THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON September 15, 2014
Presidential Determination No. 2014-15
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
SUBJECT: Presidential Determination on Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2015
Pursuant to Section 706(1) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228) (FRAA), I hereby identify the following countries as major drug transit and/or major illicit drug producing countries: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.
A country’s presence on the foregoing list is not a 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), the reason 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, even if a government has carried out the most assiduous narcotics control law 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. Included in this report are justifications for the determinations on Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela, as required by Section 706(2)(B) of the FRAA. Explanations for these decisions are published with this determination.
I have also determined, in accordance with provisions of Section 706(3)(A) of the FRAA, that support for programs to aid Burma and Venezuela are vital to the national interests of the United States.
International Framework for Narcotics and Crime Control
This determination highlights significant U.S. domestic drug control issues and foreign assistance approaches to drug control. It also examines policies and programs shared by most countries to counter the destabilizing effects of illegal drugs and transnational organized crime. The combined aim of these undertakings is to foster sustainable citizen security to advance social welfare, safety, and economic prosperity of vulnerable communities around the world.
International cooperation remains the cornerstone for reducing the threat posed by the illegal narcotics trade and related crimes carried out by criminal organizations. The sophisticated and effective operations of organizations challenge law enforcement officials and policy makers everywhere. The essential underpinnings of our unified stance against criminal enterprise are embodied in long-standing international agreements, including the 1961, 1971, and 1988 UN Conventions; the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; and the UN Convention against Corruption. A myriad of regional and sub-regional joint undertakings, such as the 2010 Drug Strategy for the Hemisphere, adopted by the 34 members of the Organization of American States (OAS), mirror the wide-ranging standards of the UN conventions. The frameworks established by the UN conventions are as applicable to the contemporary world as when they were negotiated and signed by the vast majority of UN member states.
The United States shares the view of most countries that the UN drug conventions – without negotiation or amendment – are resilient enough to unify countries that often hold divergent views of the causes of the international narcotics problem, while at the same time providing a framework upon which to build the best solutions to it. The UN drug conventions, which recognize that the suppression of international drug trafficking demands urgent attention and the highest priority, allow sovereign nations the flexibility to develop and adapt new policies and programs in keeping with their own national circumstances while retaining their focus on achieving the conventions’ aim of ensuring the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, preventing abuse and addiction, and suppressing drug trafficking and related criminal activities. The United States supports the view of most countries that revising the UN drug conventions is not a prerequisite to advancing the common and shared responsibility of international cooperation designed to enhance the positive goals we have set to counter illegal drugs and crime.
The Challenge of Opium Poppy Production and Heroin
The 2014 UN World Drug Report states that illegal poppy cultivation and production of heroin and opium and other derivatives are at the top of the list of global drug problems. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the latest United States Government estimates show for the third consecutive year, in Afghanistan, which has the world’s largest opium poppy cultivation, cultivation increased from 180,000 hectares in 2012 to 198,000 hectares in 2013. The opium poppy trade in Afghanistan threatens domestic institutions, subverts the legal economy, and undermines good governance and the capacity of the Afghan people. Although less pronounced, opium poppy cultivation also increased considerably in Burma and Laos; this situation presents similar threats in these countries as those faced by Afghanistan.
In spite of Afghanistan’s crop reduction setbacks, which include a reduction in eradication from 9,672 hectares in 2012 to 7,348 hectares in 2013, U.S. assistance has advanced the country’s counternarcotics capacity in some areas. In particular, there have been positive developments in Afghan programs such as interdiction, prosecutions, treatment services and alternative livelihoods for farmers. All of this has happened in the context of a difficult security situation and entrenched corruption. Still, opium poppy is grown in less than three percent of farmable land; nearly 10 times more is devoted to wheat production.
U.S. support for Afghanistan after 2014 will focus on maintaining established infrastructure and improving security. The United States is also working to secure more bilateral and multilateral assistance from the international community beyond programs that are already in place. This includes support from Canadian and European partners. At the same time, it is in the best interest of countries in the region with high levels of opium-product abuse to support Afghanistan’s counternarcotics efforts. This includes Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia, as well as other nations such as India and China. There is also an increase in transshipments of Afghanistan heroin going to Canada, a development of concern that is being addressed by Canada with support from the United States.
