HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Traffic Up As DEA Focus Shifts
Pubdate: Thu, 18 Oct 2001
Source: South Bend Tribune (IN)
Copyright: 2001 South Bend Tribune


WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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 Wednesday.

Hutchinson couldn't 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.

Without more money, he said, it's 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 the 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.
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