Drug Control:

Impact of DOD's Detection and Monitoring on Cocaine Flow

NSIAD-91-297: Published: Sep 19, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1991.

Additional Materials:


Louis J. Rodrigues
(202) 512-4841


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request and a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed: (1) how the Department of Defense (DOD) implemented its mission as the lead agency for detecting and monitoring air and maritime drug traffic; and (2) the DOD contribution to reducing the supply of drugs entering the United States.

GAO found that: (1) DOD resources have contributed to drug seizures by expanding coverage and allowing suspects to be easily detected, monitored continuously, and handed off to law enforcement agencies; (2) DOD believes that its detection and monitoring efforts have decreased individual shipments and have effectively deterred traffickers from completing their missions; (3) DOD has not achieved its goal of fully integrating its detection and monitoring operations with civilian agencies, since the authorizing legislation for its role does not define the DOD detection and monitoring role and clearly convey its authority to control resources or direct civilian agency operations; (4) DOD concluded that it only had consultation authority and could only integrate detection and monitoring operations when other agencies voluntarily cooperated; (5) although DOD has made progress in integrating operations with other agencies, differing military and civilian operating methods impeded joint planning; (6) in July 1991, DOD reported that it achieved improved integrated operations with other agencies by participating in a new interagency planning process; (7) despite the significant resources DOD has committed to carrying out its detection and monitoring mission, the estimated volume of cocaine entering the United States did not decrease in 1989 or 1990; and (8) enormous drug profits make interdiction losses relatively inconsequential to drug traffickers, and the inability to efficiently detect cocaine conveyances contributed to the failure to reduce cocaine supplies.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 1991, DOD developed a counter-drug technology development plan which is currently being implemented. ONDCP recently established its Counter-drug Technology Assessment Center. These two efforts should address the intent of the recommendation.

    Matter: Changing DOD authority to control the assets and direct the operations of civilian law enforcement agencies for detection and monitoring is unlikely to significantly reduce the flow of cocaine entering the country. Therefore, if Congress plans to increase funding for supply reduction initiatives, it may wish to consider other alternatives discussed in the National Drug Control Strategy, such as research and development for technology to aid law enforcement agencies in finding concealed cocaine.


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Oct 26, 2020

Sep 30, 2020

Sep 10, 2020

Sep 8, 2020

Aug 13, 2020

Jul 29, 2020

Jul 8, 2020

Jun 22, 2020

May 26, 2020

May 12, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here