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[L]a próxima semana se inaugurará un cuarto Centro Estratégico Operacional (CEO) en el departamento de Norte de Santander, fronterizo con Venezuela, que se suma a los de Tumaco, San José de Guaviare y Caucasia, tres municipios con numerosos cultivos de coca.
“60.000 Hectareas de Cultivos de Coca Han Sido Erradicadas Entre 2017 y 2018” (Bogotá: El Espectador (Colombia), March 23, 2018) <https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/60000-hectareas-de-cultivos-de-coca-han-sido-erradicadas-entre-2017-y-2018-articulo-746083>.
Permanent link to this clip: https://defenseoversight.wola.org/clip/3890
The Colombian government is operationalizing its counternarcotics strategy through the Ministry of Defense (MOD)-led Centros Estratégicos Operacionales/Strategic Operational Centers, or “CEOs,” concept, an integrated, whole-of-government approach to counternarcotics and rural development. In early January, the Colombian government began implementing the CEO concept in the municipality of Tumaco – a critical area for coca cultivation and cocaine production and other illicit activity. The government plans to expand this effort to a total of four CEOs servicing the 11 departments where 93 percent of the coca is cultivated. Embassy Bogota continues to support the Colombian government in this effort.
Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Prepared Statement of: Ambassador William R. Brownfield Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Hearing before the: Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control “Adapting U.S. Counternarcotics Efforts (Washington: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, September 12, 2017): 2 <https://www.drugcaucus.senate.gov/sites/default/files/2017-09-12%20Brownfield%20INL%20Testimony%20FINAL.pdf>.
Permanent link to this clip: https://defenseoversight.wola.org/clip/3662
The most encouraging development during our visit was the clear signal that Colombia is readying its various ministries to launch a second CEO in Antioquia later this month.
Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Prepared Statement of: Ambassador William R. Brownfield Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Hearing before the: Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control “Adapting U.S. Counternarcotics Efforts (Washington: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, September 12, 2017): 5 <https://www.drugcaucus.senate.gov/sites/default/files/2017-09-12%20Brownfield%20INL%20Testimony%20FINAL.pdf>.
Permanent link to this clip: https://defenseoversight.wola.org/clip/3666
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[Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield:] What is their approach in terms of taking down the drug trafficking organizations—and the ELN, which also is a drug trafficking organization—in the aftermath of the peace accord? They have developed a national strategy, which is called the CEO strategy, the Centros Estratégicos Operacionales, the Operational Strategic Centers strategy.

And the strategy defines four principal drug-producing zones in Colombia. In the southwest around Nariño, in the center-east, up in upper Antioquia, in the northeast near the Venezuelan border in Norte de Santander, and in the east-center in the province of San José del Guaviare. And the concept is to do a whole-of-government, comprehensive approach that includes both voluntary and forced eradication, government support, and police and military presence to ensure government control in those zones.

It's not a bad strategy. It is, however, going at it piece by piece. They started in the southwest. They were very heavy on voluntary, not so heavy on involuntary, and it is so far producing, as I suggested in my statement, better results than we saw in 2016. But they're going to have a tough time meeting their own self-announced objectives for 2017.
Assessing the Colombia Peace Process: The Way Forward in U.S.-Colombia Relations (Washington: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, August 2, 2017) <https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/assessing-the-colombia-peace-process-the-way-forward-in-us-colombia-relations_080217>.
Permanent link to this clip: https://defenseoversight.wola.org/clip/3583