Letter to Congressional Leaders on Major Illicit Drug-Producing or Major Drug-Transit Countries
In accordance with section 490(h) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA), I have determined that the following countries are major illicit drug-producing or major drug-transit countries: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
I note that a country's presence on the list of major drug-transit countries is not an adverse reflection on its government's counternarcotics efforts or on the level of its cooperation with the United States. Consistent with the statutory definition of a major drug-transit country set forth in section 481(e)(5) of the FAA, among the reasons that major drug-transit countries are placed on the list is the combination of geographical, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit despite the most assiduous enforcement measures of the government concerned.
In recent years, we have seen rapidly rising quantities of illegal synthetic drugs entering the United States, especially MDMA (Ecstasy) from Europe. MDMA abuse is an emerging problem that we are studying closely. Because much of the Ecstasy consumed in Europe and the United States is manufactured clandestinely in the Netherlands, we are working closely with Dutch authorities to stop the production and export of the drug. I commend the Government of the Netherlands for its excellent cooperation with the Government of the United States.
Changes to the List
I have removed Cambodia from the Majors List. Cambodia was added to the Majors List in 1996 as a transit country for heroin destined for the United States. In recent years, there has been no evidence of any heroin transiting Cambodia coming to the United States. On the basis of this cumulative evidence, I have determined that Cambodia no longer meets the standard for a major drug-transit country and I have removed Cambodia from the Majors List. I will, however, keep it under observation as a country of concern.
Countries/Economies and Regions of Concern
I am also noting in this letter various "countries/economies and regions of concern." These are countries or areas that are not "majors," but which in the past met, or could in the future meet, the statutory definition. This informational category carries no stigma, penalty, or sanction. This information is provided to keep the Congress informed of those additional countries and regions on which the executive branch is focusing its antidrug cooperation efforts.
The Majors List applies by its terms to "countries." The United States Government interprets the term broadly to include certain entities that exercise autonomy over actions or omissions that would lead to a decision to place them on the list and subsequently to determine eligibility for certification.
Belize. Belize was removed from the list of major drug-transit countries in 1999 because there was clear evidence that the drug trade was not currently using it as a transit point for drugs moving to the United States. If, at a future date, there is reliable information that U.S.-bound drugs are again moving through Belize in significant quantities, I will again place it on the Majors List.
Central America. Central America's position as a land bridge between South America and Mexico, together with its thousands of miles of coastline, several container-handling ports, the Pan-American Highway, and limited law enforcement capability, makes the entire region a natural conduit and transshipment area for illicit drugs bound for Mexico and the United States. Currently, only Guatemala and Panama have been designated major drug-transit countries, since there is clear evidence that drug trafficking organizations use their territory to move significant quantities of illegal drugs to the United States. The same is not yet true of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, or Nicaragua.
Although there is no question that fluctuating quantities of drugs do flow through these countries en route to the United States, the bulk of the drug traffic has shifted away from land routes. Stringent law enforcement and interdiction measures on land have forced trafficking organizations to move drugs along sea routes. In the event that I receive evidence that drugs transiting these countries are having a significant effect on the United States, I will add them to the Majors List.
Central Asia. United States Government agencies have again conducted probes in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the traditional opium poppy growing areas of the former Soviet Union. These probes did not show significant opium poppy cultivation. If ongoing analysis reveals cultivation of 1,000 hectares or more of poppy, I will add the relevant countries to the Majors List.
Cuba. Cuba's geographical position, straddling one of the principal Caribbean trafficking routes to the United States, continues to make it a logical candidate for consideration for the Majors List. While in the past there have been some anecdotal reports that trafficking syndicates use Cuban land territory for moving drugs, we have not confirmed that this traffic carries significant quantities of cocaine or heroin to the United States. For the last several years, much of the suspect air traffic that previously crossed Cuban airspace has shifted to Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). I will continue to keep Cuba under careful observation for any changes in current transit patterns. If there is evidence of significant quantities of drugs transiting Cuba to the United States, I will add Cuba to the Majors List.