In the past several years, U.S. officials have noted an alarming surge in the use of heroin and are taking many steps to confront this growing domestic problem. Survey results released in 2012 reported that nearly 700,000 American citizens used heroin, as compared to 373,000 in 2007. In the United States, between 2006 and 2010, heroin deaths increased by 45 percent. Today, experts understand that people from various walks of life are abusing opium products. Significant increases have been noted in major U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, San Diego, and Seattle. In the United States, between 2006 and 2011, heroin-involved deaths increased by 110 percent.
The United States is particularly concerned about poppy cultivation in Mexico, the primary supplier of illegal opium derivatives to the United States. According to the Heroin Signature Program program carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), opium poppy products also arrive in the United States from Colombia and Guatemala, although to a lesser extent from these countries than from Mexico. DEA reported a 324 percent increase in heroin seizures at the Mexican border between 2009 and 2013.
The United States is increasing its heroin drug interdiction efforts as one element of a set of measures for confronting the growing problem. Since 2011, more than 4,500 heroin related investigations were opened in the country. Overseas, $110 million in U.S. funds have been provided to Mexican border agencies for inspection equipment and training. Concrete success resulting from this support includes seizure of illegal drugs and currency by Mexican authorities valued at nearly $4 million. Similarly, U.S. foreign assistance helped Colombia seize 379 kilograms of heroin in 2013 and Guatemala eradicated a considerable amount of poppy cultivation in the same year. Working with concerned counterparts, the United States will adjust policy approaches and build upon existing programs, including the Mexico Merida initiative, to counter criminal elements that are creating heroin markets in the United States and reaping growing illegal profits.
Cocaine Production and Use
The 2014 UN World Drug Report reaffirms that Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru continue to cultivate virtually the world’s entire supply of coca for cocaine and related products. The good news is that illegal coca crop production, now approximately 133,700 hectares in the three countries, is at the lowest level since authorities began to establish estimates in 1990. Moreover, global seizures have slightly increased, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The United States is the world’s largest consumer of illegal cocaine, followed by Brazil and certain countries in Europe. Although DEA reports that cocaine availability declined steadily in the United States from 2007 to 2012, the number of cocaine users has remained steady in recent years, according to U.S. surveys.
U.S. law enforcement agencies estimate that about 84 percent of the cocaine entering the United States passes through Central America and Mexico to reach destinations in the United States. Based on a decline in maritime interdiction assets and diminished intelligence, there has been a reduction in the awareness of cocaine transshipments. While recent assessments indicate an increase in cocaine flow in the maritime transit zone, there are conflicting indicators on total cocaine flow and continued success in combatting drug trafficking organizations will require closing awareness gaps.
Various types of U.S. assistance, including numerous programs aimed at supporting national efforts to interdict drugs and target major traffickers, are carried out through the Central American Regional Security Initiative. Similar programs are supported by the United States through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. These programs support national efforts to increase law enforcement capability to confront organized crime and gangs, build judicial sector capacity, and advance economic and social programs for at-risk youth and communities disproportionately affected by illegal drugs and crime.
New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)
Confronting illegal production and consumption of methamphetamine in the United States, with much of the product originating in Mexico, has been compounded by the growing problem of NPS – also described as synthetic designer drugs. This is a dynamic industry that uses chemicals and other substances that are frequently not controlled. According to the 2014 UN World Drug Report, the number of NPS more than doubled over the period 2009-2013. The number of such substances reported to UNODC, almost 500, far exceeds the psychoactive substances already controlled by the UN conventions.
In the United States, DEA secured emergency scheduling of certain substances and statutory changes (The Synthetic Drugs Abuse Prevention Act of 2012), banning many of these substances, but U.S. law enforcement agencies report that substance variations to make NPS are continually appearing, posing a serious threat to public health and unprecedented challenges to drug awareness and treatment programs.
In 2013, the European Commission announced it would strengthen the European Union’s ability to respond to NPS by withdrawing products used to make them from the market. This action followed a report by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction stating that the scale of NPS use is growing dramatically on the continent. In its most recent reports, UNODC highlights the NPS problem in particular. In one significant initiative, UNODC is working to create a network to exchange information on NPS use and related trends. With U.S. assistance, another UNODC program seeks to identify the connections between precursor chemicals and NPS. Much of this action has been proposed in resolutions by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to promote international cooperation in responding to the challenged posed by NPS.
