Barry R. McCaffrey

Barry R. McCaffrey has been the U.S. drug czar (his official title is director, Office of National Drug Control Policy) since February 1996. Before that appointment, he had been a highly-decorated, four-star general in the U.S. Army. Among his notable achievements was commanding the 24th Infantry Division in its "left hook" attack into the Euphrates River Valley during the Gulf War. He responded in writing to FRONTLINE's questions in May 1997.

What is the U.S. strategy for counteracting heroin output in source countries like Burma?
Without undermining our efforts to promote democratic reform and human rights, we're looking for ways to cooperate in counter-narcotics with Burma. We are constrained by a lack of priority given to such cooperation by the Burmese government. We also seek to influence Burma through the international community (through such efforts as the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) activities in northern Burma. And we support regional efforts (i.e., in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos) to dismantle Burmese-based trafficking organizations and disrupt the flow of heroin through Southeast Asia.

How successful has the strategy been?
Very limited success to date, because of the lack of priority on counter-narcotics in Burma. It has provided some, though limited, cooperation in conducting opium surveys to determine potential for heroin production. We should keep in mind that Burmese production is vastly greater than U.S. consumption. Burma alone produces 213 metric tons of heroin per year. U.S. consumption is probably not much more than 10 metric tons. However, the excellent U.S.-Thai counter-narcotics relationship has been an enormous success and stimulus for greater regional cooperation.

In particular, what results have you seen with crop eradication and substitution and law enforcement in Burma and elsewhere?
In Burma we have seen some results, including raids on eight heroin-producing labs and recent cooperation in the extraditon of a Thai fugitive. But production is at an all-time high. In Thailand we see continued suppression of opium poppy cultivation and significantly effective law enforcement. Thai cooperation in the extradition of several key drug traffickers to the U.S. has been superb. Laos is cooperating now with the U.S. through crop eradication, substitution, and increased law enforcement measures. Cambodia and Vietnam are also seeing greater counter-narcotics cooperation with their regional neighbors.

What about using trade as a lever for cooperation?
There are limited opportunities to influence Burma via trade policy. The U.S. recently invoked investment sanctions to this end.

What has been the effect of opium warlord Khun Sa's surrender on Burma's heroin production?
It appears the rival trafficking group, the Wa State Army, has gained greater control of trafficking and increased heroin production.

What do you know about Khun Sa's current whereabouts and involvement in narcotics trafficking?
It is generally assumed he is in Burma, but we do not know his specific location. We have some reports of his possible continued involvement in narcotics trafficking.

What do you know about Lo Hsin Han's current link to the heroin trade and his business partnerships with members of Burma's military dictatorship?
It is believed Lo Hsin Han's cargo container business may be involved in shipments of heroin out of Burma. We do not have any direct information on his possible ties to Burma's military dictatorship.

What are the prospects for restoring American-Burmese cooperation in drug enforcement?
Currently, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has some, though limited, cooperation with the Burmese in drug enforcement matters and is seeking to expand this relationship where possible.

What more can the U.S. do about Burma's heroin exports to this country?
We should continue to cooperate with host nations who will work with us to address this threat. This should include the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). The PRC is key to regional cooperation and persuasion and may be in the best position to influence the Burmese military dictatorship.

If the U.S. succeeds in closing down the heroin business in country "x", will it not simply have the perverse effect of increasing the market share of country "y"?
That is why our national drug strategy must be multi-lateral, coherent and long-term to address this as a global threat. Cooperating nations, the UNDCP, and other organizations must work together in all source areas simultaneously to minimize this kind of offset reaction. The heroin threat is a complex issue. The U.S. has only 2% of the world's addicts, consuming probably 10 metric tons of the 380 metric tons available in the world. Europe may consume 30 metric tons, while China may have over 1 million addicts and Pakistan 3 million addicts. U.S. heroin users can afford to pay more than addicts in many other countries. That's why traffickers are attracted to the U.S. market. Burma's heroin production has increased 26% over the last three years, and Afghanistan's production has increased over 30% during this time frame. Yet it appears the supply of heroin (and opium) far exceeds the global demand.

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