THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release November 1, 2000
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
TO THE CHAIRMEN AND RANKING MEMBERS OF THE
HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEES ON APPROPRIATIONS,
THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,
AND THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
November 1, 2000
Dear Mr. Chairman: (Dear Representative:) (Dear Senator:)
In accordance with the provisions of section 490(h) of the Foreign
Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (the "Foreign Assistance Act"), I have
determined that the following are major illicit drug producing or major
drug-transit countries: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma,
Cambodia, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti,
India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru,
Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
This year I have removed Hong Kong and Taiwan from the list of major
illicit drug producing or major drug-transit countries (the "Majors List").
The Majors List, as required by section 490(h) of the Foreign Assistance
Act, applies to "countries." The term "countries" is interpreted broadly
to include certain entities that exercise autonomy over actions or
omissions that would lead to a decision to place them on the list and
subsequently to determine eligibility or certification. Therefore, in the
past, the Majors List has included certain entities that are not sovereign
I wish to make clear that a country?s presence on the list of major
drug-transit countries is not necessarily an adverse reflection on its
counterdrug efforts or on the level of its cooperation with the United
States. Among the reasons that major drug-transit countries are placed on
the list is the combination of geographical, commercial, and economic
factors that allow drugs to transit through a country, in many cases
despite the most assiduous enforcement measures.
I also wish to note my concern over the rising imports of foreign-origin,
illegal synthetic drugs into the United States, especially MDMA ("Ecstasy")
from Europe. We are still collecting information on this problem, and it
is a trend that bears watching closely in future years.
CHANGES TO THE LIST
Removal of Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been considered a major
drug-transit country since 1987, when the first Majors List was prepared.
Its proximity to the Golden Triangle opium cultivation countries of
Thailand, Laos, and Burma, along with its highly developed air and sea
transport infrastructure, made it a logical transit point for trafficking
organizations moving Southeast Asian heroin to the United States and other
countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Over the past few years, however, Hong Kong?s role as a transit point
for U.S.-bound drugs has declined markedly, due to several factors.
Stringent enforcement measures and extradition agree-ments with various
countries, including the United States, and the risk of having narcotics
shipments seized, have become effective deterrents to shipping drugs
through Hong Kong. At the same time, drug flows from China through Hong
Kong have diminished significantly. As China continues to develop its
coastal cargo-handling facilities and expands port operations in the south,
there is less incentive for drug traffickers to re-export and transship
cargo through Hong Kong.
Seizure rates in both the United States and Hong Kong suggest that
trafficking organizations are no longer using Hong Kong as a transit point
for U.S.-destined heroin. Since 1996, there have been no significant
seizures in the United States of heroin linked with Hong Kong. Similarly,
the Hong Kong authorities report that in the past two years they have made
no large seizures locally of heroin destined for the United States.
Consequently, I am removing Hong Kong from the Majors List and downgrading
it to a country of concern. If in the future there is evidence of drug
flows through Hong Kong that signifi-cantly affect the United States, Hong
Kong will again be placed on the Majors List.
Removal of Taiwan. In the early 1990s, Taiwan became a transit point
for Asian drug trafficking organizations moving heroin to the Western
Hemisphere. The largest U.S. heroin seizure on record is the nearly
half-ton of heroin that U.S. authorities discovered in Hayward, California
in 1991. The
drugs, which originated in China, had transited Taiwan en route to the
United States. Given Taiwan?s role in that transshipment and evidence of
Taiwan-related drug flows to the United States at that time, I added Taiwan
to the Majors List in 1995.
Taiwan?s role as transit point for drugs destined for the United
States, however, has changed radically in the past few years. More
stringent law enforcement procedures, together with improved customs
inspection and surveillance methods, have all but cut off serious flows of
heroin from Taiwan to the United States. At the same time, the opening of
major container ports in southern China has diminished Taiwan?s importance
for the drug trade.
Since Taiwan was designated a major drug-transit country, there have
been no seizures in the United States of heroin that transited Taiwan, nor
have Taiwan authorities identified any important drug shipments destined
for the United States. Therefore, I am removing Taiwan from the Majors
List and downgrading it to a country of concern. If in the future we
detect any drug flows through Taiwan that significantly affect the United
States, Taiwan will again be placed on the Majors List.
COUNTRIES/ENTITIES AND REGIONS OF CONCERN
In addition to Hong Kong and Taiwan, the following are countries or
regions of concern:
Belize. Belize was removed from the list of major drug-transit
countries in 1999 because there was clear evidence that the drug trade was
not currently using it as a transit point for drugs moving to the United
States. If, at a future date, there is reliable information that
U.S.-bound drugs are again moving through Belize in significant quantities,
it will again be placed on the Majors List.