Drug Awareness and Demand Reduction
The international community recognizes that drug use is as much a public health problem as it is a public safety issue. The U.S. National Drug Control Strategy stresses that prevention and treatment must be adapted to the latest scientific knowledge and social services to help individuals overcome their addictions. This approach has been adopted in other countries following the call to member states by the International Narcotics Control Board to integrate abuse prevention into public health, health promotion, and child and youth prevention programs. More than 2,600 specialty courts in the United States have connected over 120,000 people convicted of drug-related offenses with the community services they need to avoid future drug use. Similar initiatives around the world, many supported by the United States, provide a variety of alternatives to incarceration programs for non-violent offenders. These programs are integral to scientifically based drug control policies.
Looking to the Future
Historically, U.S. foreign assistance programs have focused primarily on fighting drug production, and have supported related law enforcement programs. This approach is still integral to U.S. policy, but efforts today take an increasingly holistic approach. Beginning with the current decade, efforts aimed at preventative measures in U.S. assistance programs are designed to enhance overall citizen security by challenging both transnational and local security threats. These efforts involve United States partnerships including the public and private sectors to achieve our common security goals and create safe communities. This is carried out through law enforcement training, judicial and human rights training, and alternative development, emphasizing that such efforts must be designed to create and maintain safe environments.
In many nations, especially in Central and South America, countries are actively seeking to strengthen their inter- and intra-regional cooperation and exchange of information about best practices for counternarcotics and crime control law enforcement activities relative to broad citizen security. Taken as a whole, they are intended to promote respect for the rule of law and human rights and to empower citizens to foster law-abiding communities consistent with
You are hereby authorized and directed to submit this report, with the enclosed memoranda of justification regarding Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela, under Section 706 of the FRAA, to the Congress, and publish it in the Federal Register.
MEMORANDUM OF JUSTIFICATION FOR MAJOR ILLICIT DRUG TRANSIT OR ILLICIT DRUG PRODUCING COUNTRIES FOR FY 2015
During the past 12 months, the Bolivian government has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements or to uphold the counternarcotics measures set forth in Section 489 (a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, as amended.
Bolivia is one of the world’s three largest producers of coca leaf for cocaine and other illegal drug products. Bolivia seriously compromised its ability to interdict drugs and major traffickers when the country expelled U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) personnel in 2009, harming its ability to conduct counternarcotics operations and cooperate on international illicit drug interdiction. Due to a lack of sufficient cooperation from the Bolivian government on counternarcotics activities, the United States government closed the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs section at U.S. Embassy La Paz in 2013.
Bolivia has not maintained adequate controls over licit coca markets to prevent diversion to illegal narcotics production nor closed illegal coca markets. Bolivia also failed to develop and execute a national drug control strategy. Unlike other coca growing countries, Bolivia has not implemented many of the UN-mandated controls over coca. In 2011, Bolivia also withdrew from the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, one of the essential cornerstones of international cooperation in drug-related matters, and re-acceded in 2013 with a reservation permitting coca to be used only within Bolivia and for traditional, cutural and medicinal purposes. At the same time, Bolivia continues to promote the worldwide cultivation and comercialization of coca leaf products, contrary to the conventions’ foundational premises and Bolivia’s own reservation. Given the substantial number of coca crops already grown in Bolivia, the difficulty the country has had policing illegally grown coca, and the diversion from licit coca markets to illicit ones, this reservation encourages coca growth by promoting cultivation and commercialization and adds to the complication of distinguishing between illegally and legally grown coca. The United States remains concerned about Bolivia’s intent by this action to limit, redefine, and circumvent the scope and control for illegal substances as they appear in the UN Schedule I list of narcotics. The United States was one of 15 states parties formally objecting to Bolivia’s reservation to the 1961 Convention. Objections from 61 states were needed to prevent Bolivia’s reservation.
Bolivian government policies and actions are not in line with international drug control standards. Such policies include Bolivia’s promotion of the idea that coca leaf can be used generally for commercial products, as well as its de facto allowance of 20,000 hectares of legal cultivation, 8,000 hectares over the 12,000 hectare limit set by the country’s own law and roughly 6,000 more than the European Union determined was needed for Bolivia’s consumption needs.
