Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report for October 2009

Published: Wed 18 Nov 2009 01:59 PM
DE RUEHBO #3662/01 3221401
R 181359Z NOV 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Eradication numbers continue to lag behind last
year's due to funding constraints affecting manual eradication
progress. So far in 2009, the Colombian government has reported a
total of 40 fatalities during manual eradication operations. Other
GOC forces have also incurred casualties in successful operations
that forge ever deeper into emerging criminal band and Foreign
Terrorist Organization (FTO) territory. A steady increase in
hostile fire, an ageing air fleet, and an increase in CNP missions
and flight hours are overtaxing ARAVI's operational aircraft. The
FARC and other FTO members are assuming reactionary stances and are
developing counter-tactics to the MOD's demobilization efforts.
The GOC continues to provide training to police counterparts in
Central and South America. END SUMMARY.
I. Aerial Eradication Program Update
II. Manual Eradication Program Update
III. Plan Colombia Helicopter Program (PCHP) Update
IV. Colombia National Police Air Service Support (ARAVI)
Program Update
V. Interdiction Program Update
VI. Base security/Road Interdiction/NVD Program Update
VII. Maritime Interdiction Program Update
VIII. Communications/Weapons Program Update
IX. Port Security Program (PSP) Update
X. Reestablish Police Presence Program (Carabineros)
XI. Air Bridge Denial (ABD) Program Update
XII. Environmental Program Update
XIII. Individual Demobilization Program Update
XIV. Drug Demand Prevention Program Update
2. (SBU) Aircraft based in Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) in
Larandia, Popayan, and Caucasia sprayed a total of 6,509 hectares
(ha) in October. A total of 2,780 ha were sprayed out of Larandia;
503 out of Popayan; and 3,226 out of Caucasia. The aerial
eradication team has sprayed 89,055 ha through ten months and is on
track to reach its calendar year target of 100,000 ha. During
October, eradication aircraft experienced eight hostile fire
incidents and thirteen impacts, bringing the total for the calendar
year to 37 hostile fire incidents and 66 impacts. No one was
wounded or killed as a result of these incidents.
3. (SBU) Total manual eradication of coca through November 7 was
46,794 ha. With less than two months left in the year, Post
estimates that total manual eradication in 2009 will be 57,000
hectares, well short of the 2009 manual eradication goal of 70,000
hectares (see reftel a). Phase IV of the 2009 manual eradication
campaign, scheduled to begin in mid-October, began on November 10
due to funding constraints at Accion Social, the Colombian
government's (GOC) civilian agency responsible for implementing the
manual eradication program. In late October, the Ministry of
Defense (MOD) agreed to transfer 15 billion Colombian pesos
(approximately $7.5 million) to Accion Social and avoid
cancellation of Phase IV manual eradication operations. An
estimated 130 to 140 mobile eradication groups will work during
Phase IV under police and army protection to pull up coca in seven
departments, including the main coca growing regions of Narino,
Guaviare, Meta, and along the Ecuador border in Putumayo. The GOC,
also behind in its 2009 goals to eradicate 500 hectares of poppy
and 150 ha of marijuana, has begun eradication operations of poppy
in Cauca and Narino in southwestern Colombia, and marijuana in the
Sierra Nevada in northeast Colombia. As of November 5, the GOC has
manually eradicated 303 ha of poppy and 85 ha of marijuana.
4. (SBU) As of November 9, the GOC has reported a total of 40
fatalities during manual eradication operations in 2009, including
25 security personnel, 14 civilian eradicators, and one United
Nations-hired topographer embedded within a manual eradication
group. Dozens of security personnel and civilian eradicators have
been maimed by landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
NAS Bogota is exploring ways to improve the capacity of the
Antinarcotics Police to detect landmines and IEDs. [Note: The
number of reported fatalities is based on records held by the
Colombian National Police, Colombian Army, Accion Social, reports
from the field and press reports. Complete reporting of fatalities
during manual eradication will not be available until the end of
the year. End Note.]
