printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

2009 INCSR: Country Reports - Costa Rica through Haiti


Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Report
February 27, 2009

Share

Costa Rica

I. Summary

 

Costa Rica continues to be an increasingly important transit point for narcotics destined for the United States and Europe. Local consumption of illicit narcotics, particularly crack, continues to grow, mostly in prisons and with children in the streets. The Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas (ICD) estimates that two thirds of the crack cocaine is consumed by inmates, the remaining one third is consumed by street children. Though these are just estimates and there are no raw numbers on how many people are current crack cocaine users, this is a key concern, along with the continued rise in drug-related violent crimes. In 2008 the Costa Rican Coast Guard (SNGC), with a small INL investment in their communication and navigation capabilities, capitalized on these increased coordination capabilities to make several key interdictions with USG assistance Costa Rica is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Costa Rica is a vulnerable drug transshipment point for South American cocaine and heroin destined primarily for the United States due to its location on the isthmus linking Colombia with the United States via Mexico, its long Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, and its jurisdiction over the Cocos Islands. The Government of Costa Rica (GOCR) closely and effectively cooperates with the USG in combating narcotics trafficked by land, sea, and air. Costa Rica also has a stringent governmental licensing process for the importation and distribution of controlled precursor chemicals.

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008

 

Policy Initiatives. The Arias Administration named a new Minister of Public Security (MPS) in 2008. Under the new leadership, the MPS continued its effective cooperation with the USG to interdict narcotics and initiated a National Plan to combat crack cocaine consumption in Costa Rica, a particular problem growing at an alarming rate. In July and August alone, during the first stage to implement this plan, the MPS seized 22,765 doses of crack, 11,871 marijuana plants, and 218 kilograms (kg) of cocaine, and made 12,104 arrests. The Ministry, with USG assistance, has also begun a container inspection program at the Caribbean port of Limon. Additionally, the Executive branch has sent organized crime legislation to the GOCR’s National Assembly for consideration. The government of Costa Rica is committed to the development of the SNCG. They have doubled their service budget within the last year, provided land to expand current construction of their Headquarters, Academy, and maintenance facilities in Punta Arenas. The SNGC, with USG assistance, made some progress in addressing communications and navigations gaps.


 

Accomplishments. In 2008, including the July and August seizures noted above, Costa Rican authorities assisted in the seizure of 21.7 metric tons (MT) of cocaine, of which 6 MT were seized on land or air and 15.7 MT were seized in joint maritime interdiction operations with U.S. law enforcement. The Costa Rican Coast Guard (SNGC), with a small INL investment in their communication and navigation capabilities, capitalized on these increased coordination capabilities to make several key interdictions with USG assistance, such as the 4 MT cocaine seizure in July. The GOCR also seized over 157,234 doses of crack cocaine, 21.26 kg of heroin, 4.8 tons of processed marijuana, and eradicated over 1.4 million marijuana plants. Additionally, Costa Rican authorities confiscated more than $4.4 million in U.S. and local currency. The more than 35,000 drug-related arrests made in 2008, represent a raw increase of 12,293 arrests (or 54 percent higher) over 2007.


 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Costa Rican counternarcotics efforts are carried out by both the Judicial branch (Judicial Investigative Police-OIJ) and the Executive (Ministry of Public Security’s Drug Control Police—PCD). Although the Arias Administration’s plan to add 4,000 new police officers to its force generated temporary increases in the numbers of police on the street in 2007, the total number of police in the force at the end of 2008 remains at just above 10,000. This is due to retention problems that continue to plague the over-stretched force, and recruiting efforts that just keep pace with retirement and attrition. The national legislature is expected to pass anti-terrorist financing and reformed money laundering legislation by the first quarter of 2009.


 

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GOCR does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. A strict law against illicit enrichment was enacted in 2006 in response to unprecedented corruption scandals involving three former Presidents. Although only one of the ex-presidents’ cases (which date from 2004) has now reached trial, Costa Rican authorities appear committed to combating public corruption because the GOCR conscientiously investigates allegations of official corruption or abuse.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Costa Rica is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Costa Rica is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, the UN Convention against Corruption, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the Inter-American Convention on Extradition, the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, and the Inter-American Convention against Trafficking in Illegal Firearms. The 1999 bilateral Maritime Counter Drug Cooperation Agreement and its Ship-Rider program resulted in large seizures at sea during 2008. The 1991 United States-Costa Rican extradition treaty was actively used in 2008. In 2008, Costa Rica extradited six fugitives to the United States and six fugitives were returned to Costa Rica from the United States. Costa Rica ratified a bilateral stolen vehicles treaty in 2002. Costa Rica and the United States are also parties to bilateral drug information and intelligence sharing agreements dating from 1975 and 1976. Costa Rica is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont Group, but must pass a terrorist financing law before March 2009 to remain in the Egmont Group. It is a member of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States (OAS/CICAD). Costa Rica signed the Caribbean regional maritime counter narcotics agreement in April 2003, and is currently taking the steps necessary to bring the agreement into force. In 2008, Costa Rica also played an active role in developing and implementing the regional security strategy developed by the Central American Security Commission.


