printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

2011 INCSR: Introduction

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
March 3, 2011



Legislative Basis for the INCSR

The Department of State’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) has been prepared in accordance with section 489 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (the "FAA," 22 U.S.C. § 2291). The 2011 INCSR, published in March 2011, covers the year January 1 to December 31, 2010 and is published in two volumes, the second of which covers money laundering and financial crimes. In addition to addressing the reporting requirements of section 489 of the FAA (as well as sections 481(d)(2) and 484(c) of the FAA and section 804 of the Narcotics Control Trade Act of 1974, as amended), the INCSR provides the factual basis for the designations contained in the President’s report to Congress on the major drug-transit or major illicit drug producing countries initially set forth in section 591 of the Kenneth M. Ludden Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2002 (P.L. 107-115) (the "FOAA"), and now made permanent pursuant to section 706 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (P.L. 107-228) (the "FRAA").

Section 706 of the FRAA requires that the President submit an annual report no later than September 15 identifying each country determined by the President to be a major drug-transit country or major illicit drug producing country. The President is also required in that report to identify any country on the majors list that has "failed demonstrably . . . to make substantial efforts" during the previous 12 months to adhere to international counternarcotics agreements and to take certain counternarcotics measures set forth in U.S. law. U.S. assistance under the current foreign operations appropriations act may not be provided to any country designated as having "failed demonstrably" unless the President determines that the provision of such assistance is vital to U.S. national interests or that the country, at any time after the President’s initial report to Congress, has made "substantial efforts" to comply with the counternarcotics conditions in the legislation. This prohibition does not affect humanitarian, counternarcotics, and certain other types of assistance that are authorized to be provided notwithstanding any other provision of law.

The FAA requires a report on the extent to which each country or entity that received assistance under chapter 8 of Part I of the Foreign Assistance Act in the past two fiscal years has "met the goals and objectives of the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances" (the "1988 UN Drug Convention"). FAA § 489(a)(1)(A).

Several years ago, pursuant to The Combat Methamphetamine Enforcement Act (CMEA) (The USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act 2005, Title VII, P.L. 109-177), amending sections 489 and 490 of the Foreign Assistance Act (22 USC 2291h and 2291) section 722, the INCSR was expanded to include reporting on the five countries that export the largest amounts of methamphetamine precursor chemicals, as well as the five countries importing the largest amounts of these chemicals and which have the highest rate of diversion of the chemicals for methamphetamine production. This expanded reporting, which also appears in this year’s INCSR and will appear in each subsequent annual INCSR report, also includes additional information on efforts to control methamphetamine precursor chemicals, as well as estimates of legitimate demand for these methamphetamine precursors, prepared by most parties to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and submitted to the International Narcotics Control Board. The CMEA also requires a Presidential determination by March 1 of each year on whether the five countries that legally exported and the five countries that legally imported the largest amount of precursor chemicals (under FAA section 490) have cooperated with the United States to prevent these substances from being used to produce methamphetamine or have taken adequate steps on their own to achieve full compliance with the 1988 UN Drug Control Convention. This determination may be exercised by the Secretary of State pursuant to Executive Order 12163 and by the Deputy Secretary of State pursuant to State Department Delegation of Authority 245.

Although the Convention does not contain a list of goals and objectives, it does set forth a number of obligations that the parties agree to undertake. Generally speaking, it requires the parties to take legal measures to outlaw and punish all forms of illicit drug production, trafficking, and drug money laundering, to control chemicals that can be used to process illicit drugs, and to cooperate in international efforts to these ends. The statute lists actions by foreign countries on the following issues as relevant to evaluating performance under the 1988 UN Drug Convention: illicit cultivation, production, distribution, sale, transport and financing, and money laundering, asset seizure, extradition, mutual legal assistance, law enforcement and transit cooperation, precursor chemical control, and demand reduction.

In attempting to evaluate whether countries and certain entities are meeting the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the Department has used the best information it has available. The 2011 INCSR covers countries that range from major drug producing and drug-transit countries, where drug control is a critical element of national policy, to small countries or entities where drug issues or the capacity to deal with them are minimal. The reports vary in the extent of their coverage. For key drug-control countries, where considerable information is available, we have provided comprehensive reports. For some smaller countries or entities where only limited information is available, we have included whatever data the responsible post could provide.

