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50–536 CC






FEBRUARY 26, 1998

Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations

BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
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CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
JAY KIM, California
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylvania
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
TOM LANTOS, California
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PAT DANNER, Missouri
BRAD SHERMAN, California
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
JIM DAVIS, Florida
RICHARD J. GARON, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
HILLEL WEINBERG, Senior Professional Staff and Counsel
ALLISON KIERNAN, Staff Associate


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    Mr. Henry L. Hinton, Assistant Comptroller General, National Security and International Affairs, General Accounting Office
    Col. Leonardo Gallego, Director, Colombian National Police, DANTI (anti-drug) Unit
    Lt. Fernando Lopez, Logistics Support Officer, Colombian National Police, DANTI (anti-drug) Unit
Prepared statements:
Hon. Benjamin A. Gilman, a Representative in Congress from New York, and Chairman, Committee on International Relations
Hon. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Representative in Congress from Florida
Hon. Dan Burton, a Representative in Congress from Indiana
Mr. Henry L. Hinton
Additional material submitted for the record:
Article by Tim Johnson from The Miami Herald, January 31, 1997, ''Colombia Seizes Huge Drug Lab''
Article by Ben Barber from The Washington Times, February 12, 1998, ''Delay of Copters Hobbles Colombia in Stopping Drugs''
Article by Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman, The Honorable Dan Burton, and The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert from The Miami Herald, February 20, 1998, ''Put Some Teeth in the War on Drugs''
Article from Reuters, February 20, 1998, ''Colombia Arrests Drug Figure''
Article by Douglas Farrah from The Washington Post, February 22, 1998, ''New Breed of Trafficker Replacing Drug Cartels''
Article by Juan Carlos Esguerra from The Miami Herald, February 23, 1998, ''War on Drugs—Recognize Colombia's Efforts''
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Article by Michael Allen from The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 1998, ''In Colombia, Top Cop Wins GOP Sympathy''
Colombia Bulletin for January-February 1998, ''Significant Steps in War on Illegal Drugs During 1997

House of Representatives,
Committee on International Relations,
Washington, DC.
    The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:28 a.m., in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Benjamin A. Gilman (chairman of the committee) presiding.
    Chairman GILMAN. The hearing will come to order. Today we begin a series of hearings on the President's counter-narcotics policy in Colombia, the principal source of illicit narcotics in our hemisphere. There is a direct link between what happens in Colombia and the crime and its destructive effects that we see from drugs in our own communities, our schools, and our families.
    Colombia now has the dubious distinction of exceeding Peru in the production of coca leaf, the key raw material for cocaine. More and more coca is grown in Colombia because of the success of a strong counter-narcotics policy in Peru. Moreover, in the last few years, Colombia has vaulted ahead of Asia as a producer of heroin seized in the United States. More than half of the heroin seized on our streets is now from South America.
    In some east coast cities, Colombian heroin has replaced cocaine as the drug of choice. The results are already evident: ''historic levels'' of teen heroin use, and a startling 141,000 new heroin users just in one recent year. The need for vigilance and strong action should be obvious. It should be self-evident that vital U.S. national interests are at stake in Colombia. It is especially critical that our policy succeeds in Colombia, where this massive drug industry fuels and finances a powerful narco guerilla insurgency.
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    The guerilla insurgency alone enjoys an income of as much as $100 million a month by facilitating the drug trade. One hundred million dollars per month. That amount, it should be noted, exceeds the entire annual budget of the U.N. Drug Control Programs (UNDCP) in its worldwide fight against drugs. Today, drugs and the narco guerrillas threaten to turn Colombia, South America's oldest democracy, into a full-blown narco state that could become a major regional threat.
    For the past 2 years, the Administration has decertified Colombia, refusing to provide a national interest waiver, primarily because of alleged drug-related corruption at the highest levels of the government. That policy may have made the desk-bound bureaucrats in Washington feel somewhat elated. However, the net effect on the ground has been to virtually starve those many good Colombians dedicated to fighting the drug trade and preserving their democracy from those drug dealers and narco guerrillas of vital supplies and equipment. The result has been an unmitigated disaster for those forces, police and army, trying to combat narcotics trafficking.
    Today our Committee will receive a GAO analysis of the President's failed Colombian drug policy. In addition, we will hear first hand from the front lines of the war on drugs in Colombia. We will hear from our allies and friends in the highly respected and elite anti-narcotics unit of the Colombian National Police, the DANTI. I congratulate General Jose Serrano, leader of the CNP, and Colonel Leonardo Gallego of the anti-narcotics unit (the DANTI) for last week's capture of Jose Urrego, a man of violence and the head of one of northern Colombia's key drug cartels.
    These CNP officers know first hand the impact of the Administration's ill-advised and ill-conceived policy of denying them vital ammunition, spare parts, and other materials that are so sorely needed to wage a real war at the source before the drugs enter our own country. Fewer clandestine airstrips were destroyed. Anti-drug missions were limited because supply plans could not be repaired or replaced. Defective ammunition bought from non-U.S. sources jammed and exploded on them, destroying equipment. Spare parts bought from non-U.S. sources cost 150 percent more than had they been able to obtain them from our own country. Thus did the Administration's wrong-headed policy make fighting the war on drugs more expensive for our own allies, who have suffered more than 4,000 casualties in their war against guerrillas allied with the narco traffickers.
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    Fewer helicopter pilots were trained to fly anti-drug missions in a nation that is larger than Texas and Kansas combined, where 90 percent of those missions require helicopters, and 40 percent of the time those choppers face hostile ground fire. These are not insignificant adversities that we as an ally inflicted on the police, and I might add, not on the drug dealers and on the narco-guerrillas.
    Finally, the GAO report cites DEA officials on the coca eradication emphasis of the State Department in Colombia, the key cocaine and, I note, more and more heroin-producing nation. ''The proposed coca eradication program failed to respond to key elements of the U.S. counter-narcotic objectives for Columbia.'' That quotation came from our own Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
    It is obviously time for the Administration to end what some have called a policy of benign neglect of our friends in the war on drugs in Colombia. I would call it more of a malign neglect, for what is at stake here are human lives, both in Colombia and here in our own Nation.
    In that regard, I was pleased to read in today's New York Times that according to government sources, the Administration apparently has finally seen the light, and that later today a national security interest waiver will be exercised with regard to Colombia. That means there should be no more excuses for holding up assistance to the Colombian National Police. If the report is accurate, it will mark a major step forward in our war against drugs, and I welcome the Administration's change of heart. Tardy as it is, better late than never. Hopefully then, today we will be starting the process of reversing the direction of our Colombian policy for the benefit of our children and future generations to come, both here at home, and in our neighbors to the south.
    At this time I welcome any comments from the Ranking Democratic Member, Mr. Hamilton.
