The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control has released a new report on steps the United States should take to help reduce drug-related violence in Central America.
The report, issued Thursday by caucus co-chairs Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., recommends expanding investigative units connected to the Drug Enforcement Agency in Central American countries; strengthening witness protection programs; increasing extraditions; and shifting the remote management of security assistance to the region from the U.S. embassy in Mexico to each of the seven countries’ embassies.
“The violence in Central America is beyond what anyone can imagine,” Grassley said. “This report recognizes the proliferation of the Mexican drug cartels seeking to expand into Central America and the impact that it has on the citizens in Central America, Mexico, and the United States.”
Added Feinstein: “Like Mexico, Central America’s location between the world’s largest producers of illicit drugs in South America and the world’s largest drug consuming nation in the United States makes it particularly vulnerable to drug traffickers. It will only escalate if we do not take action.”
The report noted that drug-related murder rates in Central America last year were “significantly higher” than Mexico, and it blamed a lot of the violence on the demand for illegal drugs in the United States.
“The United States continues to be the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs,” the report said, pointing to the 2010 Survey on Drug Use and Health that estimated that 22.6 million Americans aged 12 and older are currently illegal drug users.
Grassley and Feinstein have asked the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the successes and shortcomings of drug prevention and treatment programs in the United States to determine what else can be done to cut U.S. demand.
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