 

Cultivation/Production. Costa Rica produces low quality marijuana but no other illicit drug crops or synthetic drugs.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. In 2008, shipments ranging from 50-1,500 kg of cocaine continued to flow through Costa Rica. Trafficking of narcotics by maritime routes remained steady with 15.7 MT (slightly higher than last year’s amount) of cocaine seized at sea during joint GOCR-USG operations. Costa Rican-flagged fishing boats are still used by traffickers to smuggle multi-ton shipments of drugs and to provide fuel for go-fast boats that favor Pacific routes. The increasing utilization of go-fast boats transiting the littorals is a primary method of transporting cocaine through Costa Rica’s territorial waters. Traffickers have also continued the smuggling of drugs through the postal system, international courier services and via individual passengers (“mules”) on international flights in/out of the country.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Prevention Unit of the Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas (ICD) oversees drug prevention efforts and educational programs throughout the country. The GOCR estimates there are 400,000 marijuana users in the country. In 2008, the ICD and the Ministry of Education distributed updated demand-reduction materials to all school children, and publicized its special phone-in number (176) to encourage citizens to report drug-related activity in their neighborhoods while remaining safely anonymous. The PCD considers the 176 phone-in program to be an excellent source of information that is analyzed and often leads to arrests.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S. supported the SNGC’s efforts to improve interdiction by providing technical assistance and equipment. While land-based interdiction, especially effective use of border checkpoints, remains important to U.S. strategy, U.S. assistance has focused resources on interdicting maritime-based narcotics shipments to include containerized cargo. SNCG personnel received outboard motor maintenance training from U.S. Coast Guard enhancing their capability to conduct preventive maintenance and troubleshooting techniques. The U.S. is also supporting reforms in police training.


 

The Road Ahead. Costa Rica will address maritime trafficking both through its own direct efforts and through continued collaboration with the USG. The U.S. encourages the GOCR to pass the Terrorist Financing bill in order to remain in the Egmont Group. The projected increase in the number, and improved training, of policeshould enable the GOCR to more successfully fight crime, including trafficking. Also the GOCR should improve their interdiction capabilities on their coastal littoral areas, continue working to reduce of crime rates, and establish a professional training for their police. The construction of SNCG Academy and maintenance facilities in Punta Arenas will enable GOCR to effectively maintain a force that is ready and able to respond at all times.


 

For its part, the USG will provide significant support in the coming year under the Merida Initiative—a partnership between the governments of the United States, Mexico, Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to confront the violent national and transnational gangs and organized criminal and narcotics trafficking organizations that plague the entire region, the activities of which spill over into the United States. The Merida Initiative will fund a variety of programs that will strengthen the institutional capabilities of participating governments by supporting efforts to investigate, sanction and prevent corruption within law enforcement agencies; facilitating the transfer of critical law enforcement investigative information within and between regional governments; and funding equipment purchases, training, community policing and economic and social development programs. Bilateral agreements with the participating governments were in the process of being negotiated and signed at the time this report was prepared.

 

 


Cote d’Ivoire

 

I. Summary


 

The government of Cote d'Ivoire has focused on internal threats since a failed coup attempt in 2002 that left the northern half of the country under the control of rebel forces. Political instability has increased the risk that criminal and other elements might use Cote d'Ivoire as a transit point or operating base. Traditionally, Cote d'Ivoire is not a major producer or supplier of narcotics or precursor chemicals. Locally cultivated cannabis is consumed domestically, while other illegal narcotics, according to authorities, transit the country. In 2008, the reported rate of illegal drug seizures in Cote d'Ivoire was low by regional and international standards. Corruption is rampant and porous borders further make the nation attractive to international traffickers. Until free and fair elections are held, Cote d'Ivoire will remain under Section 508 sanctions, limiting USG assistance and cooperation. Cote d'Ivoire is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

The Department of Drug and Narcotics Police (DPSD) is Cote d'Ivoire's principle counternarcotics law enforcement organization. Since the 2002 civil war, however, it only operates in the southern half of the country. According to local authorities, although Cote d'Ivoire does not play a significant role in the cultivation, consumption or trafficking of illicit narcotics or precursor chemicals, porous borders and a lack of effective law enforcement agencies make the country vulnerable as a transit point for international traffickers. Abidjan's major ports, both air and sea and financial institutions are among the largest and most developed in West Africa. While the DPSD is unaware of major traffickers operating in Cote d'Ivoire, minor seizures of cocaine, heroin and ephedrine in 2008 indicate that Cote d'Ivoire is a transit point for narcotics whose primary destination is Europe. According to the Director of the DPSD, drugs are shipped into, and out of, Cote d'Ivoire primarily by Latin American traffickers via plane. However, the DPSD Director was unable to cite any specific examples of when this occurred.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives: According to the Director of the DPSD, in 2008 there were no new government counternarcotics initiatives. Cote d'Ivoire does not have a country-wide counternarcotics plan.


 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Cote d'Ivoire's anti-drug law enforcement lacks the resources and training necessary to interdict the flow of drugs into, and out of, the country. Foreign anti-drug assistance to the Inter-Ministerial Committee (CILAD) has had minimal effect on law enforcement efforts. In addition to the 15 officers dedicated to the anti-drug trafficking unit in Abidjan, the National Police has ten regional offices throughout southern Cote d'Ivoire each comprised of 10–15 officers. (Note: There are no National Police units operating in northern Cote d'Ivoire, which is controlled by the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN)). The ten existing regional offices in the south are severely under resourced, e.g., no computers, vehicles and funds, to conduct investigations. USG law enforcement authorities could not identify reliable law enforcement counterparts due to the high levels of corruption. To date, the total reported drug seizures in Cote d'Ivoire during 2008 were: heroin (510gr), cocaine (133gr), cannabis (790kg), ephedrine (3,357 pills), diazepam (55,614 pills) and Rivotril/clonazepam (627 pills). There were 1,136 persons arrested, of which 1,067 were jailed. It is unknown what percentage of these arrests was for intent to sell or just for possession of drugs. The number of convictions is also unknown. Material resources alone would not improve officer productivity, because many officers are under-trained. Officers appointed to the counternarcotics law enforcement unit receive two weeks of training before hitting the streets, which according the Director of the DPSD is insufficient preparation to combat drug trafficking in Cote d'Ivoire. The figures provided by the Director do not reflect an increase in seizures from 2007 to 2008. According to the Director of the DPSD, counternarcotics enforcement is not a top priority for Cote d'Ivoire law enforcement. The majority of National Police assets are dedicated to combating violent crime and robbery in a country whose crime threat level is rated “critical” by the U.S. Department of State. Additionally, the majority of Ministry of Interior investigative personnel and assets have been redirected to internal security since the 2002 civil war.


