HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html US Fails To Achieve Anti-Drug Goal In Colombia
Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jan 2003
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2003 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Jerry Seper, The Washington Times
Bookmark: (Heroin)


The State Department has failed to meet its 2002 goal of eradicating more 
than 11,000 acres of Colombian opium poppy fields at a time when heroin 
from that South American country is flooding into cities all along the East 

According to information sent by Colombian police officials to the House 
Committee on International Relations, only about 7,400 acres of Colombian 
opium poppy fields identified by authorities were eradicated last year - 
continuing a steady decline in the U.S. program to cut Colombian poppy 

Opium poppy-field eradication in Colombia in 2001 was down 80 percent from 

"There is a direct link between opium production and the heroin in every 
city and town in the East Coast," said one official close to the program. 
"Police throughout the Northeast are finding Colombian heroin on every 
street corner and in every school, and overdose deaths have skyrocketed.

"If it hasn't reached your street or your neighborhood, it will - and 
soon," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Law-enforcement authorities estimate that Colombian drug traffickers now 
account for between 56 percent and 67 percent of the heroin being used on 
the East Coast. Its purity ranges from 80 percent to the mid-90s, allowing 
dealers to "cut" it several times, meaning that adulterants - such as 
aspirin and Dramamine - are added to decrease the cost and increase the profit.

Recent Drug Enforcement Administration intelligence reports show that 
heroin use in the United States has increased substantially over the past 
decade, with more than a million people nationwide believed to be addicted 
- - largely due to increased poppy production in Colombia.

Rogelio E. Guevara, the DEA's chief of operations, said that in recent 
years, poppy cultivation and heroin production have become dominated by 
independent trafficking groups outside the control of major cocaine 

Mr. Guevara said Colombian heroin traffickers have established themselves 
as major sources of the drug in the Northeast, the largest heroin market in 
this country.

Paul E. Simons, the State Department's acting assistant secretary for 
international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, told the House 
Government Reform Committee last month that the department recognized the 
"increased growth and impact" of Colombian heroin and renewed efforts were 
under way to address it.

But Mr. Simons told the committee the poppy-eradication program in Colombia 
had been hampered by a lack of equipment and pilots, budgetary restraints 
and bad weather, although committee members countered that former Colombian 
National Police Director Gen. Rosso Jose Serrano had the same amount of 
equipment when he eradicated 22,724 acres in 2000.

Anne Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Colombia, told the committee that U.S. 
officials in that country had increased the spraying of coca fields, from 
which cocaine is produced, and that program had been "very successful."

Mrs. Patterson described the cutback in the spraying of opium poppy fields, 
from which heroin is produced, as a "joint decision," but could not recall 
whether she had received any direction from the State Department or other 
federal agencies.

"I think you've made some wrong decisions that have resulted in a massive 
increase in the exportation of heroin into the United States," Rep. 
Benjamin A. Gilman, New York Republican, told Mrs. Patterson. "As a result, 
our local police don't know what to do with this major flow of heroin out 
of Colombia."

Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, said eradication missions against 
Colombia's poppy fields were "drastically reduced" despite recommendations 
from U.S. and Colombian law enforcement officials to eradicate the drug at 
its source.

"This heroin is the purest, most addictive and deadly heroin produced 
anywhere in the world," he said. "With a single dose costing as little as 
$4 and having purity levels as high as 93 percent, this is a problem that 
demands the attention of Congress."

Mr. Burton said the decision to focus the Colombian eradication program on 
coca fields "has clearly had consequences," resulting in an increase in 
Colombian heroin availability in the United States, hospital overdoses and 
"overdose deaths in nearly every big city and small town east of the 
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