GUAYMARAL, Colombia (AP) – White House drug czar John Walters insisted Wednesday that the amount of cocaine on U.S. streets is finally declining after years of U.S.-financed aerial fumigation of drug crops in Colombia.
Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, came to Colombia to discuss progress in the war on drugs and to inaugurate a new helicopter base for Colom-bia’s Anti-Narcotics Police outside Bogotá, the capital.
While there, Walters said he was certain that a report to be released by his office in two weeks will show a decline in the availability of cocaine in the United States, although he told reporters he did not have specific figures yet.
“I am certain we will see a change in availability,” he said.
A report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy earlier this year said that despite a record-setting aerial eradication offensive in Colombia, the world’s main producer of cocaine, more acres (hectares) of coca remained in Colombia at the end of 2004 than were left in 2003 after spraying.
But Walters said authorities have turned a corner in the war on drugs through a combination of fumigation, increased drug seizures and the extradition of suspected traffickers to the U.S. “Many who thought this was impossible, that this beast could not be stopped are wrong,” he said at a news conference alongside Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos and top police and anti-drug officials.
Santos said Colombian authorities will increase the pressure on smuggling gangs. “The only future for a trafficker is jail, the seizure of his assets and – if he is faces criminal charges abroad – extradition,” he said.
How many corners does the man have to turn before he realizes he is going in circles?