The country chapters report upon actions taken - including plans, programs, and, where applicable, timetables - toward fulfillment of Convention obligations. Because the 1988 UN Drug Convention’s subject matter is so broad and availability of information on elements related to performance under the Convention varies widely within and among countries, the Department’s views on the extent to which a given country or entity is meeting the goals and objectives of the Convention are based on the overall response of the country or entity to those goals and objectives. Reports will often include discussion of foreign legal and regulatory structures. Although the Department strives to provide accurate information, this report should not be used as the basis for determining legal rights or obligations under U.S. or foreign law.

Some countries and other entities are not yet parties to the 1988 UN Drug Convention; some do not have status in the United Nations and cannot become parties. For such countries or entities, we have nonetheless considered actions taken by those countries or entities in areas covered by the Convention as well as plans (if any) for becoming parties and for bringing their legislation into conformity with the Convention’s requirements. Other countries have taken reservations, declarations, or understandings to the 1988 UN Drug Convention or other relevant treaties; such reservations, declarations, or understandings are generally not detailed in this report. For some of the smallest countries or entities that have not been designated by the President as major illicit drug producing or major drug-transit countries, the Department has insufficient information to make a judgment as to whether the goals and objectives of the Convention are being met. Unless otherwise noted in the relevant country chapters, the Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) considers all countries and other entities with which the United States has bilateral narcotics agreements to be meeting the goals and objectives of those agreements.

Information concerning counternarcotics assistance is provided, pursuant to section 489(b) of the FAA, in section entitled "U.S. Government Assistance."

Major Illicit Drug Producing, Drug-Transit, Significant Source, Precursor Chemical, and Money Laundering Countries

Section 489(a)(3) of the FAA requires the INCSR to identify:

(A) major illicit drug producing and major drug-transit countries;

(B) major sources of precursor chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics; or

(C) major money laundering countries.

These countries are identified below.

Major Illicit Drug Producing and Major Drug-Transit Countries

A major illicit drug producing country is one in which:

(A) 1,000 hectares or more of illicit opium poppy is cultivated or harvested during a year;

(B) 1,000 hectares or more of illicit coca is cultivated or harvested during a year; or

(C) 5,000 hectares or more of illicit cannabis is cultivated or harvested during a year, unless the President determines that such illicit cannabis production does not significantly affect the United States. FAA § 481(e)(2).

A major drug-transit country is one:

(A) that is a significant direct source of illicit narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances significantly affecting the United States; or

(B) through which are transported such drugs or substances. FAA § 481(e)(5).

The following major illicit drug producing and/or drug-transit countries were identified and notified to Congress by the President on September 15, 2010, consistent with section 706(1) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228):

Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

Of these 20 countries, Burma, Bolivia, and Venezuela were designated by the President as having “failed demonstrably” during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and take the measures set forth in section 489(a)(1) of the FAA. The President determined, however, in accordance with provisions of Section 706(3)(A) of the FRAA, that continued support for bilateral programs in Bolivia and limited programs in Venezuela are vital to the national interests of the United States.

Major Precursor Chemical Source Countries

The following countries and jurisdictions have been identified to be major sources of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics:

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Information is provided pursuant to section 489 of the FAA in the section entitled "Chemical Controls."

Major Money Laundering Countries

A major money laundering country is defined by statute as one "whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking." FAA § 481(e)(7). However, the complex nature of money laundering transactions today makes it difficult in many cases to distinguish the proceeds of narcotics trafficking from the proceeds of other serious crime. Moreover, financial institutions engaging in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds of other serious crime are vulnerable to narcotics-related money laundering. This year’s list of major money laundering countries recognizes this relationship by including all countries and other jurisdictions, whose financial institutions engage in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from all serious crime. The following countries/jurisdictions have been identified this year in this category:

Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Somalia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Further information on these countries/jurisdictions and United States money laundering policies, as required by section 489 of the FAA, is set forth in Volume II of the INCSR in the section entitled "Money Laundering and Financial Crimes."