--------------------------------------------- -
--------------------------------------------- -
5. (SBU) PCHP aircraft operated from Tumaco, Larandia,
Barrancabermeja, and Tolemaida bases and flew a total of 544 hours
providing air assaults, air movements, reconnaissance, medical
evacuations, and support missions for the Counter-Drug (CD) Brigade
and other vetted Colombian Army (COLAR) units. Helicopter flight
hours have been depleted by damage to the aircraft and the
increasing need to provide additional protection from ground fire
incidents. Tumaco-based PCHP helicopters provided support for
BACNA 2 (Counternarcotics Battalion of the CD Brigade) air assault
missions, and armed escort for unarmed civilians and COLAR MI-17
helicopters supporting manual eradication operations. PCHP gunship
helped to escort an Army MI-17 with a GOC commission that was
investigating the killing of seven Awa Indians in the Barbacoas
(Narino) area. PCHP flew 31 hours supporting seven medical
evacuation flights transporting a total of seven patients.
6. (SBU) ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet flew 1,985 mission hours in
October. During a High Value Target mission in Caqueta, the FARC
impacted two UH-60s. The seven UH-60 Black Hawks closed out the
month with 211 flight hours and an operational readiness (OR) rate
of 75 percent. Two UH-60s are undergoing depot maintenance for
structural repairs. The Bell-212 fleet flew 294 mission hours with
an OR rate of 72 percent. The Huey II OR rate was 58 percent while
flying 938 hours. Six Huey IIs are undergoing depot maintenance
for structural repairs. As part of a deal that resulted in cost
savings for the aerial eradication and COLAR aviation programs,
ARAVI accepted four out of five Huey IIs from PCHP. The DC-3 fleet
flew 274 hours in October, with an OR rate of 46 percent; one DC-3
is undergoing a 2,000-hour inspection. The last of the three C-26
Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Aerial Platforms
(ISRAP) arrived and will undergo a final acceptance inspection.
7. (SBU) During the month of October, the Colombian National Police
seized 10.8 metric tons of cocaine hydrochloride (HCl) and cocaine
base, 21.5 metric tons of coca leaf, 12.5 metric tons of marijuana,
and 42 kgs of heroin. The CNP also destroyed 15 cocaine HCl
laboratories, 130 coca base laboratories, and seized 216.4 metric
tons of precursor chemicals. While working out of Forward
Operating Bases in Magangue (Bolivar) and Aguachica (Cesar), the
Santa Marta Junglas destroyed three clandestine airstrips, one
cocaine HCl laboratory, and intercepted multi-ton shipments of
precursor chemicals. Since January 1, 2009, the CNP has seized
112.7 metric tons of cocaine/cocaine base, 417 metric tons of coca
leaf, 141.2 metric tons of marijuana, and 566 kgs of heroin. The
CNP has destroyed 166 cocaine HCl laboratories, 1,323 coca base
laboratories, and seized 22,696.7 metric tons of precursor
chemicals so far this year.
8. (SBU) On October 1, the Antinarcotics Police (DIRAN) captured
Marco Fidel Barba, alias "Mateo," near Apartado, Antioquia.
"Mateo" had assumed control of the Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias
"Don Mario," narcotrafficking group following the CNP's capture of
"Don Mario" on April 15, 2009. Numerous EMCARs (mobile carabinero
units) and the DIRAN Jungla (CNP Airmobile Commando) Special
Reconnaissance team (15 x Junglas, 1 x UH-60) - that had just
graduated from the U.S. Army Seventh Special Forces Group - ensured
the capture. On October 10 in Covenas (Sucre), the DIRAN Judicial
Police captured narcotrafficker Ramon Majona, wanted for
extradition to the U.S. On October 25, the CNP (2 x UH-60s, 30 x
DIPOL, 30 x Junglas) conducted an airmobile assault on the FARC's
Teofilo Forero Mobile Column command post near Larandia (Caqueta),
killing three FARC combatants and capturing three others. Among
the FARC's killed-in-action was a most-wanted criminal Herier
Triana, alias "Patamala," also wanted for extradition to the U.S.
