UNITED NATIONS, NOV. 10 -- An international treaty that takes effect Sunday will allow governments to extradite drug lords, seize their bank accounts and property and open their financial records in an effort to eliminate safe havens for the traffickers.
The U.N. Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances binds the United States, Mexico, Canada and 24 other nations that have adopted it to cooperate in battling drug traffickers. Sixty-two other nations and the European Community have signed the convention, indicating that they will adopt it.
Attorney General Dick Thornburgh lauded its adoption, saying that "under this treaty, signatory nations are obligated to criminalize each link in the chain of illicit drug-related activities, from the initial production of drugs to the final laundering of profits."
China's public security minister, Wang Fang, said it is "a powerful weapon for national drug law enforcement agencies throughout the world and has major significance in combating the increasingly rampant activities of international drug trafficking."
Under the treaty, all signatory nations agree to share evidence of criminal conduct and to extradite accused traffickers, eliminating safe havens, and they agree to adopt laws that allow them to seize drug profits and banking records.
The manufacture and sale of chemicals needed to make drugs is to be controlled in each nation. Shipments of illegal drugs are to be allowed to pass through countries so that law enforcement agencies can trace them to their recipients, a technique common in the United States but new in international law.
Signatory nations will require commercial shipping, airline and other transport companies to take steps to make sure their carriers are not used to carry drugs.
"It aims to hit the drug traffickers where it hurts the most -- that is to say, in their freedom of movement and their liberty," said Margaret J. Anstee, coordinator of U.N. drug control-related activities.
The treaty was drafted and endorsed by 106 nations at an international conference in Vienna in December 1988.