The head of Colombia’s drug enforcement agency (DNE) noted progress in rooting out corruption, while admitting there is still much to be done, reported El Pais Tuesday.
Juan Carlos Restrepo, who assumed office on October 15, 2010, initially faced widespread corruption within the department.
One area of particular concern was that “everyone” had access to seized drug assets, with the very same assets often ending up back in the hands of narco-traffickers or used for political gain.
The DNE has since been working closely with the U.S. to develop an inventory of seized assets and management controls required to prevent corruption.
The director, however, while praising the new system’s standard of “ongoing accountability,” played down the direct results of the inventory itself.
“In this case the number of assets is not the central issue, it is much more important to realize how they are managing the property. Whether there are 5 or 50 is irrelevant if the assets are not being well managed or returned to the hands of the mafia,” he told RCN Radio.
In this respect, Restrepo believes that there is cause for optimism. “The first change [made since assuming office] was in attitude and organizational culture.”
According to Restrepo, the DNE has been in constant contact with the Prosecutor General’s Office to assist in corruption investigations. He expects that “this will soon lead to concrete results.”