HomeNewsBriefWithdrawal From Ecuador Creates Latest Hole in US Anti-Drug Ops
BRIEF

Withdrawal From Ecuador Creates Latest Hole in US Anti-Drug Ops

BOLIVIA / 8 MAY 2014 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

The United States has announced the withdrawal of key anti-drug personnel from Ecuador in an apparent tit-for-tat reaction to the recent expulsion of US military officials, further widening the ever larger gaps in its regional counternarcotics operations.

The US Assistant Secretary of State and head of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) William Brownfield has announced the INL will pull out of Ecuador in late September, reported AFP.

According to Brownfield, the move reflects the “reality of the nature of cooperation” between the two countries.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Ecuador

The move comes less than two weeks after the US closed its military office attached to the US Embassy in Quito and removed 20 military personnel from the country, following a formal request by Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

In reaction to the military expulsion, US Southern Command (SouthCom) commander General John Kelly said it formed part of a “general loss of influence” for the United States in the region, reported EFE.

InSight Crime Analysis

As General Kelly has pointed out, this is just the latest example of the United States’ declining clout in Latin America. While this fits into the context of it scaling back its involvement in the region, it also has a lot to do with politics.

Both Bolivia and Venezuela expelled their US ambassadors in 2008. That same year, Bolivian President Evo Morales ejected the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and in 2013, he pushed out USAID. In that case, as well, the United States reacted by withdrawing the INL from the country.

With US personnel now set to leave Ecuador, where operations have already been reduced since the enforced closure of a military base in 2008, the United States will lack a counternarcotics presence in three of South America countries that play an important role in the regional drug trade.

Bolivia is a coca producer and a transit nation for Peruvian cocaine, and Venezuela is a significant drug transit and export nation. Meanwhile, there are signs Ecuador is taking on an increasingly significant role in the drug trade, both as a meeting point for global organized crime, and as a departure point for drugs heading abroad. The country’s cocaine seizures rose 30 percent in 2013 compared with 2012 figures, indicating that the US withdrawal comes at a critical moment.

While such moves are weakening the US on the ground capacity in its “war on drugs,” it is also facing a political onslaught in the form of calls for drug policy reform, and moves to liberalize drug laws.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 15 DEC 2011

A UN representative said there are no Mexican cartels present in Bolivia, raising the question of which criminal groups…

ECUADOR / 11 JUL 2011

The arrest of a suspected member of the Russian mafia in Ecuador has prompted a U.S. official to describe it…

ECUADOR / 12 JAN 2012

The Ecuadorian military reported detecting a semi-submersible drug trafficking vessel off the country’s Pacific Coast, though it was scuttled before…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…