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    Mr. HAMILTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I agree with you that it's an important and timely period to discuss Columbia and U.S. policy toward that country. I certainly welcome the GAO study that we are going to review this morning. We welcome the GAO witnesses, Mr. Ford and Mr. Hinton. Let me say a special word of appreciation to our two friends from Colombia, Colonel Gallego and Lieutenant Lopez, and tell them that we appreciate very much the work that they do on the front lines with the Colombian National Police in trying to deal with the awful problems that arise in drug trafficking.
    There are two basic issues before us. One I think is the whole issue of the certification process. Mr. Chairman, about a year ago you indicated, and I think promised, that the Committee would have a hearing on the decertification process. I hope you are still planning to do that. Let me just ask you directly if you are prepared to go ahead with a hearing on the decertification process.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Well, I had a question, Mr. Chairman. A year ago you indicated you would have a hearing on the decertification process. I just want to make sure that is still——
    Chairman GILMAN. Yes. We plan to have that up the road. I just want to re-emphasize again that many of us feel how important that certification process is. But we will be having a hearing.
    Mr. HAMILTON. OK. The second issue are the implications of this GAO report for U.S. policy toward Colombia. Let me make a few very quick observations about it. As I understand it, the key finding of the GAO report is that the Administration delayed the provision of assistance to Colombia. Some of those delays I think are understandable. The Administration had to make sure that assistance served the U.S. national interest and was in compliance with U.S. law, a law which was not exactly a model of clarity. It had a lot of ambiguity to it and was difficult to administer. Other delays I think are not understandable, and we ought to find out what caused these delays. This study is a step in the right direction toward getting some of the answers.
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    Second, the report also finds that when the Administration, in response to congressional pressure, used extraordinary authorities to provide assistance to Colombia, that assistance was not very helpful.
    Third, the impact of decertification on the operational capability of the Colombian National Police, according to the GAO report, is unclear. The study does not conclude that delays have affected the counter-narcotics operations of our friends in Colombia. Accusations that the Administration has sold out our friends in Colombia and forgotten about the fight on the war against drugs, I think, are inaccurate. May I simply point out that while Colombia was decertified, the amount of assistance going to Colombia doubled during that period. That's not exactly ignoring Colombia.
    The key problem in Colombia, from my point of view, is not the Clinton Administration, but the Samper Government. President Samper has demonstrated time and again that he and his government are not willing to take the necessary measures to curb drug trafficking in Colombia. If I am informed correctly, at the very time that we're increasing our assistance to Colombia to fight drugs, the Colombian Government is cutting their resources to fight drugs. If the host country is not willing to exercise the political leadership to fight the war on drugs vigorously, even though the Colombian National Police may be doing a good job, then any amount of assistance that the United States may provide is not going to make up the difference.
    Finally, I think if we step back, the most important conclusion we can draw from this GAO study is that the certification statute is unworkable. Decertification has not produced the results we had hoped for from Colombia's political leaders. Decertification, according to the GAO report, has hurt U.S. business interests, not Colombian, but U.S. interests. The decertification law makes it very difficult and confusing for the executive branch to support those in Colombia who are fighting drugs while holding the feet of the Colombian Government to the fire.
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    During the 2 years we have decertified Colombia, coca cultivation in Colombia has increased by 50 percent. If we judge the decertification law by results, and that's what should be the test, the law is not only unworkable, it is a failure. While we should pay attention to the GAO's recommendations, we should go a step further. We should examine exactly what we are accomplishing and what we are not accomplishing with an outdated, unworkable and failed decertification process. We should hold hearings, and in my judgment, we should change the decertification law. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton. Is any other Member seeking recognition? Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for holding these very timely hearings. Of course we expect in just a matter of hours, the official response from the Clinton Administration, but already we know what those results will be. I agree with the statements that both of you have made, although you come from different angles about the certification process that we're currently using. It is a flawed system. It doesn't result in positive relations with our hemispheric neighbors. It does not produce beneficial results in our war against drugs. I don't say scrap the system all together, but I think that we should produce a process that really has more positive relations with our neighbors and produces the kind of results, the end result that we want, which is eradication of the drugs and making sure that they don't flow into the United States.
    We have to recognize our own responsibility here in the United States. This is where the demand is coming from. If we were to have a decertification process, perhaps we should examine ourselves and our own actions. This is where the demand is. It does not mean that any country is excused from producing those drugs. But certainly we need to do more in our own domestic efforts to hold ourselves up in the moral high ground, and do more to eradicate the drug use in our own communities and our own neighborhoods.
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    We have got to differentiate between the Colombian Government and the Colombian people. I think that's a distinction that is not adequately represented in our certification process. When we talk about the sacrifices made by the people, certainly the Colombian people have paid their dues in blood, sweat, and tears in fighting these narco traffickers. It was not so much in our distant past that the judicial appointment in Colombia was akin to a death sentence, because we knew what would happen to those judges if they were to try drug cases. They would in fact be sentenced to death. I think the record still sadly speaks to that. Five thousand police have been killed in the last 10 years fighting the narco traffickers. It's a daily struggle for the Colombian people.
    Yes, I agree that we should send a message to the Samper Government that we do not have confidence in them, but that does not mean that the people should be punished in this respect because there are many in the line of drugs and in the line of fire who are fighting with their daily lives against these narco traffickers.
    Being from Miami, just a 3-hour flight from Colombia, we have a special interest in making sure that the drug traffic ceases. I have had the opportunity to work with Coast Guard, DEA, Customs officials, all of the people involved in the drug war. They say that sometimes it gets worse, sometimes it gets better. But certainly the problem never goes away. Miami is still a transit point for the drugs to come into our country. We need to give the resources domestically to those individuals involved in the U.S. side to stop the flow of drugs.
    Also in the local area, we certainly hope that there will be no economic sanctions imposed, especially on industries that impact our economy in Miami, the flower industry that employs so many individuals. All of those flowers come from Colombia. It is a very important livelihood for many individuals. We certainly hope that carrying with this national security waiver will be no imposition of economic sanctions on this important part of Florida's economy.
    I expect we'll have a real battle on the floor in the appropriation process about the helicopters. Chairman Gilman has been very forceful and very eloquent in highlighting the need that these individuals, many of whom will be testifying today, have to get better equipment so that they are able to fight the narco traffickers. So we certainly hope that the Clinton Administration heeds Chairman Gilman's call and provides leadership on this issue. I know that Congressman Ballenger has been very active in promoting this cause as well, having visited this area time and time again.
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    But I thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Gilman, always, to participate in your hearings.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
    Mr. Clement.
    Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank our guests for joining us this morning. I look forward to learning more about the GAO report just released on Colombia regarding drug trafficking. The political, economic and operational implications of decertifying Colombia and the U.S. efforts to plan and manage counter-narcotics efforts in Colombia. I think many of us have questions about some of the findings of this report. I look forward to your testimony.