On November 19, 2013, the Bolivian government released key findings of a studyed funded by the European Union to identify the amount of legal cultivation need to support traditional coca consumption. Initial reports indicate that no more than 14,705 hectares of coca are needed.
The United States encourages Bolivia to strengthen its efforts to achieve tighter controls over the trade in coca leaf to stem diversion to cocaine processing, in line with international treaties; protect its citizens from the deleterious effects of drugs, corruption, and drug trafficking; and significantly reduce coca cultivation.
To diminish Bolivia’s appeal as a convenient trafficking venue for drug smuggling, further government action is required. Bolivia needs to improve the legal and regulatory environment for security and justice sector institutions to effectively combat drug production and trafficking, money laundering, corruption, and other transnational crime, and to bring criminal enterprise to justice through the rule of law.
While Bolivia continues to make drug seizures and arrests of implicated individuals, the Bolivian judicial system is not adequately processing these cases to completion. Bolivian law requires that an arrestee be formally charged within 18 months of arrest. An overwhelming majority of the incarcerated population in Bolivia, however, has not been formally charged in accordance with Bolivian law. The number of individuals who have been convicted and sentenced on drug charges in Bolivia has remained stagnant over the last several years and has not increased in proportion to the number of arrests.
In accord with U.S. legislation, the determination that Bolivia has failed demonstrably to make substantial efforts to adhere to its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and to take counternarcotics measures set forth in the FAA, does not result in the withholding of humanitarian and counternarcotics assistance.
MEMORANDUM OF JUSTIFICATION FOR MAJOR DRUG TRANSIT OR ILLICIT DRUG PRODUCING COUNTRIES FOR FY 2015
During the past 12 months, the Burmese government has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements or to uphold the counternarcotics measures set forth in Section 489 (a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961(FAA) , as amended. However, during this period, the Burmese government has undertaken political and economic reforms to address many of the United States’ longstanding concerns regarding governance, democratization, and human rights. Given the government’s demonstrated commitment to reform and increased collaboration with the U.S. government, it is in the interest of the U.S. government to grant Burma a national interest waiver.
According to the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Burma remains the second largest cultivator of illegal opium poppy in the world. Recent estimates show that Burma had 57,814 hectares under cultivation in 2013, a 13 percent increase reported over 2012. Although opium poppy and/or heroin are trafficked through all of Burma’s porous borders, the most significant routes lead to China and Thailand. The Mekong River is also a vital trafficking route and there are growing signs of new routes to the western part of Burma for onward trafficking to South Asia. Since 1996, there has been a sharp increase in production, consumption, and export of synthetic drugs, especially amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS). ATS attributed to Burma are trafficked along new routes to Thailand, China, and Laos. Reports from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh indicate that South Asia is also increasingly affected by the trafficking of methamphetamine pills originating in Burma.
According to Burmese statistics, law enforcement officers destroyed 12,288 hectares of opium poppies in 2013 compared to 23,584 hectares in 2012 and 7,058 hectares in 2011. Such government statistics cannot be independently verified. Furthermore, U.S. and UN reporting often reflect the fact that eradication occurs after the poppies have been harvested.
On the positive side, the Government of Burma has intensified its focus on increasing the country’s capacity to conduct counternarcotics activities. The Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC), chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs, is in the process of restructuring and expanding its counternarcotics task force, pledging to fight drug production, trafficking, and drug use. Over the course of the past year, the CCDAC has expanded its task forces from 26 to 50 units located throughout the country, with a greater presence in high-traffic areas such as Shan and Rakhine states. Notwithstanding these efforts, counternarcotics police officers still lack adequate training and resources to sufficiently address the breadth of the country’s narcotics problems.
Burma has indicated a willingness to work regionally on counternarcotics initiatives, including those coordinated through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Burma continues to cooperate with the United States and is increasing engagement with the international community. Through the Lower Mekong Initiative Program, for instance, Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam are cooperating regularly in the fight against illegal drugs and other forms of transnational crime which pose a significant threat to the region.
