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Prepared Remarks of DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy

IDEC Opening Ceremony Montreal, Canada

May 9, 2006

photo - caption below

DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy welcomes attendees to the conference.

Distinguished guests and delegates. Good morning, and let me add my own hearty welcome to the 24th International Drug Enforcement Conference.

We have come a long way in 24 years. It is staggering to think that back then, we all fit around a single conference table. And look at us now.

Commissioner Zaccardelli, your leadership and strong support of cooperative drug law enforcement is evident. We greatly appreciate your friendship.

I would like to thank Ambassador Wilkins who has been very supportive of the efforts of both our countries’ fight against drug trafficking. We are grateful to you, Mr. Ambassador.

To the President of IDEC, Deputy Commissioner Bourduas, thank you for your warm hospitality and the tremendous job you have done organizing this meeting—the first ever IDEC held in Canada.

Director General Miles and Assistant Deputy Minister MacLaren, the DEA appreciates your leadership in law enforcement and fighting drugs here in Canada. I greatly appreciate Minister Day’s great partnership in fighting drugs.

And of course we all owe a special thanks to the Montreal City Police Chief and the Director General of the Quebec Provincial Police for providing security and escorts for us this week.

We have amassed the largest IDEC contingent ever with 76 countries. Stretching from the southern tip of Africa to northern Europe to the Far East, 7 new countries became members this year, (Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa and United Kingdom) and 6 are joining us for the first time ever (Denmark, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Sweden, UAE and Vietnam).

This year we are especially honored to have His Excellency Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi from the United Arab Emirates. There was a unanimous decision last year to urge the UAE to participate in IDEC, so that we could learn how they confront the challenges of money laundering. I personally traveled to the UAE last summer to meet with Sultan Al Suwaidi and carried your message that we wanted him to join us at this year’s IDEC. I am most grateful for the UAE’s enthusiastic response and participation.

We span the world because unfortunately so does the drug trade. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime estimates the retail global illicit drug market is valued at $322 billion. That’s higher than the gross domestic product of 88% of the countries in the world.

I am delighted we are in Canada. The Drug Enforcement Administration has maintained an office in Canada since 1973—the very year DEA was created, and in the 3 decades since, we’ve developed a tremendous and productive partnership. I applaud the newly elected Canadian government’s commitment to the issues we are collectively fighting and talking about this week. I know our partnership will grow even stronger.

Every year for almost a quarter of a century we come to IDEC to tackle our most difficult challenges. I just want to highlight some of those that each of us in this room are facing.

In the past 1 to 2 years, Ecstasy production has shifted from Europe to the Western Hemisphere. The smuggling of Ecstasy precursors, specifically MDP2P, is on the rise from China. Just one seizure late last year of MDP2P and Ecstasy powder, would have made more than 16 million Ecstasy tablets valued at $164 million.

Methamphetamine trafficking and the movement of its precursor chemicals are an increasing global threat. More than 26 million people worldwide use amphetamines—largely methamphetamine—which is more than the worldwide users of heroin and cocaine combined.

Last November, one of three meth labs with the largest potential production capacity in the world was seized in Indonesia through the joint efforts of DEA and law enforcement in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. More recently, we learned that methamphetamine trafficking organizations in the U.S and Canada have begun exporting meth to Japan.

Last week, I met with various ministers in Mexico about our bi-national efforts to develop a comprehensive methamphetamine strategy. Our friends in Mexico have developed aggressive strategies to attack methamphetamine production and trafficking and have set new limits on its importation of these chemicals, reducing their supply by 53%, from 150 tons to 70 tons.

Because of law enforcement pressure and successes attacking the illegal chemical trade, traffickers have had to adapt and change their trade patterns, re-routing precursor chemicals to new countries. We’re seeing ephedrine shipped from India and China to South Africa and then from there to South and Central America. Chinese ephedrine is being diverted through Cairo on its way to Mexico. And ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are being diverted in other African countries including Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Mozambique.