According to the GOC, "Patamala" was responsible for the 2003 Club
Nogal bombing in Bogota, the 2000 execution of the Turbay Cote
family, the 2007 kidnapping and murder of the sister of former
Colombian President Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, and the 2005 murder of
former senator Jamie Lozado Perdomo, among others. "Patamala" was
also reportedly responsible for a series of assassinations
committed against various town council members, the failed plan to
kill former Minister of Defense Manuel Santos and his family, and
was thought to be the author of the 2007 frustrated plan to kidnap
U.S. Embassy personnel in Melgar, Tolima. During this assault, two
CNP officers were wounded, one of whom died from his injuries on
October 28.
9. (SBU) On September 2, DIRAN Junglas deployed a nine-man Mobile
Training Team (MTT) to Mexico to provide 60 days of antinarcotics
training to 60 members of the Jalisco State Police. The DIRAN's
four-man MTT traveled to Bolivia on October 17 to provide
instruction at the Garras School on cocaine laboratory destruction,
chemical safety, and evidence handling. Argentinean, Paraguayan,
and Brazilian nationals also attended this training. The Jungla
Commando International Course, comprised of 54 international and 29
CNP students, will continue until December 3. The Combat Medic
Course's 39 students will graduate on December 15. Six U.S. Army
Special Forces trainers arrived in Colombia on September 24 and
will assist with training at Pijaos through April. DEA Bogota
helped the Bogota Junglas to develop a live fire reaction pistol
and rifle range at the Facatativa base. From October 22-28, DEA
trainers provided advanced marksmanship training to the Jungla
Special Reconnaissance section. From October 25-28, the Colombian
Red Cross conducted a "Vertical Rescue" course for 20 Junglas from
Santa Marta, Tulua, Facatativa, and Espinal. On October 5-6, the
Panama Border Force Deputy Commander Commissioner Heyer, Operations
Officer Major Lizcano, and NAS Panama's Chip Gusler visited DIRAN
headquarters, the Facatativa Jungla company, and the 25 Panama
Jungla students at Pijaos.
10. (SBU) On November 6, 32 students (out of the original 40)
graduated from the Base Security course at the newly-designated
DIRAN Northwest Zone base in Necocli (Uraba Gulf, Atlantic Coast).
The IDIQ Bastion Wall in Necocli will be completed by November 17.
Phase II of the Miraflores IDIQ project was interrupted by a
two-week land ownership disagreement that was subsequently
resolved; the project is slated to be completed by the end of
November. NAS Night Vision Device (NVD) program officers worked on
the final outfitting of the Jungla NVD laboratory at Pijaos, the
relocation of the NVD container laboratory from Espinal to Pijaos,
and the renovation of the NVD container laboratory at Bogota's El
Dorado airport.
11. (SBU) On October 1, near Buenaventura, the Pacific Coast Guard
(CG) Command seized a vessel carrying 645 kgs of marijuana. Three
days later, the CG Command seized another vessel in the same area
with 25 plastic containers containing 950 kgs of cocaine. On
October 21, the U.S. Coast Guard captured an SPSS (self-propelled
semi-submersible) near the Guatemalan Coast and detained three
Colombians and one Mexican, seizing 4.9 metric tons of cocaine.
