The Clinton Administration has proposed sending $1.25 billion in emergency aid to Colombia in order to help officials there fight the drug war. White House drug enforcement chief Barry McCaffrey told CBS News Early Show anchor Bryant Gumbel that 80 percent of the drugs that come into America either originate in Colombia or pass through it.
"Drugs kill 52,000 Americans a year and cocaine production in Colombia has skyrocketed," McCaffrey said. "It's doubled in the last three years. They're now producing six metric tons of heroin a year."
The former army general said the focus of the funds is to try to stay in long-term support of Colombia's peace process, economy, judicial system and the police and armed forces.
"The entire focus is to support Colombian President Pastrana's plan which is to confront this illegal drug empire, which benefits the paramilitary forces," McCaffrey said, responding to concerns that some of the money would be funneled to the Colombian rebels. "We're also trying to protect our own children in our own community."
The general said American forces will be heavily involved in air interdiction, intelligence collection, training and equipment delivery.
"There will be U.S. involvement," McCaffrey said, "but the actual employment of force inside these sovereign nations is up to these nations' own forces."
He said a group of about 60 helicopters to be used in the region will give Colombian police the chance to intervene and establish law and order in their own nation.