Office of National Drug Control Policy

Chapter 6. Strengthen International Partnerships

Chapter Table of Contents


In countries where drug trafficking organizations threaten public safety and prevention efforts, our international drug control programs facilitate sharing of law enforcement and intelligence information and reduce illicit drug trafficking. They strengthen economic development, the rule of law, government institutions, and local communities seeking to reduce their own internal drug consumption.

When we help our partner nations defeat drug trafficking organizations and curb consumption, we also defend against one of the primary drivers of the growing global security threat posed by transnational organized crime. This challenge was described in the President’s inaugural National Security Strategy in 2010:

“Transnational criminal threats and illicit trafficking networks continue to expand dramatically in size, scope, and influence—posing significant national security challenges for the United States and our partner countries. These threats cross borders and continents and undermine the stability of nations, subverting government institutions through corruption and harming citizens worldwide. Transnational criminal organizations have accumulated unprecedented wealth and power through trafficking and other illicit activities, penetrating legitimate financial systems and destabilizing commercial markets. They extend their reach by forming alliances with government officials and some state security services.”

—2010 National Security Strategy

Principle 1. Collaborate with International Partners to Disrupt the Drug Trade

The global reach and sophistication of major DTOs necessitates international collaboration and flexibility to effectively break these illegal networks. In Monrovia, Liberia, the DEA, in coordination with Liberian officials, conducted an unprecedented undercover operation in which seven defendants were arrested on U.S. charges. Drug trafficking organizations based in South America have used countries along the West African coast as trans-shipment hubs for importing cocaine to be distributed in Europe and Africa. Through a combination of privately owned aircraft and maritime vessels, these organizations, predominantly based in Colombia and Venezuela, have transported hundreds of tons of cocaine, worth billions of dollars, to places such as Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Togo, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia. In so doing, representatives of these drug trafficking organizations have often sought to bribe high-level public officials with large cash payments and narcotics in order to ensure the safe passage, storage, and distribution of their cocaine shipments. Efforts to disrupt drug trafficking organizations not only work to reduce cocaine trafficking in Africa, but reduce the amount of illicit proceeds returning to South American-based drug trafficking organizations.

In Karachi, Pakistan, DEA and Pakistan Customs officials coordinated seizure of 15.8 metric tons of acetic anhydride, a precursor chemical used in the manufacture of heroin. In Australia, DEA and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) seized 460 kilograms of cocaine and two vessels off the coast of Australia. This was the third largest cocaine seizure by the AFP. In Bulgaria, DEA and Bulgarian National Police seized 8.25 metric tons of acetic anhydride. (Action Item 6.1A) Federal agencies also increased their focus on international demand reduction to help partner nations address their own drug consumption problems. Working bilaterally and through the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), ONDCP promoted the exchange of best practices information and the latest research on what works to reduce drug use. For example, the United States Government took the lead in promoting community-based prevention and prescription drug abuse prevention at the United Nation’s 51st Commission on Narcotic Drugs in April 2010. Through ONDCP’s leadership, two resolutions on these issues received broad support and helped to advance dialogue on the importance of international demand- and supply-reduction efforts.

In our hemisphere, the United States served last year as Chair of CICAD, during which the Commission approved the Hemispheric Drug Strategy, which sets out a comprehensive approach for counterdrug cooperation in the hemisphere. CICAD also started the process of developing a Plan of Action to carry out the strategy. In addition, the United States served as Vice Chair under Mexico’s Chairmanship of the CICAD Demand Reduction Experts Group, which developed the Basic Principles of the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Drug-Abusing and Drug Dependent Persons in the Hemisphere. This document provides guidelines to inform policies and practices related to the provision of drug treatment services in OAS member states. In December 2010, the U.S. was elected to succeed Mexico as the Chair and will focus the group’s work on evidence-based approaches to community prevention. (Action items 6.1B and 6.1E)