12. (SBU) The Colombian Navy Intelligence tactical unit (GRUIN)
conducted tactical training in October in support of a month-long
deployment near the Uraba Gulf (Atlantic Coast) and Choco (Pacific
Coast). During the deployment near the Uraba Gulf, the unit
located two abandoned BACRIM camps that appeared to have housed up
to 15 bandits per camp. In a follow-on mission in the vicinity of
Necocli, the GRUIN commandos seized 1.5 metric tons of cocaine
stored at a ranch. The Tumaco (Narino) Coast Guard station stopped
a vessel coming from Ecuador that was carrying 275 gallons of
contraband fuel likely to be used at cocaine laboratories in the
13. (SBU) During October, DIRAN's mobile training and repair teams
installed NAS-procured High Frequency (HF) and Tadiran Very High
Frequency System (VHF) repeaters, repaired Motorola hand-held
radios, and took inventory in Popayan, Norte de Santander, Tumaco,
Barrancabermeja, Florencia, Larandia, and Tulua. DIRAN
representatives from San Jose, Santa Marta, and Tulua received
NAS-procured training in data networks, fiber optic cabling, and
general electrical properties. DIRAN continued to install remote
security cameras at the armories in Bogota's DIRAN headquarters,
and in police bases at Guaymaral, Ipiales, and Facatativa. These
security cameras allow the DIRAN weapons officer-in-charge to
access all of the armories via the Internet Protocol (IP) network.
NAS hosted a conference for all of 27 Telematica DIRAN
communications members to review projects.
14. (SBU) The DIRAN weapons section received 300 Sig Pro 2022
pistols from the CNP to support airport/ports programs and
antinarcotics companies. The Junglas will continue using
NAS-procured Berretta M9 pistols. The weapons team deployed MTTs
to Tumaco (Narino), Caucasia, and Florencia in support of manual
eradication groups.
15. (SBU) DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) units seized
460.9 kgs of cocaine, 0.5 kgs of marijuana, and arrested 22 people
at Colombia's airports. At the Bogota airport, 6.3 kgs of cocaine
and one kg of heroin were seized and two people arrested. At the
Pereira airport, 28.9 kgs of cocaine were seized and five people
arrested. At Cali's Palmira airport, 1.1 kgs of cocaine and three
kgs of heroin were seized and two people arrested. At Medellin's
Rionegro airport, one kg of cocaine was seized and two people
arrested. In Cartagena's port and airport, one kg of cocaine was
seized and two people arrested. In Barranquilla's port and
airport, 330 kgs of cocaine and 25 kgs of heroin were seized and
two people arrested.
16. (SBU) ICE polygraph examiner conducted polygraph exams on 102
members of DIRAN's interdiction, ports and airports units.
Seventy-eight passed the exam, 23 failed, and one exam had
inconclusive results. Sixteen Dominican Republic Customs and
Police officers participated in NAS Dominican Republic-sponsored
training at Bogota's El Dorado airport's DIRAN unit. Two DIRAN
analysts from Bogota airport and Cartagena seaport will provide NAS
Guatemala-sponsored training to Guatemalan counterparts on document
analysis. NAS Bogota and NAS Lima sponsored training for two
Peruvian customs officers in Bogota on the use of NAS-procured body
--------------------------------------------- -----------
--------------------------------------------- -----------
17. (SBU) On October 15, 147 new police graduated from the CNP
Academy at Yuto (Choco). This USG-supported police academy was
created five years ago to provide opportunities for Afro-Colombian
youth and women, enhancing security and improving perceptions of
the police in the marginalized Pacific Coast region of Colombia.
Deputy Governor, Choco's regional Chief of the Police, and other
notables attended the ceremony. The top graduate was a female
officer. Major Cuesta, Commander of the Yuto School, expressed
interest in having Choco candidates participate in the NAS Police
Scholarship Program next year.
18. (SBU) Out of 1,711 tracks over Colombia, five were declared
Unknown, Assumed Suspect (UAS). Three aircraft did not carry
illegal items on board, and the Colombian Air Force was not able to
locate the other two. The SR-560 flew 82 missions for 180 hours.
