1. Definition of Drug Interdiction

"drug interdiction — A continuum of events focused on interrupting illegal drugs smuggled by air, sea, or land. Normally consists of several phases – cueing, detection, sorting, monitoring, interception, handover, disruption, endgame, and apprehension – some which may occur simultaneously.

"Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms," Joint Publication 1-02, Nov. 8 2010 (As Amended Through Aug. 15, 2012), p. 96.

2. Ineffectiveness of Interdiction Efforts According to US Military Southern Command

"Last year, we had to cancel more than 200 very effective engagement activities in numerous multilateral exercises. Because of asset shortfalls, we’re unable to get after 74 percent of suspected maritime drug trafficking. I simply sit and watch it go by. And, because of service cuts, I don’t expect to get any immediate relief, in terms of assets to work with in this region of the world. Ultimately, the cumulative impact of our reduced engagement won’t be measured in the number of canceled activities and reduced deployments, it will be measured in terms of U.S. influence, leadership, relationships in a part of the world where our engagement has made a real and lasting difference over the decades."

Marine General John F. Kelly, Commander, US Southern Command, Testifying at a Hearing Before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, Thursday, March 13, 2014, p. 6.

3. Interdiction Funding Request from US President's FY2017 Drug Control Budget

"The United States continues to face a serious challenge from the large scale smuggling of drugs from abroad that are distributed to every region of the Nation. In FY 2017, the Administration’s request includes $4.1 billion to support the efforts of Federal LEAs, the military, the intelligence community, and our international allies to support collaboration to interdict or disrupt shipments of illegal drugs, their precursors, and their illicit proceeds. The FY 2017 request represents a decrease of $341.4 million, (7.6 percent) below the FY 2016 enacted level. The major efforts are highlighted below.
"Customs and Border Protection ($2,400.4 million)
"Department of Homeland Security
"Customs and Border Protection (CBP) implements border enforcement strategies to interdict and disrupt the flow of narcotics and other contraband across our Nation’s borders. The comprehensive interdiction strategy includes the border security personnel at and between ports of entry (POE), detection and monitoring provided by aviation assets, and border security infrastructure and technology.
United States Coast Guard ($1,269.0 million)
"Department of Homeland Security
"One facet of the United States Coast Guard’s (Coast Guard) mission is maritime interdiction. The Coast Guard functions as the maritime counternarcotics presence in the source, transit, and arrival zones. Their maritime interdiction activities disrupt the flow of drugs into the United States.
"Federal Aviation Administration Interdiction Support ($12.6 million)
"Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration
"Air traffic controllers staffing Air Route Traffic Control Centers monitor the Air Defense Identification Zones to detect possible suspicious aircraft movement. When suspicious movement is identified, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notifies the DEA and Coast Guard of such activity. Upon confirmation of suspicious aircraft movement, FAA controllers support interdiction efforts by providing radar vectors to track the time of arrival, traffic advisory information, and last known positions to intercept aircrafts of interest.
"Department of Defense Drug Interdiction ($435.5 million)
"Department of Defense
"DoD’s counterdrug programs detect, monitor, and support the disruption of drug trafficking organizations. Additionally, DoD coordinates interagency resources and force requirements of air and surface assets in the Western Hemisphere Transit Zone."

FY 2017 Budget and Performance Summary - Companion to the National Drug Control Strategy, Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy, December 2016, p. 17.

4. Estimated Worldwide Cocaine Seizures According to UNODC

"Global production of cocaine (expressed at a purity of 100 per cent) can be estimated for 2014 at 746 tons (using the “old” conversion ratio) and 943 tons (using the “new” conversion ratio); those values are slightly higher than in the previous year but still 24-27 per cent lower than the peak in 2007, and thus back to the levels reported in the late 1990s. There are, however, indications that the overall upward trend observed in 2014 continued into 2015.

"Data suggest that the global cocaine interception rate, based on cocaine production estimates and quantities of cocaine seized, reached a level of between 43 and 68 per cent in 2014.

