1980: heroin smuggling threat for USAF transportation system

On 21 July 1980 Department of The Air Force released a study on vulnerabilities of the USAF Transportation System in relation to the Heroin Smuggling Threat. Internal investigative activities verify that during the wide spreading of the report no case of international traffic has been detected in Europe, nor in the countries bordering the United States.

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On 21 July 1980 Department of The Air Force released a study on vulnerabilities of the USAF Transportation System in relation to the Heroin

Smuggling Threat. Purpose of the study was to evaluate penetration risk for the USAF Transportation System to heroin illegal trafficking in the Southwest Asian area.

Information gathered were obtain from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and US Customs Office, together with other military and investigative agencies.


Seven Bulldogs

On March 1974 on a Boeing KC-135 coming from U-Tapao Thailand, law enforcement found out $ 2222.000 worth heroin hidden inside an inflatable safe boat. The 69.3 kg of discovered heroin's purity was around 94-98%.

Investigations conducted by US Air Force Special Investigative (AFOSI) focused attention on a crew member who was alleged as a heroin user.

Following an investigation called Seven Bulldogs, started from the Head Quarters of the AFOSI, tried to discover whether if, behind this recovering, there was a drug trafficking ring or not.

Investigations failed to prove the existence of a drug trafficking organization between USAF members. It was able, however, to find out small groups of USAF personnel trafficking heroin.

This last operation finished with the arrest of eight major drug dealers and the seizure of $700.000 worth heroin.


Southwest Asia Heroin and the USAF Heroin Problem

Narcotic officials estimated that the threat posed by huge opium harvests in Southwest Asia would become a large heroin availability for USAF personnel both in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Sometimes even much more available than the peak production during the Vietnam war.

Through statistics, it was possible to show how the USAF did not have serious problems in terms of the number of individuals involved in the heroin traffic.

During the first quarter of 1980 US military's drug abuse control program showed that the number of soldiers involved was 2x1000 of the military globally operatives. Between 1974 and 1975 the same number was 1x1000.

In the third quarter of 1979 five USAF members were identified and included in the rehabilitation program called USAFE. In the fourth quarter of 1979, the army personnel identified as drug users were 10, while at the end of 1979 identified persons amounted to 13.



Two factors would push the risk of heroin trafficking from Asia. The first is constituted by the existence of a rich market of drugs both in Europe and in the United States. The second is represented by the fact that through the exploitation of the carriers and military structures it is possible to easily overcome the controls normally carried out through the customs system.


The market

The US Air Force's transportation system (USAF) is at risk of infiltration by organizations that control drug trafficking, due to the existence of a lucrative heroin market both in Europe and in the countries bordering the United States.

The European market is already saturated with heroin from Southeast Asia because of its low price and its extreme purity level. The high level of heroin demand from countries bordering the United States represents a serious risk factor according to the DEA.

And in spite of this, about 70% of the heroin present on the streets of the main cities of the United States comes from Southeast Asia.

The contemporary presence in Europe of a huge demand for heroin and US military bases together with the drug demand of countries neighboring the United States represent a major risk factor for the US Air Force.


Interests that drove traffic

The three people's categories who would be interested in exploiting the US Air Force transportation system are heroin users, drug dealers, and drug traffickers.

According to careful analysis, the three categories mentioned would be present among the ranks of the USAF personnel.

The risk to which the Air Force's transportation system would be subjected by these three types of subjects would be further aggravated by the variability of the subjects working on behalf of the military administration. This one, in fact, in addition to the military career would also employ civilians. The same USAF transportation system is also used to deliver mail to the military employed in the US bases. Finally, the internal risk of exploitation of USAF transportation would be exponentially elevated due to the possible infiltration of civilian personnel by criminal organizations.


Risk esteemed by the Intelligence

The highest level of risk to which the US Air Force's transportation system could be exposed would be that related to individual military administration employees who would individually organize the traffic or within small groups (Seven Bulldogs).

The internal investigative activity made it possible to verify that during the wide spreading of the report in question, July 1980, no case of international traffic have been detected in Europe, nor in the countries bordering the United States. Usual drug trafficking, both in Europe and in the United States, haven't yet led to the identification of alternative channels of illegal transport, such as the military one.

If criminal organizations would decide to illegally transport large quantities of heroin from Southeast Asia to countries bordering the United States, using either Turkish or Iranian traffickers, US Air Force personnel and the military transport system could be targeted such as an alternative channel. (cm)


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