Presidential Determination


The White House
September 15, 2010


Presidential Determination No. 2010-16


Pursuant to Section 706(1) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (P.L. 107-228) (FRAA), I hereby identify the following countries as major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

A country’s presence on the Majors List is not necessarily an adverse reflection of its government’s counternarcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States. Consistent with the statutory definition of a major drug transit or drug producing country set forth in section 481(e) (2) and (5) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA), one of the reasons that major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries are placed on the list is the combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced despite the concerned government’s most assiduous enforcement measures.

Pursuant to Section 706 (2) (A) of the FRAA, I hereby designate Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela as countries that have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and take the measures set forth in section 489 (a) (1) of the FAA. Accompanying this report are justifications for the determinations on Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela, as required by Section 706 (2) (B).

I have also determined, in accordance with provisions of Section 706 (3) (A) of the FRAA, that continued support for bilateral programs in Bolivia and limited programs in Venezuela are vital to the national interests of the United States.

Afghanistan continues to be the world’s largest producer of opium poppy and a major source of heroin. The United States Government recognized the Government of Afghanistan’s ongoing commitment to combating narcotics and the range of initiatives undertaken in this regard under the auspices of the Government of President Karzai. A noteworthy achievement is the reduction of opium poppy cultivation from 157,000 hectares in 2008, to 131,000 hectares in 2009, a 17 percent decline.

The connections between opium production, the resulting narcotics trade, corruption, and the insurgency continue to be among the most challenging obstacles to reducing the drug threat in Afghanistan. Poppy cultivation remains largely confined to provinces in the south and west where security problems greatly impede counternarcotics efforts. Nearly all significant poppy cultivation occurs in insecure areas with active insurgent elements, although progress has been made in stabilizing these regions. Nevertheless, the country must demonstrate even greater political will and programmatic effort to combat opium trafficking and production nationwide.

Pakistan is a major transit country for opiates and hashish for markets around the world, especially for narcotics originating in Afghanistan. Pakistan also is a major transit country for precursor chemicals illegally smuggled to Afghanistan where they are used to process heroin.

Pakistan is still challenged by extremist groups who have power over parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, particularly where most of Pakistan’s poppy is grown. These extremist groups are also found in settled areas of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province such as its capital, Peshawar, and the Swat Valley. The Government of Pakistan is forced to divert law enforcement resources and equipment from poppy eradication efforts to contest these incursions.

The Government of Pakistan remains concerned about opium poppy cultivation in Pakistan and is working to return to poppy-free status soon. A joint U.S.-Pakistan survey in 2009 estimated that 1,779 hectares of opium poppies were under cultivation in Pakistan, approximately 130 hectares less than was under cultivation in the country the previous year.

The range of U.S.-Pakistan initiatives, which include programs to defeat the insurgency on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and prevent terrorist safe-havens, have the spin-off effect of helping Pakistan to fortify its land borders and seacoast against drug trafficking and terrorists, support expanded regional cooperation and encourages Pakistan to return to poppy-free status. United States Government support focuses especially on upgrading the institutional capacity of Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies.

Although Brazil no longer qualifies as a major transit country to the United States, narcotics control in this country which occupies such a large landmass in the hemisphere is of serious concern. Dynamic drug trafficking trends from Brazil are directed primarily at other countries, especially to and through Africa, and onward to Europe. For example, seizures of maritime vessels that departed Brazil in 2009, primarily to European destinations, recorded an unprecedented 2.2 metric tons of cocaine. With its vast terrain and shared borders with so many other countries, Brazil faces unique challenges in terms of patrolling so much illegal land, air and sea activity. Brazil is seeking to reduce its growing domestic drug use at home, especially the use of cocaine, cocaine base and crack cocaine, primarily from Bolivia; and marijuana. The United States recognizes Brazil’s emergence as a forward-leaning regional leader for cooperation among neighboring states to thwart drug production, trafficking, and use. Like all hemispheric countries, it is important for Brazil to place narcotics and crime control at the top of its national security agenda to thwart these negative influences.

