McCaffrey: U.S. Drug Surveillance In Ecuador Key 

McCaffrey: U.S. Drug Surveillance In Ecuador Key 
Posted by FoM on July 28, 1999 at 20:29:31 PT
Source: Reuters
QUITO, Ecuador (Reuters) - U.S. anti-drug efforts in Ecuador will be key in stopping the flow of illegal drugs through what has become one of the main routes for Latin American drug smugglers, U.S. drug enforcement chief Barry McCaffrey said Wednesday.
The White House's top anti-drug official told Reuters the use of U.S. airplanes stationed at an Ecuadorean military base in the Pacific coast town of Manta will help boost surveillance after the close of Howard Air Force Base in Panama in May."Drug interdiction and monitoring is in the Eastern Pacific and that is the principal route of drug smuggling right now, across ports in the Pacific" said McCaffrey, who was in the South American country to study its anti-drug efforts."Manta is in the right place. There is a giant empty space in the Pacific now that Howard is gone, so I think Manta is in a very key place and is also safer," McCaffrey said at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Quito.McCaffrey arrived Tuesday and is scheduled to leave Wednesday for Venezuela and the Caribbean island of Curacao.While drug consumption in Ecuador is relatively low, Ecuador is one of the main routes through which Bolivian, Peruvian and Colombian drug producers ship their goods to Mexico, the United States and Europe, experts say."The threat in Ecuador is increasing ... Ecuador is becoming a major drug smuggling point where paste goes from Peru to Colombia and then finishes as cocaine and then comes into Ecuador by land, air and river, and then leaves principally through Ecuadorean ports to the U.S.," McCaffrey said.Furthermore, "drug smuggling results in corruption, violence and an increase in drug consumption by children and the workforce in the country that is undergoing this threat," he said.Ecuador signed an agreement with the United States in February which will allow surveillance airplanes to use Manta as their base of operations.A similar plane crashed in Colombia last week, killing five U.S. soldiers and two Colombians.McCaffrey's visit coincides with government efforts to finance an anti-drug plan proposed in June which would require $50 million.Copyright  1995-1999 Excite Inc.  Updated 9:39 PM ET July 28, 1999
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