 

Corruption: There is no direct evidence of government corruption related to illicit drugs. Cote d'Ivoire does not, as a matter of policy, encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. While no senior official is known to engage in, encourage, or facilitate narcotics production or trafficking, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions, reports of widespread public corruption from the lowest policeman up to the ministerial level are common.


 

Agreements and Treaties: Cote d'Ivoire is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol. Cote d’Ivoire has signed but not yet ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption.


 

Drug Flow/Transit: Abidjan's Houphouet-Boigny International Airport is used as the primary transit point in the country for the flow of narcotics. Also, Cote d'Ivoire's major seaports in Abidjan and San Pedro reportedly serve as transit points for narcotics. Further compounding the problem is the government's limited ability to interdict drugs at sea due to the poor condition of its boats. Drugs and other goods cross borders by boat and vehicle, unnoticed or abetted by border officials. It is difficult to gauge the amount of drugs transiting the country, since the government of Cote d'Ivoire's ability to collect and analyze data is limited.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Cote d'Ivoire's modest demand reduction program is limited to the publication of news articles on drug abuse and on the penalties associated with illicit narcotics use and trafficking.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation: There are no U.S.-Ivorian joint projects to control drug production, consumption or trafficking through Cote d'Ivoire. In compliance with sanctions imposed on Cote d'Ivoire in 1999 under Section 508 of the U.S. Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, the USG has suspended most levels of law enforcement assistance and technical training. USG and Ivorian law enforcement officials cooperate with one another via information exchanges.


 

Road Ahead: For the present, Cote d'Ivoire is vulnerable to the destabilizing effects of transnational drug trafficking. Direct USG assistance and cooperation will be limited until Section 508 sanctions are lifted. In the interim, the USG will encourage Ivorian participation in regional and international counternarcotics initiatives (e.g., ECOWAS, UNODC, INTERPOL, and Gulf of Guinea).


 

Croatia


 

I. Summary


 

The Republic of Croatia is a transit point through which narcotics are smuggled on the way from the production countries to consumer countries. While smuggling occurs both overland and by sea, the most significant seizures, particularly for cocaine, are connected with sea transport. Croatian law enforcement bodies cooperate actively with their U.S., EU and regional counterparts to combat narcotics smuggling. Croatian authorities estimate that smuggling of narcotic drugs via container traffic will increase, especially smuggling of cocaine. Illicit production and/or distribution of narcotics as well as laundering of crime proceeds are punishable under Croatian law. Croatia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Geographically, Croatia is located in South-East Europe at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Central Europe, and the Balkans. The long land border with Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and a 1777 km coastline (plus an additional 1185 islands) are attractive targets for contraband smugglers seeking to move narcotics into the large European market. The “Balkan route” is recognized as the shortest way from the East to Western Europe and lately it has become a two-way route with heroin and cocaine moving through Croatia to Western Europe and synthetic drugs moving from Western European producers to the Middle East and Asia. According to Croatian authorities, there is no significant or organized production of narcotics in Croatia, and domestic production is limited to individuals growing marijuana for the domestic narcotic market.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. The ‘National strategy on combating narcotic drugs abuse (2006–2012)’ and the ‘Action plan on combating narcotic drugs abuse in the Republic of Croatia (2006–2009)’, delineate the tasks of relevant ministries and government administration bodies in Croatia’s fight against the use and trade in illegal drugs. Croatia’s new National Strategy replaced a former program which was implemented in 1996 and ended in 2005. The new strategy is comprehensive and covers the same five pillars as in the EU strategy: coordination, supply reduction, demand reduction, international cooperation, and information/research/evaluation. Its two main goals are: (i) a measurable reduction in drug use, drug addiction and related health and social risks and (ii) the measurable promotion of a successful, efficient, scientifically-based application of the law regarding the production and trafficking of drugs and precursors. The strategy is complemented by the Action Plan and its annual initiatives which describe in detail the specific aims and methods for achieving anti-narcotics goals, as well as specific tasks for each budget period.


 

By the end of 2005, the GOC completed establishment of the network of addiction prevention centers, which are now available in all of Croatia's 21 counties and city of Zagreb. In June 2006, Parliament adopted changes to the Criminal Code, which increased sentences for possession and dealing of illicit drugs. Croatia also instituted changes to the criminal code, increasing penalties for several other narcotics-related offenses. The minimum penalty for narcotics production and dealing was increased from one to three years. The minimum penalty for selling narcotics by organized groups was increased from three to five years. The minimum penalty for incitement or facilitating the use of illegal narcotics was increased to one year. In addition, punishment for possession of related equipment or precursor chemicals was increased from three months to a mandatory sentence of no less than one year.

 

Other changes to the criminal legislation permit the police to use such tactics as controlled deliveries. Croatian legislation allows use of undercover investigators and confidants, simulated purchase of objects, simulated bribery, secret surveillance, technical recording of persons and objects and wiretapping. Croatian criminal legislation eases measures to confiscate assets of organized crime groups by placing the burden of providing evidence about the origins of assets on the defendant rather than the prosecutors, and allowing confiscation of assets acquired during the period of incriminating activity. Croatia continues to cooperate well with other European states to improve border management. Authorities describe cooperation on narcotics enforcement issues with neighboring states as good.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. The Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry and Customs Directorate have primary responsibility for law enforcement issues, while the Ministry of Health has primary responsibility for the strategy to reduce and treat drug abuse. The Interior Ministry's Anti-Narcotics Division is responsible for coordinating the work of counter narcotics units in police departments throughout the country. The Ministry of Interior reported successful and effective cooperation in 2007 with DEA officers, FBI, SOCA, General Inspectorate of Interpol, UNODC (the UN's Office for Drug-Control and Crime Prevention) and other agencies responsible for drug control.