    As the United States is once again in the process of determining whether or not it will continue its policy of decertification for Colombia, this hearing is both timely and necessary. As we and the Administration deliberate the issue of certification for Colombia, there are many facts we must examine. Colombian officials continue to make the case that they are winning the war on drugs. Certainly the recent arrest of Nelson Urrego of the Cali cartel should be lauded. Regardless, there is much to be done in Colombia to weed out the corruption. I am hopeful the GAO report will assist us in pursuit of the facts.
    I sure agree with some of the statements that have already been made, whether the decertification program is helping at all when it concerns the flow of drugs. We surely know in the United States that we are truly plagued by many people taking drugs and committing violent crimes. It's obvious there's a direct correlation between taking illegal drugs and committing these violent crimes. I know the country of Colombia as well as the country of the United States must work together very closely to solve this difficult, complex problem when it comes to the flow of drugs as well as the consumption of drugs. We have got to fight it in both countries in order to be successful. Thank you.
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    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Clement. Any other Members seeking recognition? Mr. Ballenger.
    Mr. BALLENGER. Mr. Chairman, I just have a short statement to make. I think a great deal of the history of Colombia has been ignored, particularly the fact that it is one of the oldest democracies in the western hemisphere where democratic elections have taken place for years. To be honest with you, they may elect people we don't approve of, but that's none of our business. I'm sorry that they did elect the person they did, but you have got another election coming up soon. I think we should butt out and let them elect the person that the people want there, we'll probably end up with better cooperation.
    I would like to say one thing more. Seeing the great help we gave them to get 12 helicopters that somebody cut in half. What have we done to assist the effort in Colombia, even before decertification? It doesn't seem to me like it has been very sincere.
    As most everybody in this body knows, I come from an area that's very heavily involved in tobacco. I would hope that the Administration would decide to dedicate as much time and effort to fighting drugs as they decide to do in fighting tobacco. Thank you very much.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Ballenger. Is any other Member seeking recognition? If not, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the presence here today of some distinguished Colombian human rights defenders, Rafael Barrios, with the Colombian Lawyers Collective, Luce Marina and Carlos Rodriguez with the Colombian Commission of Jurists, and Patricia Fennmayer with the Medellin Human Rights Committee. We welcome you to our meeting. Fighting drugs and respecting human rights are not inconsistent. Both go hand in hand. The dignity of human kind is at stake in both these important areas of concern.
    In response to our good Ranking Member, Mr. Hamilton, I just would like to note, and I am quoting now from Bob Gelbard, Clinton Administration's Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics, formerly in that capacity, said of the drug certification process which Mr. Hamilton alluded to. ''Since its inception in the mid-1980's, the President's annual certification process has emerged as one of the most powerful tools in the conduct of our foreign drug control initiative.''
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    Mr. HAMILTON. Would the gentleman yield?
    Chairman GILMAN. In just a moment.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Would the gentleman yield, since you referred directly to me?
    Chairman GILMAN. Yes. I would be pleased to.
    Mr. HAMILTON. When was that statement made?
    Chairman GILMAN. That statement was made in December 1996.
    Mr. HAMILTON. This is now February 1998.
    Chairman GILMAN. Yes.
    Mr. HAMILTON. We have got a lot more experience with it. I can guarantee you that position does not represent the position of the Administration today.
    Chairman GILMAN. Well, we can check with Mr. Gelbard.
    Mr. HAMILTON. The point here, Mr. Chairman, is that with regard to Colombia, we have had this in operation now for several years, but coca plant production has increased.
    Chairman GILMAN. We have had a great deal of success in Peru, as the gentleman knows.
    Mr. HAMILTON. The subject of this hearing is Colombia.
    Chairman GILMAN. And one of the problems in Colombia has been the refusal to provide the kind of equipment that was needed by Colombia.
    I would also like to quote from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a May 21 statement of 1997 on certification. This is a recommendation of mayors, police chiefs, and prosecutors to the President. ''Foreign countries should be certified based upon their cooperation with the U.S. counter-narcotics efforts. Where appropriate, foreign aid should be denied to source countries which fail to cooperate satisfactorily.''
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    We'll now go on with our hearing. We welcome our panelists. We welcome Henry Hinton, Colonel Leonardo Gallego, and Lieutenant Fernando Lopez. Henry Hinton was appointed Assistant Controller General, National Security and International Affairs Division in October 1994. He served as Director of Planning for the division from January 1993 to October 1994. He joined GAO's Washington regional office back in 1970. In March 1989, he was appointed Associate Director of the Army issues, and appointed Director of Army issues in August 1992. He received his bachelor of science degree and management from the University of Richmond, and has received several awards, including GAO's distinguished and meritorious service awards and director awards.
    Mr. Hinton, you may put in your full statement or you may summarize, whichever you may deem appropriate.
    Mr. HINTON. Mr. Chairman, I would very much like to submit my full statement for the record. I'll be happy to summarize.
    Chairman GILMAN. Without objection, please proceed.
    Mr. HINTON. OK. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Hamilton, Members of the Committee, I am pleased to be here today to discuss the results of our review of counter-narcotics efforts in Colombia. At your request, Mr. Chairman, along with that of Chairman Hastert and Senator Grassley, we focused our review on, first, the nature of the drug trafficking threat in and from Colombia. Second, the political, economic, and operational implications of the U.S. decisions to decertify Colombia in 1996 and 1997. Third, U.S. efforts to plan and manage counter-narcotics activities in Colombia.
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    The narcotics threat from Colombia continues and may be expanding as Colombia remains as you have made mention, Mr. Chairman, the world's leading manufacturer and distributor of cocaine. According to the recent State Department and DEA reports, the cultivation of coca leaf in Colombia increased by 50 percent between 1994 and 1996, and the prevalence of Colombian heroin on the streets of the United States has steadily increased.
    Significant obstacles, including widespread corruption and extensive violence, impede U.S. and Colombian counter-narcotics efforts. Colombian insurgence groups have further complicated the situation as they are increasingly involved in drug trafficking activities, making it difficult for Colombian police and military forces to reduce drug trafficking activities within their borders.
    Let me turn to the implications of the decertification process decisions, Mr. Chairman. Since the initial decertification decision in March 1996, Colombia has taken several actions to address U.S. concerns, including passing laws to reduce drug trafficking, eradicating elicit drug crops, interdicting drugs, and combating drug-trafficking activities and organizations. U.S. officials believe Colombia must now fully implement newly passed laws on asset forfeiture, money laundering, and trafficker sentencing, and show a willingness to investigate and punish corrupt officials. Decertification has had little impact on Colombia's economy because the President chose not to apply discretionary sanctions against Colombia. However, mandatory economic sanctions required by the decertification decisions led to the termination of some U.S. economic aid and resulted in actions that may have hurt some U.S. businesses.
    When the initial decertification decision was made in March 1996, the Department of State was not prepared to determine whether some programmed assistance intended for the Colombian police and military could continue to be provided. It took State, in conjunction with other executive branch agencies, Mr. Chairman, about 8 months to make this decision. As a result, about $35 million in programmed counter-narcotics assistance was canceled or delayed. The overall operational implications of the cutoff on U.S. and Colombian counter-narcotics programs is not clear.
