By Jim Kouri
Last July, President Barack Obama’s own National Security Council conducted a study — and formulated a plan — regarding drug trafficking and drug trafficking networks. Unfortunately, the NSC report turned out to be nothing more than political window dressing, according to several law enforcement officials.
According to the White House’s National Security Council, in recent years, new developments in technology and communications equipment have enabled transnational organized crime networks involved in drug trafficking and other illicit activities to plan, coordinate, and perpetrate their schemes with increased sophistication, mobility and anonymity.
As a result, many drug trafficking organizations — including the Mexican, Colombian and Southeast Asian drug cartels and gangs — have developed into versatile, loose networks that cooperate intermittently but maintain their independence. They operate worldwide and employ sophisticated technology and financial savvy.
These criminal networks bribe government officials and take advantage of weak border security and ill-equipped law enforcement to facilitate their operations, according to Obama’s NSC staff.
Along emerging trafficking routes, such as the transit route through West Africa to Europe, criminal networks are spreading corruption and undermining fledgling democratic institutions. Due to the enormous profits associated with drug trafficking, the illegal trade is also a way to finance other transnational criminal and terrorist activities.
To diminish these threats, the Obama Administration should increase efforts to identify and disrupt the leadership, production, intelligence gathering, transportation, and financial infrastructure of major TOC networks. By targeting the human, technology, travel, and communications aspects of these networks, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies will be able to monitor and gather intelligence to identify the full scope of the TOC networks, their members, financial assets, and criminal activities.
U.S. government efforts to enhance collaboration among domestic law enforcement agencies and their foreign counterparts in order to strengthen U.S. ability to coordinate investigations and share intelligence to combat drug trafficking and TOC. Continued use of economic sanctions under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) to pursue transnational drug organizations will enhance American law enforcement’s ability to disrupt and dismantle TOC networks.
The Kingpin Act also may be used to prosecute persons involved in illegal activities linked to drug trafficking, such as weapons trafficking, bulk cash smuggling, or other gang activity. Enhanced intelligence sharing and coordination among law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the military, and the U.S. diplomatic community will enable the interagency community to develop aggressive, multi-jurisdictional approaches to dismantle TOC networks involved in drug trafficking.
The United States must aggressively target the nexus among TOC networks involved in drug trafficking, terrorist groups, piracy on the high seas, and arms traffickers. In FY 2002, the DEA formally established the Counter-Narco-Terrorism Operations Center (CNTOC) within Special Operations Division, which coordinates all DEA investigations and intelligence linked to narco-terrorism and is central to U.S. efforts to disrupt these crime-terror relationships.
The United States must utilize its bilateral maritime counterdrug agreements and operational procedures to increase cooperation in counter-narcotics operations. The U.S. must attack these organizations as close to the source as possible by forward deploying our law enforcement and intelligence assets. All-source intelligence must be used by U.S. Coast Guard assets in the transit zone to extend U.S. borders by interdicting and apprehending traffickers.
In its report, Obama’s NSC states that the United States will continue its longstanding cooperation with the international community in joint efforts to disrupt the world drug trade through support for drug crop reduction, promotion of alternative livelihoods, and partner nation capacity building.
U.S. counternarcotics efforts will apply all available tools to ensure that improvements are permanent and sustainable by international allies. These efforts will include complementary and comprehensive assistance programs across the prevention, intervention, and enforcement spectrum.
Obama’s NSC staff concludes their report by stating that “disrupting and dismantling the world’s major TOC networks involved in drug trafficking, we will be able to reduce the availability of illicit drugs, inhibit terrorist funding, improve national and international security, and bring TOC networks to justice.”
Since law enforcement and intelligence personnel for years have acknowledged that the most prevalent trafficking route is the U.S. southwest border, it’s hardly a mystery as to what needs to be done to significantly curtail drugs coming into the U.S. from Mexico.
However, in the name of a politically-correct orthodoxy the border remains porous and the drugs flood U.S. communities.