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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal

Contending With Illegal Drugs at Home and Abroad

Fact Sheet released by the Bureau of Narcotics and
Law Enforcement Affairs
U.S. Department of State, June 4, 1998

Blue Bar

The President's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) presents to the administration each year a national drug control strategy. This year's (1998) strategy embraces five broad goals:

The annual budgets in millions of dollars is broken down into the following broad categories:

Criminal justice system
Drug treatment
Drug prevention
International programs

(Figures are in millions of U.S. dollars)

U.S. criminal justice programs include the federal judiciary, Bureau of Prisons, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Naturalization (INS), INTERPOL, local policing initiatives, among others. Drug treatment includes federal funding and counterpart spending on drug treatment programs across the nation.

Drug prevention is specifically aimed at demand reduction and education, especially for at-risk teen populations. Interdiction is targeted at blocking the free movement of illicit narcotics into the U.S. and narcotrafficking organizations that prey on U.S. citizens. The international spending is program money spent specifically supporting counter-narcotics efforts in supply source countries.

The international component of counter-drug operational spending has never exceeded 6 percent of the total spending (1991 and 1992) and it currently represents only 2 percent of the overall budget request for FY98. When the 1997 and 1998 budgets are broken down into functional areas by dollar amounts and percentages, it looks like the following:

Demand reduction
Domestic law enforcement

(Annual figures are in millions of U.S. dollars)

The U.S. government expends the bulk of its anti-narcotics resources fighting the drug war within its own borders. More than five of every ten dollars is spent on domestic law enforcement programs, while nearly nine of every ten dollars is spent on demand reduction or law enforcement.

Counter-drug program accomplishments have been considerable. The number of people 12 years and older who regularly use drugs in the United States has dropped from 14 percent in 1976 to just 6 percent in 1996. The number of cocaine users dropped 70 percent in a decade, from 5.7 million in 1985 to 1.7 million in 1996.

Teen drug use has dropped in the latest survey for the first time in several years, from 10.9 percent in 1995 to 9.0 percent in 1996. There is also a declining trend in the use of crack cocaine, with the majority of large cities in the U.S. showing significant declines in use, and only a handful with increasing use of this dangerous drug. Likewise, most cities, including the eight with highest reported rates of use, report that methamphetamine abuse is declining. Drug-related crimes have also declined in the last few years across America.

The number of drug-related arrests in the United States has risen dramatically as the federal government has increased its commitment to making America's streets safer. In 1992 about 1 million individuals were arrested in drug-related crimes; that figure rose to 1.5 million in 1996. Beginning in 1995, the federal drug law enforcement efforts began to target kingpin and mid-level dealers, dismantling several important East Coast trafficking networks. In 1995, 94.3 percent of all federal drug convictions were for trafficking (as opposed to sales) of illicit narcotics. The primary means for extending this work is the creation of more High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs.

The five HIDTAs in FY97 expanded to 17 in FY98. The HIDTA program provides supplemental funding to federal agencies and provides money to make these organizations joint ventures with local and state law enforcement joining their federal counterparts.

The U.S. Government has also targeted foreign trafficking organizations with significant influence in the U.S. illicit narcotics market. Working with the government of Mexico since 1995, targeting the Amado Carillo Fuentes organization has led to more than 100 indictments in the U.S., the seizure of 11.5 metric tons of cocaine, 6.9 metric tons of marijuana, and more than $18.5 million in assets.

Prosecution of the Arellano Felix organization has led to 14 indictments. One of the Arellano Felix brothers, Ramon, is on the FBI's top ten most wanted list while the Department of State is offering up to $2 million for information that will lead to his arrest and conviction. The U.S. Government has also dismantled important Colombian, Nigerian, and Jamaican organizations that imported multi-ton shipments of a variety of drugs into the United States, such as heroin, methamphetamines, and marijuana.

Most importantly, though, the message about drugs is being heard by Americans. More Americans are concerned about drugs and the influence of drug use on our society than ever before. Polling data consistently shows that Americans rate drugs as one of the most serious problems facing our youth. Likewise, Americans are getting personally involved in counter-drug programs and projects to treat chronic drug users.

The greater concern about the problems associated with drugs has increased media coverage about the problems.

The U.S. Government is committed to the most comprehensive national drug control strategy ever. The ten-year plan and five-year budget establish priorities, match funding, and provide means to measure progress. The goal-oriented strategy will move the United States further toward a drug-free environment. The first measure of commitment is innovative programs that:

A second measure of commitment to counter-drug programs is the budget itself. Growing by more than 25 percent since 1992, the current operational budget of $16,000 million shows the commitment of the U.S. government to counter-drug programs. Within the budget, the largest one-year increase came in demand reduction efforts, where allocations jumped 22 percent. The administration has made prevention of drug use and abuse its highest commitment.

Finally, the new strategy details measures of effectiveness that will show where the programs are not meeting pre-established goals. These measures are quantifiable, attainable, and practical. These measures make the government programs accountable to Congress and the American people.

The charge that the United States only fights its drug war abroad is false. The figures cited above show that the vast majority of the U.S. commitment is domestic and involves reducing demand, preventing sales, treating abuse, and targeting the suppliers of drugs to U.S. citizens. The comparatively small amount of money spent on international programs is intended to reduce the supply of illicit narcotics to the United States. At the same time, however, it helps those countries that receive U.S. assistance reduce the influence of narcotics traffickers in their societies and economies. The use of U.S. budgetary resources abroad will assist both the United States and its allies in making drugs less available in all countries.

The international budget may also be the most productive in terms of "bang for the buck." In 1996, working closely with its allies, the U.S. international program was responsible for removing 300 metric tons of cocaine from the trafficking system. This was accomplished despite the ability of the narcotraffickers to outspend the United States, manipulate corrupt officials, and otherwise sabotage anti-drug operations. For the annual investment of about 2 percent of the federal counter-drug budget, the programs eliminated $30,000 million worth of cocaine profits for the traffickers. While much still needs to be done, especially in the area of demand reduction, the U.S. government is committing the necessary resources to attack our domestic drug problem.

[end of document]

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