Members of Congress yesterday demanded that the Reagan administration consider tougher steps to curb international narcotics traffic, steps ranging from cutting foreign aid for supplier nations to increased U.S. military involvement in control efforts.
Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) suggested at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that "maybe a firing squad" would be suitable punishment for federal agents caught collaborating with drug traffickers. "It wouldn't bother me, I tell you," he said. "It's my kids and your kids."
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, testified that he was "shocked" that the Justice Department has said it "is not inclined to use the law" that authorizes cutting foreign aid to nations that are the source of illegal narcotics in the United States.
He urged the committee and the administration to "take another look" at aid requests for Jamaica, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia, Thailand and Pakistan.
Jon R. Thomas, head of the State Department's Bureau of Narcotics Control, responded that progress is being made in curbing international drug traffic and that "there is not at this time a single source country where our narcotics objectives would be enhanced by suspending assistance."
Instead, he said, cutting foreign aid "could cause increased instability leading to very unwelcome developments" and might damage fragile economies without hurting drug traffickers.
"The single relevant question is whether more crop control would occur if aid were suspended," he said. Anyone who thinks aid cuts will stop the traffickers "fails to understand that these traffickers are governed only by the boundaries of their own greed and violence." Therefore, he said, "the secretary of state has decided not to use this tool at this stage."
Rep. Lawrence J. Smith (D-Fla.) maintained that aid cuts "might work and we're a little exasperated" that the administration is rejecting them.
Smith, Rangel, Hyde and Rep. Michael DeWine (R-Ohio) joined in urging that the U.S. military be pressed into further drug control efforts. Rangel said the Joint Chiefs of Staff have "been resisting because this is not considered a part of the mandate relating to national security."
The congressmen challenged Thomas' view that progress is being made.
"Maybe we never did know how gigantic [the problem] was," committee Chairman Dante B. Fascell (D-Fla.) said. "It seems we're not getting anywhere except that war has been declared."
On the other side of Capitol Hill, the acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration testified that the United States and Mexico temporarily have halted joint narcotics operations during a Mexican investigation of the murder last month in Guadalajara of U.S. drug agent Enrique Camarena Salazar.
Jack Lawn told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on security and terrorism that "we were outraged at the initial inactivity of our Mexican counterparts" on the case, but that he was encouraged by recent assurances, including a move by Mexico's attorney general to take control of the investigation.