ⓘ CIA transnational anti-crime and anti-drug activities


ⓘ CIA transnational anti-crime and anti-drug activities

This article deals with activities of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency related to transnational crime, including the illicit drug trade.

Two offices of the CIA Directorate of Intelligence have analytical responsibilities in this area. The Office of Transnational Issues applies unique functional expertise to assess existing and emerging threats to US national security and provides the most senior US policymakers, military planners, and law enforcement with analysis, warning, and crisis support.

The CIA Crime and Narcotics Center researches information on international narcotics trafficking and organized crime for policymakers and the law enforcement community. Since the CIA has no domestic police authority, it sends its analytic information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI and other law enforcement organizations, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration DEA and the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury OFAC.

Another part of the CIA, the National Clandestine Service, collects human intelligence HUMINT in these areas.


1. Drug trade

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODOC,

Drug cultivation thrives on instability, corruption and poor governance. The worlds biggest drug producing centres are in regions beyond the control of the central government, like South Afghanistan, South-West Colombia and East Myanmar. Until government control, democracy and the rule of law are restored, these regions will remain nests of insurgency and drug production - and represent the biggest challenge to containment.

Especially in developing countries in conflict, there have been allegations that the CIA assisted the illicit drug activities of local leaders who saw that as a payment for their assistance.


1.1. Drug trade Latin America

There have been allegations that CIA was involved in the Latin American drug trade, possibly to finance operations in Nicaragua and other areas around the world where Congress had denied funding, such as Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. According to a personal account by Everett Ellis Briggs, former U.S. Ambassador to Panama and Honduras, CIA undermined efforts to put a stop to the drug smuggling activities of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega prior to the December, 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama.


1.2. Drug trade Iran-Contra related

Released on April 13, 1989, the Kerry Committee report found that the U.S. State Department had assisted drug traffickers:

who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking. and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers.

Some of these payments were after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges or while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies. The report declared, "It is clear that individuals who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking. and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers."

Representative Maxine Waters testified to Congress:

Senator Kerry and his Senate investigation found drug traffickers had used the Contra war and tie to the Contra leadership to help this trade. Among their findings, the Kerry committee investigators found that traffickers used the Contra supply networks and the traffickers provided support for Contras in return. The CIA created, trained, supported, and directed the Contras and were involved in every level of their war.

In 1996, investigative journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of articles for the San Jose Mercury News entitled, "Dark Alliance", in which he reported evidence that CIA aircraft, which had ferried arms to the Nicaraguan Contras, had been used to ship cocaine to the United States on their return flights. In 1998 the new DCI, George Tenet, declared that he was releasing the report. The report of CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz and Hitzs testimony showed that the "CIA did not expeditiously cut off relations with alleged drug traffickers" and "the CIA was aware of allegations that dozens of people and a number of companies connected in some fashion to the contra program were involved in drug trafficking" Hitz also said that under an agreement in 1982 between Ronald Reagans Attorney General William French Smith and the CIA, agency officers were not required to report allegations of drug trafficking involving non-employees, which was defined as meaning paid and non-paid "assets interdiction.Iran shares a 936 kilometer border with Afghanistan and a 909 kilometer border with Pakistan, and the terrain in the two eastern provinces - Sistan va Baluchistan and Khorasan - is very rough. The Iranian government has set up static defenses along this border. This includes concrete dams, berms, trenches, and minefields.


2. Slavery

Various forms of slavery are still present throughout the world. Some put individuals into local service for labor, sex, or the related issues of child soldiers. There is also a form that ships individuals from less developed to more developed countries. Others are based on debt bondage. The US has a Special Advisor to the Secretary of State, at an Ambassadorial level, to deal with the problem in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

A CIA analyst in an independent research program characterized the agencys understanding of the problem.

Trafficking of women and children for the sex industry and for labor is prevalent in all regions of the United States. An estimated 45.000 to 50.000 women and children are trafficked annually to the United States, primarily by small crime rings and loosely connected criminal networks. The trafficked victims have traditionally come from Southeast Asia and Latin America; however, increasingly they are coming from the New Independent States and Central and Eastern Europe. Trafficking to the US is likely to increase given weak economies and few job opportunities in the countries of origin; low risk of prosecution and enormous profit potential for the traffickers; and improved international transportation infrastructures. Though it may be impossible to eradicate trafficking to the US, it is possible to diminish the problem significantly by targeted prevention and microcredit strategies in the source countries; strengthening the penalties and laws against traffickers in this country; and enhancing assistance and protections for the victims.

CIA provided analytic support to the Department of State on human smuggling and trafficking, with an expert who oversaw the assessment, drafting, and coordination of the 2002 Trafficking in Persons report. As part of intergovernmental work, it collected and reported intelligence to US law enforcement agencies conducting operations against members of Latin American and Middle Eastern terrorist groups and against smugglers of aliens into the United States.


3. Financial crime and money laundering

CIA works with the United States Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network FINCen. With respect to efforts to apply the Patriot Act to a foreign bank involved in money laundering. CIA analysts identified key players in the bank, their relationship to international organized crime, and the banks efforts to hide its accounts from US law enforcement. See Financial intelligence FININT.

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