News Release
May 8, 2007

Karen P. Tandy
IDEC XXV Opening Remarks
Madrid, Spain
May 8, 2007

Administrator Tandy often departs from prepared remarks

Good morning. Distinguished guests, welcome to the 25th International Drug Enforcement Conference.

Minister of Interior Rubalcaba, my friend, thank you for bringing your great stature to this conference and your long-standing leadership and personal friendship to me and our collective fight against drugs.

I also want to thank Ambassador Aguirre for your inspiring words, your great friendship to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and your support to all of us to put on such a great historic conference this week.

And to my co-President, the leader of this conference, Mr. Secretary Camacho, we are so honored to have you serve as the President of the 25th IDEC. You are a great leader and supporter of the tough fight we all face together against drugs.

I also thank Director Marcos for her guidance today. She will be delivering and sharing the knowledge she has in the intelligence center here and for what we are all facing around the world; thank you Director Marcos for being with us today.

We also are honored to have with us today Mexico’s Secretary for Public Security, Genaro Garcia-Luna, and my dear friend Mexico’s Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora. You have been unwavering, a courageous set of leaders for us around the world in your long-standing dedication and courage in fighting the global war against drugs.

Although it’s our 25th year, it’s also a year of firsts. Some of us have been here since the beginning. For many of us, it is a first. It is the first time that Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, joins us, and we thank him.

Also, this is the first time that the International Association of Chiefs of Police has been represented, and we welcome my friend and IACP President, Joseph C. Carter.

To those of you who are new to IDEC this year and for the vast majority of us, I have to start by reminding us all where we came from. Twenty-five years ago this conference consisted of a small conference table in Panama, and you could seat all the IDEC participants around the table. There were only 12 countries present. Over the past 25 years, obviously, this conference has flourished.

This year we have not 12 countries, but 84 countries. We come to this conference from all corners of the world: from Costa Rica to Cambodia, Greece to Guatemala, Nigeria to Norway.

We also welcome 7 countries that are attending the conference for the first time and those 7 countries I would like to take a moment to recognize: Bonaire, Cambodia, Ireland, Latvia, Morocco, Norway, and Saudi Arabia. Thank you for joining us this year. We also have 6 new member nations of this IDEC, who I warmly welcome to our coalition. These 6 new member countries are: Bulgaria, Denmark, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, and Sweden. And I could not possibly move on without recognizing the 12 countries who sat at that first table 25 years ago, who made it possible to fill this room.

Please stand as I call your name:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, the United States, and Venezuela.

Let’s give a round of applause to our founders.

Thank you. We have come a long way in the last 25 years.

This year, Spain has helped us reach a great new landmark as the first European host of the IDEC meetings outside the western hemisphere. Spain shoulders the unwanted burden of being a main gateway of drugs to Europe. But Spain, through the tremendous efforts of The Spanish Guardia Civil and the Spanish National Police, has become a model country that is successfully rising to this challenge.

It was just about a month ago, one of the most wanted money launderers and drug traffickers in the world—Ricardo Bernal—was arrested. This Colombian kingpin is believed to have laundered more than $300 million in drug proceeds. Spain’s law enforcement and their investigation were key to his capture.

Being here in Madrid also reminds us not only how much we have to be proud of in this fight against drugs, but also how crucial this fight is. As we meet here this week, terrorists remain on trial for the 2004 deadly train bombings here in Madrid – with hashish traded in exchange for some of the deadly explosives that killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800 others.

For 25 years, we’ve come to IDEC to collectively tackle our most difficult challenges. This year is no exception. In the last year, we’ve seen drug trafficking organizations expand their reach and their networks around the globe.

  • We saw Chinese chemical brokers in Mexico selling meth chemicals to the cartels. The March seizure of $207 million in Mexico from Chinese chemical brokers was the largest single seizure of drug cash the world has ever seen. This much cash could have purchased enough chemicals to produce more than 71 tons of methamphetamine.
  • Nigerian drug trafficking organizations are now moving into Afghanistan to buy heroin and move it out of Afghanistan, through Dubai, into east Africa, and then west from there.
  • Mexican scouts are shopping for chemicals in Belgium. They looked for a supplier in Brussels who could provide them with 20 million tablets of pseudoephedrine each month; unfortunately they had to settle for a supplier who could provide 2 million tablets a month.
  • There are so many cocaine traffickers from Ghana, Guinea, and Nigeria setting up shop in Luxembourg -- that there are not enough jails to hold them all at once.
  • Colombian cocaine traffickers have set up elaborate front companies in the tiny West African country of Guinea-Bissau.
  • Just a few weeks ago, we saw the arrest of members of a Chinese drug organization -- they were manufacturing MDMA or Ecstasy in a lab they had set up in the Netherlands and were transporting the Ecstasy to the Philippines.
  • And, Australia is experiencing an increase of Vietnamese and Chinese criminal groups bringing in cocaine from China and Canada.

