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Afghanistan Makes List of Major Illicit Drug-Producing Countries

Mexico, S. America still main source of illegal drugs in U.S.

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Dateline: September 20, 2004

The White House has added Afghanistan to the list of major illicit drug-producing and drug-transit countries (known as the "Majors List"). The list contains countries that the President of the United States determines have "failed demonstrably to make substantial efforts" during the previous 12 months to adhere to international counternarcotics agreements and take the counternarcotics measures specified in U.S. law.

In its 2004 report, the White House identifies as major drug-transit or major illicit drug-producing countries: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

As in previous years, this year's certification determinations required President Bush to consider each country's performance in areas such as reducing illicit cultivation, interdiction, and law enforcement cooperation; extraditing drug traffickers; and taking legal steps and law enforcement measures to prevent and punish public corruption that facilitates drug trafficking or impedes prosecution of drug-related crimes. The President also had to consider efforts taken by these countries to stop production and export of, and reduce the domestic demand for, illegal drugs.

Earlier this year, the White House's Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) reported that the ongoing war against terrorists had allowed Afghanistan's opium poppy growers to more than double production during 2003. (See: Afghanistan's Opium Business Booms During Terror War)

Having greatly reduced its opium poppy cultivation, Thailand was removed from the list. The White House found that Thailand is no longer a significant direct source of illicit narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances significantly affecting the United States.

The President noted that, in sharp contrast to the Government of Haiti’s dismal performance last year under the Aristide regime, the New Interim Government of Haiti headed by Prime Minister Latortue, has taken substantive -- if limited -- counternarcotics actions in the few months it has been in office. The President remains concerned, however, about the ability of Haitian law enforcement to reorganize and restructure sufficiently to carry out sustained counternarcotics efforts.

The President cited decreased use of MDMA (ecstasy) among young people in the United States as a hopeful sign, but continues to place priority on stopping the threat of club drugs, including MDMA, of which the Netherlands continues to be the dominant source country. He characterized the Government of the Netherlands as an enthusiastic and capable partner, and commended its efforts. He continues to be concerned, however, by obstacles to mutual legal assistance and extradition from the Netherlands and cited a need to work more deliberately to disrupt the criminal organizations responsible for the production and trafficking of synthetic drugs. Specifically, he urged enhanced use of financial investigations, and anti-money laundering statutes to identify and dismantle trafficking organizations.

While the vast majority of illicit drugs entering the United States continues to come from South America and Mexico, the President expressed his continuing concerns about the flow of illicit drugs from Canada. He commended Canada for its successful efforts to curb the diversion of precursor chemicals used in methamphetamine production, and noted that we are now working intensively with Canadian authorities to address the increase in the smuggling of Canadian-produced marijuana into the United States; however, we are concerned the lack of significant judicial sanctions against marijuana producers is resulting in greater involvement in the burgeoning marijuana industry by organized criminal groups.

The President reported that, although Nigeria arrested a trafficker wanted by the United States; met the modest, agreed upon interdiction targets; and put measures in place to increase the effectiveness of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; counternarcotics efforts continue to be undermined by pervasive corruption. He said Nigeria must take significant and decisive action to investigate and prosecute political corruption, and to increase transparency if it is to combat corruption effectively.

Despite good faith efforts on the part of the central Afghanistan Government, the President reported his concerns about the increased opium crop production and the Government's lack of capacity to prevail in the provinces.

The President expressed deep concerns about heroin and methamphetamine linked to North Korea being trafficked to East Asian countries; the high likelihood state agents and enterprises in North Korea are involved in the narcotics trade; and that there are clear indications that North Koreans traffic in, and probably manufacture, methamphetamine.

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