"Most of the increases in the global cocaine interception rate occurred after 1998, when the General Assembly held its twentieth special session, dedicated to countering the world drug problem together. The global cocaine interception rate almost doubled between the periods 1990-1997 and 2009-2014."

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2016 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.16.XI.7), p. 36.

5. Misleading Official Statistics on Interdiction and Seizures

"Comparing absolute numbers of total cocaine seizures and manufacture could be misleading. To understand the relationship between the amount of annual seizures reported by States (694 tons cocaine of unknown purity in 2010) and the estimated level of manufacture (788-1,060 tons of cocaine of 100 per cent purity), it would be necessary to take into account several factors, and the associated calculations would depend on a level of detail in seizure data that is often unavailable. Making purity adjustments for bulk seizures, which contain impurities, cutting agents and moisture, to make them directly comparable with the cocaine manufacture estimates, which refer to a theoretical purity of 100 per cent, is difficult, as in most cases the purity of seized cocaine is not known and varies significantly from one consignment to another. The total amount of seized cocaine reported by States is also likely to be an overestimation. Large-scale maritime seizures, which account for a large part of the total amount of cocaine seized, often require the collaboration of several institutions in a country or even in several countries.76 Therefore, double counting of reported seizures of cocaine cannot be excluded."

UNODC, World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1), pp. 36-37.

6. Cocaine Smuggling to the US

"The smuggling of cocaine into the United States was dominated by two Colombian drug cartels, the Medellin and Cali cartels, until the early 1990s. Those organizations controlled the entire supply chain. They proved to be the last of their kind, though, as they were dismantled by the mid-1990s. A large number of smaller Colombian cartelitos (small cartels) then emerged and changed the operation of the supply chain by selling cocaine to Mexican groups, as well as to customers in the emerging cocaine markets in Europe. The Mexican groups controlled the trafficking from Mexico into the United States. The shipment methods have changed, too: while originally most of the cocaine shipments went directly from Colombia to the United States by air, nowadays the shipments are mainly sent by boat or semi-submarine to the Central American/Mexican corridor and then overland into the United States."

UN Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1), p. 84.

7. Heroin Smuggling into the US

"The smuggling of heroin into and within the United States was dominated by Italian organized criminal groups after the Second World War. Those groups purchased heroin and had it transported into the United States via Turkey and France. Later, major Chinese groups, known as “triads”, brought heroin via the territory of present-day Hong Kong, China, until Latin American heroin started to be trafficked into the United States in the mid-1990s, mainly by Colombian and Mexican groups. As heroin production in Colombia has declined in recent years, more of the heroin appears to be coming from Mexico."

UN Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1), p. 84.

8. Trends in Cocaine Trafficking

"While their decline began in 2005, cocaine seizures in the United States have followed a downward trend similar to the prevalence of cocaine itself, suggesting that falling seizures reflect a decreasing supply of cocaine reaching the United States. One reason contributing to the time lag that emerges from these similar, but unsynchronized, trends, with changes in seizure data occurring earlier than changes in prevalence data, is that seizures usually occur relatively near to the start of the trafficking cycle, whereas consumption usually takes place at its end."

UNODC, World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1), p. 37.

9. Cocaine Trafficking to Europe

"In contrast to North America, where prevalence of cocaine use and cocaine seizures have fallen in parallel, the stability of the prevalence of cocaine use in Western and Central Europe has not coincided with stable seizure levels, as the seizure levels have fallen by some 50 per cent since 2006. A report of the European Police Office (Europol) on maritime seizures of cocaine suggests that a change in trafficking modes could have contributed to this apparent mismatch.82 While overall seizures have decreased, the amount of cocaine seized in containers has actually increased in countries covered by the study, such as Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Seizures of cocaine found on vessels (but not inside containers) have decreased over the same period, implying that traffickers are increasingly making use of containers on the European route by taking advantage of the large volume of container shipments between South America and Europe.83 Semi-submersible boats, which are known to be used on the Pacific route, do not yet play a role in transatlantic trafficking.84 Meanwhile, the West African route, which became more and more popular up until 2007, has since become less important."