19. (SBU) In July, the environmental section analyzed the complaint
system and focused on closing the oldest cases out of the then
back-log of 791 complaints. Due to the difficulties in determining
if legitimate damage had occurred in cases that dated as far back
as 2005, the environmental section compensated 37 out of 81
complainants whose plots were visited. The team has closed out all
complaints from 2005 and 2006, and has 13 complaints that remain to
be verified that include the last complaints from 2007 and 2008.
20. (SBU) In October, the antinarcotics police received 101
complaints, closed 183 cases, and compensated approximately $14,531
to seven complainants. The environmental section continues to
focus on decreasing the 2,206-case back-log; however, the influx of
complaints from Narino has decreased the speed with which cases can
be processed and closed (see reftel b). In lieu of a formal
agreement that cannot be established at this time, the NAS lawyer
is working on a letter to establish specific guidelines to ensure
quick and effective handling of crop-damage complaints. Once the
recently-acquired high-imagery ADS camera has undergone the
required tests, it should greatly assist in verifying complaints
and result in savings to the complaints program.
21. (SBU) On October 27, CNP Inspector General's office organized a
videoconference on eradication operations, specifically focusing on
the complaints process. The environmental lawyer briefed the
audience on the crop damage process and the National Institute of
Health (INS) gave a presentation on the health complaints process.
The conference was broadcast throughout Colombia.
22. (SBU) As of November 6, INS will house the first laboratory in
Colombia capable of analyzing glyphosate in body fluid samples,
reducing costs and helping to nationalize USG efforts. On October
16, INS trained approximately 20 CNP officials on the proper
collection of water samples. According to the Environmental
Management Plan, the GOC is required to collect water samples prior
to, immediately after, and 60-days following spray operations.
23. (SBU) The MOD's Humanitarian Attention Program for the
Demobilized (PAHD) has received 20,250 combatants since 2002,
including 208 insurgents in October, and 2,333 to date in 2009.
The FARC's demobilization numbers are more than 1,000 short of last
year's 3,027 to date, however, the ELN's demobilization numbers
stand at a record 430 for this year. (Comment: The most likely
factor contributing to lower demobilization is a natural leveling
off after the extraordinarily high demobilization rates in 2007 and
2008. The high demobilization numbers in the previous two years
were strongly correlated to areas under sustained military
pressure, especially those affected by desertion, and capture or
death of insurgent leaders. Reduced military pressure and a lack
of major psychological blows may lower the motivation to desert,
but a more important factor is an increased tendency for insurgents
to avoid direct contact with security forces and the local
population which reduces the opportunities to escape. The FARC
also reportedly employ demobilization "counter-measures" such as
separation of FARC couples, prohibition of radio use, and execution
of those caught or accused of attempts at desertion. End comment.)
24. (SBU) In response to FARC counter-measures, the MOD has created
tactical demobilization positions throughout the Joint Task Force
Omega (JTF-O) area of operations along with other tailor-made
demobilization initiatives. One such position is in the Catatumbo
region (Norte de Santander), where a customized communications
strategy was designed to take advantage of a reported local FARC
leader's tendency to abuse his personnel, among other factors.
25. (SBU) On October 5-7, NAS Lima provided training to NAS and
Colombian NGOs Mentor, Surgir, and Lions Club International
representatives on community coalition building. These NGOs will
create the first three drug demand prevention community coalitions
in Bogota, Medellin, and Barranquilla, respectively. On October
28, an INL/RM-approved request for community coalition-creation
proposals was sent to these NGOs; the grants will be awarded upon
the receipt of FY2009 funds. NAS provided support for the October
19-22 UNODC/Ministry of Social Protection conference on heroin
where 30 regional leaders participated. NAS also provided support
for the October 21-23 National Directorate on Dangerous Drugs (DNE)
conference for researchers studying illegal drug use issues. On
October 29, NAS-supported DARE Mexico trainers completed training
for 30 CNP's DARE officers on expanding the program to high schools
and parents.
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media