San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Region Defines Maritime Drug-Prevention Plan

TEGUCUGALPA (AFP) – In aneffort to define a joint plan to combatmaritime drug trafficking, representativesof 21 countries of the Organization ofAmerican States (OAS) met this week inHonduras to analyze each country’s vulnerabilitiesand discuss steps to be taken.According to Honduran anti-drug officials,90% of cocaine produced in SouthAmerica is passing through or aroundCentral American waters en route toNorth American or other markets.The U.S. government, which has givenLatin American governments a July 1deadline to implement strict new securitymeasures at their maritime ports, estimatesthat 100 tons of cocaine pass throughCentral American waters each year.In Nicaragua, authorities have reactedstrongly in past weeks to the most recentreport by the U.S. Drug EnforcementAgency (DEA), which identifiedNicaragua not only as a transit countrybut also as a new site of cocaine production.Nicaraguan police have denied theallegation that narco-producers have infiltratedthe country’s Atlantic coastline,prompting the U.S. Ambassador this weekto request clarification from the DEA.Nicaraguan military officials confirmedon Wednesday that U.S. DEAauthorities would begin flights overunspecified areas of the country inattempts to locate the alleged cocaine productionplants.

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