On the judicial side, drug abuse in the Republic of Croatia is regulated by the following laws: Croatian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, and the Act on Combating Narcotic Drugs Abuse. Issues covered by the Criminal Law are the illicit use (possession), production, and trade of narcotics. The law also criminalizes acts committed under the influence of drugs. Criminal sanctions vary from a fine to long term imprisonment, depending on the nature of the crime.

During 2007, a total of 7952 criminal offences and 5254 misdemeanors were reported in Croatia related to abuse of narcotics, and a total of 6546 seizures of various types of narcotics occurred. In the first nine months of 2008, 6091 criminal acts involving narcotics abuse were reported, and a total of 4573 seizures were carried out.

 

The breakdown in types of crimes related to narcotics is: drug possession, 73.6 percent of cases; drug trafficking or drug sales, 16.8 percent; drug sale and drug trafficking by organized crime groups 2.4 percent; making drugs available to other persons for consumption, 4.5 percent; and making drugs available to juveniles and mentally retarded persons, 1.9 percent. The crime rate related to abuse of narcotics by minors decreased 40 percent in 2007. For the year, 280 minors were reported for this type of crime, while 467 minors were reported in 2006.

In 2007, police seized 105 kg of cocaine, 74 kg of heroin, 4 kg of hashish, 8 kg of amphetamines, 12,609 tablets of Ecstasy, 6,529 tablets of heptanone, 215 doses of LSD, 239 kg of cannabis leaves (marijuana), and 2,886 cannabis plants. In the first nine months of 2008, police seized 28 kg of cocaine, 111 kg of heroin, 3 kg of hashish, 7 kg of amphetamines, 6,792 tablets of Ecstasy, and 169 kg of marijuana.

Corruption. Illicit production and/or distribution of narcotics as well as laundering of criminal proceeds are punishable under Croatian law. As a matter of government policy, neither Croatian officials nor the Croatian government facilitate the production, processing, or shipment of drugs, or the laundering of the proceeds of illegal drug transactions. The USG is not aware of any allegations of senior government officials participating in such activities. Croatia is a party to the UN Corruption Convention.

Agreements and Treaties. Croatia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1972 UN Convention Against Psychotropic Substances. Croatia is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling, and illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms. Extradition between Croatia and the United States is governed by the 1902 Extradition Treaty between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Serbia, which applies to Croatia as a successor state.

Cultivation/Production. Small-scale cannabis production for domestic use is the only known narcotics production within Croatia. Poppy seeds are cultivated on a small scale for culinary use. Because of Croatia's small drug market and its relatively porous border, Croatian police report that nearly all illegal drugs are imported into Croatia.

Drug Flow/Transit. Croatia lies along part of the “Balkan Route” for heroin smuggling. Officials report that the Balkan Route is now “two-way”, with heroin and other drugs from Asia moving through Croatia to Western Europe and synthetic drugs produced in Western Europe smuggled through to the East. Drugs are smuggled through Croatia both overland and via the sea. Croatian authorities believe that smuggling through shipping containers will increase in the coming years. Although Croatia is not considered a primary gateway, police seizure data indicate smugglers continue to attempt to use Croatia as a transit point for non-opiate drugs, including cocaine and cannabis-based drugs. A general increase in narcotics abuse and smuggling has been attributed to liberalization of border traffic and increased tourism and maritime activities. The Ministry of Interior reports that most large-scale shipments of marijuana and hashish arrive from Africa and are being smuggled via ship. Some smaller quantities of marijuana are brought into Croatia by foreign tourists during the summer season, mostly for their own consumption. Some marijuana is also produced through domestic illegal cultivation. Synthetic drugs like amphetamine and derivates of amphetamine, mostly Ecstasy tablets, are smuggled from Western European producer countries and also from narcotic markets in Asia and from Croatia’s neighboring countries.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Office for Combating Drug Abuse develops the National Strategy for Narcotics Abuse Prevention and is the focal point for agency coordination activities to reduce demand for narcotics. According to the most recent indicators, drug availability increased on the Croatian market in the past several years, which resulted in an increased number of drug addicts, especially, among youth. The number of drug-related deaths increased in 2007 by 38.8 percent. The state budget for suppression and prevention of narcotic abuse increased 4.0 percent in comparison with 2006. In 2007 the Republic of Croatia spent 66.5 million kuna (approximately $12 million) for the implementation of the National Strategy. Additionally, 7.5 million kuna ($1.4 million) was spent at the county level for the implementation of the counties’ action plans. According to the Government Office for Combating Drug Abuse, Zadar County has the highest rate of treated addicts, followed by Istria County and the City of Zagreb. In 2007, 7464 persons underwent drug addiction treatment, 82.7 percent of whom were men. The average age of treated addicts is 29 years old. The total number of treated addicts in the Republic of Croatia increased by only 0.5 percent from 2007 to 2008.

The Ministry of Education requires drug education in primary and secondary schools. Other ministries and government organizations also run outreach programs to reach specific populations, including pregnant women. The state-run medical system offers treatment for addicts, but slots are insufficient to accommodate all those needing treatment. In 2007 methadone was used in the treatment of 852 patients, which was down in comparison with the previous year by 28 percent. However, replacement therapy with buphrenorphine increased in 2007 by 10.7 percent.

