Helms, Gilman Chide Mexico on Drugs

Helms, Gilman Chide Mexico on Drugs
Posted by FoM on February 24, 2000 at 22:17:28 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: New York Times
The chairmen of the House and Senate foreign relations committees accused Mexico on Thursday of unsatisfactory cooperation with U.S. counter-narcotics efforts and said relevant U.S. laws should be applied against that country. ``The situation is Mexico continues to deteriorate rapidly,'' said House International Relations Committee chairman Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C. 
Gilman and Helms outlined their views to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in a letter sent less than a week before the State Department is due to issue its annual report on the counter-narcotics performance of drug transit and drug source countries. The process involves an examination of 26 countries, and those found not to be fully cooperative can be subject to economic penalties. In the letter, Gilman and Helms do not specifically ask that Mexico be ``decertified'' as non-cooperative but their respective spokesman said both recommend that designation. ``The letter lays out the case for decertification,'' said Marc Thiessen, a Helms' spokesman. The two chairmen said the Clinton administration has ``failed to apply the law faithfully'' against Mexico for many years. ``We respectfully call your attention to the following salient facts: Mexico's counter-narcotics efforts are hamstrung by over-centralized decision making, by astonishing inefficiency and by rank and file law enforcement corruption,'' they said. They added that there has been ``no major progress in uprooting the drug cartels that do business with virtual impunity in Mexico.'' The State Department declined immediate comment but Albright signaled a month ago that Mexico will be fully certified this year as it has every year since Congress ordered annual reviews of drug problem countries in 1986. During a visit to Mexico on Jan. 16, Albright said U.S.-Mexican cooperation on drug matters was at a ``very good level.'' ``Our problems are not as much with each other as they are with those who are trying to undermine what we are trying to do,'' she said. A 1999 State Department report on drug trafficking patterns worldwide said well-entrenched trafficking organizations based in Mexico ``have built vast criminal empires that produce illicit drugs, smuggle hundreds of tons of South American cocaine and operate drug distribution networks across the continental United States.'' Last year, 28 countries were evaluated by the State Department as part of the certification process. Most countries were fully certified and a few were decertified but were spared economic penalties on national security grounds. Only Afghanistan and Burma were decertified without a national security waiver. But economic penalties were not imposed against them because both are already under comprehensive sanctions for reasons unrelated to drug trafficking. Washington (AP) Published: February 24, 2000Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company Related Articles:Barry McCaffrey Concludes Visit to Mexico Debate Heating Up On Drugs, Mexico Hails Mexican Drug Fight 
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