International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), United States Bureau of

International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), United States Bureau of

The Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is an office of the U.S. State Department that advises the president, the secretary of state and other bureaus within the State Department, and other departments and agencies of the federal government on U.S. programs to combat international drug trafficking and other crimes. Its efforts support two strategic goals of the State Department: to reduce the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, and to minimize the impact of international crime within the country and among American citizens. As such, since the time of its founding in 1978, it has experienced a shift of focus from efforts against the drug trade to a larger anti-crime mission.

Recognizing the increased internationalization of drug-related crime, the State Department in 1978 created the Bureau of International Narcotics Matters (INM). Its efforts were directed toward support of police activities against the drug trade in far-flung corners of the world. Then, in November 1993, President William J. Clinton expanded its mission in Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 14. Thereafter INM would also undertake military and economic/security assistance for drug control. The name was changed to the INL in 1995.

Today INL is known by the nickname "drugs and thugs." The nickname was the result of a broadened mandate pursuant to PDD 14, which saw an expansion of INM's focus in the period 1993–94. In addition to drugs, INM would thenceforth be concerned also with money laundering, international traffic in stolen vehicles, sales of arms and other contraband, smuggling of illegal aliens, and other varieties of crime at a transnational level. Accordingly, INM's name was changed early in 1995 to reflect the breadth of its new mission.

Working with domestic drug law-enforcement and regulatory agencies, INL acts as a U.S. representative on international bodies concerned with the drug trade. It promotes those aspects of U.S. foreign relations that can be used to stop the production of illegal drugs, and their smuggling into the United States. It advises the Secretary of State and other federal bureaus on issues of international drug control, and prepares the annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report on drug production, traffic, and abuse worldwide. Additionally, it manages a drug control certification process mandated in a 1986 law.

A large portion of INL's budget, which in 1997 was $195 million (with an additional $20 million for criminal justice programs), is directed toward drug control assistance in some 85 countries. A great deal of these funds go to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Coast Guard, U.S. Customs Service, and other agencies that train foreign law-enforcement personnel in drug interdiction techniques. Particular attention and effort is directed toward those countries that loom large as sites for the production or transit of drugs, an array that ranges from the Bahamas to Pakistan, and from Colombia to Thailand. These and many other nations have INL narcotics affairs sections, which may consist of a single individual, or (in the case of Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru) may include dozens of foreign service officers, contractors, and Department of Defense pilots.

Efforts against international crime. In accordance with its expanded mission since the mid-1990s, INL has been involved in numerous efforts, not just against drugs, but against "thugs" as well. It has issued warnings against advance fee business scams, many of which originate from Nigeria and other parts of west Africa, and which typically involve a fax or e-mail requesting assistance in transferring a large amount of money. In the end, after the perpetrator has gotten hold of the target's bank account numbers or other sensitive information, the only transfer of funds is to the perpetrator. INL, in an advisory on the subject, indicated that persons receiving such a proposition should refer it to law enforcement officials. In another advisory, INL counseled Americans traveling abroad never to get involved in drug smuggling, because the best that the U.S. consul can do for a jailed American is to ensure that he or she will be treated in accordance with local law that in many cases is far more severe and restrictive of individual rights than U.S. law.

INL does more than advise: as with drugs, it has been involved in efforts against those who smuggle in aliens from China and other countries to become virtual slaves as payment for their tickets. It also works to counter international insurance fraud, such as that involving international car-theft rings operating in the United States. Often the cars stolen are leased vehicles, and the "owner," rather than turn in the car and pay a large fee for driving it too many miles, arranges to have it stolen, and collects the insurance money along with a fee from the car-theft ring. Such insurance fraud costs the U.S. consumer hundreds of dollars a year in increased premiums and indirect costs.

In an effort to enhance crime-fighting efforts internationally, INL in the 1990s cooperated with other U.S. law enforcement agencies to establish several International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs) overseas. Among the ILEAs established are facilities in Budapest, Hungary (1995); Bangkok, Thailand (1998); and Gabarone, Botswana (2001). In 2001, INL also opened an ILEA in Roswell, New Mexico.



Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. < > (March 19, 2003).


DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration)
Department of State, United States
Drug Control Policy, United States Office of National
Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization)
Law Enforcement, Responses to Terrorism
NDIC (Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center)

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