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Mexicans Want More ‘Understanding’ from United States

August 29, 1987

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ More marijuana probably will be produced in the just- started growing season in Mexico but more will be destroyed by eradication programs, a key official in the federal anti-drug program says.

″I have the forecast that this year there will be more fields (of marijuana) - and we are going to destroy more fields,″ said Jose Ortega Padilla, head of the federal Attorney General’s Office anti-drug program.

″The problem is the fields that I can’t locate,″ he said in an interview Thursday, adding it would be impossible to estimate figures at this point.

The best time for growing marijuana in Mexico is from early August to late December, while the optimum season for opium poppy production is late October to the first half of March.

Ortega Padilla referred repeatedly to ″a lack of understanding″ from the United States on Mexico’s anti-drug program, which he said is criticized unfairly.

He said that 60 helicopters are all his office has available for spraying programs throughout Mexico, while the drug trade’s resources are growing constantly.

″The United States thinks that with this fleet we should be doing miracles,″ he said. ″We are doing miracles.″

Ortega Padilla especially objected to criticism at a U.S. congressional hearing Aug. 5 where it was said that there were helicopters better suited for the anti-drug campaign than the 12 Bell 206 helicopters recently purchased by Mexico.

″I know there are better ones - but I don’t have the money to buy them,″ he said. ″They’re criticizing just to criticize.″

The U.S. House narcotics committee was told at the hearing that the amount of drugs coming into the United States from Mexico had skyrocketed in recent years following sharp declines accomplished through aerial eradication efforts.

Joseph E. Kelley, associate director of the General Accounting Office’s national security and international affairs division, said aerial eradication had reduced the supply of Mexican marijuana to just 6 percent of U.S. supply, or about 750 metric tons, by 1982. However, he said, by 1986, 37 percent of all imported marijuana available in the United States, or more than 3,000 metric tons, originated in Mexico.

Kelley said the U.S. supply of Mexican heroin was under 1.4 metric tons in 1980, then rose in 1986 to between 2 and 4 metric tons, or about 40 percent of the U.S. supply.

Ortega Padilla’s comments were in line with increasingly strong rebuttals by Mexican leaders of U.S. criticism of the anti-drug program here. U.S. officials have charged repeatedly that corruption in Mexico seriously hinders the program.

He also reiterated the Mexican position that it is unbridled consumption in the United States that fuels the drug trade.

″The problem is in the United States, not Mexico,″ he said.

″I am not angry, I am not frustrated,″ he said. ″I am simply in disagreement when some people who don’t know the reality of Mexico say that Mexico isn’t doing enough.″

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