Despite these improvements, Burma’s current counternarcotics performance is not sufficient to meet its international counternarcotics cooperation obligations. The Burmese government needs to dedicate adequate resources to its counternarcotics efforts, increase illegal crop eradication in a timely and comprehensive manner, and redouble its efforts to obtain and maintain ceasefires with ethnic minorities, which would allow for increased access to areas with high drug cultivation, trafficking, and use. In addition, credible reporting from non-governmental organizations and the media claim that mid-level military officers and government officials are engaged in drug-related corruption, though no military officer above the rank of colonel has ever been charged with drug-related corruption. As a matter of policy, the Burmese government does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.
The U.S. decision to grant Burma a national interest waiver for the third year in a row reflects political change taking place in Burma and the country’s interest in improving its international drug control cooperation. Burma and the United States carried out a joint opium yield survey in early 2013 and supported Burmese participation at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok. The United States is supporting expanded counternarcotics programming including a poppy cultivation survey carried out by the UNODC, interdiction training opportunities, and drug demand reduction activities.
In accordance with Section 481 (e)(4) of the FAA, the determination that Burma has failed demonstrably does not result in the withholding of humanitarian and counternarcotics assistance. It is in the vital interest of the United States to grant a national interest waiver to Burma.
MEMORANDUM OF JUSTIFICATION FOR MAJOR DRUG TRANSIT OR ILLICIT DRUG PRODUCING COUNTRIES FOR FY 2015
During the past 12 months, the Venezuelan government failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements or to uphold the counternarcotics measures set forth in section 489(a) (1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended. A national interest waiver for 2015 for Venezuela permits support for programs vital to the national interests of the United States, such as democracy building and human rights advocacy.
Venezuela’s porous western border with Colombia, weak judicial systems, selective and inadequate international counternarcotics cooperation, and permissive and corrupt environment make the country one of the preferred trafficking routes for illegal drugs leaving South America. As a matter of government policy, Venezuela does not encourage or facilitate illegal activity involving drug trafficking. However, credible reporting indicates that individual members of the government and security forces engaged in or facilitated drug trafficking activities. In the last two years, nearly all detected illegal drug flights arriving in Honduras, the region’s largest center for airborne drug smuggling, originated from Venezuela. Moreover, the majority of detected illegal flights departing Central America and returning to South America landed first in western Venezuela. In 2013, Venezuelan officials also reported disabling and/or destroying 30 aircraft and destroying 108 clandestine airstrips. As implemented, some of these actions are contrary to international civil aviation conventions to which Venezuela is a signatory.
Venezuelan authorities reported seizing 46 metric tons of illegal drugs in 2013 compared to 45 in 2012. While Venezuela publically reports such seizures, it does not systematically share the data or evidence needed to verify the destruction of the drugs. The government also published statistics on arrests and convictions for drug possession and trafficking, though it did not provide information on the nature or severity of the drug arrests or convictions. Venezuela is party to all relevant international drug and crime control agreements, including the 1988 UN Convention.
Since ceasing formal cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2005, the Venezuelan government has maintained only limited counternarcotics cooperation with the United States. Cooperation consists mainly of coordination of fugitive deportations from Venezuela to the United States and bilateral maritime interdiction operations. Venezuela, however, did not provide follow-up information to the United States on drug trafficking organizations involved or the prosecution of suspects as it relates to maritime interdictions. Venezuela’s limited and ad hoc international counternarcotics cooperation casts doubt on the government’s intent to uphold its international commitment to combat drug trafficking.
The Venezuelan government again failed to take action against government and military officials known to be linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other drug trafficking organizations. In August 2013, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated a former Venezuelan military officer a drug kingpin. This followed Treasury’s 2008 and 2011 designations of senior Venezuelan government officials for acting on behalf of the FARC in support of narcotics and arms trafficking activities.
On July 27, 2014, the Government of the Netherlands ordered the release of designated criminal Kingpin and wanted Venezuelan narcotics trafficker Hugo Carvajal Barrios from detention in Aruba. The United States remains disturbed by credible reports that the Venezuelan government threatened the Governments of Aruba and the Netherlands, along with others, in its attempts to obtain Carvajal’s release.
Pursuant to section 706 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2003, while Venezuela has failed demonstrably, a national interest waiver under the FAA allows the continuation of U.S. bilateral assistance programs to Venezuela; counternarcotics and humanitarian assistance can be provided without a national interest waiver.