In Need of More Resources

Budget sequestration will have a “devastating” impact on US efforts to combat the illicit drug trade in Latin America, particularly cocaine trafficking, said Rear Adm. Charles Michel, director of the Joint Interagency Task Force South, on Wednesday. Prior to the sequester, US resources for this mission were already on a downward trend, and there’s been a decline in the number of aircraft and sea vessels available for this role, Michel told reporters in Washington, D.C., on May 22. “It’s been a prioritization issue on where we want to put our national resources,” he said. Just the sequestration cuts alone will result in 38 metric tons of additional cocaine—with a wholesale value of more than $1 billion—reaching the United States, said Michel. The street value of that cocaine would be even greater. “We’ve been a nation at war here since Sept. 11, and we have national priorities that drive ourselves in other directions,” he said. The task force is charged with reducing the illegal drug threat to the United States through cooperation with partner nations in Central and South America.