Every year, as required by law, the President of the United States informs the Congress which countries produce illicit drugs, or serve as transit points.
But that does not mean that their governments are not making a substantial effort to rectify the situation, or that they are not cooperating with the United States and other nations to control the production and flow of illegal drugs. It just means that due to a combination of geographic, commercial, political and economic factors, those who produce or smuggle narcotics deemed these countries to be convenient for the operation of their nefarious trade.
Of the 22 countries that made this year’s list, 17 are in Latin America. Though Bolivia and Venezuela did not make meaningful efforts to meet their obligations to international counter-narcotics agreements over the past year, four Latin American countries made commendable progress.
Last year, about 86 percent of cocaine destined for the United States moved through seven countries in Central America. The remaining 14 percent traveled through the Caribbean. Mexico, working with the United States through the Merida Initiative, made headway toward breaking the power and impunity of transnational criminal organizations, strengthening border controls and law enforcement, and improving the capacity of its judicial system to investigate and prosecute drug cases.
In the Caribbean, Haiti took advantage of U.S. technical assistance and financial support to strengthen its Police Brigade in the Fight Against Narcotics Trafficking. Summoning considerable political will, Haiti’s government stood up to criminal organizations, improved its counter-narcotics capability, beefed up its maritime interdiction allowing it to start seizing drug shipments, and last year passed a law criminalizing public corruption, which goes hand-in-hand with the illicit drug trade.
In South America, Colombia and Peru, countries that struggle with large-scale drug production, have been successful in seizing numerous large shipments of cocaine. Peru developed alternative livelihoods for farmers previously dependent on illicit cultivation, while Colombia’s eradication efforts helped reduce coca cultivation by 52 percent in 5 years.
Illicit drugs are destructive to people and society. The United States will continue to expand and enhance collaborative counter-narcotics and anti-crime partnerships to eradicate them globally.