Drug Control:

U.S. Drug Interdiction Issues in Latin America

T-NSIAD-95-32: Published: Oct 7, 1994. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 1994.

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GAO discussed U.S. drug interdiction efforts in Latin America, focusing on the U.S. decision to stop sharing with certain countries real-time detection and monitoring information that could be used in shooting down civilian aircraft suspected of transporting illegal drugs. GAO noted that: (1) the Department of Defense (DOD) has halted the sharing of aircraft tracking information to examine the legal questions involved in the sharing of that information; (2) the impact of this decision on the flow of drugs from Peru to Colombia is unclear; (3) pilots flying between Peru and Colombia have changed their routes and modes of operation, since there is little fear of interception by U.S. and Peruvian forces as long as detection capabilities remain negligible and there is no sharing of information; (4) the policy to not share information has caused Drug Enforcement Administration officials to forgo law enforcement operations against illegal drug activities; (5) the policy has reduced the costs and risks associated with drug trafficking activities in Peru; (6) drug traffickers quickly adapt to law enforcement efforts by changing their routes and modes of operation to elude interdiction; (7) DOD detection and monitoring efforts are costly and have limited benefits for U.S. drug interdiction efforts; and (8) some level of interdiction is needed to demonstrate U.S. resolve against illegal drug trafficking activities.

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