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    On the one hand, Mr. Chairman, the Colombian police and military were able to maintain or increase some types of operations by purchasing parts and equipment on the commercial market that were once available through the Department of Defense. Also the U.S. Embassy helped fund some of the activities with resources taken from other projects. On the other hand, however, Colombian police officials told us that some operations could not be conducted because certain types of assistance, such as aviation spare parts and explosives, were not available.
    Last, Mr. Chairman, for the past 10 years, we have reported on a number of management problems associated with the U.S. efforts and Colombia. The U.S. counter-narcotics program in Colombia has continued to experience management challenges. For example, the State Department and the U.S. Embassy were unprepared for the financial consequences of State's 1996 decision to expand aerial crop eradication. Due to unplanned expenditures to support the eradication effort, other embassy counter-narcotics activities, including interdiction efforts, demand reduction with Colombia, and efforts to strengthen Colombian law enforcement institutions, were scaled back or lost support.
    Moreover, the State Department did not take adequate steps to ensure that equipment included in a 1996 $40 million assistance package from Defense Department inventories could be integrated into the embassy's plans and strategies to support the Colombian police and military counter-narcotics forces. As a result, the package included items that had a limited immediate usefulness to the Colombian police and military and will require substantial additional funding to become operational. Examples include five C–26 aircraft, six river patrol boats, and 12 Huey helicopters. Moreover, the assistance was also delayed for 10 months because the State Department and the embassy could not reach agreement with the Government of Colombia over acceptable end-use provisions to ensure that assistance was not being provided to units suspected of human rights violations.
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    To address the problems in planning and coordinating assistance packages drawn from Defense Department inventories, we recommended that the State Department, in close consultation with the Department of Defense and the National Security Council, ensure that future assistance is compatible with the priority needs of the Colombian Government, and that adequate support resources are available to maximize the benefits of the assistance. The Department of Defense and the State Department agree with our recommendation in responding to our report.
    Mr. Chairman, that concludes my opening statement. Mr. Ford and I would be happy to respond to your and other Member's questions.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Hinton appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hinton. We are now also joined by Colonel Leonardo Gallego, the director of the Colombian National Police's world-renowned DANTI, their anti-narcotics police. He has served in that capacity for the past 3 years. During that period, the DANTI has seen the fall of the Medellin, the Cali, and the Valley de Norte cartels. Colonel Gallego has been key to that phenomenal effort. He has served in command positions in the anti-narcotics posts, with anti-terrorism units, with the intelligence units during his more than 25 years of meritorious service with the Colombian National Police. He commands a world famous unit that consists of 2,800 special agents. They have fought and defeated the largest drug cartels in the world. Colonel Gallego is one of the most highly decorated officers of the Colombian National Police. He holds awards and decorations from law enforcement and military organizations of the United States and other nations as well.
    Colonel Gallego, you may proceed.
    I note too that Colonel Gallego is accompanied by First Lieutenant Fernando Lopez, who is a graduate of Mississippi Valley College. He has served in the Colombian National Police for the past 5 years in active duty status after 4 years at the CNP's police academy at Santander. Most of his service has been in the Grupo Operativo, the direct action unit of DANTI. He has survived over 50 special operations missions as a unit commander.
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    Please proceed. Welcome, Lieutenant Lopez.
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your invitation here to the hearing. We are pleased to be here, sir.
    During 1997, the Colombian National Police, thanks to the leadership of General Serrano, and the counter-narcotics police under my leadership, we have continued fighting the narcotics all over the country with the support from other units and agencies from the Colombian Government to fight this war on drugs. Also the other agencies from the United States were working together with us to fight this war.
    I'm going to do a small review about the result from 1997. During 1997, the Colombian National Police got a record in fumigation of illegal crops, 48,809 hectares of cocaine, and 6,987 of poppy crops. The police got a record of 48,856 hectares that were recorded by American people that were with the Colombian police in the spring. Also in the seizing of illegal drugs, we got figures. The police during 1997 seized 41,476 kilograms of pure and base cocaine, 117 tons of cocaine leaves, 136 tons of marijuana, 338 grams of opium. The police had detected and destroyed 215 labs for the processing, the making up of cocaine and heroin.
    The police has also seized 2,236 tons of chemical precursors, and 1,684,000 gallons of liquid precursors. The police has also the opportunity to detect and destroy 58 airstrips used for the transportation of illegal drugs. The police have seized 22 airplanes, 550 firearms, 543 cars, and 200 ships. Among all of them, there were some fast boats where they used to take the drugs from Colombia to the sea to bigger ships. For the ending of 1997, the police caught 1,594 drug dealers.
    Mr. Chairman, the Colombian National Police, under the leadership of General Serrano, is going to continue fighting with the same force during this year that we did last year, sir. Before any questions, we want to make a presentation, a short film about our last operation during the last year, and the ones we had during this year.
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    Chairman GILMAN. Without objection. Could you please turn on the film?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] Mr. Chairman, as you can watch in the film, the coca crops are found in the jungle, far away from where the bases are, sir. As you can watch, our daily operation is spraying. As you can watch, that's the way the poppy crops, the cocaine crops are also being sprayed. Most of the cultivation dies after the spraying. Also we are showing you the poppy crops in the high altitudes, in the high mountains. There you can see the poppy cultivation for the make-up of heroin. As you can see, the drug dealers do the cultivation of poppy crops in the high mountains. We have found those poppy crops in more than 2,400 meters from sea level.
    The Colombian National Police throughout the counter-narcotics police do their spraying every day. This operation is with a high risk, requires pilots with a lot of experience, a large experience, and with a high risk to be shot down by the guerrillas which are in charge of the protection of this cultivation.
    As you can see, this helicopter fell down the last 29th of December. He went down because of high wind current. Thanks to the experience of the pilot, he was able to land the helicopter in the mountains. These are some of the labs, from the 39 labs that we had destroyed during this year, where we had found some cocaine. These are some people that had been found in the labs, some from Colombia and some from Ecuador. The police has also detected 21 labs for the processing of cocaine. We have increased our process for destroying labs.
    Last week during an operation under the leadership of General Serrano, Nelson Urrego was captured after a great operation, a follow-up operation of the intelligence service of the Colombian National Police, because Mr. Urrego had been captured last year before.
    Also, Mr. Chairman, we are under this fight, the Colombian National Police is under this fight by the leadership, with a great respect of the human rights of the people that are in this fight. Also, we are fighting to keep on with the leadership to protect the environment. We are fighting for the protection of the environment, that has been destroyed for the production of drugs.
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    Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We are pleased for the minutes that you gave us. We are ready to answer any questions.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Colonel, and thank you, Lieutenant, for that extensive testimony, and for the film that you presented to us, and for the material that you supplied in relation to this hearing. I want to ask that the record include statements at this time by Mr. Burton, and Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, without objection, to be made a part of the record.