UNODC, World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1), p. 38.

10. Cocaine Markets Expanding

"An even greater increase in cocaine seizures can be seen in East Africa and Oceania, where the 2009/2010 levels were about four times higher than in 2005/2006, and in East and South-East Asia. In Oceania (2.6 per cent and increasing in Australia and 0.6 per cent in New Zealand), annual prevalence of cocaine use is high compared with South-East Asian countries (Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand), where less than 0.1 per cent of the adult population use cocaine. However, for many Asian countries, including China and India, no recent information on cocaine use is available. Limited information from Africa suggests that cocaine trafficking via West Africa may be having a spillover effect on countries in that region, with cocaine use possibly emerging alongside heroin use as a major problem among drug users."

UNODC, World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1), p. 40.

11. Global Opiate Seizures

"The world only intercepts one fifth of the global opiate flows every year, with very mixed performances at the country level. The Islamic Republic of Iran has the highest seizures rate, at 20 per cent. Next are China (18 per cent) and Pakistan (17 per cent). In the two main source countries, Afghanistan and Myanmar, seizures represent only 2 per cent each of the world total. An equally insignificant 2 per cent is seized in South-Eastern Europe, the last segment of the Balkan route to Europe. Along the Northern route (Central Asia - Russia), the interception rate is also low (4-5 per cent)."

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, "Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: The transnational threat of Afghan opium" (Vienna, Austria: October 2009), p. 7.

12. US Customs and Border Protection Agency

"CBP is actually the largest law enforcement organization in the United States, comprised of 20,000 Border Patrol agents deployed between the ports of entry and over 20,000 CBP officers actually stationed at the various land, air, and sea ports of entry throughout our country. They are joined by an 1,000-agent force of air and marine interdiction agents, whose job it is to implement the air and maritime responsibilities of CBP. There are an additional 2,300 agricultural specialists and other professionals that bring the sum total of CBP staffing, as is reflected in the chart,2 to over 58,000 individuals."

Tomsheck, James F., "New Border War: Corruption of U.S. Officials by Drug Cartels," Hearing before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, (Washington, DC: US Senate, May 10, 2010), p. 6.

13. Customs and Border Protection Agency, 2009

"In fiscal year 2009 alone, CBP processed more than 360 million pedestrians and passengers, 109 million conveyances, apprehended over 556,000 illegal aliens between our ports of entry, and encountered over 224,000 inadmissible aliens at our ports of entry. We also seized more than 5.2 million pounds of illegal drugs. Every day, CBP processes over 1 million travelers seeking to enter the United States by land, air, or sea."

Frost, Thomas M., "New Border War: Corruption of U.S. Officials by Drug Cartels," Hearing before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, (Washington, DC: United States Senate, May 10, 2010), pp. 6-7.

14. Effectiveness of Interdiction Spending

"In 2005, the federal government spent $2.6 billion to disrupt and deter the transport of illicit drugs into the United States. While international efforts to step up drug seizures may affect availability, price and consequences associated with a particular drug (i.e., cocaine or heroin), CASA was unable to find evidence that such strategies have an overall impact on reducing substance abuse and addiction or its costs to government."

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, "Shoveling Up II: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets" (New York, NY: CASA, May 2009), p. 58.

