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May 15, 2001

The Transit Zone: Strategy and Balance


The Honorable Senator Mike DeWine

Good afternoon. I’d like to thank and commend Chairman Grassley for holding today’s hearing on U.S. counter-drug operations in the transit zone.

This hearing is both timely and necessary. The fact is that drug use and drug abuse have become all too pervasive. Drugs are on our streets. They are in our schools. And, they are in the hands of our children. That’s why we must get to our kids before the drug dealers do. We must get drugs out of our schools. We must prevent drugs from ever entering our country. And, we must restore balance to our national anti-drug policy.

To be effective, our national drug control policy must be a coordinated effort that directs -- and balances -- resources and support among three key areas:

1. Demand reduction, which consists of prevention, treatment, and education programs. These programs are administered by all levels of government -- federal, state, and local, as well as by non-profit and private community and faith-based organizations;

2. Domestic law enforcement , which again, all three levels of government provide; and

3. International eradication and interdiction efforts, which, unlike the first two, are the sole responsibility of the federal government. Each of these components is interdependent, yet for them to work effectively, a strong investment in all three is necessary.

Not only do we need a balance among these three areas, we need a balance within each area. In other words, we need an international counter-narcotics strategy that devotes resources to address the drug threat in the source, transit, and arrival zones.

I look forward to hearing testimonies from our U.S. Government witnesses, whose agencies are the front lines of our nation’s defense against illegal drugs. I am interested in a status report on our transit zone strategy and how it relates to our implementation of Plan Colombia. As many of you know, I am very interested in Haiti and would like to hear an update regarding current counter-drug operations there.

Finally, I am interested in discussing how each agency is implementing the Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act, which is the legislation Senator Coverdell and I wrote and the President signed into law in 1998. This is a $2.7 billion, three-year counter-drug initiative to provide resources for international eradication and interdiction efforts.

Again, I thank Chairman Grassley for holding this hearing and thank our witnesses for being here today.