The International War on Drugs - Have Interdiction Anderadication Helped?
control budget eradication national
The federal budget request to Congress for all drug control activities for fiscal year 2005 was $12.6 billion. (See Table 7.1.) The two largest components of the requested overall program were treatment, including research ($3.7 billion, 29.4%) and domestic law enforcement ($3.2 billion, 25.3%). Again, still looking at the big picture, the majority of federal funds are dedicated to stopping the supply (nearly $7 billion, 55%) rather than curbing of demand for drugs ($5.7 billion, 45%). The 2005 budget request distributes funding among federal departments in the following way: $3.7 billion to the Department Health and Human Services; $2.7 billion to the Department of Justice; and $2.5 billion to the Department of Homeland Security. The Departments of State, Defense, Education, and Veterans Affairs are also targeted for significant funding. (See Table 7.2.)
Of the total federal budget request for all drug control activities for fiscal year 2005, $1.15 billion (9.1%) was requested for international operations, and of that, according to the ONDCP, $731 million was for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI). The ACI includes the lion's share of the government's international eradication and interdiction programs; the government requested $54.3 million for all regional programs for Asia, Africa and the Middle East for fiscal year 2005. Eradication and interdiction are thus enfolded in pockets of funding that make up a very small portion of the total federal drug control program.
|FY 2003 final||FY 2004 enacted||FY 2005 request||FY 04–FY 05 change|
|Domestic law enforcement||2,954.1||3,080.5||3,201.1||120.6||3.9%|
The overall federal budget for drug control has roughly doubled since 1996. (See Table 7.3.) The greatest growth in terms of percentage of the federal budget has been in international operations, which made up 3.9% of the budget in 1996 and 9.1% in the 2005 request. Demand reduction, domestic law enforcement, and interdiction as percentages of the overall drug control budget have all remained fairly stable. The question arises whether this increased focus on international operations is stimulated by the government's concern with terrorism or whether it is a sign that eradication/interdiction programs overseas are working.
Past History Shows Poor Results
According to a paper published in 1998 (Phillip Coffin, "Foreign Policy in Focus: Coca Eradication," Foreign Policy in Focus, October 1998), drug crop eradication proposals in the U.S. go back to 1925 and have been used in the Andes since the 1970s. Since that time, cocaine production has increased enormously in South America and cultivation of the heroin poppy has been introduced. Coca leaf production appears to be climbing, not declining, despite energetic eradication efforts. Opium gum production dropped briefly between 2000 and 2001. This was due to the ruthless actions of the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan—the only case on record of a brief but successful eradication effort. Since the Taliban's departure, things in Afghanistan have "returned to normal."
The rise of Colombia as a major drug producer has drawn the attention of Congress to that country. Congress has requested the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a number of studies of developments there. One report, published in 1999, suggested that eradication and interdiction programs have not had much success (Drug Control: Narcotics Threat from Colombia Continues to Grow, Washington, DC: GAO, June 22, 1999). Another, published in 2004, suggested that some headway was being made in Colombia but that the program suffered from management and budget oversight problems and called its sustainability into doubt. ("U.S. Nonmilitary Assistance to Colombia Is Beginning to Show Intended Results but Programs Are Not Readily Sustainable," GAO, August 2004, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04726.pdf).
The 2004 GAO report concluded that U.S. strategy, based on a combination of interdiction, aerial eradication, and alternative development, has "resulted in a 33% reduction in the amount of coca cultivated in Colombia over the last 2 years—from 169,800 hectares in 2001 to 113,850 hectares in 2003—and a 10% reduction in the amount of opium poppy cultivated over the last year. However, according to Drug Enforcement Administration officials and documents, cocaine prices nationwide have remained relatively stable—indicating that cocaine is still readily available—and Colombia dominates the market for heroin in the northeastern United States."