15. Heroin Trafficking and Seizures in the Americas

"Most heroin (and morphine) trafficked in the Americas is smuggled from Mexico to the United States, with far smaller quantities smuggled from Colombia and Guatemala. Analysis of heroin samples in the United States over the past decade shows the increasing predominance of Mexico (90 per cent of samples analysed in 2015) as a source country of the drug, while the importance of countries in South America (3 per cent) has declined markedly. South-West Asia accounted for around 1 per cent of the samples analysed in 2015.10

"Based on quantities seized, heroin trafficking in the Americas, particularly trafficking to North America, showed a clear upward trend until 2015, ending with a marked decline in 2016. This seems to have gone in parallel with an expansion in the trafficking of synthetic opioids in the region, as some organized crime groups from Mexico and, to a lesser extent, from the Dominican Republic that are involved in heroin trafficking expanded their activities to the trafficking of synthetic opioids, notably fentanyl.11"

World Drug Report 2018. United Nations publication, Sales No. E.18.XI.9.

16. Cocaine Transshipment Through Mexico

"The US authorities estimate that around 90% of the cocaine, which entered their country in 2006, transited the Mexico-Central America corridor. The amounts of cocaine trafficked into the United States declined, however, in 2006 and this trend became more pronounced in 2007 as Mexican authorities stepped up efforts to fight the drug cartels operating on their territory, which also increased the level of cocaine related violence in Mexico. US cocaine seizures along the country’s southern border declined by 20% over the first two quarters of 2007 on a year earlier and by almost 40% in the second quarter of 2007, as compared to the second quarter of 2006. The main entry point of cocaine into the United States continues to be the common border of Mexico with southern Texas (accounting for a third of all seizures along the border with Mexico in 2006), followed by the border with southern California (18%).14"

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, "World Drug Report 2008" (United Nations: Vienna, Austria, 2008), p. 77.

17. Transshipment Through Mexico

"As Mexican traffickers wrested control of the most valuable portions of the trafficking chain from the Colombians, Mexico itself has become by far the most important conduit for cocaine entering the United States. Today, some 200 mt of cocaine transits Central America and Mexico annually, bringing some US$6 billion to the regional 'cartels'. As a result, those who control the portions of the Mexican border through which the bulk of the drug passes have gained wealth and power comparable to that commanded by the Colombian cartels in their heyday. These groups command manpower and weaponry sufficient to challenge the state when threatened, including access to military arms and explosives."

UNODC, World Drug Report 2010 (United Nations Publication, Sales No. E.10.XI.13), p. 237.

18. Reliance on Interdiction Backfires

"One flaw of current U.S.-Mexico strategy is the false presumption that international trafficking of drugs, guns, and cash can be effectively addressed through interdiction, particularly along the nearly two thousand- mile U.S.-Mexico border. After a three-decade effort to beef up security, the border is more heavily fortified than at any point since the U.S.-Mexico war of 1846–48. The United States has deployed more than twenty thousand border patrol agents and built hundreds of miles of fencing equipped with high-tech surveillance equipment, all at an annual cost of tens of billions of dollars. Although this massive security buildup at the border has yielded the highest possible operational control, the damage to Mexico’s drug cartels caused by border interdiction has been inconsequential.43 Meanwhile, heightened interdiction at the border has had several unintended consequences, including added hassles and delays that obstruct billions of dollars in legitimate commerce each year, the expansion and increased sophistication of cross-border smuggling operations, and greater U.S. vulnerability to attacks and even infiltration by traffickers.44 Further efforts to beef up the border through more patrolling and fencing will have diminishing returns, and will likely cause more economic harm than gains in security for the struggling communities of the border region.45"

Shirk, David A., "Drug War in Mexico: Confronting a Shared Threat," Council on Foreign Relations, Center for Preventive Action (Washington, DC: March 2011), p. 18.

19. TCOs Deal With Interdiction Through Overproduction

One of the major problems with supply reduction efforts (source control, interdiction, and domestic enforcement) is that, "suppliers simply produce for the market what they would have produced anyway plus enough extra to cover anticipated government seizures."

Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Army (Santa Monica, CA: Drug Policy Research Center, RAND, 1994), p. 6.

