Customs Service:

Drug Interdiction Efforts

GGD-96-189BR: Published: Sep 26, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Customs Service's drug interdiction efforts, focusing on: (1) the key elements in Customs' drug interdiction program; (2) enhancements to Operation Hard Line; and (3) how Customs measures the effectiveness of its interdiction efforts.

GAO found that: (1) the Offices of Field Operations and Investigations are the key organizational elements in Customs' drug interdiction program; (2) these offices employ about 11,000 inspectors, special agents, and other staff to conduct inspections and investigations at and between ports using canines and various types of equipment; (3) Customs' Operation Hard Line emphasizes reducing border violence and drug smuggling by intensifying inspections, improving facilities, and using the latest technology; (4) the Operation has been expanded to encompass the southern tier of the United States; (5) between 1990 and 1997, Customs' drug interdiction budget has averaged about $500 million per year; (6) in 1995, Customs' drug interdiction budget comprised about 38 percent of the federal drug control budget; (7) most of these funds were spent on employees' salaries and related benefits and new detection equipment; (8) Customs uses both traditional and nontraditional methods to measure the effectiveness of its interdiction efforts; (9) although Customs has developed eight nontraditional measures to track the impact of its drug interdiction efforts, only one has been fully implemented; (10) Customs is designing a program that will measure compliance with all laws it is responsible for enforcing; and (11) Customs plans to implement the program at major air and land ports and use the program as a baseline for measuring how effective inspectors target smugglers entering these ports.

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