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R 091723Z NOV 06 FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4329 UNCLAS SAN SALVADOR 002720 SUBJECT: EL SALVADOR: MEETING

OF MINI DUBLIN GROUP REF: STATE 179116 1. (U) Post convened a November 9 meeting of the Salvadoran Mini-Dublin Group (MDG). In attendance were representatives from the Missions of France, Canada, Japan, Germany, and the European Union. The following provides information requested in reftel and a summary of MDG bilateral, counternarcotics support to El Salvador. ----------------------General Drug Situation ----------------------2. (U) El Salvador continues to be used as a transit country for narcotics, mainly cocaine and heroin. Cocaine from Colombia is transited via the Pan-American Highway and via maritime routes off the country's Pacific coast. With the implementation of the CA-4 agreement this summer, which eliminated immigration and customs inspection among citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua within that four-country region, trafficking in small and medium amounts of cocaine

and heroin by bus passengers and motorists is increasing. The Pan-American and Coastal Highways are the land routes preferred by traffickers. As elsewhere in Central America, there has been a notable increase in the amount of heroin transiting both the international airport and land ports of entry. Both heroin and cocaine also transit via Salvadoran airspace, and by sea off the Salvadoran coast. Maritime and land routes were more popular than air routes, and El Salvador may continue to see an increase in trafficking levels as major organizations increasingly move their focus from Caribbean to Pacific routes. 3. (U) There is concern that Methamphetamine production previously centered in Mexico may be relocating to Central America, though specific evidence of such operations in El Salvador is yet unclear. Partly due to the 2001 "dollarization" of El Salvador's economy, the country is increasingly important as a transit point for money-laundering operations. Gang violence is a serious problem in El Salvador, and although the major gang organizations participate in small-scale trafficking and distribution, no evidence exists to date of ties to major smuggling operations, or their involvement in major Colombia-U.S. drug trafficking operations. 4. (U) Climate and soil conditions do not favor the cultivation of coca plants. Small quantities of Cannabis are produced in the mountainous regions along the border with Guatemala and Honduras, though the cannabis is of poor quality and is destined primarily for domestic consumption. The "payment-in-kind" trend, whereby drug traffickers

pay off their local accomplices with drugs rather than money, may hold implications for future patterns of drug consumption in El Salvador. --------------------------------------El Salvador's Counternarcotics Strategy --------------------------------------5. (U) The GOES places high priority on counternarcotics law enforcement, but the resources available are inadequate to achieve all of its counternarcotics objectives. Further efforts at judicial reform are of crucial importance in offering authorities higher conviction and incarceration rates for criminals arrested on narcotics charges. Although recent judicial reforms have not specifically targeted drug traffickers, the wider movement toward judicial reform will offer benefits in El Salvador's counternarcotics efforts. 6. (U) El Salvador is a party to the following conventions: 1988 UN Drug Convention; 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances; 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol; UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; Central American convention for the Prevention of Money Laundering Related to Drug-Trafficking and Similar Crimes; Central American Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement; and the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

------------------------------------Bilateral Counternarcotics Assistance ------------------------------------7. (U) The United States is the only Mini-Dublin Group (MDG) member that provides direct bilateral counternarcotics assistance to El Salvador. The other MDG members contribute aid through the United Nations, the OAS, or the European Union; most such programs provide funding for after-school programs for at-risk youth. Notwithstanding this prevention-focused approach, MDG members showed interest in increased participation in law enforcement training and coordination. 8. (U) In the November 9 meeting, emboffs presented Mini-Dublin Group participants with a summary of USG counternarcotics programs in El Salvador and other relevant assistance, including an outline of programs offered at the new International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA). All MDG members expressed agreement with U.S. concerns about weaknesses within the country's judicial system and the need for reform. Canada's representative announced that they have recently decided to fund two new programs that target atrisk youth, and outlined that their efforts would continue to focus on prevention. The German representative noted that their Embassy planned to send several Salvadoran National Police (PNC) officers to Germany for long-term training, and expressed continued support for the programs of multilateral organizations. The French representative reminded the group that all French assistance is carried out on a regional level

targeting all of Central America. France described the multiagency focus of its law enforcement training center in Martinique. The French representative said he would explore the possibility of the Martinique center's provision of a trainer to assist in El Salvador, and that he would encourage an increased focus on Central America. The meeting's atmosphere was cordial and open; all those present expressed unabashed praise for USG counternarcotics efforts. Barclay (Edited and reformatted by Andres for ease of reading.)