coca leaf, 180.35
metric tons of marijuana and 732 kgs of heroin. In the same time
period, the CNP destroyed 188 cocaine HCl laboratories and 1,550
coca base laboratories, and seized 25,105 metric tons of precursor

12. (SBU) On December 11, the CNP captured Mart????n Farf????n
alias "Pijarbey," the number two man of the Pedro Oliverio
Guerrero, alias "Cuchillo," criminal organization "Banda" in
eastern Colombia. As the CNP conducted an airmobile assault on his
farmhouse hideout 27 miles northwest of San Jose de Guaviare,
"Pijarbey" fled on his motorcycle into the thick jungle. The CNP
cordoned off a ten kilometer area, and after six hours of search
patrols located and captured "Pijarbey."

13. (SBU) The Facatativa Ammunition Bunker, funded by NAS and built
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was completed on November 15
and the ribbon cutting ceremony conducted on December 7. The
storage facility will service the Facatativa Junglas, the DIRAN
National Ammunition Section, and the Carabineros School. NAS
Bogota's Engineering Section is supervising the construction of a
small arms range for the Junglas at Facatativa Police Base. The
expected completion date is March 2010.

14. (SBU) Six U.S. Army Special Forces trainers completed their
four-week course at the Pijaos Training Center on December 4 for
the Jungla Special Recon unit on rural and urban operations. The
U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group Pijaos training team departed
Colombia on December 18 and was replaced by another team in early
January. On December 11, the Jungla International Course graduated
57 students, including 44 international students from Panama, Costa
Rica, Paraguay, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Peru,
Argentina, and Brazil. The Paraguayan Ambassador to Colombia,
commander of the Panama Border Force, and several international
police attaches attended the training. On December 17, the
eight-week Jungla Explosives and Demolitions Course graduated 48
students, including one Argentine, one Jamaican, and two Peruvians.
56 Colombian policemen graduated from the eight-week Jungla
Advanced Land Navigation Course, and 35 students graduated from the
23-week Jungla Combat Medic course on December 28.

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15. (SBU) The next Base Security courses, to be conducted in
Necocli (Phase II) and Tumaco, are in the planning phases and will
run simultaneously beginning in February. The goal for the Necocli
course is to continue the efforts at the new DIRAN Northwest Zone
base with personnel from the DIRAN Company assigned to Necocli and
additional DIRAN personnel from the Department of Antioquia. The
goal of the Tumaco course is to address the security requirements
at the CNP stations in Guayacana, Llorente, Espriella, and Chilvi.
The course's students will include police assigned to the various
stations and troops from the Colombian Marine Corps and the 1st
Battalion of the CD Brigade located in Tumaco.

16. (SBU) Phase II of the Miraflores Indefinite Design Indefinite
Quantity (IDIQ) project was completed on December 17. The Phase I
IDIQ project at Necocli was completed and included the installation
of 250 meters of 2.4 meter high perimeter security walls and two 9
meter ballistic towers. The construction of an additional 315
meters of bastion walls is scheduled to be completed in January.

17. (SBU) Night Vision Device (NVD) program coordinator will begin
training the COLAR CD Brigades located in Tumaco and Larandia on
January 18. The annual accounting and inspection program continued
throughout the country at CNP bases and units in El Dorado,
Guaymaral, Facatativa, Espinal, Pijaos, Cespo, Mariquita, Larandia,
Santa Marta, Tulua and the Transportation Directorate (DITRA).

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18. (SBU) NAS personnel traveled to Bahia Solano and met with the
Colombian Coast Guard's Pacific Coast Commander and visited a new
pier that was funded by the Colombian Navy. The new pier will
allow the deployment of Midnight Express interceptors and other
Colombian Coast Guard vessels in this critical area. NAS will
support the GOC in Bahia Solano with billeting, office space, and a
fuel storage system.