Some of the problems reported by the GAO provide an insight into the difficulties faced by a country attempting to work its will on another distant country, which is itself embroiled in an insurgency. Among those cited by GAO were 1) widespread corruption, e.g., the seizure of
|FY 2003 final||FY 2004 enacted||FY 2005 request|
|Department of Defense||$905.9||$908.6||$852.7|
|Department of Education||644.0||624.5||611.0|
|Department of Health and Human Services|
|National Institute on Drug Abuse||960.9||990.8||1,019.1|
|Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration||2,354.3||2,488.7||2,637.7|
|Department of Homeland Security|
|Immigration and customs enforcement||518.0||538.7||575.8|
|Customs and border protection||873.9||1,070.5||1,121.4|
|U.S. Coast Guard||648.1||773.7||822.3|
|Department of Justice|
|Bureau of Prisons||43.2||47.7||49.3|
|Drug Enforcement Administration||1,639.8||1,703.0||1,815.7|
|Interagency crime and drug enforcementa||477.2||550.6||580.6|
|Office of justice programs||269.6||181.3||304.3|
|Total Department of Justice||2,429.8||2,482.7||2,749.9|
|Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)|
|High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program||226.0||225.0||208.4|
|Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center||46.5||41.8||40.0|
|Other federal drug control programs||221.8||227.6||235.0|
|Department of State|
|Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs||874.3||914.4||921.6|
|Department of Veterans Affairs|
|Veterans Health Administration||663.7||765.3||822.8|
|Other presidential prioritiesb||3.4||2.2||3.5|
|Total, federal drug budget||$11,397.0||$12,082.3||$12,648.6|
|aPrior to FY 2004, funds for the interagency crime and drug enforcement programs were appropriated into two accounts, one in the Justice Department and one in the Treasury Department. Beginning in FY 2004 those accounts were consolidated. In this table funding is shown as combined for all three years.|
|bIncludes the Small Business Administration's Drug Free Workplace grants and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Drug Impaired Driving Program.|
a Colombian Air Force plane in Florida carrying cocaine and heroin ferried by officers and enlisted persons of the Colombian Air Force; 2) human rights violations by the Colombian military, which have made it difficult to support Colombian military efforts; and 3) control by insurgents (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army) of areas where coca and heroin poppy are grown.
Measurement Is Difficult
A UN report (Global Illicit Drug Trends 2003, New York, NY: United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, 2003) points out a problem with accurate reporting—namely that total production may be underestimated by governments reporting to the UN, thus potentially distorting data on the effect of interdiction programs. The report states that in 2001 the amount of cocaine reported seized was equivalent to 44% of estimated world production. The amount of opiates (heroin and precursors) seized was 45% of supply, a much higher percentage than in previous years, but largely due to dramatically decreased production. The agency gave as its opinion that actual production of cocaine may have been well over what was reported by member states.
When estimates are too low, amounts seized can give the public a false sense of progress. In data reported by the State Department's INL for coca leaf production, Colombian production was omitted for 2001 through 2003 because measurement had changed from dry to fresh weight in Colombia. But this omission causes a serious gap in statistical measurement in that Colombia is, by far, the largest producer of coca leaf in the world.
Another indication of the measurement problem—in tracking the success of eradication programs—is that no
|Functional areas*||FY 1996
|Drug abuse treatment||$1,928.7||$2,132.7||$1,947.4||$2,175.6||$2,241.6||$2,491.6||$2,544.7||$2,612.5||$2,775.3||$3,084.8|
|Drug abuse prevention||902.0||1,106.9||1,330.8||1,407.6||1,445.8||1,540.8||1,639.0||1,583.6||1,579.2||1,566.1|
|Total demand reduction||3,299.7||3,755.6||3,819.9||4,206.6||4,389.7||4,848.3||5,098.9||5,190.3||5,377.3||5,694.9|
|Domestic law enforcement||1,624.1||1,836.3||1,937.5||2,100.6||2,238.3||2,462.8||2,794.7||2,954.1||3,080.5||3,201.1|
|*Consistent with the restructured drug budget, ONDCP has adjusted the amounts reported for fiscal years 1996-2002 to eliminate the BYRNE grant funding from this table and has included funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Drug Impaired Driving program.|
data have ever been produced for estimating marijuana production domestically in the United States against which U.S. eradication efforts can be measured. Further-more, U.S. marijuana eradication is tallied by plant whereas Mexican eradication is counted by hectare, so that U.S. and Mexican efforts cannot be compared effectively.
In a 1994 study, Controlling Cocaine: Supply versus Demand Programs (http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR331/), the RAND Corporation took a look at different public policy options for controlling cocaine. The study was funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Army, and RAND's Drug Policy Research Center with support from the Ford Foundation. The study concluded that the least costly program for decreasing cocaine use would be treatment of individuals, and the most costly would be what RAND's analysts called source-country control; next highest in cost was the option of interdicting the drugs at the borders. Based on this study, the question is not whether eradication and interdiction work but how cost-effective they are. According to the study, treatment of individuals appears to be the most effective, eradication the least.
The study was controversial. In 1999 the National Research Council (NRC) published a critique of the RAND study, which RAND in turn answered by saying that the NRC did not fully grasp RAND's model. The NRC critique is available as Assessment of Two Cost-Effectiveness Studies on Cocaine Control Policy (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 1999, http://books.nap.edu/html/cocaine_control/).
The RAND study continues to play a role in the policy debate between those who favor supply eradication and those who favor a treatment-based approach to the drug problem. The budgetary presentation at the beginning of this section appears to indicate that in federal expenditures at least, treatment receives a much larger share of resources than international eradication/interdiction programs.