Posted: Saturday, August 10, 2019. 5:25 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Belize has joined a “rogues’ gallery” of countries designated by the United States as being major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries.
The full list ranges from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, Laos and India in the east to Mexico and nearly all of Central America and neighbors Colombia and Venezuela in South America.
In a memorandum to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, per Reuters, Trump said that a country’s presence on the list is not necessarily a reflection of its government’s counter-narcotic efforts or level of cooperation with the United States.
The countries identified in the list are Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
While nothing specific is said about Belize, there have been numerous sightings and reports of drug planes landing for refueling in Belize en route to Mexico, and drug drops made at sea.
Trump said his administration has devoted unprecedented resources to combat the scourge of illicit drugs in the U.S., including by strengthening borders and expanding programs to prevent illicit drug use and aid the recovery and treatment of those who need it.
The president said he is turning his focus on the countries where dangerous illegal drugs originate to further turn the tide of the U.S. drug epidemic, specifically Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico.
Neither Bolivia nor Venezuela, he wrote, had done enough in the last year to adhere to their obligations under international counter narcotics agreements.
Colombian president Ivan Duque was hailed for early efforts to roll back coca cultivation and cocaine production, but the U.S. was still bent on getting rid of the “illegitimate regime” of Nicolas Maduro, a move Trump said would help stem the drug flow.
Closer to home, Mexico needs to do more to stop the flow of deadly drugs entering into the US – intensify its efforts to increase poppy eradication, illicit drug interdiction, prosecutions, and asset seizures, and to develop a comprehensive drug control strategy, particularly targeting heroin and fentanyl. Noted drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman of the Sinaloa Cartel was recently jailed for life on U.S. federal charges.
CNN reports that according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, more than 68 thousand died of drug overdoses in 2018, with more than 47 thousand involving opioid use and nearly 32 thousand involving “synthetic opioids” such as fentanyl and tramadol.
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