Central America. Central America's position as a land bridge between
South America and Mexico, together with its thousands of miles of
coastline, several container-handling ports, the Pan-American Highway, and
limited law enforcement capability make the entire region a natural conduit
and transshipment area for illicit drugs bound for Mexico and the United
States. Currently, only Guatemala and Panama have been designated major
drug-transit countries, since there is clear evidence that drug trafficking
organizations use their territory to move significant quantities of illegal
drugs to the United
States. The same is not yet true of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, or
Although there is no question that varying quantities of drugs do flow
through these countries en route to the United States, the bulk of the
traffic has shifted away from land routes. Stringent law enforcement and
interdiction measures on land have forced trafficking organizations to move
drugs along sea routes. In the event that there is evidence that drugs
transiting these countries are having a significant effect on the United
States, they will be added to the Majors List.
Iran. While Iran was once a traditional opium-producing country, the
Government of Iran appears to have been successful in eradicating
significant illicit opium poppy cultivation. The latest U.S. survey of the
country revealed no detectable poppy cultivation in the traditional growing
areas. Although one cannot rule out some cultivation in remote parts of
the country, it is unlikely that it would be sufficient to meet the
threshold definition of a major illicit drug producing country under
section 481(e)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act.
Important quantities of opiates reportedly continue to transit Iran en
route to Europe, but I have no evidence that these drugs significantly
affect the United States, a requirement for designation as a major
drug-transit country under section 481(e)(5) of the Foreign Assistance Act.
Moreover, Iran has taken extensive measures to thwart the use of its
territory by drug traffickers, seizing well above 200 metric tons of drugs
annually in recent years.
Malaysia. Malaysia was removed from the Majors List two years ago
because there was no evidence that drugs transiting the country were
reaching the United States in significant quantities. That situation has
not changed since that time.
Eastern Caribbean. The Leeward and Windward Islands, together with
Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, constitute a broad geographical area
through which U.S.-bound drugs pass en route from Latin America. In the
right circumstances, any country in the region could become a major
drug-transit country. There is no evidence at this time, however, that any
of these Eastern Caribbean nations is a major drug-transit country under
the definition in section 481(e)(5) of the Foreign Assistance Act. The
information available, however, indicates that drugs moving through the
area are overwhelmingly destined for Europe. We are, therefore, keeping
the region under observation.
Relevant countries will be added to the Majors List, should conditions
Turkey and Other Balkan Route Countries. I am concerned by the large
volume of Southwest Asian heroin that moves through Turkey and neighboring
countries to Western Europe along the Balkan Route. There is no clear
evidence, however, that this heroin significantly affects the United
States, as required for a country to be designated a major drug-transit
country. In the event that it is determined that heroin transiting Turkey,
Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or other European countries on the
Balkan Route significantly affects the United States, the relevant
countries will be added to the Majors List.
Syria and Lebanon. I removed Syria and Lebanon from the list of major
illicit drug producers two years ago after we determined that there was no
significant opium poppy cultivation in Lebanon's Biqa Valley. Recent
surveys have confirmed that there has been no detectable replanting of
opium poppy, and we have no evidence that drugs transiting these countries
significantly affect the United States. We continue, however, to keep the
area under observation.
North Korea. We have been unable to confirm reports that significant
quantities of opium poppy may be under cultivation in North Korea or that
heroin originating in the country may be entering the international drug
trade. We continue, however, to monitor the situation. If there is
evidence that there is indeed poppy cultivation of 1,000 hectares or more
in North Korea or that North Korea is a transit point for drugs
significantly affecting the United States, it will be added to the Majors
Cuba. Cuba's geographical position, straddling one of the principal
Caribbean trafficking routes to the United States, makes it a logical
candidate for consideration for the Majors List. While there have been
some reports that trafficking syndicates use Cuban land territory for
moving drugs, we have yet to receive any confirmation that this traffic
carries significant quantities of cocaine or heroin to the United States.
Moreover, in 2000, much of the suspect air traffic that previously crossed
Cuban airspace has now shifted away to Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican
I will continue to keep Cuba under careful observation for any changes
in current transit patterns. If there is evidence of significant
quantities of drugs transiting Cuba to the United States, Cuba will be
added Cuba to the Majors List.
Central Asia. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are traditional opium poppy
growing areas of the former Soviet Union. However, we have not found
evidence of significant opium poppy cultivation. If ongoing analysis
reveals cultivation of 1,000 hectares or more of poppy, the relevant
countries will be added to the Majors List.
Major Cannabis Producers. While Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, the
Philippines, and South Africa are important cannabis producers, I have not
included them on this list since in all cases the illicit cannabis is
either consumed locally or exported to countries other than the United
States. I have determined that such illicit cannabis production does not
significantly affect the United States.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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