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

NSIAD-88-73 Published: Jan 11, 1988. Publicly Released: Jan 11, 1988.
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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the joint U.S.-Mexico opium poppy and marijuana aerial eradication program in terms of the extent to which: (1) the program reduced the Mexican poppy and marijuana crops; (2) Mexico effectively used U.S.-provided aircraft and other resources; and (3) formal bilateral agreements provided the ongoing cooperation needed to expeditiously eliminate opium poppies and marijuana in Mexico.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of State The Secretary of State should instruct the Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics Matters to negotiate with the government of Mexico to revise the formal agreements which form the framework of the bilateral program, to include provisions for: (1) developing comprehensive aerial surveys to identify the extent and location of opium poppy and marijuana cultivation; (2) setting annual eradication goals consistent with reasonable standards for aircraft use and availability; and (3) validating and evaluating the program's activities and progress.
Closed – Implemented
While Mexico has not responded to a U.S. proposal presented in February 1989 to launch a comprehensive aerial survey of drug growing regions in Mexico, U.S. and Mexico signed an agreement to fight against narcotics trafficking and drug addiction. Also, in August 1989, U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission meetings established joint workgroups to share and exchange drug efforts information.
Bureau of International Narcotics Matters To avoid the problems which developed because the current maintenance services contract does not clearly define the responsibilities of Mexico's Office of the Attorney General and the contractor, the Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics Matters should negotiate with the Government of Mexico to define the scope of the next contractor's responsibilities and financial accountability for: (1) determining maintenance requirements and maintaining spare parts inventories which are reasonable in relation to the distance of the program from its major suppliers and to the mission and deployment of the air fleet; (2) procuring spare parts and repairs and distributing spare parts; and (3) security of on-hand inventories. Once the contractor's responsibilities and liabilities have been established, the contract should ensure that the contractor is provided with sufficient authority to fulfill its obligations.
Closed – Implemented
The new maintenance services contract dated June 9, 1988, delineates contractor and government of Mexico responsibilities for determining maintenance requirements, procuring spare parts, and inventory security.
Department of State The Secretary of State should not request funding to purchase aircraft for the program in Mexico unless the Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics Matters has determined the: (1) extent of eradication which Mexico's Office of the Attorney General could accomplish if it uses its existing air fleet in accordance with reasonable standards for use and availability; and (2) number and type of additional aircraft, if any, which Mexico's Office of the Attorney General needs to achieve complete crop control.
Closed – Implemented
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico, prior to any request to buy additional aircraft, will evaluate aircraft requirements to carry out the aerial eradication mission.

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Agricultural productionAircraft maintenanceControlled substancesCrime preventionCrop eradicationDrug traffickingForeign economic assistanceHerbicidesInternational agreementsLaw enforcementProgram management