 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. counternarcotics policy in Croatia is focused on assisting Croatian Ministry of the Interior/Drug Division investigators and their international and multi-lateral investigations into South America-based drug trafficking organizations. DEA is the lead agency in this endeavor and measurable progress in 2008 has been achieved in coordinating Croatia’s law enforcement investigations beyond its own borders. As an example of Croatia’s willingness to cooperate with foreign police agencies, the Ministry of Interior hosted in Zadar, Croatia a successful international drug enforcement conference titled Drug Policing the Balkans. Croatia is also a regular participant at international drug conferences covering strategic as well as operational matters. Croatia currently is in the application process of becoming a permanent member of the International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC). U.S. assistance for police reform efforts under the State Department-supported ICITAP (DoJ) program is now focused on combating organized crime and corruption. . In support of this goal, the USCG trained officers at the International Maritime Officers Course, and sent a mobile training team to Croatia to focus on waterside port security.


 

Road Ahead. For 2009, ICITAP and EXBIS programs will continue to train and advise Croatian law enforcement personnel on anti-narcotics activities. Resident advisors will continue to assist the Ministry of Interior in improving police and prosecutor cooperation in complex narcotics and organized crime cases. EXBS (Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance) programs will also assist Ministry of Interior and Customs Directorate to enhance their capabilities in fighting narcotics and organized crime cases.


 

 

Cuba


 

I. Summary


 

Cuba is strategically located in the Caribbean between the United States and the drug producing countries of South America. Although Cuba is neither a significant consumer nor a producer of illegal drugs, its ports, territorial waters, and airspace are susceptible to narcotics trafficking from source and transit countries. In 2008, the GOC continued “Operation Hatchet,” a multi-force counternarcotics interdiction operation, and “Operation Popular Shield,” a nationwide counternarcotics public awareness campaign. Cuba also carried out some operations in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Drug Interdiction Specialist at the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) in Havana. Cuba is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

The GOC regularly detects and monitors suspect vessels and aircraft in its territorial waters and airspace. In cases likely to involve narcotics trafficking, it regularly provides detection information to the USCG. In addition to dedicating social service resources to improve prevention, the GOC also has the legal framework within its criminal justice system to prosecute and assign stiff penalties to narcotic users and traffickers. Cuban anti-narcotic officials claim that these stiff penalties are the driving force behind a low drug abuse rate in the country.

 

Lack of discretionary income and an overwhelming state police presence limit access to drugs by the Cuban population and contribute to the low incidence of drug consumption. Cuba is active in regional drug control advocacy. The Cuban Government has established an auxiliary force that involves training and educating Cuban citizens regarding counter narcotics policy. All Cuban citizens are required to report to the appropriate authorities regarding the discovery of actual or suspected narcotics that wash-up on their shores. The GOC claims to have trained employees at sea-side resorts and associated businesses, including fishermen, in narcotics recognition and how to communicate the presence of illicit narcotics to the appropriate Cuban Border Guard (CBG) personnel or post. This approach helps address the fact that Cuba’s interdiction capability is limited by a lack of resources.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. The Cuban government reported that in 2008 it had strengthened its cooperation with INTERPOL, with which they maintain a working relationship on drug cases in Cuba and investigations into suspected international drug trafficking rings. In 2008, Cuba turned over one fugitive to INTERPOL who was involved in illicit narcotic activity. Personnel from the Cuban Ministry of Interior’s National Anti-Drug Directorate (DNA) attended four interdiction and inspection counternarcotics training courses offered by international partners.


 

Accomplishments. In all, between January and September 2008, the GOC seized 1.7 metric tons (MT) of narcotics (1,675.7 kilograms of marijuana and 46.8 kilograms of cocaine), and trace amounts of crack, hashish, and other forms of psychotropic substances. In comparison, in 2007, 2.6 MT were seized by the GOC as a result of its various interdiction efforts.


 

In April, Cuban authorities assisted Jamaican anti-drug personnel with the disruption of a marijuana trafficking network by providing real-time information, resulting in the detention of the traffickers, and the confiscation of a trafficking aircraft that contained a load of marijuana. In July, information provided by the CBG operations center in Havana led USCG assets to a drug-laden go-fast in the Windward Pass. Upon realizing the USCG had discovered their vessel; the traffickers discarded their contraband into the sea, which led to the wash-up of 172 packets of marijuana along the coasts of four Cuban provinces, totaling 916.49 kilograms.

 

From January through September 2008, 250 packets of narcotics washed-up along the Cuban coast, resulting in the collection of 1,682 kilograms (1,651 kilograms of marijuana and 31 kilograms of cocaine). During 2008, the principal source of drugs for the Cuban internal drug market continued to be drug wash-ups. Washed-up narcotics are aggressively collected and stored for eventual incineration to avoid proliferation and sale on the internal market.

 

In 2008, according to the GOC, Cuba’s airports were used only sporadically to transfer drugs towards third countries or to supply the Cuban domestic market. In all, 163 travelers were detained for possession of small quantities of narcotics, believed to be for personal use. Reflecting past actions, the GOC fines those tourists and the narcotics are seized. Individuals are warned about Cuba’s regulations that prohibit the trafficking and possession of narcotics, and allowed to continue with their trips. GOC reports that international drug traffickers have recently shown interest in trafficking various narcotics to Cuba for sale by domestic criminals operating within Cuba. The GOC believes this is due to the high market price for narcotics in Cuba compared to the relatively low prices found in other countries in the region.

