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Mr. BENSINGER. Chief Counsel, I think you are right and the U.S. Customs Service has proposed legislation which would make those attempts a crime and to give them authority to investigate a violation of that customs declaration. We think it is needed, because we have seen cases where a person didn't fill out the form, and went out with great sums of money, and no case could be brought.
Mr. NELLIS. I have a question about the marihuana traffic. Out in California and Oregon and various other remote regions of the Great Northwest there seems to be a number of amateur entrepreneurs who are doing very well growing domestic marihuana. Now, when we talk about eradicating marihuana in Mexico and other countries, what can we do in Oregon and in California, where, I am told, marihuana worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually is grown?
Is that a correct statement ?
Mr. BENSINGER. I think your representation is accurate, and I think the thrust of your question should be addressed in general and in specific terms.
Over 90 percent of the marihuana consumed and trafficked in the United States is imported still, the majority of it from Colombia. However, Hawaii and northern California are the two largest marihuana-growing States.
In Hawaii they have taken very specific action called “green harvest" in which the chiefs of police of the islands, in connection with other chiefs, have mounted a program to seize illegal marihuana being grown, sometimes in greenhouses as well as in primitive locations.
The DEA, U.S. Customs, and the Coast Guard, have assisted them through a mobile task force type approach. The National Guard of Hawaii has contributed helicopters and support from the Governor's office, and they have had a successful effort seizing, for the first time, tonnage quantities of marihuana.
That is my information. I talked to the chief last week and they anticipate a similar program-without giving the date ahead of time
Mr. NELLIS. Some of the traffic has been put out in the Northwest and Hawaii?
Mr. BENSINGER. Some have. If you recall the hearings we had on Guam, Santos, one of the major traffickers, is now in the Federal penitentiary convicted of major conspiracies. We've got some ongoing investigations in California.
In northern California the situation is slightly different. The principal counties really are being looked into in a number of areas to get the trafficking organizations. They are not just individuals. They are larger groups getting together.
The California State Bureau of Narcotics, the State law enforcement officials, under the direction of the attorney general, last year mounted a significant program in which we also participated that struck at some of the illicit marihuana grown.
But there is not, in some parts of California, the local community law enforcement control that is required. There is marihuana growing in some parts of California ; it is not a secret. And it is requiring at times the Federal Government to go in and enforce what is basically a local situation.
Mr. Nellis. Thank you.
I have one final question :
I have knowledge there are four or five major computer establishments in the Federal law enforcement community. I am talking about EPIC, TECS.
Unfortunately there are some agencies that still operate the way they did back in the thirties. At one station I observed officers still trying to match photographs and to identify fingerprints with a magnifier.
When I asked why that information couldn't be put on computer systems to encompass more information, the answer was they thought Congress was perhaps leery of putting everything into one system because of the Privacy Act.
But what is your feeling about how many millions of dollars we might save if the systems were combined in perhaps two or three law enforcement computer systems combined?
Mr. BENSINGER. I am not sure I would testify in favor of that. In fact, I probably would not.
I think what is important is to insure that the agencies with separate jurisdictions have the opportunity to exchange properly, criminal investigative information.
Mr. NELLIS. Are you saying some of these systems are interchangeable ?
Mr. BENSINGER. No; we are saying a team of 12 customs officials in place would have the opportunity to ask the data base for interdictionrelated information. I think there is legitimacy for sharing this information.
But I think your question is if you can have a cost breakdown? Mr. NELLIS. That's the question.
Mr. BENSINGER. I will ask our people to look at this. There are some graphic displays that can be available both for print, I believe, and for other imagery with costs and equipment modification.
But, I wouldn't want to take over an EPIC nor do I think the FBI Director in Washington would want to take over law enforcement computers for all of the investigative agencies. We are not proposing that; I wouldn't support it.
Mr. NELLIS. Thank you.
Mr. Drinan. Counsel I think has a question, then there's a question or two from a member who could not be here, and if counsel is agreeable, you can respond in writing later on.
Mr. STERLING. Thank you.
I have been asked by Congressman Gudger from North Carolina to inquire whether or not the pharmacy theft prevention program is essentially a robbery prevention program?
Mr. BENSINGER. Yes; I would say the pharmacy prevention theft program is designed to suppress, to prevent robberies of pharmacies.
Mr. STERLING. I have a question from Congressman Conyers. He reprinted a magazine article in the Congressional Record on February 26 which claims there are approximately 570,000 individuals listed in the NADDIS system is that correct?
Mr. Drinan. Maybe Mr. Bensinger could respond in writing.
My question is, you mentioned individuals arrested in Europe today in the Gambino case; is there any way those individuals could be prosecuted in U.S. courts using extraterritorial jurisdiction that exists?
Mr. BENSINGER. There have been instances where individuals in foreign countries have been indicted in the United States and prosecuted in the United States for participating in a conspiracy to violate U.S. laws.
Mr. STERLING. Are there sufficient extradition treaties in order to bring those persons to the United States for prosecution?
Mr. BENSINGER. I would like to study this more closely with Mr. Heymann and his staff, in order to recommend additional countries with which extradition treaties would be productive. And I would be pleased to just recognize that Colombia has had an extradition treaty with the United States concluded.
And that's a very important step in the right direction. There are a number of countries in other parts of the world with which we would benefit from extradition treaties as well.
Mr. STERLING. Thank you.
Mr. Drinan. Thank you, Mr. Bensinger. I am certain that this is the beginning of a long and, I think, fruitful relationship between the executive and legislative branches.
Thank you very much.
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VII. PROFILES OF FIRST SEVEN ECE UNITS.....