United States/European Union (E.U.) Bilateral Drug Exchange

Another important mechanism for building international partnerships is the twice-yearly U.S./E.U. bilateral drug exchange. During these meetings, the United States provides an update on implementation of our Strategy, learns about the drug-related priorities of the European Union, and discusses how to improve coordination on key international issues, such as drug trafficking in West Africa. Over the next year, this forum will be employed to improve the coordination of international aid and development assistance, law enforcement training, and demand reduction programs we jointly provide to developing nations grappling with drug-related challenges. (Action Item 6.1C)

Multilateral Engagement

In March of this year, the United States organized a widely attended discussion of the drugged driving threat, one of ONDCP’s signature initiatives, during the annual Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) meeting in Vienna. This meeting, the largest annual gathering of government officials on the subject of drugs, is organized each year by the UNODC. This year, the CND passed a U.S. proposed resolution on drugged driving, a subject that has emerged as a major problem around the world, in part due to the growing use of prescription drugs. The resolution, co-sponsored by 17 countries and the European Union, will foster information exchange among countries on different approaches to this problem, encourage joint research, and accelerate efforts by governments and the UNODC to develop comprehensive responses to the threat posed by drugged driving. Later in the year, the United States will participate in a global research conference in Montreal on the subject of drugged driving. (Action Item 6.1E)

The United States participates in a range of vital regional counternarcotics initiatives and facilitates cooperation through observer positions manned by DEA personnel. The Southeast European Cooperative Initiative for Combating Trans-Border Crime (SECI), located in Bucharest, Romania, supports common trans-border crime fighting efforts of participating countries and enables law enforcement agencies to collaborate on joint investigations that target trans-border criminals, including drug traffickers.

The Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) combats the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, and their precursors throughout Central Asia. The CARICC coordinates multilateral international investigations, including controlled deliveries, and provides training to member states that enhance their investigation and drug prevention efforts.


New Action Item: Enhance the Relationship Developed with Russia Under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission to Encourage Counternarcotics Cooperation [ONDCP, State, DOJ/DEA, DHS/ICE, Treasury, HHS, DOD]

This Administration established a Counternarcotics Working Group under the Bilateral Presidential Commission co-chaired by ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske and Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) Director Viktor Ivanov. The Working Group addresses a range of drug control issues between the United States and the Russian Federation, including reducing narcotics originating in Afghanistan; disrupting financial operations of major DTOs in Central Asia; and exchanging information and best practices on demand reduction programs.

In October 2010, in conjunction with the most recent meeting of the Counternarcotics Working Group, Russian officials visited drug treatment sites in Baltimore, as well as sites at NIDA and SAMHSA, to learn more about U.S. demand reduction programs. In 2011, ONDCP will continue to seek to enhance Russian/U.S. counternarcotics cooperation in close collaboration with agencies such as DEA, Education, and SAMHSA, the Treasury Department’s Terrorist and Financial Crimes division, and the Departments of State and Justice, among others. Success in this bilateral relationship can lead to future cooperation among countries throughout the Central Asian region in reducing the output of the world’s major opium and heroin-producing organizations.

To support the interdiction initiatives, the Northern Route Working Group (NRWG) was established in 2010 to share drug trafficking trends and coordinate investigations in northern Afghanistan. Member agencies include the FSKN, Tajikistan Drug Control Service, Kyrgyzstan Drug Control Service, and DEA Country Offices in Dushanbe, Kabul, and Moscow.

Health Interventions for Injection Drug Users

The Administration is dedicated to stopping the nexus between HIV and drug use. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) continues to work with governments worldwide on synchronizing drug control and HIV prevention and treatment. In combating the problem, special attention has been paid to comprehensive HIV prevention services for injection drug users (IDUs) that include providing HIV prevention education. The recommended core package of comprehensive HIV prevention services for IDUs includes needle and syringe programs; drug treatment (including medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence); HIV testing and counseling; antiretroviral therapy for HIV-positive IDUs; prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections; condom programs for IDUs and their sexual partners; targeted information, education, and communication for IDUs and their sexual partners; vaccination, diagnosis, and treatment of viral hepatitis; and diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis. (Action Item 6.1F)

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