    [The prepared statements of Mr. Burton and Mr. Diaz-Balart appear in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Hinton, our staff visited Colombia in the fall of 1996. At that time, we learned that millions in foreign military sales (FMS) for helicopters, spare parts, ammunition and explosives for the police had been held up by the decertification. Our Committee counsel was later asked if both FMS and IMET, even if for counter-narcotics purposes, were cut off by the decertification process. Within a short period of time (a few hours), he had a positive answer.
    Can you tell us why it took the State Department lawyers 8 months, as your report cites, to decide so easy an answer, especially when the police needed these supplies for their very survival in their struggle against the narcotics peddlers?
    Mr. HINTON. Mr. Chairman, you are correct. It did take 8 months to reach a decision on that. I don't have a precise answer why. I know that there was a lot of going back and forth between all the key players in the Administration. DSAA had an opinion that they felt a lot of this assistance could continue that was in the pipeline. However, the NSC and others disagreed.
    We sought, Mr. Chairman, to try to see what documentation existed about any meetings that had occurred in that interim to try to find out what were the issues discussed, what were the resolution of the issues, and we could not ascertain that any existed. What we did ascertain, there was a lot of telephonics back and forth between the players. It looked as though to us that no one brought the team together to try to come to a quick resolution and try to keep the assistance moving.
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    Chairman GILMAN. Some of that is still not resolved, apparently. Is it true that the machine gun ammunition that was released by the President's 614 waiver in August 1997, and it was needed by the CNP; even the INL American pilots and operators to protect themselves, is still sitting in Charleston, South Carolina at a depot?
    Mr. HINTON. My understanding on the ammunition and all is that it's been delivered.
    Chairman GILMAN. Lieutenant Lopez, can you tell us has that ammunition been delivered to your facilities?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir. We got the ammunition on January 25.
    Chairman GILMAN. January 1998 after an August 1997 waiver?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Six months. Thank you. Let me address a couple of questions to Colonel Gallego. How many more clandestine airstrips for the drug peddlers could you have destroyed with more explosives during the 2-year period of the decertification of Colombia?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] From my estimation, sir, is that we could have destroyed at least the double of airstrips that we destroyed if we could have the explosives to do it, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. When you say double, how many airstrips are we talking about?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] During 1996, we destroyed 81 airstrips. During 1997, we destroyed 51 airstrips. We could have destroyed the double of this number if we had the explosives to destroy those airstrips. For 1996, around 172. For 1997, 115 or more.
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    Chairman GILMAN. How many clandestine airstrips do you estimate are still functioning in Colombia at the present time?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] According to intelligence previous reports, at this moment we have more than 600 airstrips working at this moment.
    Chairman GILMAN. Throughout the nation?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Excuse me, sir?
    Chairman GILMAN. Throughout Colombia?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. The ammunition, Lieutenant Lopez, that had to be bought from non-U.S. military sources due to decertification, and I understand it came from South Africa and Portugal for your machine guns and your mini-guns on the U.S.-provided helicopters during the decertification period. Is it true that some jammed, exploded and created problems for your personnel?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir. The ammunition that we bought from Portugal and South Africa, they are more expensive than we can get through the Department of Defense. We had problems. They used to jam the mini-guns. Sometimes that ammunition exploded.
    Chairman GILMAN. Today you are training, Lieutenant Lopez, to be a CNP pilot on a flight simulator. Is that correct?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. That's right, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. How long did it take you to get that simulator during this decertification period?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Around 2 years, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Two years?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir.
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    Chairman GILMAN. And did decertification impact on the foreign military sales case—opened on purchasing the simulator?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir. Because we were not able to get it because the decertification and all the cases were closed. So we were not able to get it after the waiver.
    Chairman GILMAN. When did you finally get your simulator?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Last year, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. When last year?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. About July, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. How old are you, Lieutenant?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Twenty nine, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. And how long have you been a Colombian National Policeman?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Nine years, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. And how many of your academy classmates have been killed fighting the war on drugs?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Around 19.
    Chairman GILMAN. How long do you hope to be able to continue in your service in fighting the war on drugs?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Until we win or we die, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you.
    Mr. Hamilton.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Hinton, I have taken note of the criticisms you made of the Administration on delay. I don't for a moment defend any of that delay, but I do want to try to understand it better. What was the cause of the delay, in your view?
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    Mr. HINTON. The cause, sir?
    Mr. HAMILTON. Yes.
    Mr. HINTON. I don't think that we could get agreement on what assistance could go down, what was already in the pipeline, and whether it could continue.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Was that in part because of ambiguity in the law?
    Mr. HINTON. That could be part of the reason, sir. I can't pinpoint the reason for you. I do know that the INL bureau back in February of that year had done an early analysis looking at that. Basically the analysis that they did at that time ended up being what the final decision was 8 months after the discussion had occurred. In the intervening months, Mr. Hamilton, there was a lot of discussion but no resolution. You are exactly right. I am sure there are great parts in this around the legislation and all, but what we didn't see is bringing everyone together to say OK, let's establish a timeline to try to reach some resolution so we could keep this moving. We asked for documentation about that. We were unable to get it.
    Mr. HAMILTON. OK. I appreciate that. Do you have an opinion about the decertification process?
    Mr. HINTON. No, sir. GAO does not have a position. I was pleased to hear that you all are going to have a hearing on that.
    Mr. HAMILTON. In your study of the problem in Colombia, do you have a sense that there is the political will to fight the problem of drug trafficking at the highest levels of the Colombian Government?
    Mr. HINTON. I think, sir, that with the conditions that had been imposed, there has been movement to address those in-country. I do not know if that would have occurred if those conditions were not there. That's a part of the process——
    Mr. HAMILTON. You don't have any judgment about the political will of the Colombian leadership?
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    Mr. HINTON. No, sir. The GAO does not.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Let me just express my view. I don't defend these delays. I think there were probably some mistakes, major mistakes made by the Administration in not getting this assistance down there more promptly. I do think some of the problem is the ambiguity in the certification statute.
    I just want to express my basic view that fighting drugs is an enormously complicated business. It's of course appropriate to focus on certain aspects of it like delivery of helicopters. But what strikes me most strongly is that we're not going to stop the flow of narcotics into this country without the cooperation of the Colombian Government and the support of the Colombian Government. As some of my colleagues have said, we in this country have plenty to do ourselves in trying to decrease the demand. That's the principal problem, I guess, in a very real way. But it seems to me that the certification statute as now drafted creates confrontation. It creates kind of an adversarial relationship and not cooperation.
    Full cooperation means a lot more than just having a meeting between the two Presidents. That has not occurred, but it means more than Presidents meeting. You have to have cooperation all up and down the line, law enforcement agencies, border patrol, sharing intelligence, sharing experience on how to stem it. It just seems to me the certification statute as we now have very much gets in the way.
