Speech

Karen P. Tandy
Pakistan Media Event
Serena Hotel
Islamabad, Pakistan
September 28, 2007

On behalf of the Drug Enforcement Administration, we are eager to build on our outstanding friendship with Pakistan and Pakistani law enforcement for the good of both our nations. I’m pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you about that important partnership.

First, I want to give some background about our agency to those of you who may not be familiar with us. The DEA is the only agency in the United States dedicated solely to drug law enforcement. And while our jurisdiction lies within American borders, and our primary responsibility is to the American people, we also understand that we are part of a global law enforcement community.

Today we live in a smaller world – a world of easy transportation, instantaneous communication, and technology designed to tear down the old walls of distance. Unfortunately what has created great opportunity for the world – in terms of commerce, culture, and friendship–has also opened a world of opportunity for the drug trade. The world drug trade is huge the U.N estimates it at 320 billion U.S dollars, and calls it “the single most profitable sector of transnational criminality.”

To address this global drug threat, DEA works with enforcement agencies world-wide. In fact, we have the largest international presence of all U.S. federal law enforcement agencies.

Assisting in international investigations is a big part of our mission – this year, for example:

-we assisted in a multi-national case in the United Arab Emirates. It resulted in the arrest of major heroin trafficker Shahbaz Khan and the seizure of nearly 90 million dollars in drug profits.

-we assisted with a world record maritime seizure of 21 tons of cocaine off the coast of Panama and a world record drug cash seizure – 207 million dollars – in Mexico.

-and a critical success was the recent arrest of Monzer al Kassar, a global munitions trader who supplied and funded terrorist acts and for 3 decades evaded law enforcement. Al Kassar funded and armed factions in a host of the world’s hot spots, such as Iran and Iraq, and was one of the Iraqi Government’s most wanted. He also was connected to some of the DEA’s most significant drug cases over the years.

From his palatial estate in Spain, he commanded a global illicit munitions empire. An empire built on transnational crime and drug trafficking.

The story of his arrest is important because it demonstrates the sinister connection between drugs and terrorism. But it also is important because it demonstrates law enforcement at its best – several agencies from different countries working together to apprehend a dangerous and elusive target. We owe this success to the great cooperation of the Governments of Spain, Romania, and Nicaragua.

And this story of course has bearing on our work in this region. You know all too well the connections between drugs and terror. You live in the shadow of a monster—the Afghan opium trade—that threatens not only your nation, but the entire world. You are a powerful line of defense, helping to keep that monster at bay. However, Pakistan cannot do it alone – we need to work together, and we need to work with Afghanistan, we need to multiply our strength, multiple our manpower and our brainpower, if we are to have any hope of defeating this monster. The opium trade fuels the insurgency, threatens Afghanistan’s stability, entices terrorists to the region, and undermines good governance. We all need to be fully committed to working together to be sure that Afghanistan does not become the next narcostate.

That’s why I’m here today. To tell you that, even though geographically we are oceans apart, in terms of our drug enforcement efforts, DEA and Pakistan stand shoulder-to-shoulder. We are proud of our longstanding friendship with Pakistani law enforcement – a partnership that dates back 35 years when our first DEA office in Pakistan was opened in Islamabad, and we’ve been here ever since. Our Islamabad office was established 35 years ago, and we’ve been here ever since.

Pakistan itself is a success story in the global war on drugs. Once a heroin supply country, Pakistan now is nearly poppy-free, which is no small feat and something you should be very proud of. Pakistan is a vital ally to our anti-drug efforts. Your brave law enforcement officers—in the Anti Narcotics Force and the Frontier Corp – have had critical success in our shared mission. We have an established and productive working relationship with the ANF, and we are eager to engage with our new friends, the Frontier Corps.

Throughout its 100-year history, the Frontier Corps has faced diverse challenges. In recent years, of course, there has been a lot of focus on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. But just as drugs and terrorism are linked, investigations of terrorists and drug criminals often overlap, and accordingly the Frontier Corps is very involved in counter-narcotics. In fact, it is estimated that this year, the Frontier Corps Baluchistan conducted 80% of the heroin and morphine-base seizures in Pakistan.

