Audit: U.S. fails to check efficiency of drug war aid
MEXICO CITY — Despite claims by the United States and Mexico that drug traffickers are feeling the effects of the countries’ joint offensive, a review by the Government Accountability Office has found that millions of dollars have been spent without enough regard for whether the money is doing any good.
On the positive side, the accountability office said in a report to be released today, the Obama administration has done a better job in recent months of spending the roughly $1.6 billion set aside to fight drug traffickers in Mexico and Central America. Critics in the region have complained that bureaucratic hurdles have delayed the aid, which includes training and helicopters.
But the report said the State Department, which is overseeing the Merida Initiative to combat drugs in the region, failed to set specific targets to determine whether the money was having the desired effect of disrupting organized crime groups and reforming law enforcement agencies.
“Without targets to strive toward, State cannot determine if it is meeting expectations under the Merida Initiative,” the report said.
Precisely measuring the success or failure of the drug war is exceedingly hard, experts say.
Officials in Washington and Mexico City typically point to the huge quantities of drugs, guns and money being seized and the number of arrests being made as evidence that traffickers are on their heels. Critics, however, point to Mexico’s continued violence as a sign that the traffickers remain strong.