The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine and was the source of approximately 89 percent of the cocaine seized and subjected to laboratory analysis in the United States in 2019. After dramatic increases from 2012 to 2017 led to record high levels, coca cultivation and pure potential cocaine production stabilized in 2018 and 2019. To facilitate further reduction, the Colombian government continues to counter the production and trafficking of illicit drugs through eradication, interdiction, operations to counter organized crime, and rural security and development efforts.
Key challenges facing Colombia include the cultivation of illicit crops, production and trafficking of illegal drugs, criminal activities and associated violence committed by transnational criminal organizations, a lack of governance in rural areas, corruption, illegal mining, wildlife trafficking, and a vulnerable judicial system.
INL supports the Colombian government’s efforts to reduce coca cultivation, disrupt the production and trafficking of cocaine, and dismantle transnational organized criminal groups. INL builds the capacity of the Colombian National Police (CNP) and other Colombian criminal justice system partners to investigate and prosecute crime more effectively. INL also strengthens Colombia’s capacity to share its considerable security expertise with other countries in the region, an effort that leverages the successes of past U.S. assistance.
The United States and Colombia reaffirmed their enduring partnership at the March 2018 Colombia-U.S. High Level Dialogue, at which they pledged to expand counternarcotics cooperation over the next five years, in recognition of shared interests and responsibilities to achieve a sustained reduction in illegal narcotics trafficking. Colombia and the United States aim to sustainably reduce Colombia’s cocaine production and coca cultivation to 50 percent of 2017 levels by the end of 2023. This goal was reaffirmed at the most recent Counternarcotics Working Group meeting in March 2020.
- Colombia and the United States have collaborated effectively to confront transnational crime for nearly two decades. The United States has made a sustained investment in Colombian peace and security, representing one of the top foreign policy successes of the past half century.
- INL Bogota’s aviation program provides maintenance and logistics supports for U.S. and Colombian-titled fixed-and rotary-wing aircraft to improve and enhance performance of the CNP’s aviation infrastructure and fleet capabilities. In 2019, the aviation fleet flew 17,000 hours in support of interdiction, eradication, and other counternarcotics priorities.
- Through the U.S.-Colombia Action Plan on Regional Security Cooperation (USCAP), Colombian police and military forces export law enforcement capabilities and build regional partnerships by training Central American, Andean, and Caribbean counterparts. In 2013, USCAP supported fewer than thirty activities; in 2019, INL supported over 300 USCAP activities implemented by the CNP and the Colombian Navy; USCAP has trained more than 17,000 police officers since inception.
- With robust enabling support from INL, the Colombian government reported destroying more than 130,000 hectares of coca through forced eradication in 2020, a more than 37 percent increase over the 2019 forced eradication results and the most total eradication since 2012. Also in 2020, Colombian police and military forces seized or assisted in the seizure of a record 579.9 metric tons of cocaine HCl and cocaine base.
- Demonstrating its regional leadership on combatting transnational crime, Colombia led six successful Orion regional maritime interdiction campaigns in 2018-2020 that brought together more than 20 countries and seized more than 200 MT of cocaine. U.S support, including INL assistance, has been critical to the success of Orion.
- Colombian forces maintained pressure on criminal groups, and the Colombian government continued to be a steadfast partner on judicial cooperation, including on extraditions and improving prosecutorial efficiency.
- INL launched three new police engagement projects to assist the CNP in building public trust with communities in key zones of high coca cultivation. These projects are designed to aid the police in establishing a permanent presence in under-governed areas, particularly those vacated by the FARC following the peace accord, to provide public security and bring greater sustainability to eradication efforts over the long-term. INL will also support the CNP in expanding its permanent presence in these areas through police base and station construction and refurbishment projects.