20. Global Seizures of Heroin and Illegal Morphine

"The total quantity of heroin seized globally reached a record high in 2016, while the quantities of opium and morphine seized reached the second highest level ever reported. The largest quantities of opiates seized were of opium (658 tons), followed by seizures of heroin (91 tons) and morphine (65 tons). Overall seizures of opiates, expressed in heroin equivalents, increased by almost 50 per cent from 2015 to 2016, of which the quantity of heroin seized exceeded that of opium and morphine.

"As most seizures of opiates are made in, or close to, the main opium production areas, Asia, which is responsible for more than 90 per cent of global illicit opium production, accounted for 86 per cent of the total quantity of heroin and morphine seized in 2016. This is primarily a reflection of the increasing concentration of opium production in Afghanistan and the consequent increase in seizures by neighbouring countries.

"Similarly to the distribution of heroin and morphine seizures, overall, 90 per cent of the total quantity of opiates (including opium), expressed in heroin equivalent, was seized in Asia, the vast majority in the Near and Middle East/South-West Asia (83 per cent), while 6 per cent was seized in East and South- East Asia."

World Drug Report 2018. United Nations publication, Sales No. E.18.XI.9.

21. Interdiction Estimate Accuracy

"As far as trafficking is concerned, a comparison with the interception rate of opiates in 1998 (17%), makes the interception rate of 46% reported for cocaine for the same year appear extremely high. Assuming a similar volume of seizures in 1999, the rate would be even higher (50%). For the reasons mentioned above, there are thus some doubts about the accuracy of the total potential cocaine production reported during the past few years (765 mt in 1999)."

United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Global Illicit Drug Trends 2000 (New York, NY: UNDCP, 2000), p. 32.

22. Interdiction - Terrorism - 9-11-11

"Since the late 1990s, the US policy has linked its counternarcotics policy with counterterrorism policy in Afghanistan. However, there is modest proof of a direct involvement by Al Qaida in the international drug trafficking network. The 9-11 Commission found little evidence to confirm this accusation. Groups known to be involved in the illicit drug economy were rather the Sunni Hizb-i Islami group of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Taliban. [37] However, according to the World Bank and UNODC, the Taliban derived more income and foreign exchange in the period 1996-2000 from taxing smuggled goods from Dubai to Pakistan than from the drug industry. Even now, the Taliban have several sources of income and they are not economically dependent on the narcotics trade only. [38] This reality, however, has not stopped the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to argue that “fighting drug trafficking equals fighting terrorism”.[39]"

Corti, Daniela and Swain, Ashok, "War on Drugs and War on Terror: Case of Afghanistan," Peace and Conflict Review (San Jose, Costa Rica: University for Peace, 2009) Volume 3, Issue 2, p. 5.

23. Wholesale Price of Heroin in 2010

In 2010, a kilogram of heroin typically sold for an average wholesale price of $2,527.60 in Pakistan. The 2010 wholesale price for a kilogram of heroin in Afghanistan ranged around $2,266. In Colombia, a kilogram of heroin typically sold for $10,772.3 wholesale in 2010. In the United States in 2010, a kilogram of heroin ranged in price between $33,000-$100,000.

UN Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1), Opioids: Retail and wholesale prices by drug type and country (2010 or latest available year)

24. Drug Detection Dogs

"The overwhelming number of incorrect alerts [by drug and/or explosive detection dogs] identified across conditions confirms that handler beliefs affect performance. Further, the directed pattern of alerts in conditions containing a marker compared with the pattern of alerts in the condition with unmarked decoy scent suggests that human influence on handler beliefs affects alerts to a greater degree than dog influence on handler beliefs."
"In conclusion, these findings confirm that handler beliefs affect working dog outcomes, and human indication of scent location affects distribution of alerts more than dog interest in a particular location."

Lit, Lisa; Schweitzer, Julie B.; Oberbauer, Anita M., "Handler beliefs affect scent detection dog outcomes," Animal Cognition (Heidelberg, Germany: January 2011), Volume 8, Number 3, pp. 202 and 204.