 

Cuba’s “Operation Popular Shield,” in place since 2003, is intended to minimize the availability of drugs on the domestic market. Cuba detains, tries, and punishes individuals who are in possession of and who intend to distribute narcotics, as well as seizing the assets of such individuals. The GOC asserts that they have in place the necessary legal instruments to properly carry out this operation, both penal and administrative. Per the GOC, their actions are in line with international commitments as a state party to control and fight against illicit drug trafficking.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. The GOC’s lead investigative agency on drugs is the DNA. The DNA is comprised of criminal law enforcement, intelligence, and justice officials. Cuban Customs Authorities maintain an active counternarcotics inspection program in each of Cuba’s international maritime shipping ports and airports.


 

Cuba’s “Operation Hatchet,” in its eighth year, is intended to disrupt maritime and air trafficking routes, recover washed-up narcotics, and deny drug smugglers shelter within the territory and waters of Cuba through vessel, aircraft, and radar surveillance by the Ministry of Interior’s Border Guard and Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces (Navy and Air Force). The GOC utilizes military helicopters and Cuban Border Guard go-fasts (seized in the course of previous migrant and drug smuggling interdictions) as well as patrol boats for at sea patrols. Operation Hatchet relies on shore-based patrols, visual and radar observation posts and the civilian fishing auxiliary force to report suspected contacts and contraband. Between January and September 2008, Cuban law enforcement authorities reported “real time” sighting of 35 go-fast vessels and 3 suspect aircraft transiting their airspace or territorial waters.

 

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GOC does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The U.S. Government does not have direct evidence of current narcotics-related corruption among senior GOC officials. No mention of GOC complicity in narcotics trafficking or narcotics-related corruption was made in the media in 2008. It should be noted, however, that the media in Cuba is completely controlled by the state, which permits only laudatory press coverage of itself; crime is almost never reported.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Cuba is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Cuba is also party to the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three Protocols. The GOC cooperates with the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention and maintains bilateral narcotics agreements with 32 countries and less formal memoranda of agreement with 2 others. Cuba has also subscribed to 56 bilateral judicial assistance conventions. A 1905 extradition treaty between the US and Cuba and an extradition agreement entered into in 1926 remain in force but no fugitives were extradited pursuant to these agreements in 2008. Finally, the Cuban Ministry of Interior maintains operational exchanges with anti-drug authorities from approximately 57 countries.


 

Cuba was represented at the 51st session of the Commission on Narcotics at the United Nations in Vienna; the second regional summit regarding the global problem of drugs in Colombia; the eighteenth meeting of the Heads of National Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) in Honduras; and in two meetings of the working group for the exchange of narcotics intelligence among the European Union, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Havana will be the site of the next meeting in May 2009. The Cuban government continues to pass real-time information to agencies with similar concerns regarding the involvement or suspicion of the movement of narcotics via air or sea, including incidents of suspect merchant ships, crews, or cargo.

 

Cultivation/Production. As in past years, GOC reports that the availability of marijuana is decreasing due to joint-DNA and Ministry of Public Health initiatives and because the production and harvest of marijuana is also down. Incidents of marijuana harvests are considered “isolated” by the GOC. Cuba is not a source of precursor chemicals.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Cuba’s 4,000 small keys and its 3,500 nautical miles of shoreline provide drug traffickers with the locale to conduct clandestine smuggling operations. Traffickers use high-speed boats to bring drugs northward from Jamaica to the Bahamas, Haiti, and to the U.S. around the Windward Passage or via small aircraft from clandestine airfields in Jamaica. Commercial vessels and containerized cargo that are loaded with drugs pose an increasing risk to Cuban ports. Mules continued to traffic small quantities of narcotics to and from Europe through Cuba’s international airport in Havana. As Cuba continues to develop its tourism industry, there is increased likelihood for an increased flow of narcotics into the country.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The governing body for prevention, rehabilitation, and policy issues is the National Drug Commission (CND). This interagency coordinating body is headed by the Minister of Justice, and includes the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Relations, Public Health, and Public Education. Also represented on the commission are the Attorney General’s Office and the National Sports Institute. There is a counternarcotics action plan that encompasses the Ministries of Health, Justice, Education, and Interior, among others. In coordination with the United Nations, the CND aims to implement a longer-term domestic prevention strategy that is included as part of the educational curriculum at all grade levels.


 

The majority of municipalities on the island have counternarcotics organizations with prevention programs that focus on education and outreach to groups most at risk of being introduced to illegal drug use. The GOC reports that there are 3 international drug dependency treatment centers and 198 community health facilities in Cuba consisting of family doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and 150 social, educational, and cultural programs dedicated to teaching drug prevention and offering rehabilitation programs.

 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S. has no counternarcotics agreements with Cuba and does not fund any GOC counternarcotics law enforcement initiatives. In the absence of normal bilateral relations, the USCG DIS officer assigned at the USINT Havana acts as the main conduit of anti-narcotics cooperation with the host country on a case-by-case basis. Cuban authorities have provided DIS exposure to Cuban counternarcotics efforts, including providing investigative criminal information, such as the names of suspects and vessels; debriefings on drug trafficking cases; visits to the Cuban national canine training center and anti-doping laboratory in Havana; tours of CBG facilities; and access to meet with the Chiefs of Havana’s INTERPOL and Customs offices.


 

Road Ahead. The current Cuban regime’s long history of anti-Americanism in rhetoric and action has limited the scope for joint activity and made bilateral dealings always subject to political imperatives. Cuba’s Drug Czar had raised the idea of greater counternarcotics cooperation with the USG and Commander-in-Chief Raul Castro had called for a bilateral agreement on narcotics, migration, and terrorism. However, these approaches have not been offered with forthright or actionable proposals as to what the USG should expect from future Cuban cooperation. The USG continues to encourage Cuba’s full participation in regional interdiction efforts.