19. (SBU) On December 20, the Colombian Coast Guard seized 1,018
kilograms of marijuana during a routine patrol in Maguipi in the
vicinity of Buenaventura. A joint Colombian Navy and Fiscalia
(CTI) operation in the departments of Magdalena, Santander, Cesar,
Antioquia, and Bolivar resulted in the arrests of 13 members of a
drug trafficking organization, including key leadership and support
personnel and active members of the Department of Administrative
Security (DAS), CNP, and COLAR.

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20. (SBU) NAS advisor coordinated instruction for DIRAN, DICAR, and
Colombian Coast Guard in support of the activation of SPOT personal
satellite emergency communications devices. NAS and CNP identified
requirements to support a national data expansion project that will
allow remote anti-narcotics bases access to the CNP's secure data
infrastructure. NAS coordinated with Motorola Colombia to deliver
306 push to talk button radios to the CD Brigade. CNP's
antinarcotics data team traveled to every seaport/airport to train
DIRAN personnel on a new database that will track import/export
information. The team also conducted a complete inventory of all
information technology equipment at each location and submitted to
NAS a list of recommended equipment for 2010. NAS recommended
final destinations for 131 desktop computers that DIRAN received
from CNP in December, and NAS is working with DIRAN to identify all
computer-related requirements for 2010.

21. (SBU) NAS and DIRAN coordinated the transfer of explosives from
Sibate to the new Facatativa Ammunition Bunker. NAS and DIRAN's
police weapons section completed a study of weapons, ammunition,
and explosives requirements for 2010.

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22. (SBU) DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) units seized more
than 2 metric tons of cocaine, 130 kgs of heroin and arrested 44
people at Colombia's air and seaports during December. At the
Bogota airport, 426.5 kgs of cocaine and 0.1 kgs of heroin were
seized and 30 people arrested. At the Pereira airport, 10.2 kgs of
cocaine were seized and one person was arrested. At Cali's Palmira
airport, 17.1 kgs of cocaine, 1.3 kgs of heroin and five people
arrested. At Medellin's Rionegro airport, 2.07 kgs of cocaine were
seized and one person was arrested. At Cartagena's airport, 1.7
kgs of cocaine and 1 kg of heroin were seized, and three people
arrested. In Buenaventura's port, 927 kgs of cocaine and one
metric ton of marijuana were seized. In Cartagena's port, 185 kgs
of cocaine were seized. In Santa Marta's port, 14 kgs of cocaine
were seized. In Uraba's port area, 358.7 kgs of cocaine were
seized and in Barranquilla's port 130 kgs of cocaine and 127 kgs of
heroin were seized. Canine antidrug units participated in four
cases including one at Colombia's southern border in Ipiales, where
DIRAN units seized 10 kgs of heroin.

23. (SBU) ICE polygraph examiner conducted polygraph exams on 80
members of DIRAN's interdiction, intelligence, ports and airports
units. 45 passed the exam, 33 failed, and 2 exams had inconclusive
results. The DIRAN Polygraph Unit also supported DIRAN Internal
Affairs Group with investigations against air and seaport


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24. (SBU) The squadrons spent much of December deployed throughout
the country to bolster security for increased travel during the
holiday season. In response to the kidnapping of Caqueta's
governor, the CNP deployed 212 Carabineros policemen from Flandes
airfield in Tolima to Florencia, Caqueta. 176 were new graduates
of the basic course and 36 were members of Carabineros Mobile
Squadron (EMCAR) 48, a national squadron. During December the
Carabineros captured 137 people, 6 FARC/ELN, 28 criminal bands
members, 6 narcotraffickers, 97 common criminals and 80 weapons.
The squadrons also seized 289 gallons of liquid precursors, 485 kgs
of solid precursors and destroyed 11 labs.

25. (SBU) The school at Pijaos graduated countermining, designated
marksman, basic medic, and rural-operations courses in December.
The school also continued training a new rural interdiction group
in airmobile and water operations.