    Colonel Gallego, I don't want to put you on the spot and I'll not ask you a question, but I must say to you that I am puzzled with the performance of the Colombian Government. I am not persuaded that the Colombian Government is making a unified vigorous effort to deal with narcotics trafficking. I have the very distinct impression that the political leadership of your country is not willing to make this a highest priority. The fact that you have cut back substantially the amount of resources that are spent at a time when the United States is increasing resources has not been adequately explained to me.
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    I am under the impression that there are large splits between the police on the one hand and the defense establishment on the other. The army, for example, does not equip the police, and the police have to come up here and get an earmark for specific kinds of assistance like helicopters. You do not have cooperation and coordination between the military establishment of Colombia and the police.
    The GAO report makes reference to the obstacles of corruption in the insurgent groups in Colombia itself. I am told that in some of the prisons where some of these drug dealers are held, they are able to continue to do business. I have alluded earlier to the fact that coca plant cultivation has gone up.
    Now I want to say to you that I commend all that you do in fighting drugs. I am impressed by this film. I am impressed by the statistics you have given us. I applaud that. I praise you for it. But I want you to know that many of us up here see the problem of fighting drugs as one of being enormously complicated, with many aspects to it. We in this country should take our share of the blame. We probably have made some mistakes with regard to the supply of the equipment and the delay in getting that equipment to you. I acknowledge all of that. But I am also persuaded by the fact that we are never ever going to resolve this drug problem in this country unless we get cooperation at all levels by the governments that are involved. I thank you.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton. With regard to your comment about the dedication of the Colombian Government, I would like to direct you to an article that appeared in The Miami Herald on February 23, 1998, by Juan Carlos Esguerra, Colombia's ambassador to the United States. I'll make this part of the record. But in his statement to The Miami Herald, Ambassador Esguerra said, ''No Colombian needs reminders of the evil of drugs or the damage that trafficking has done worldwide. As a country, we have devoted substantial resources to fight this menace over the years. During this time, we have seen more than 3,500 of our police officers killed, not to mention judges, political candidates, and cabinet officers.'' Then he concludes in his lengthy statement, ''Colombia and the United States need to continue working together in fighting the war against drugs.''
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    Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman, I applaud all that Colombia has done. I am quite aware of the fact that they have done a lot. I don't mean to criticize that in any way. But I am also aware of the fact that when Colombia passed an extradition law they did not make it retroactive. I am also aware of the fact that Colombia is cutting back resources to fight drugs. I am also aware of the fact that the President of that country has not shown strong political leadership on this question. There are serious questions about his relationships to some of the top drug dealers in Colombia.
    This is not a black and white picture. Mr. Gilman has emphasized many of the positive features of that. I respect that. I don't disagree with him in any respect. But there is another side of the picture as well. Thank you.
    Chairman GILMAN. I am going to submit this statement by the Ambassador for the record, without objection.
    [The statement appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Martinez.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have listened very attentively to both you and the Ranking Member. I have listened very attentively to the testimony of Colonel Gallego. I am really sorry the State Department didn't provide somebody with more expertise to act as an interpreter for Colonel Gallego, because I think, no disrespect to Mr. Lopez, that the translation was not quite accurate on what Mr. Gallego said in trying to impress upon us their efforts in their drug fight in Colombia.
    You asked the question of young Mr. Lopez, how long he had been in the department. I surmised from what his answer was he had been there 9 years. You asked him how many of his classmates graduated and went into the law enforcement with him had died in that 9 years. He said 19.
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Eighteen, sir.
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    Mr. MARTINEZ. Eighteen. That's at least two per year that have died fighting drugs. So I don't see how anybody can say they are not putting forth an effort.
    In his testimony, he was alluding to the number of tons of coca leaves destroyed, the number of tons of marijuana, and the number of laboratories that had been destroyed, and the grams of opium that had been seized, and the number of arrests made. I don't know how we compare those to our country and what we have done. But I think we ought to clean up our own act before we start criticizing an act of people in another country.
    I would like to ask the lieutenant, and I guess Colonel Gallego would probably have the answer, in the 117 tons of coca leaves that were destroyed, what percentage is that of the total coca leaf harvest in 1 year? Do you have any idea?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] The estimated number, you can get one kilogram, 600 grams for each hectare of cocaine cultivation, sir.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. No, no. The question I am asking is in the 117 tons that you seized and destroyed of coca leaves, what percentage was that of the total production or harvest of coca leaves? In other words, you have some estimation from what pound as growing coca leaf and what it would harvest, the number of tons. Let's say you estimate that the coca leaf total production or harvest of coca leaf would be in 1 year 550 tons. I don't know what it is, but you might have an idea. What percentage is that 117 you destroyed of that total output?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] During 1997, we got our figure, 67,000 hectares of cocaine crops.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. How many tons would that produce?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] Each hectare in each harbor has the capacity to produce one ton, 200 grams of cocaine leaf. From one ton, 200 grams of coca leaf, we make from one hectare of cocaine cultivation.
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    Mr. MARTINEZ. I really don't think you are understanding the question I am asking. The question I am asking is what percentage of that that you destroyed would that have been produced? In other words, you have to have some estimation from what you have surveyed as fields growing coca as to how much coca would be produced, coca leaf would be produced. You have destroyed 117. What I am trying to get at, is that 25 percent or is that 50 percent or is that 10 percent?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] From 10 to 15 percent of the total of the production of coca leaf for harvest.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. So that's what was captured and destroyed in the year?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. With limited capability because of restriction of materials and supplies you needed to fight it?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] The answer is that not only that will affect these results, but there are other factors. He will tell you which ones are.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. I have the answer. They evidently have the answer here. You approximately would cultivate in a year 98,800 tons. You destroyed about 20,000 of that. So that's a little better than 20 percent. So that's a good percentage of destruction with the limited resources you had.
    The thing is, I think here in Washington it is hard for us to get a good picture of what is happening in Colombia. We depend entirely on the reports we get, as the one from the GAO report that Mr. Hinton presented here. The only problem I have with it is that in pointing fingers and finding blame, it is inconsistent with the report on the back that comes from the State Department in criticism of your report. They stated a couple of instances where they have provided you with new information to offset the information you have provided.
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    But mainly, the big question here seems to be on the delay that took place. On their bullets on the second page, on the third one down, I don't know if you have that copy to refer to there, they state, ''The chart on page 39 should be amended to indicate that $30 million figure is an ''up to'' figure, not an absolute. It should be noted that it is difficult to tell how much of that FMF was delayed, as the money is only spent gradually usually over a period of several years. Only a small percentage would have been spent during the 8 months in which a decision was delayed.''
    Later on, they go to say, ''We object to the characterization that it took the State Department 8 months to issue its final guidance on the types of assistance that could be provided. The process of developing the guidance was an interagency one. The largest obstacle to issuing the final guidance was a fundamental disagreement between State Department lawyers and DSAA general counsel. To lay all the blame for delay on one agency in an interagency process is neither accurate nor fair.''