A month ago we got word of a particularly amazing drug seizure by the Frontier Corps-Baluchistan. One night in late August, Frontier Corps troops at a roadside checkpoint attempted to stop a vehicle approaching them. They were met with a firefight. One soldier was shot squarely in the chest, but fortunately a bulletproof vest saved his life. Later, Frontier Corps troops located and searched the vehicle and found 1.7 tons of opium.

That amount of drugs is staggering – but so is that level of threat. Unfortunately, that type of violence is too often part of the Frontier Corps’ day-to-day experiences, in Baluchistan and in the North-West Frontier Province. Frequently their drug seizures also lead to the confiscation of ammunition, firearms, and grenade launchers. So far this year, 12 courageous Frontier Corps officers were killed during counter narcotics operations. These troops are truly on the front lines of a vicious, violent struggle, where narcotics and terrorists increasingly intersect.

But they are not alone. U.S. support is here to help, and that can make all the difference. The bulletproof vest that saved the Frontier Corps soldier that dark night in August was purchased with counter narcotics funds from the U.S. State Department.

DEA also is here to support you and work beside all Pakistani law enforcement. Just a few days ago, DEA agents based here in Islamabad and in Peshawar conducted a 3-day drug enforcement training course for 15 Frontier Corps troops stationed in the North-West Frontier Province. We have another training session—this one on clandestine drug labs—planned for late November. And these training sessions are just the beginning.

Now, I also want to share with you the things I’m seeing from my vantage point. I just flew in from Afghanistan this morning, and I can tell you that we are having success in the vital attack on the Afghan opium trade. Together, with our Afghan counterparts and ISAF, we are successfully identifying, disrupting, and dismantling high-level Afghan trafficking organizations , their leaders, their infrastructure, and removing their illicit assets. From:

  • Arresting 2 of the world’s most wanted drug lords— Haji Bashir Noorzai and Haji Baz Mohammad, both connected to the Taliban—resulting in the disruption of their large-scale drug enterprises and the first ever extradition from Afghanistan to the U.S.;

  • To last year’s Afghan convictions and sentencing of 3 long-time, significant traffickers (Misri Khan, Haji Bahram, and Noor Ullah) to lengthy prison terms under the new Afghan narcotics laws;

  • From this spring’s arrest of Mohammad Essa, a known terrorist and large-scale drug trafficker;

  • To the arrests in June of Babah and Salam Khan—significant opium and heroin traffickers.

All of those successes started with collecting and sharing intelligence and solid investigative work. That same intelligence has been extremely valuable in stabilizing Afghanistan and contributing to the security of ISAF forces here. DEA continues to collect and share actionable intelligence with ISAF and Afghan partners. More than a dozen of these DEA alerts have directly averted deadly attacks against Afghan, U.S., and ISAF personnel throughout Afghanistan. Since December 2005, on more than 19 occasions, DEA has provided actionable intelligence that has deterred hostile acts, including rocket and IED attacks, against U.S. and Coalition personnel and interests inside of Afghanistan. In addition, DEA intelligence also has led to the apprehension of high-value targets and the seizure of Taliban weapons caches.

That’s only some of what DEA is achieving right now with our partners in Afghanistan, which is contributing not only to increased stability in that nation, but to the stabilization of this entire region.

But real, sustained security in Afghanistan and this region cannot be achieved unless drug enforcement agencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan set aside historical differences and band together against their common enemy-the illegal drug trade that is fueling the volatility and terrorism in this region.

I don’t need to remind you that drugs themselves are a terror and that this mission is critical on many levels. Like the U.S., Pakistan has been hard-hit by the problem of drug abuse. The number of heroin abusers in this country exploded from just 20,000 in 1980, to more than 1.5 million 2 decades later.

Building broader international partnerships is what DEA has been about for more than 3 decades. The time is now for drug enforcement in Pakistan, the U.S., and Afghanistan to write a new chapter together in fighting against narco-terrorists who respect no borders and threaten all of us.