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DROP IN U.S. DRUG AID IS BLAMED FOR FAILURE

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Decreasing U.S. anti-drug aid to Mexico and ineffective Mexican drug control agencies are partly to blame for unsuccessful efforts to stop drug trafficking during the Clinton administration, congressional auditors say.

Cocaine seizures and drug-related arrests in Mexico have declined significantly since 1992, the General Accounting Office said in a report released Thursday."Overall, U.S. and Mexican interdiction efforts have had little, if any, impact on the overall flow of drugs through Mexico into the United States," said Benjamin F. Nelson, director of international relations and trade issues for the General Accounting Office.

Mexico is the primary transit country for cocaine entering the United States from South America, Nelson told a House subcommittee meeting Thursday.

Up to 70 percent of the 300 tons of cocaine entering the United States comes through Mexico, the GAO said. Mexico also supplies 20 percent to 30 percent of the heroin, and up to 80 percent of the foreign-grown marijuana reaching the United States, it said.

The report cited several problems with drug interdiction in Mexico, including pervasive corruption of key institutions, economic and political problems and limited anti-drug and law enforcement capabilities.

Another factor named in the report is a reduction in U.S. counternarcotics aid to Mexico - from $45 million in fiscal 1992 to about $2.6 million last year.

The GAO noted that a 1993 presidential directive refocused U.S. drug control policy to stopping cocaine at its source of production in South America.