HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Czar Says Drug-Smuggling Gangs Help Fund Terrorist
Pubdate: Fri, 30 Aug 2002
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Associated Press
Bookmark: (Terrorism)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


TIJUANA, Mexico - There is no difference between the U.S. war on drugs and
its war on terror because a large chunk of the dlrs 60 billion Americans
spend on illicit drugs each year goes to fund terrorist groups, U.S. Drug
Czar John P. Walters said Friday.

Visiting the violent border city of Tijuana to participate in a forum on
drug-related violence against journalists, Walters said that Mexico's
largest drug smuggling syndicate, the Arellano Felix Organization, has
financial ties to the guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, or FARC, and to al-Qaida.

He said the U.S. State Department reports that 12 of the world's 25 largest
terrorist groups have ties to drug traffickers around the globe.

"Some have more money than others, some focus on one region or on various
countries, but the most important financial vehicle for dominant global
organizations like al-Qaida is the trafficking of opium and drug
trafficking," Walters said. "We say that each global terrorism organization
is founded on drug funds."

Walters said Americans spend dlrs 60 billion a year on illegal drugs and
that at least dlrs 400 million of that goes to terrorist groups like
Colombia's FARC and other organizations with ties to al-Qaida and other
powerful terrorist groups.

Walters praised cooperation between U.S. and Mexican anti-narcotics
authorities Friday, saying both sides are "now committed to working

During a trip to Mexico City in June, Walters commended Mexican President
Vicente Fox on a rash of recent major drug busts.

Ramon Arellano Felix, the dreaded triggerman for the gang that bears his
family name, was shot and killed by authorities in the resort city of
Mazatlan in February. Almost exactly a month later, police and soldiers in
the central city of Puebla captured the gang's operations chief, Benjamin
Arellano Felix.

Walters called the takedown of the Arellano Felix leadership the most
important anti-drug victory since police and soldiers shot and killed
Colombian super-kingpin Pablo Escobar on a rooftop in the city of Medellin
in 1993.

Despite serious set backs, Walters said the Arellano Felix gang remains
strong and continues to distribute cocaine in the western and midwestern
United States as well as in several East Coast cities.

He said other Mexican groups have also developed smuggling routes across the
United States and have begun to use Canadian contacts to move cocaine and
amphetamines across America's northern border and on to distributors in New
England and around the Northeast.
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