As Mexico and Colombia continue to apply pressure on drug traffickers, the countries of Central America are increasingly targeted for trafficking of cocaine and other drugs primarily destined for the United States. This growing problem resulted in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua meeting the threshold for inclusion in the Majors List. Panama and Guatemala, already on the Majors List, are especially vulnerable because of their geographic location. Enhanced and effective counternarcotics measures are needed to thwart smugglers from moving illegal drugs through the seven countries on the isthmus, as well as the waters along the region’s long Atlantic and Pacific coastlines between the coca producing Andes to the south and determined and flexible criminal trafficking organizations based in Mexico. United States Government support through the Central American Regional Security Initiative provides Central American countries with the opportunity to boost their rule of law institutions and promote greater regional law enforcement cooperation to counter drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.

United States and international data shows a continued strengthening of illegal drug trafficking between Latin America and East Africa, especially via Brazil and Venezuela, with a considerable portion of illegal product destined for Europe. Nigeria, a worldwide drug trafficking focal point, makes counternarcotics a top national security concern for the country, but Nigeria’s efforts are often thwarted by lack of resources, institutional capability and corruption. A number of U.S. projects in Nigeria and other West African counties are aimed at building limited capacity to investigate and prosecute organized drug traffickers.

Drug traffickers continue to move significant quantities of cocaine through West Africa. For example, Gambian officials recently discovered over 2 tons of cocaine being stockpiled in the country. The crash of a Boeing 727 in Mali, which was believed to be carrying cocaine, points to new trafficking methods being used in the region. Drug trafficking remains a threat to security, good governance, and – increasingly, public health in West Africa. Many countries in the region have weak criminal justice institutions and are vulnerable to corruption. The facilitation of drug trafficking by government officials continues to be a significant challenge, especially in Guinea-Bissau. The United States is encouraged that some countries are actively investigating illegal drug traffickers. Liberia, for example, worked closely with the United States to arrest suspects and deliver them into U.S. custody to stand trial.

The assistance of international donors and organizations to West African governments to improve their counternarcotics capability is increasingly urgent. The United States fully supports all efforts to promote, preserve, and protect the stability and positive growth of countries in West Africa.

The United States continues to maintain a strong and productive law enforcement relationship with Canada. Both countries are making significant efforts to disrupt the two-way flow of drugs, bulk currency, and other contraband. Canadian criminal groups continue to produce large quantities of MDMA (ecstasy) and high-potency marijuana that is trafficked to the United States. The frequent mixing of methamphetamine and other unknown substances into pills marketed as MDMA by Canada-based criminal groups poses an emerging public health risk to the United States, as well as in Canada.

The stealth with which both natural and synthetic drugs including marijuana, MDMA, and methamphetamine are produced in Canada and trafficked to the United States, makes it extremely difficult to measure the overall impact of such transshipments from this shared border country, although U.S. law enforcement agencies record considerable seizures of these substances from Canada.

At the same time, the Drug Enforcement Administration reports that of the amount of MDMA seized in the United States, about half was traced to Canada as its country of origin in 2009.

You are hereby authorized and directed to submit this determination under Section 706 of the FRAA, transmit it to the Congress, and publish it in the Federal Register.

Barack Obama

Memorandum of Justification for Presidential Determination of Major Illicit Drug Transit or Illicit Drug Producing Countries for FY 2011


Burma has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under Section 489 (a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. While Burmese law enforcement have had some successes, Burma’s drug enforcement authorities have not suppressed drug production and trafficking from the cease fire enclaves of certain ethnic minorities, primarily the region controlled by the United Wa State Army. The Government of Burma does not control those areas, and some Burmese Government officials are implicated in the drug trade. In addition, opium cultivation, long on the decline in most regions of Burma, has been rising in the Shan State, with minimal response from the Burmese regime. Due to these deficiencies in drug law enforcement, Burma has been unable to meet its international counternarcotics obligations.

