Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, November 8, 2005

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Illicit Drug Transit Zone in Central America
Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND:  While the nations of Central America are not considered major producers of illicit drugs, their strategic location between the drug-producing regions of South America and the drug-consuming United States has created a hotbed for illegal trafficking, money laundering and drug-related violence. In January of 2005, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Dan Fisk identified narcotics traffickers as one of the major security threats facing Central America. There has also been growing concern over the violent relationship that has emerged as a result of street gangs becoming less involved in petty crimes and more engulfed in illicit drug trafficking. U.S. officials argue that the security threats posed by trafficking are deterrents to development, investment and economic opportunity in the region. In recent years,

Guatemala has become a major producer and transit point of opium poppy; it is also a key storage and consolidation area for all narcotics headed to the United States, Mexico, and Europe. Policy-makers and government officials have sought to curb the upturn in trafficking and violence through direct counternarcotics assistance and training to nations in Central and South America. Special emphasis is being placed on the training and funding of law enforcement and criminal justice personnel and programs that focus on rooting out international terrorism, financial crimes, illicit drug trafficking, and the promotion of government transparency and accountability. This hearing will focus on the current state of affairs in Central America in relation to the illicit trafficking of drugs in the region. Additionally, it will examine the decreasing access to military craft, necessary to detect and interdict drug-laden fast boats and aircraft, as a result of the post-September 11th demand for the mobilization of military assets to participate in the global War on Terror. 

WHAT:                             Oversight Hearing and Briefing:
                                          The Illicit Drug Transit Zone in Central America

                                          Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

                                          U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), Chairman

WHEN:                             1:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 9, 2005

WHERE:                            Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:                    Rear Admiral Jeffrey J. Hathaway,
                                            Director, Joint Interagency Task Force South,
                                            U.S. Coast Guard;

                                            Michael A. Braun,
                                            Chief of Operations,
                                            U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and

                                            Jonathan D. Farrar,
                                            Deputy Assistant Secretary,
                                            Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs,
                                            U.S. Department of State.

BRIEFER:                         Vice Admiral Guillermo Barrera,
                                            Chief of Naval Operations,
                                            Colombian Navy.

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