Assistant Secretary David T. Johnson Opening of Counter-Narcotics Training Center
December 9, 2009; 4:00 p.m.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I’m pleased to be here for the first opening of the newly-renovated Interagency Counter-Narcotics Center.
My name is David Johnson and I am the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement at the United States Department of State. My Bureau, INL, is the State Department’s lead on international narcotics and law enforcement issues. INL is also the lead U.S. Government agency on overseas criminal justice sector reform. We manage approximately $2.6 billion of U.S. foreign assistance resources, operate in over 70 countries and employ roughly 7,000 people. INL’s policy focus was for a long time dominated by counter-narcotics, but as time has gone by, we have moved further into criminal justice sector reform, rule of law, and law enforcement capacity building. INL works in both conflict and post-conflict countries, but regardless of where we work, our overarching goal is to build our partners’ capacity to control criminal threats within their own borders, and to deny safe havens to transnational criminals and organizations.
I would like to thank the staff of the Center and its Director Abdraman Dzhangabulov (Ab-dra-man Zhan-ga-bu-lov) for their hard work in renovating this center. As I understand, they personally worked on the renovations that we toured today.
I would also like to thank the Director of the Academy Dzhan Kenzhetayev (Zhan Kin-ja-tay-ev), whose has been eager to work with the international community and understands well the need for both international and interagency cooperation to fight transnational crime.
This Center is an important part of the fight against narco-trafficking. Interagency coordination is important to any country’s fight against transnational crime, and the joint counter-narcotics training for all Kazakhstani law enforcement agencies at this Center will be key to your national and regional efforts as well.
I was pleased to learn that the Training Center is preparing to welcome police officers from Afghanistan as well. The fact that Kazakhstan is willing to incorporate their Afghanistan counterparts is an excellent indication of our partnership.
It comes as no surprise to anyone here that Afghanistan is at the top of the U.S. Government’s foreign policy priorities list. President Obama announced last week the addition of 30,000+ troops to support our coalition efforts there. The drug trade in Afghanistan presents multiple threats to all of our countries: drug trafficking fuels Taliban operations, it undermines rule of law and security in Kazakhstan and throughout the Central Asian region and beyond, it creates public health crises and has the potential to radicalize populations.
My Bureau’s particular focus in this regard is narcotics trafficking through the region - precursor chemicals move through this region into Afghanistan and narcotics move out of Afghanistan, to market throughout the world - and the many negative impacts on our partner countries that result from this trafficking. As we look for creative ways to strengthen international cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and transnational crime, I hope this Center will be a useful venue for national and regional cooperation.
As you know, cooperation both inside Kazakhstan and across your borders is essential to combating transnational crime. Criminals do not respect borders and those fighting them must be able to efficiently work together to stop the flow of drugs, weapons, people, and money. Given your location and neighborhood, Kazakhstan is on the front lines of defense against the flow of drugs out of Afghanistan.
Earlier today I attended the inauguration of the Central Asia Regional Information and Coordination Center – CARICC – and reiterated many of these points – interagency cooperation on the national level and regional cooperation throughout this region is critical to our shared goal of decreasing the drug flows through this region as well as stemming the negative impacts this trafficking has on our societies. I was pleased to learn earlier today that this Center and CARICC will work in partnership as well.
On behalf of the Government of the United States I would like to thank all of you for what you do in the fight against drugs and transnational crime.