HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Caribbean Drug Traffic Up 25%, US Says
Pubdate: Thu, 18 Oct 2001
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2001 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Associated Press


U.S. Law Enforcement Focusing On Terrorism

WASHINGTON - Illegal drug trafficking in the Caribbean is up 25 
percent, probably because traffickers see an opportunity with U.S. 
law enforcement focused on terrorism, Drug Enforcement Administrator 
Asa Hutchinson said yesterday.

Hutchinson could not say whether the rise would translate into more 
drugs coming into the United States. But he said that like other law 
enforcement agencies, DEA has been stretched thin since the Sept. 11 
terrorist attacks.

"The traffickers see a window of opportunity in the Caribbean as a 
result of assets that had to be marshaled in our port security and 
our homeland security," Hutchinson told the House Coast Guard and 
Maritime Transportation subcommittee.

More than 100 DEA agents have been pressed into service as marshals 
aboard airplanes and another 40 DEA intelligence analysts are working 
closely with the FBI.

"We've got to have the funds to replenish any assets that are taken 
away from the Caribbean," Hutchinson said.

Without more money, he said, it is doubtful the United States will 
meet its 2002 goal of intercepting 18 percent of illegal narcotics 
headed for U.S. shores. Last year, federal agents seized 
approximately 11 percent of drugs.

Hutchinson's remarks about funding relate mainly to the Coast Guard, 
the agency primarily responsible for drug enforcement along the 
coast. The Coast Guard has estimated that as much as 75 percent of 
its assets - personnel and boats - have been pulled away from drug 
interdiction for anti-terrorist patrols.

The Coast Guard still is trying to come up with an estimate for 
Congress on how much additional funding it will need to continue its 
homeland security efforts in addition to its traditional work, which 
includes immigration and fisheries enforcement.
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