Eastern Caribbean. The Leeward and Windward Islands, together with Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, constitute a broad geographical area through which U.S.bound drugs pass en route from Latin America. There is no evidence at this time, however, that any of these Eastern Caribbean nations is a major drug-transit country under the definition in section 481(e)(5) of the FAA. The information available indicates that drugs moving through the area are overwhelmingly destined for Europe. I am, therefore, keeping the region under observation and will add relevant countries to the Majors List, should conditions warrant.
Hong Kong. Hong Kong was removed from the Majors List in 2000 and listed as a country of concern. Since 1996, there have been no significant seizures in the United States of heroin linked with Hong Kong. Similarly, the Hong Kong authorities report that in the past 4 years they have made no large seizures locally of heroin destined for the United States. If in the future we detect any drug flows through Hong Kong that significantly affect the United States, I will again place Hong Kong on the Majors List.
Iran. While Iran was once a traditional opium-producing country, the Government of Iran appears to have been successful in eradicating significant illicit opium poppy cultivation. The latest United States Government survey of the country revealed no detectable poppy cultivation in the traditional growing areas. Although one cannot rule out some cultivation in remote parts of the country, it is unlikely that it would be sufficient to meet the threshold definition of a major illicit drug-producing country under section 481(e)(2) of the FAA.
Important quantities of opiates reportedly continue to transit Iran en route to Europe, but I have no evidence that these drugs significantly affect the United States, a requirement for designation as a major drug-transit country under section 481(e)(5) of the FAA. Moreover, Iran has taken extensive measures to thwart the use of its territory by drug traffickers, seizing well above 200 metric tons of drugs annually in recent years.
Malaysia. Malaysia was removed from the Majors List in 1998 because there was no evidence that drugs transiting the country were reaching the United States in significant quantities. That situation did not change in 2001.
North Korea. United States Government observations this year have been unable to confirm reports that significant quantities of opium poppy may be under cultivation in North Korea or that heroin originating in the country may be entering the international drug trade. I continue, however, to monitor the situation. If there is evidence that there is indeed significant poppy cultivation or that North Korea is a transit point for drugs significantly affecting the United States, I will add it to the Majors List.
Syria and Lebanon. Syria and Lebanon were removed from the list of major drug producers 4 years ago after the United States Government determined that there was no significant opium poppy cultivation in Lebanon's Biqa' Valley. Recent surveys have confirmed that there has been no detectable replanting of opium poppy, and we have no evidence that drugs transiting these countries significantly affect the United States. I continue, however, to keep the area under observation.
Taiwan. Taiwan was removed from the Majors List in 2000, because there was no evidence that it was any longer a transit point for drugs destined for the United States. Stringent law enforcement procedures, together with enhanced customs inspection and surveillance methods, have all but cut off serious flows of heroin from Taiwan to the United States. At the same time, the opening of major container ports in southern China has diminished Taiwan's importance for the drug trade. If in the future we detect any drug flows through Taiwan that significantly affect the United States, I will place Taiwan on the Majors List.
Turkey and Other Balkan Route Countries. I continue to be concerned by the large volume of Southwest Asian heroin that moves through Turkey and neighboring countries to Western Europe along the Balkan Route. There is no clear evidence, however, that this heroin significantly affects the United States. In the event that I determine that heroin transiting Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or other European countries on the Balkan Route significantly affects the United States, I will add the relevant countries to the Majors List.
Major Cannabis Producers. While Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, the Philippines, and South Africa are significant cannabis producers, I have not included them on this list since in all cases the illicit cannabis is either consumed locally or exported to countries other than the United States. I have determined that such illicit cannabis production does not significantly affect the United States.
GEORGE W. BUSH
NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Joseph R. Biden, Jr., chairman, and Jesse Helms, ranking member, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Robert C. Byrd, chairman, and Ted Stevens, ranking member, Senate Committee on Appropriations; Henry J. Hyde, chairman, and Tom Lantos, ranking member, House Committee on International Relations; and C.W. Bill Young, chairman, and David R. Obey, ranking member, House Committee on Appropriations. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on November 2.
George W. Bush, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Major Illicit Drug-Producing or Major Drug-Transit Countries Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/213392