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26. (SBU) Out of 1,644 tracks over Colombia, four aircraft were
declared Unknown, Assumed Suspect (UAS). The Colombian Air Force
and CNP located one of the aircraft shortly after landing, although
the crew set the aircraft on fire and escaped the area. Of the
other three, one exited Colombian airspace before it was
intercepted, the GOC did not respond to one because it was outside
their range when it was detected, and one was never located. On
December 31, 2009, the ABD program was nationalized. All ABD
assets were transferred to the GOC and the Colombian Air Force
assumed responsibility for maintenance, logistics, and program
operations. MILGP will now assume Embassy administration of the
ABD program, with NAS assisting during the transition over the next
few months. Illegal flights detected decreased from 657 in 2003,
the first year of the ABD program, to 32 in all of 2009, a 95
percent reduction.




27. (SBU) In December, the antinarcotics police received 601
complaints, closed 141 cases, compensated 8 complainants
approximately $3,829 USD, and initiated payments to 47 farmers in
Arauca, Putumayo and Narino.

28. (SBU) Chris Kraul's article, "Top Guns of Tumaco Keep Coca
Crops in Check," was published on December 16 in the LA Times. The
full article can be found online at: la-fg-coca-pilot16-200

29. (SBU) On December 1, NAS' environmental scientist spoke to
approximately 100 students from the Colegio Liceo Boston school in
northern Bogota to explain the environmental damages caused by
illicit crop production. This new outreach activity complements
our current efforts by focusing on students who may not have
knowledge of the detrimental environmental effects caused by drug

30. (SBU) NAS and a Colombian delegation consisting of the CNP,
National Institute of Livestock and Rural Development (ICA), the
Minister of Interior, of Environment, and the Dangerous Drugs
Directorate (DNE), traveled to Villavicencio, Meta to conduct
consultations with Arara Bacati-Lagos de Jamaicuru community
leaders from Vaupes. This was the first meeting of a 2-part
process, where the police and DNE explained the aerial eradication
program and the consultation process. At first, the indigenous
community was skeptical to spray because of the alleged
environmental harms caused by glyphosate, however, ICA thoroughly
explained glyphosate, its use, and studies concluding glyphosate
caused minimal harm to human health. The delegation will return to
Meta in January to finish the consultation process.

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31. (SBU) The Ministry of Defense's (MOD) Humanitarian Attention
Program for the Demobilized (PAHD) has received 20,555 combatants
since 2002, including 157 insurgents in December and 2,638 total in
2009 as compared to 3,461 in 2008. 2,128 FARC members demobilized
in 2009, down almost 30 percent from 3,027 in 2008. Although ELN
demobilization slowed in the second half of 2009, a record 492
demobilizations was reached, 20 percent more than 2008.

32. (SBU) The PAHD launched two major holiday events designed to
spur demobilization and hamper recruitment by illegal groups in the
communities of La Macarena, Meta Department and Tibu, Norte de
Santander Department. The community of Tibu, just 6 kilometers
from the Venezuelan border, was thrilled by a Vallenato concert by
multi-Latin Grammy winner Peter Manjares who performed his biggest
hits and alluded to themes of peace and demobilization. The
anti-illegal recruitment message was conveyed during both events by
humorists Justo Franco and Camilo Cifuentes from the popular

Colombian television show "S????bados Felices." Micro-soccer
tournaments and peace parades by local school children were also
prominent aspects of the events.

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33. (SBU) After five failed attempts to prohibit the possession and
use of a minimum dose of drugs, on December 9 President Uribe
succeeded in passing a bill through the Colombian Congress amending
the Constitution and repealing a 1994 Constitutional Court judgment
that permitted possession of a minimum dose for personal
consumption (septel to follow). President Uribe is touting the
amendment as a significant step forward in the GOC's fight against
the growing problem of "micro-trafficking" and drug consumption in

34. (SBU) NAS coordinated with DIRAN personnel to establish Drug
Abuse Resistance Training (DARE) programs in the CSDI zone of
Tumaco. The outreach is aimed at fostering stronger relations
between the CNP and local communities and will be integrated with
NAS' Base Security course in Tumaco which commences in February.

© Scoop Media

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