 

 

Cyprus


 

I. Summary


 

Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish military intervention of 1974, following a coup d’etat directed from Greece. Since then, the southern part of the country has been under the control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. The northern part is controlled by a Turkish Cypriot administration that in 1983 proclaimed itself the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC),” recognized only by Turkey. The United States Government (USG) recognizes only the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and does not recognize the “TRNC.” This report refers to the Government-controlled area unless otherwise specified.

Although Cypriots do not produce or consume significant amounts of narcotics, an increase in local drug use continues to be a concern. The Government of Cyprus traditionally has had a low tolerance toward any use of narcotics by Cypriots and continues to employ a public affairs campaign to remind Cypriots that narcotics use carries heavy costs, and users risk stiff criminal penalties. Cyprus’ geographic location and its decision to opt for free ports at its two main seaports continue to make it an ideal transit country for legitimate trade in most goods, including chemicals, between the Middle East and Europe. To a limited extent, drug traffickers use Cyprus as a transshipment point due to its strategic location and its relatively sophisticated business and communications infrastructure. Cyprus monitors the import and export of dual-use precursor chemicals for local markets. Cyprus customs authorities have implemented changes to their inspection procedures, including computerized profiling and expanded use of technical screening devices to deter those who would attempt to use Cyprus’ free ports for narcotics smuggling. A party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, Cyprus strictly enforces tough counternarcotics laws, and its police and customs authorities maintain excellent relations with their counterparts in the USG and other governments.

II. Status of Country

Cypriots themselves do not produce or consume significant quantities of drugs. The island’s strategic location in the eastern Mediterranean creates an unavoidable liability for Cyprus, as Cyprus is a convenient stopover for narcotics traffickers moving from Southwest Asia to Europe. Precursor chemicals are believed to transit Cyprus in limited quantities, although there is no hard evidence that they are diverted for illegal use. Cyprus offers relatively highly developed business and tourism facilities, a modern telecommunications system, and the ninth-largest merchant shipping fleet in the world. This year has seen approximately $1,500,000 worth of illegal narcotics proceeds frozen in several bank accounts in Cyprus.

Drug-related crime, still low by international standards, has been steadily rising since the 1980’s. According to the Justice Ministry, drug related arrests and convictions in Cyprus have doubled since 1998. Cypriot law calls for a maximum prison term of two years for drug users less than 25 years of age with no prior police record. In late 2005, the Courts began to refer most first-time offenders to rehabilitation centers rather than requiring incarceration. This still continues. Sentences for drug traffickers range from four years to life, depending on the substances involved and the offender’s criminal record. In an effort to reduce recidivism as well as to act as a deterrent for would-be offenders, Cypriot courts have begun sentencing distributors to near maximum prison terms as allowed by law. For example, in the second half of 2004, the Cypriot Courts began sentencing individuals charged with distributing heroin and Ecstasy (MDMA) with much harsher sentences, ranging from 8 to 15 years. Cypriot law allows for the confiscation of drug-related assets as well as the freezing of profits, and a special investigation of a suspect’s financial records.

Cyprus’ small population of soft-core drug users continues to grow. Cannabis is the most commonly used drug, followed by heroin, cocaine, and MDMA (Ecstasy), which are available in major towns. There were eleven confirmed reports of drug-related overdose deaths in Cyprus in 2008. Of the eleven deaths, ten were the direct result of an overdose and one was indirectly related to drugs. The number of overdose/drug-related deaths decreased by five as compared to 2007. The use of cannabis and Ecstasy by young Cypriots and tourists continues to increase.

The Government of Cyprus has traditionally adopted a low tolerance toward any use of narcotics by Cypriots and uses a pro-active public relations strategy to remind Cypriots that narcotics use carries heavy penalties. The media reports extensively whenever narcotics arrests are made. The Republic of Cyprus has no working relations with enforcement authorities in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots. The US Embassy in Nicosia, particularly the DEA, works with the Turkish Cypriot community on international narcotics-related issues. Turkish Cypriots have their own law enforcement organization responsible for the investigation of all narcotics-related matters. They have shown a willingness to pursue narcotics traffickers and to provide assistance when asked by foreign law enforcement authorities.

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008

 

Policy Initiatives. There were no new policy initiatives in 2008. Cyprus continued to implement its no-tolerance dangerous drugs policies, and to enforce its laws against drug abuse vigorously.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Cyprus aggressively pursues drug seizures, arrests, and prosecutions for drug violations. Cyprus focuses on major traffickers when cases subject to their jurisdiction permit them to, and readily supports the international community in efforts against the narcotics trade.

Cypriot police are generally effective in their law enforcement efforts, although their techniques and capacity remain restricted by tight budgets. U.S.-Cyprus cooperation is excellent and has yielded important results in several narcotics-related cases. Through the first eleven months of 2008, the Cyprus Police Drug Law Enforcement Unit opened 611 cases and made 761 arrests, an increase of 136 cases and 33 arrests, respectively, from last year. Of those arrested 527 were Cypriots the remainder were foreign nationals. DLEU seized approximately 305 kg of cannabis, 628 cannabis plants, 26 kg of cannabis resin (hashish), 15 kg of cocaine, 5,466 tablets of MDMA (Ecstasy), 1.2 grams of amphetamines, 106.52 grams of opium, and 2.5 kg of heroin, and 25 tablets of methadone.

Area administered by Turkish Cypriots: The Narcotics and Trafficking Prevention Bureau functions directly under the General Police Headquarters. From January to November 2008, the Turkish Cypriot authorities arrested 207 individuals for narcotics offenses and seized 1 kg of hashish, 5 kg of heroin, 111 grams of cocaine, 634 kg of opium, 353 cannabis plants, 6873 tablets of Ecstasy. Overall, with the exception of heroin, the police report a decline in drug seizures.

