U.S.-Mexico Opium Poppy and Marijuana Aerial Eradication Program

T-NSIAD-87-42: Published: Aug 5, 1987. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 1987.

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GAO discussed the U.S.-Mexico aerial opium poppy and marijuana crop eradication program to determine: (1) the extent to which the program has reduced the amount of heroin and marijuana produced in Mexico and smuggled into the United States; (2) whether Mexico is using U.S. aircraft in a manner which maximizes aerial spraying; and (3) whether the program's bilateral agreements provide an adequate basis for the ongoing cooperation needed. GAO found that: (1) although the program and poor weather caused significant decreases in Mexican heroin and marijuana production between 1977 and 1980, it has increased in recent years and now represents 40 percent of the U.S. supply; (2) because Department of State personnel in Mexico did not develop a standard for flight time devoted to aerial spraying, the aircraft were only flown 48 instead of 80 hours per month; (3) as few as 40 percent of the aircraft were in running order and available for spraying; (4) overloaded repair facilities and poor parts management lengthened repair time and decreased available flight time; and (5) low wages caused shortages and turnover of pilots and mechanics and increased training costs. GAO also found that recent formal agreements between the United States and Mexico do not: (1) address the methodology for comprehensive surveys of the cultivation base; (2) include mutually acceptable annual eradication targets; (3) provide for a mutually acceptable program to measure and verify eradication accomplishments; and (4) provide for a mutually acceptable evaluation and audit program.

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