Latin America and the Caribbean: Illicit Drug Trafficking and U.S. Counterdrug Programs [May 12, 2011] [open pdf - 539KB]
"Drug trafficking is viewed as a primary threat to citizen security and U.S. interests in Latin America and the Caribbean despite decades of anti-drug efforts by the United States and partner governments. The production and trafficking of popular illicit drugs - cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and methamphetamine - generate a multi-billion dollar black market in which Latin American criminal and terrorist organizations thrive. These groups challenge state authority in source and transit countries where governments are often fragile and easily corrupted. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) largely control the U.S. illicit drug market and have been identified by the U.S. Department of Justice as the 'greatest organized crime threat to the United States.' Drug trafficking-related crime and violence in the region has escalated in recent years, raising the drug issue to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy concerns. [...] Congress has influenced U.S. drug control policy in Latin America by appropriating certain types and levels of funding for counterdrug assistance programs and conditioning the provision of antidrug funding on the basis of human rights and other reporting requirements. Congress has also sought to ensure that counterdrug programs are implemented in tandem with judicial reform, anti-corruption, and human rights programs. The 112th Congress has held hearings evaluating drug assistance programs and related domestic initiatives and border security efforts. This report provides an overview of the drug flows in the Americas and U.S. antidrug assistance programs in the region. It also raises some policy issues for Congress to consider as it exercises oversight of U.S. antidrug programs and policies in the Western Hemisphere."
CRS Report for Congress, R41215