U.S. Devotes Billions to Drug Treatment And Prevention

The United States devotes billions of dollars each year to rein in international drug trafficking, with programs to control domestic demand for drugs, engage in joint law enforcement activities with numerous international partners and promote training and education to support law enforcement capacity in partner nations.

The United States has invested more than $10 billion per year over the last three years in drug treatment, rehabilitation and prevention programs, according to a recently released White House document.

Reports from several different U.S. government sources issued the first week of March highlight international narcotics control efforts. The White House issued the fact sheet March 6 providing background on Vice President Biden’s talks with Central American partner nations, specifically their discussion of the Central American Citizen Security Partnership. President Obama launched this initiative on a visit to El Salvador in 2011 to help protect people across Central America and the United States from the threat of organized crime gangs and related violence.

The multibillion-dollar investment in domestic drug programs is a strategy recognizing that reduced demand for illegal narcotics within the U.S. population is a key step toward cutting the supply of drugs that flow across borders. U.S. assistance to other nations for drug trafficking control and related programs is detailed in the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), released March 7. This extensive report, issued annually by the State Department, reviews efforts on drug control in nations worldwide, in keeping with a congressional mandate that this information be compiled as an overview of global adherence to U.N. conventions on the control of illicit traffic in illegal drugs.

The report details U.S. narcotics control assistance to individual nations and to regional groups. Totals in the last fiscal year reached almost $1.6 billion, are estimated to exceed $2 billion in 2012 and are projected to climb to $2.5 billion in 2013. A significant amount of those resources goes to international counternarcotics training, devoted to “enhanced professionalism of the basic rule of law infrastructure … improving technical skills of drug law enforcement personnel in these countries” and increasing cooperation and ties between U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials, according to an INCSR summary.

The report also offers an extended summary of law enforcement operations conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and international partners through 2011, identified as the “drug flow attack strategy,” which is intended “to cause major disruption to the flow of drugs, money and chemicals” through international trafficking routes.

Highlighted cases focus on the takedown of suspects charged with funneling support to Hezbollah and the Taliban. “These DEA operations starkly illustrate how drug trafficking is a double threat that fuels both addiction and terrorism,” said a statement issued by DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. “We have successfully targeted and substantially dismantled two dangerous and complex networks; stopped efforts to arm Hezbollah and Taliban terrorists; and prevented massive amounts of heroin from reaching illicit markets around the world.”

Leonhart’s July 2011 statement, quoted in INCSR, also saluted the DEA agents who participated in the operations and “our many international and federal agency partners, all [of] whom were instrumental in the success of these DEA operations.”

Testament to the value of international relationships to combat narcotics trafficking came from Honduran President Porfirio Lobo March 6 in a statement delivered at an appearance with Biden at the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa. “We are making our best efforts” to combat organized crime and drug trafficking, Lobo said, “also using the best collaboration efforts from the people and government of the United States.” He thanked Biden and the United States for “accompanying us in this struggle.”

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