From 2006 to 2009, opium cultivation in Burma increased from 21,500 hectares to 31,700 hectares, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). There continues to be an increase in production and transshipment of synthetic drugs, such as amphetamine-type stimulants, predominately in the Shan State and border areas controlled by ethnic minority groups. Unchallenged in their base areas, criminal gangs continue to manufacture dangerous drugs and traffic those drugs to surrounding countries. Methamphetamine pills and, increasingly, the crystal form of methamphetamine are the most important drugs exported from Burma. Burma’s illicit methamphetamine exported to Thailand has a devastating impact on drug users, and this substance is having a growing negative impact on China and the countries of Southeast Asia. Burma’s lawless border regions and endemic corruption help facilitate the diversion and trafficking of precursor chemicals.

In terms of its enforcement efforts, Burma has eradicated narcotics operations of smaller groups such as the Kokang Chinese, but other more potent groups, such as the Wa, continue to operate. Burmese law enforcement seized larger quantities of methamphetamine, precursors and heroin in 2009. Burma’s seizures included the largest heroin seizure (762 kg) ever made in Southeast Asia, the seizure of 13.1 million methamphetamine tablets, and more than 20 metric tons of chemical precursors. However, methamphetamine and heroin continued to flow out of Burma’s ethnic minority regions to the major surrounding countries.

It has been six years since the last U.S.-Burma joint opium yield survey, previously an annual exercise. In the absence of that survey, an annual survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is used to track opium cultivation and production. Opium yield surveys are clearly in the interest of both sides to track the implications of policy steps taken and to gauge future action based on concrete facts rather than estimates.

The number of injecting drug users and regular consumers of methamphetamine-type stimulants in Burma is increasing, and intravenous drug users contribute to the expansion of Burma's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Burma has one of the most serious problems of illegal drug use in Asia. However, Burma’s prevention and drug treatment programs suffer from inadequate resources and a lack of high-level government support.

Memorandum of Justification for Presidential Determination of Major Illicit Drug Transit or Illicit Drug Producing Countries for FY 2011


The United States remains committed to the bilateral dialogue designed to establish the basis for a cooperative and productive relationship going forward, and especially to agree on joint actions to be taken regarding issues of mutual interest, including counternarcotics.

We recognize that the government of Bolivia has taken some steps to combat the production and trafficking of illegal narcotics. However, during the past year Bolivia failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements or to take the counternarcotics measures set forth in Section 489(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA).

Over the past 12 months, the United States maintained its counternarcotics support for Government of Bolivia counternarcotics efforts. While the Government of Bolivia’s efforts, particularly those benefitting from U.S. support, continued to achieve some goals in interdiction and eradication, the Bolivian Government failed to diminish the production of coca leaf and cocaine products.

The United States Government estimated that, in 2009, net coca cultivation in Bolivia was approximately 35,000 hectares, nearly 9.4 percent higher than 2008 and the highest estimated level in a decade. In 2009, Bolivia eradicated 6,341 hectares of coca, about 1,100 more hectares than the previous year. These results, while significant, have not resulted in a net reduction in the cultivation of coca in Bolivia.

The United States Government estimated that Bolivia’s potential cocaine hydrochloride production remained at 195 metric tons in 2009. Bolivian police seized approximately 27 metric tons of finished cocaine and coca paste in 2009, a figure slightly lower than 2008. Law enforcement in Bolivia also reported the destruction of 4,865 cocaine base labs, roughly the same number as in 2008. In 2009, the number of cocaine hydrochloride labs destroyed increased to 16, as compared to seven in the previous year. In large part because of the Bolivian Government’s January 2009 decision to expel U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials from Bolivia, the United States Government is unable to verify this data. The trends track the rising prevalence of Colombian-style manufacturing methods and the increasing presence of Columbian and Mexican drug traffickers in Bolivia.

The Government of Bolivia continued its efforts to obtain counternarcotics assistance from other countries, especially Brazil. These efforts have not addressed the gap in operational support and enhanced investigative capabilities to target and dismantle drug trafficking organizations created by the government’s expulsion of the DEA.

In addition, Bolivia has not implemented some of the controls outlined by the international counterdrug conventions. Strict licensing for coca growers is not enforced, illicit coca crops are not seized at the time of harvest, and illicit coca markets are not closed. The Government of Bolivia also failed to develop and execute a national drug strategy consistent with its international obligations.