    Then on the next page they say, ''Later in that same paragraph, the report completely ignores the large Colombian role in delaying the signing of an acceptable EUM agreement. Colombian obstinence, inconsistency, and the need to negotiate with three different defense ministers over that 10 months was the primary cause for the delay in concluding negotiations on the EUM. The Government of Colombia twice backed away from agreements which had been reached on the EUM issue. The same comment applies to the discussion on page 53.''
    The last paragraph I'll read is on the bottom. It says, ''The report also quotes DEA officials alleging that the increase in eradication displaced support for other drug law enforcement activities. This is demonstrably untrue. Our large increase in funding for the CNP in fiscal year 1997 not only permitted an increase in eradication; it also led to an increase in interdiction missions. We note that the Colombian seizure figures in 1997 were significantly higher. Virtually every interdiction mission is conducted with logistical support provided by the State Department.''
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    Also, the colonel testified to the fact of the destruction of these 117 tons of cocaine, of coca leaf, the 136 tons of marijuana, the 215 labs that were destroyed, the 338 grams of opium that was destroyed. All of this he said with American observers. My question to the GAO is, did you talk to any of those observers in the actual activities that they were carrying out to try to eradicate the drugs?
    Mr. HINTON. Yes, sir. I think our report reflects a lot of that, Congressman. A couple things in response to several of the points you brought out. I am fully aware of the State Department's comments. As we finalized the report, we considered those and made changes where it made sense to make changes and we agreed with them. There were some areas that we did not agree.
    On the 8-month delay that we had in the report, you are correct. There was a lot of disagreement. My point was we didn't see an effort to try to bring everybody together to come to some resolution or to establish a timetable to come to resolution. As a result, a lot of that assistance in the pipeline did not make its way.
    Our report also reflects exactly some of the data that the colonel was saying happened. But it also reflects that there was some operations, as he testified to, that they were unable to do because they didn't have the assistance. For example, certain types of explosives to create craters in runways was tied up in the pipeline. They were not able to get the ammunition to do it. Also, there was a delay in some assistance because of negotiations over end-use monitoring agreements. The assistance was announced as a national security issue, but it took the State Department 4 1/2 months before they issued instructions for negotiating the end-use agreements. When you look at that closely, it's very difficult to say what was the precise impact of that. I can't sit here and say with specificity the impact, but had the 4 1/2-month delay not occurred, the helicopters may have been down there sooner. The second point is that after the helicopters were delivered, they found out that they had less than on average 10 hours before major maintenance had to be done. So that would have been identified much earlier too, and maybe could have been dealt with and helped increase the number of operations.
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    So you are correct what you recited to me. We made changes to the report. I covered the part that you mentioned about the 8-month delay. I think when you look at impact, you have got to take each part of it and carefully assess it, because some parts need a lot more scrutiny.
    Chairman GILMAN. The gentleman's time has expired.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, just allow me to——
    Chairman GILMAN. By all means, go ahead.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. Say one last thing. That I have always been against decertification because it's only an embarrassment to those counties that we decertify. Those countries can turn around and look at us and say, why don't you decertify yourself for the things that you haven't taken care of in your country. So I think that we ought to change that. I agree with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. I agree with Cass Ballenger. I agree with the Ranking Member, Mr. Lee Hamilton, that we ought to do something about that, because when we delay aid to go to these people for fighting those drugs, we are only hurting ourselves.
    Chairman GILMAN. There's no question that some of the blame lies with us. But I still think the decertification tool is a very important tool in our war against drugs to try to get cooperation with other countries.
    Mr. MARTINEZ. Just one last word, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Yes?
    Mr. MARTINEZ. To the witnesses, Senor Colonel Gallego, the Lieutenant Lopez—[spoken in Spanish.]
    Chairman GILMAN. Why don't you translate that for the record, Mr. Martinez?
    Mr. MARTINEZ. I just said that I think they are doing a tremendous job and that my hat is off to them. I think that—well, just that they are doing a tremendous job. I appreciate their coming here and testifying and telling us about what they do.
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    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you very much.
    Mr. Cass Ballenger.
    Mr. BALLENGER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have got a couple questions for Colonel Gallego. I would like to thank the gentleman from California for translating. Our Ranking Minority Member brought up the fact that coca production in Colombia has increased rather substantially. I would like to ask the colonel, is it caused by any effect of the decrease in production in Peru? My understanding is Peru's production has been decreased by 45 percent. I think it's a leading question, but I would like to have an answer.
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] I believe this phenomena comes from different ways. But according to the records that we have in Colombia that are made by U.S. observers, we have registered an increasing of the areas of cultivation and different areas where they used to do all the cultivation of cocaine crops. We had a record of decreasing of the cultivation and the production of cocaine, sir, in the areas where we are making our operations. What he wants to say is that in the areas where we are having our operation, the cultivation and the production of cocaine has gone down. What it shows, the difficult situation that is happening at this moment, sir. What this shows, sir, is that we need resources to fight in both places, to help our fight at the same time in the different places, sir.
    Mr. BALLENGER. Let me ask you a question concerning the 12 helicopters that were delivered to you in 1997. Would you express an opinion as to what affect they have had in your ability to reduce the production of cocaine?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] When we got the last 12 helicopters in 1997, the impact was positive. Because of these 12 helicopters, we had the opportunity to fight better the cultivation of crops, and to have better results.
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    Mr. BALLENGER. My understanding is they were not in very useable condition. Am I mistaken there?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] You are right, sir. There were some helicopters that we're close to getting through maintenance phases, sir.
    Mr. BALLENGER. So in reality there were 12 helicopters delivered, but we really didn't deliver a great deal as far as helicopter capability goes.
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] You are right, sir. The helicopters when they were donated, we had to wait until they were through maintenance, to face maintenance, now we are increasing the operation with those helicopters, sir.
    Mr. BALLENGER. One more thing. My understanding is that one of the reasons that coca production in Peru has been reduced in the first place is because they have a shoot-down policy and they have the equipment to shoot down planes. Is there such a policy in Colombia and do they have the equipment to enforce it?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] You are right, sir, when you made the statement that the shoot-down policy of Peru has decreased the production. Also, Colombia can, with that policy against the illegal airplanes which have been able to get—with these airplanes that are used for the logistic transportation of drugs. But this shows too, sir, that we need a better support, better airplanes to have a better and bigger control all over the areas of Colombia.
    Mr. BALLENGER. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to add one more thing. It seems that the generosity that we have supposedly shown to the Colombian National Police, if I may say, has been somewhat of a joke. We deliver 12 helicopters, and according to the GAO report, only two were in good condition. In a 2-month period, all of them were no good except two. How can we deliver five C–26 aircraft that won't fly, give them six patrol boats that require $600,000 to repair so they are worth using? I agree with your report, sir, that there seems to be a miscommunication. The whole thing was in my considered opinion, somewhat of a joke.
