Drug Control:

Enforcement Efforts in Burma Are Not Effective

NSIAD-89-197: Published: Sep 11, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S.-supported anti-narcotics program in Burma, under which the Department of State supplied aircraft and other equipment for such activities as narcotics interdiction and aerial eradication of opium poppies.

GAO found that: (1) the United States suspended its assistance programs in 1988 after Burma violently suppressed public demonstrations for political and economic reform; (2) prior to program suspension, State had sought expanded anti-narcotics assistance for Burma; (3) political and civil unrest, economic underdevelopment, and narcotics-related corruption hampered Burmese narcotics control efforts, which did not keep pace with the dramatic increase in opium production between 1985 and 1988; (4) although State did not collect adequate data to determine how Burma used assistance for anti-narcotics objectives, it did determine that Burma inefficiently used aerial eradication resources; (5) Burma did not follow recommended health precautions when using an herbicide for aerial eradication and did not allow State to adequately monitor spray operations; (6) the long-term health effects of the herbicide used during aerial eradication are unknown; (7) further eradication and enforcement efforts would not significantly reduce Burmese opium production unless combined with economic development and political settlement activities; and (8) State believed that Burma would more efficiently use resources as it gained experience but did not plan to reinstate the program.

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