Here’s What Your $97 Million Drug War in Central America Actually Bought
War On Drugs-Central America
The U.S. isn’t just shoveling cash to stem the tide of narcotics in Mexico and Colombia. Quietly, it’s built up its drug war in Central America, too — spending nearly $100 million over four years on advanced gear for local forces. Not that Washington has any idea what it’s gotten for its money.
A new report from the Government Accountability Office provides a rare glimpse into the Central American war on drugs. Between 2008 and 2011, the report finds, the government spent $97 million for gear and training for its Central American partners. On the plus side, it’s laughably low compared to the more than $640 billion (and rising) the U.S. has spent on the war in Afghanistan.
Most of the drug war money is spent on equipment such as vehicles — like aircraft and patrol boats — night-vision goggles, body armor, radios and weapons, and X-ray equipment for scanning cargo containers. The Central American Regional Security Initiative, the government program funneling the money south, also funds counter-drug units, or TAG (Transnational Anti-Gang) teams comprised of agents from the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, who partner up with local police to investigate drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and money laundering.