The Bolivian government promotes a policy of “social control” of illicit and excess coca cultivation. The policy has diminished violence, but it has not yielded reductions in excess production. The Government of Bolivia maintained its intent to increase the amount of coca it deems licit to 20,000 hectares, in violation of its own laws and international obligations.

The total effort by the Government of Bolivia over the past 12 months falls short of its obligations to the international community as outlined in the United Nations and bilateral agreements. In accordance with Section 481(e)(4) of the FAA, the determination of having failed demonstrably does not result in the withholding of humanitarian and counternarcotics assistance. It is in the vital national interest of the United States to grant a waiver so that funding for other assistance programs may also be allowed to continue.

Memorandum of Justification for Presidential Determination of Major Illicit Drug Transit or Illicit Drug Producing Countries for FY 2010


Venezuela has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under international counternarcotics measures set forth in Section 489(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.

This determination takes into account actions taken by the Government of Venezuela during the past 12 months. Despite the opportunity for improved collaboration which could have been provided by the return of Ambassadors to Caracas and Washington, Venezuela has not responded to U.S. Government offers to work in a consistent, rigorous, and effective way towards greater cooperation on counternarcotics. Venezuela’s President and Minister of Justice continue to refer to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a drug trafficking organization. Venezuela never replied to an invitation by the Office of National Drug Control Policy extended in September 19, 2009, to send experts to the Marijuana Potency Monitoring Program in Oxford, Mississippi. In 2009, the U.S. Ambassador extended an invitation to Venezuela’s National Anti-Drug Office (ONA) Director to discuss developing a mechanism for exchanging information on drug smuggling flights for Venezuelan interdiction. To date there has been no response.

Venezuela remains an important transshipment point for drugs bound for the United States and Europe and increasingly to West Africa. Corruption within the Venezuelan government and a weak and politicized judicial system contribute to the ease with which illicit drugs transit Venezuela. Trafficking through Venezuela increased from an estimated 50 metric tons of cocaine in 2004 to an estimated 143 metric tons in 2009.

While the ONA publicly reports seizures of illicit drugs, the Venezuelan government does not share the necessary data or evidence needed to verify seizures or the destruction of illicit drugs. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has received permission from the Government of Venezuela to board suspect Venezuelan-flagged vessels operating in the Caribbean. Venezuelan authorities require the return of confiscated vessels, people and any contraband located during these operations. There is no exchange of information regarding drug trafficking organizations, the prosecution of the suspects or the destruction of the drugs seized.

The Venezuelan Government took some positive steps regarding counternarcotics issues during the past year, including: the July 13, 2010, deportation of three significant fugitives to the United States to stand trial for drug trafficking offenses; the purchase of aircraft, radars and patrol vessels purportedly intended for combating drug trafficking; the destruction of numerous clandestine airstrips; and the transfer of several drug traffickers to Colombia, the United States, and Europe. However, Venezuela remains a pre-eminent transit country for cocaine shipments. The Venezuelan Navy and Coast Guard did not report making any at-sea drug seizures on their own in the last 12 months. The number of illicit flights that depart Venezuela to supply drug trafficking organizations remains unchanged, indicating that the new aircraft and radars are not effectively employed.

In addition, there continue to be credible reports that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have established camps in Venezuela along its border with Colombia. The ability to operate freely in western Venezuela would facilitate the FARC’s well-established involvement in narcotics trafficking. The Venezuelan Government merely denies the reports and has refused to investigate them further or to permit international bodies to investigate them. In light of this lack of action, questions are legitimately raised as to whether the Venezuelan Government and armed forces are tolerating this presence. Individual members of Venezuela’s National Guard and Police are credibly reported to both facilitate and be directly involved in narcotics trafficking.

Venezuela’s efforts fall short of its obligations to the international community as outlined in the relevant United Nations Conventions and bilateral agreements. A determination of having failed demonstrably does not affect funding for humanitarian and counternarcotics programs. A limited U.S. vital national interest waiver to Venezuela will permit funding for other programs critical to U.S. foreign policy interests.

Back to Top

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.