In the 1990s, the United States operated a program in Colombia and Peru called Air Bridge Denial (ABD). The ABD program targeted drug traffickers that transport illicit drugs through the air by forcing down suspicious aircraft, using lethal force if necessary. The program was suspended in April 2001 when a legitimate civilian aircraft was shot down in Peru and two U.S. citizens were killed. The program was restarted in Colombia in August 2003 after additional safeguards were established. To date, the United States has provided about $68 million in support and plans to provide about $26 million in fiscal year 2006. We examined whether the ABD program's new safeguards were being implemented and its progress in attaining U.S. and Colombian objectives.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of State||1. To help in assessing whether the ABD program is making progress toward meeting its overall goal of reducing illegal drug trafficking in Colombia's airspace, the Secretary of State should work with Colombia to define performance measures with benchmarks and timeframes. These performance measures, as well as results, should be included in the annual report to the Congress regarding the ABD program.|
|Department of State||2. Because the police are seldom involved in ABD missions, the Secretary of State should encourage Colombia to seek ways to more actively involve the National Police.|
|Department of State||3. Because many of the suspicious aircraft tracks are difficult for Colombia to locate and interdict given the current location of its ABD air bases, the Secretary of State should encourage Colombia to establish ABD air bases closer to the current activity of suspicious aircraft tracks.|