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    Mr. HINTON. Mr. Ballenger, what I would like to say is that that goes to the heart of the recommendation that we made in our report, is that no question, I think there could have been better planning and execution of the program there that we're talking about. Our recommendation went exactly to the point there, that we need to get the requirements identified. Once we know the requirements, we get the U.S. team together and find the best way to match the requirements. If we need logistical support of funds or assistance of some type, they have got to be a part of that package. So it needs to be well thought out. There was no disagreement on that point from the agencies that we dealt with. I think it was hastily done. You are quoting some of the problems that fell out of a hastily done process.
    Mr. BALLENGER. Let me just say that groups of us have gone down to Colombia and requested from Colonel Gallego and General Serrano advice as to what they thought they needed. Then we went back to the embassy there and specifically asked them what they thought of this idea. They said it was a pretty good idea. That's when our chairman, myself, and several others decided that we would maybe force the hand of our government to do something that the Colombian people knew was necessary. So we did it. I think we did right.
    Mr. HINTON. I would think that if the State Department and DOD are true to their word in terms of their responding to the recommendation, hopefully we can avoid and learn from the past experiences as we shape others.
    Mr. BALLENGER. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Ballenger. Just a few more questions and then we'll wind up our hearing.
    Colonel Gallego, in December 1997, a Huey crashed in the high Andes. I think that was in your video. What kind of equipment do you need to operate at those high altitudes?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] I'm glad for all the help received from the American Government. As I answered before, we really need helicopters with better capacity that should be able to fly greater distance, that could be able to take more people. This helicopter was not efficient to fly high altitude as you watched in the film. As we said before, sir, we need helicopters with a better range, with better capacity, sir.
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    Chairman GILMAN. Colonel, how many Black Hawk helicopters do you need to operate on your eradication missions?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] Mr. Chairman, as you know, these helicopters are the ones that have the better specifications for the kind of job that we are doing. At this moment, we need at least six Black Hawks, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Six. And how many Hueys would you need?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. How many what, sir?
    Chairman GILMAN. How many all together? You said six Black Hawks. How many Hueys would you need?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] Sir, besides the six Black Hawks, we really need 12 upgraded UH–1s, sir. Upgraded to Huey 2 status.
    Chairman GILMAN. That's what we have appropriated money for in FY 1998. Three blackhawks and a dozen Huey 2 upgrades. We hope that that delivery will be expedited.
    Mr. Hinton, it took months and months after the State Department decertified Colombia in 1996 to ascertain what form of anti-drug assistance we could provide to the CNP. It's rather ridiculous to only research what anti-drug aid we still can provide after and not before the decision was made on decertification. Have you made some recommendation that they ought to be able to make some proper determination before they make their determinations on decertification?
    Mr. HINTON. No, sir. Our recommendation wasn't going to that. Our recommendation was going to the 506 program to try to get the requirements linked up with the assets. I think, sir, in terms of the delay that did occur, I think what I would have as a suggestion is that when those things arise, we have got to get the decisionmakers in a room very quickly and come to some decision or a timeframe for reaching the decision so that you don't delay anything that might be in the pipeline if you run into that situation again.
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    Chairman GILMAN. And not bury it under the rug for 8 months.
    How many months were lost even after the President waived the decertification restrictions in a 614 waiver in August 1997 on FMS and IMET training for the military before there was a human rights end-use monitoring agreement in place?
    Mr. HINTON. The end-use monitoring agreement was in August 1997; about the same time as the 614 waiver.
    Chairman GILMAN. Four and a half months. To date, has any of that non-lethal anti-drug assistance been provided to the military? Do you know?
    Mr. HINTON. According to DOD, about $2.6 million has been provided out of the total.
    Chairman GILMAN. Has it been delivered?
    Mr. HINTON. The $2.6 million has been, and more of it is still on its way.
    Chairman GILMAN. How much is on its way?
    Mr. HINTON. I don't have the precise number on that, but I can get that for you.
    Chairman GILMAN. If you could submit that for us.
    Mr. HINTON. Sure.
    Chairman GILMAN. How about the police? Has some of that been provided to the police as well?
    Mr. HINTON. Some of that is earmarked for the police.
    Chairman GILMAN. And how much has been delivered?
    Mr. HINTON. I'll have to get the information for you. I don't have that, Mr. Gilman, right in my head.
    Chairman GILMAN. Colonel Gallego, how important are your DC–3s in your operation?
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    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] Mr. Chairman, the DC–3s are vital for the Colombian police because the cultivation is far away from our bases, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Did you say they are vital?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Vital, yes, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. For more than 18 months, one of your DC–3s lay idle at El Dorado Airport in Bogata, while the State Department was trying to determine how or if to fix the aircraft. During that period of time, how did you move fuel, troops, and herbicide with only DC–3s operating? What impact did that have on your operation?
    Colonel GALLEGO. [as interpreted into English by Lieutenant Lopez] As you say, sir, we had the failure of one DC–3. I can not answer you why the airplane was not fixed. Meanwhile the delay of the repair of the one DC–3, we had to operate with only one DC–3, sir. Many opportunities, as you can see, sir, we had the need to rent the service of commercial companies to move our support. But during our operations, we are not allowed to use commercial airplanes. Sometimes when we were seizing drugs, some of these operations against the production of cocaine, we had to stop then or we had to wait and do it afterwards. But the transportation for herbicide and fuel, the payment for the rental of these airplanes, this commercial plane was paid through the embassy, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Lieutenant Lopez, did the decertification delay the repairs of the DC–3?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Sir, what happened, is that we requested to open a case for the repair of the DC–3. Because of the decertification, we were not able to open new cases, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. How long was it delayed?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Eighteen months, sir.
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    Chairman GILMAN. Eighteen months?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Where was it repaired by the way?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. In Wisconsin, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. So it sat idle in Bogata for 18 months and then had to go to Wisconsin for repair?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. That's right, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. How long did the repairs take?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. About a month and a half, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. So you were leasing a DC–3 or other equipment in the meantime, is that right?
    Lieutenant LOPEZ. Yes, sir.
    Chairman GILMAN. Well, I want to thank you. Before we wind up, I want to make as part of the record an article from The Miami Herald in the national satellite edition, January 31, 1997, entitled ''Columbia Seizes Huge Drug Lab.'' It indicates major results in January 1997; a 13-ton cocaine seizure, and the world's largest cocaine lab destroyed capable of producing some 400 tons each year just 2 days after 12 Huey helicopters arrived for use by the CNP in Colombia.
    [The article appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. In concluding, today this Committee heard a young man, Lieutenant Lopez, serving his country and also serving the interests of our country, tell this Committee that he would fight the war on drugs until he wins or until he dies. Hopefully it will be a winning result. He has already risked his life and has suffered many times. So this is no idle claim.
    I am impressed with what both of you have done, Colonel Gallego, and Lieutenant Lopez, in your entire operation. I am more impressed with what the future holds. We hope that both of you and General Serrano will be able to continue fighting our war. We owe you our full support, not promises. Thank you for being with us. Via con dios!
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    [Whereupon, at 1:18 p.m. the Committee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]


    Insert "The Official Committee record contains additional material here."