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.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 5 JUN 2014

Authorities in Peru are implementing new fuel restrictions in an effort to hinder illegal mining operations, but such a measure…

COCA / 18 DEC 2017

The government of Colombia has issued seemingly contradictory statements regarding the amount of coca it aims to forcibly eradicate…

COLOMBIA / 15 MAR 2017

Venezuelan authorities recently announced cocaine seizures of almost three metric tons, illustrating the persistent flow of drugs on the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.