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U.S., Europe Working Together To Combat Drug Trafficking

US State Department, 21 September 2006

U.S. drug enforcement official outlines cooperation in addressing global threat

Washington -- Illicit drugs are a global menace, and the United States and Europe are working together to curb the increased flow of these drugs from South America to Europe, says Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chief of Operations Michael Braun.

In September 21 testimony before two House subcommittees, Braun said that since the early 1990s, Europe has experienced a significant increase in the amount of cocaine trafficked from South America.  DEA investigations have shown that the same Colombian organizations that are smuggling cocaine to Europe are also smuggling to the United States, so it is "vitally important" that the United States and Europe coordinate their counternarcotics efforts, he added.

To this end, Braun said, the DEA has forged a strong and cooperative relationship with its European counterparts, maintaining offices in 11 European countries with approximately 60 DEA employees.  As an example of this cooperation, Braun pointed to Operation Twin Ocean, a three-year effort. And as part of this effort, he said, the DEA worked with law enforcement agencies in Colombia, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Spain and Great Britain to arrest more than 100 individuals, and seize more than 47 tons of cocaine and nearly $70 million in assets in May.

Braun explained that the DEA has a particularly close relationship with the United Kingdom's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), with numerous ongoing joint operations as well as the recent completion of Operation White Dollar. As part of this operation, the DEA and SOCA worked with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as well as Colombian and Canadian officials to dismantle an international money-laundering ring that laundered millions of Colombian drug dollars in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.  The operation resulted in 34 arrests and the forfeiture of $20 million in laundered funds, Braun said.

The DEA is also active in other parts of Europe, Braun said.  He pointed out that the DEA has two special agents with the Royal Dutch National Police National Crime Squad in the Netherlands, and said the DEA and Spanish law enforcement also continuously are working on joint investigations into cocaine smuggling.

These and other DEAís collaborative efforts with its European counterparts will continue as part of the Bush administration's strategy to address the global menace of illicit drugs, Braun said.

"We recognize that interagency and multinational cooperation are essential elements of the president's National Drug Control Strategy, and these cooperative efforts are the best way for us to dismantle and disrupt international drug-trafficking organizations," he said.  "DEA will continue to work tirelessly to enhance the effectiveness of our enforcement operations in order to curtail the flow of drugs to both the United States and Europe."

The text of Braunís statement is available on the DEA Web site.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)