Project Chair: William H. Webster
Project Director: Arnaud de Borchgrave
TF Director: Frank J. Cilluffo, CSIS
Research Assistant: Richard W. Arnholt

By any standards, the criminal narcotics industry ranks among the wealthiest and most powerful multinational business conglomerates in the world, grossing an estimated $500 billion a year. To put this into perspective, U.N. Secretary General Koffi Anan recently claimed that the illegal narcotics industry is greater than the global oil and gas industry and twice as large as the overall automobile industry. The effects of this worldwide, highly integrated industry have been felt from Colombia to Thailand, from Afghanistan to Sudan and from Russia to the United States. No country has been impervious. Transnational drug networks have exploded in response to the new conditions in the former Soviet Union. Particularly menacing are the connections that have been identified between networks in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Soviet successor states.

The linkages between drug trafficking and other forms of transnational crime--among others, money laundering and international gang activity--are especially strong. Together, these outgrowths of international drug-related activity impact U.S. geopolitical and commercial interests by undermining the political legitimacy and economic stability of governments in several key corners of the world. A particularly insidious by-product has been the rise of narco-terrorism, which over recent years has consisted of political assassinations, intimidation of judicial systems, corruption of governments and law enforcement agencies, and an assault on movements toward democratization in developing countries.

The narcotics industry has also deeply impacted U.S. society and poses a serious threat to our national well-being. Over 14,000 people die each year to drugs, one-third of all AIDS cases are drug related and the costs to U.S. taxpayers is over $70 billion per year. Furthermore, nearly 70% of all violent crimes and 33% of all crimes, perpetrated in the U.S., are narcotics related.

At present, there is a visible need for a multi-tiered solution, incorporating both demand-side (domestic) and supply-side (international) policies and actions. The CSIS task force will evaluate present strategic and tactical mechanisms and recommend policies aimed at integrating the narcotics threat into the U.S. national strategic planning process. These recommendations will focus specifically on improving the existing mechanisms for policy coordination and implementation and establishing an organized program to develop and better apply advances in technology.