From this geographic sweep of drugs that are moving, we can see that:

--Cocaine is surging in Europe at levels similar to what America experienced in the 1980s. Portugese police confiscated 34 tons of cocaine in just the past year, nearly twice the total of the previous year. Cocaine seizures at the airport in Brussels also have more than doubled in just a year – up to 543 kilos in the past year.

--The Euro has become the preferred currency for drug traffickers. We’re seeing a glut of Euro notes throughout South America. According to the United States, Financial Intelligence Unit, FinCEN, 9 of the 10 travelers who carried the $1.7 billion euros that came into the United States during 2005, did not come from Europe with those Euros—they came from Latin America.

--3 IDECs ago in Lima, Peru – we talked about a new threat of traffickers using Africa as a trans-shipment, refueling, and storage point for South American cocaine going to Europe. What was an emerging threat only 3 years ago, is our new alarming reality in this room today.

These are the tough challenges we ALL face. But we faced them head on last year, with phenomenonal success. Together, our operations attacked some of the most powerful, violent drug cartels in the world, notably:

--we arrested kingpin Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix;

--we extinguished the infamous Colombian Cali cartel;

--we arrested a Nigerian money courier 6 months ago as he was boarding a plane in Amsterdam, headed for Ghana, concealing more than $1 million Euro---he also turned out to be a DEA fugitive from a heroin organization in Chicago;

--we saw the unprecedented international controlled delivery in January of 2.7 tons of pseudoephedrine tablets that had been shipped from Iran to Paris, seized by French Customs, and then control delivered to the Democratic Republic of Congo by the French. It was delivered there in an unprecedented partnership between the French, DEA, and the Congolese. This led to the seizure of another 6.7 tons of pseudoephedrine in the Congo;

--we witnessed the historic moment 4 months ago, when Mexico extradited more than 10 major drug traffickers to the United States, including leaders from each of Mexico’s drug cartels;


--we set a record-breaking seizure with the confiscation of 21 tons of cocaine off the coast of Panama that denied drug lords $300 million in drug revenue, just over 2 months ago.

But, as we celebrate these incredible victories – we can and we must do more.

What made these victories possible and what is key to this conference and what you are about to do this week is that it took more than one country banding with another, sharing intelligence with each other, to make this happen.

These victories were possible only because countries recognized that if all we do is go after drug interdictions without linking them to the drug enterprises and networks that are profiting from them – there will be no end to these transnational criminal enterprises or their capacity to ship more drugs.

These victories were possible because of the kind of shared intelligence, and I would like to give you a couple of examples. Those of you who were in Montreal last year heard me say, “It is about intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.” It is that shared intelligence that took British law enforcement noticing there was a website supplying precursor chemicals to worldwide meth labs and then turning that intelligence into an international case that ultimately led to shutting down the international organization responsible, with 100 arrests and seized labs in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany.

And these victories were possible because of shared intelligence. The kind of shared intelligence that links Colombia’s seizure last October of 127 kilograms of cocaine and 7 kilograms of heroin on a vessel near Cartagena – to a separate small seizure in St. Louis, Missouri, of 3.5 kilos of heroin. After Colombia and the U.S. shared intelligence and after each country conducted over a total of 36 wire intercepts, these seemingly unrelated seizures resulted in dismantling a sophisticated heroin smuggling and money laundering organization believed to have shipped more than 550 pounds of heroin to the U.S. in the last year.

So for us, instead of viewing the seizure of a load of drugs or money as a successful end to itself – we must view each interdiction as merely the beginning of the end. We must use drug and money seizures as the starting point to collect and exploit intelligence and to link that seizure to the drug organization responsible for sending it, and to fully identify and dismantle these drug networks and their operations across the globe in the countries represented in this room.

If we don’t there will always be:

  • another load of drugs,
  • another money courier,
  • another shipment of weapons and explosives to attack our people, and
  • another group of corrupted public officials who are willing to sell their country, their people, and the lives of our courageous law enforcement.

And, for the drug networks -- it is STILL all about the drug money – $322 billion dollars annually, to be precise.

To hit the traffickers where it really hurts -- We must do more to identify the chief financial officers. They have their own money launderers and financial officers that hold these criminal groups together – for these financial managers are the "linchpins" that hold these criminal groups together.

To that end, in February, the United Arab Emirates took the extraordinary step of instructing all banks and money exchange houses to freeze the accounts of hawala operators and money launderers.

Whether it’s in Euros, dollars, pesos, pounds sterling or gold, together we must focus as hard or harder on the money as we already focus on the drugs. If we don’t drain the life blood of these criminal drug enterprises, they will never die.

Finally, we need to keep pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone if we are to get to the most treacherous drug cartels and their money.

We in this room are the leaders in international drug enforcement across the globe. We in this room all recognize that we are sitting at these tables this week because we can not do it alone. While these are tougher challenges than ever, so too is the evil we fight. The very future of the countries sitting in this room depends on what we do this week and in the future.

I ask you –

  • If not us – Who?
  • If not here and now – When?

Thank you very much.##