Cocaine trafficking has been the bane of our existence and remains a persistent global challenge. From the tri-border region of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, we learn that the area has become home to Middle Eastern traffickers that are moving cocaine to Europe and the Middle East. Even more disturbing is that some of their profits are reportedly ending up with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

--To feed the demand for cocaine in Europe, Colombian traffickers are sending cocaine base to West African countries such as Ghana where it is processed and then smuggled into Europe, particularly Spain and Italy, where a kilo retails at double the price as in New York.

Our countries may face global challenges but our international drug enforcement community is seizing unprecedented opportunities—and building upon important partnerships—to succeed.

--Not even 2 months ago, the 53 member nations of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs passed a resolution to encourage better information-sharing about the movement of amphetamine type precursor chemicals. If we are to keep these chemicals out of the hands of traffickers, each of our countries must support this resolution and provide the International Narcotics Control Board with the annual estimates of our legitimate market for chemicals such as ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and related pharmaceutical preparations as well as shipping information to track where these chemical exports are going.

-- This past year, Israel extradited its first major Israeli national trafficker – one of history’s most prolific ecstasy traffickers.

--This past year also marks the first-ever extradition from Afghanistan as well as the first successful drug prosecutions in Afghanistan.

--With terrorism in its many forms looming as a great threat, cooperation and information-sharing are more important now than ever. For example, after the July 7th London subway bombings, British law enforcement contacted the DEA El Paso Intelligence center, for information about one of the bombing suspects – this drug information data base revealed a previously unknown US cell connected to the subway bomber. Drug intelligence developed by DEA in conjunction with other agencies also has helped thwart rocket and Improvised Explosive Device attacks on Afghan and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Intelligence, intelligence, intelligence. It is all about that if we are to have the greatest impact on the evil organizations that we are here to face.

--On the intelligence sharing front, this past year, Russia and the US signed a historic Memorandum of Mutual Understanding to broadly share information. Earlier last year, we signed a similar agreement with China. Soon after 9/11, the US established an agreement with New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to jointly target those organized crime groups presenting the greatest transnational threat to the participating countries. With these information sharing agreements, we entered into new partnerships that will allow us to better target and investigate international drug trafficking organizations.

--Last fall, 20 countries in West Africa attended the first of its kind joint operation conference to formulate a comprehensive regional strategy targeting West African-based major trafficking organizations that are moving cocaine coming from South America through Africa to Europe, and heroin from Afghanistan and Pakistan through Africa to Europe and the U.S.

--Law enforcement from Australia, India, Canada, and the United States joined together last year to target Internet traffickers who were using more than 200 websites to illegally traffic narcotics, amphetamines, and anabolic steroids across the globe. We dismantled the organization and arrested 20 key members in the U.S., India, and Costa Rica.

--For 3 months last year, DEA joined with Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia to attack the main arteries of the Western Hemisphere drug trade in Operation All Inclusive. You’ll hear more about this successful joint operation later, but together, we seized a record 46 metric tons of cocaine and disrupted traffickers, forcing them to suspend drug operations, change modes and routes of drug transports, and even jettison loads of drugs.

--Last year, law enforcement from Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Laos, and the U.S. continued to target the United Wa State Army—the major producer and source of illicit drugs in the Golden Triangle. Several key members were arrested, and the Burmese Police seized $111 million and closed 3 banks that had been used to launder the organization’s drug proceeds.

--6 months ago, DEA joined with our partners here in Canada and Vietnam to dismantle 2 major international drug trafficking networks responsible for distributing 1.5 million Ecstasy tablets per month in the United States. That’s equivalent to more than 20% of the U.S. Ecstasy market. The financial aspect of the investigation revealed the traffickers laundered millions of dollars in drug proceeds through the use of bulk courier transport, money remitters, and the Vietnamese underground banking system.

I could go on, but the list of our accomplishments is simply too long to repeat here. At the heart of each success though, is a strong multi-lateral partnership. Through this week at IDEC, we will cement old ties, forge new bonds, and, together, develop successful strategies to dismantle our shared global targets.