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Cypriot officials do not facilitate the production, processing, or shipment of drugs, or the laundering of the proceeds of illegal drug transactions in either the Government-controlled area or the area administered by Turkish Cypriots. There is some evidence, however, that Turkish Cypriot Customs has facilitated the import of illegal goods, but not drugs, and regularly accepts bribes allowing importers to avoid paying import duties.

Agreements and Treaties. Cyprus is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Cyprus is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, and has signed but has not yet ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. An extradition treaty between the United States and Cyprus entered into force in September 1999. A mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) between the United States and Cyprus entered into force on September 18, 2002. In addition, Cyprus and the U.S. have concluded protocols to the extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements. The protocols are pending entry into force.

Area administered by Turkish Cypriots: In 1990, a protocol regarding cooperation in the fields of security, trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic materials, battling terrorism, technical education and social relations was signed between the “TRNC” and the Republic of Turkey. The “TRNC” has no other agreements in this field as Turkey is the only country that recognizes it.

Cultivation/Production. Cannabis is the only illicit substance cultivated in Cyprus, and it is grown only in small quantities for local consumption. The Cypriot authorities vigorously pursue illegal cultivation. The police seized 628 cannabis plants in the first 11 months of 2008.

Area administered by Turkish Cypriots: The import/export, sale, distribution, possession or cultivation of narcotics is viewed as a serious offense and sentences of up to 15 to 20 years are not unusual. There have been no reports of large-scale cultivation of narcotics, although some individuals have planted cannabis for their own personal use. The police seized 353 cannabis plants during the first eleven months of 2008. The seized plants did not come from a large-scale cultivation organization.

Drug Flow/Transit. Although Cyprus is no longer considered a significant transit point for drugs, there were several cases of narcotics smuggling in the past year. Cypriot law enforcement authorities continued to cooperate with the DEA office in Nicosia on several international investigations initiated during 2008. Tourists sometimes bring drugs with them to Cyprus, principally Ecstasy and cannabis. This year, arrests of Cypriots for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute were higher than the number of arrests of non-Cypriots on similar charges, suggesting that Cypriots might be importing narcotics to sell to tourists or trying to develop a domestic market for drugs.

There is no production of precursor chemicals in Cyprus, nor is there any indication of illicit diversion of imported precursor chemicals. Dual-use precursor chemicals manufactured in Europe do transit Cyprus to third countries. Such cargoes are unlikely to be inspected if they are manifested as goods in transit. The Cyprus Customs Service no longer has the responsibility of receiving manifests of transit goods through Cyprus. This responsibility now rests with the Cyprus Ports Authority. Goods in transit entering the Cypriot free ports of Limassol and Larnaca can be legally re-exported using different transit documents, as long as there is no change in the description of the goods transported. Since these goods do not enter the customs area of Cyprus, they would only be inspected by Cypriot authorities if there were good intelligence to justify such an inspection.

Area administered by Turkish Cypriots: The majority of hashish seized comes from Turkey, whereas heroin comes from Afghanistan by way of refineries in Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey. Ecstasy and cocaine come from Turkey, England and South America, respectively. The preferred method of smuggling illegal narcotics is through concealed compartments of vehicles or through containers in Cargo Ships, which have begun their voyage in South Africa.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Cyprus actively promotes demand-reduction programs through the school system and through social organizations. Drug abuse remains relatively rare in Cyprus. Marijuana is the most commonly encountered drug, followed by heroin, cocaine, and Ecstasy, all of which are available in most major towns. Users consist primarily of young people and tourists. Recent increases in drug use have prompted the Government to promote demand reduction programs actively through the school system and social organizations, with occasional participation from the DEA office in Nicosia. Drug treatment is available.

Area administered by Turkish Cypriots: The Turkish Cypriot community has introduced several demand reduction programs, including regular seminars on drug abuse education for school counselors and teachers.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Policy Initiatives. The U.S. Embassy in Cyprus, through the regional DEA office, works closely with the Cypriot police force to coordinate international narcotics investigations and evaluate local narcotics trends. Relying on its liaison offices in other regional countries, DEA assists the new coordination unit in establishing strong working relationships with counterparts in the region. DEA also works directly with Cypriot customs, in particular, on development and implementation of programs to ensure closer inspection and interdiction of transit containers.

The Road Ahead. The USG enjoys close cooperation with the Cypriot Office of the Attorney General, the Central Bank, the Cyprus Police, and the Customs Authority in drug enforcement and anti-money laundering efforts. In 2009, the USG will continue to work with the Government of Cyprus to strengthen enforcement of existing counternarcotics laws and enhance Cypriot participation in regional counternarcotics efforts. DEA regularly provides information and insight to the GOC on ways to strengthen counternarcotics efforts. New laws to empower members of the Drug Law Enforcement Unit in their fight against drug traffickers are currently before Parliament.


 


Czech Republic

 

I. Summary


 

Illegal narcotics are imported to, manufactured in, and consumed in the Czech Republic. While the overall number of drug users in the country is relatively stable, the rates of use for marijuana, Ecstasy, and methamphetamine are among the highest in Europe. Marijuana, grown locally and imported from Holland, is used more than any other drug. Locally produced high–THC content marijuana is exported to neighboring countries, and methamphetamine (known locally as pervitine) is sold for domestic consumption and export. Levels of heroin reaching the Czech Republic have remained stable over recent years, while cocaine use is low. The Czech Republic is a producer of ergometrine, which is then used for the production of LSD. Extensive and ongoing police reforms and recurrent changes in police management have led to understaffing which has hampered the ability of the police to effectively do their job. The Czech Republic is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Several factors make the Czech Republic an attractive country for groups engaged in the drug trade. These factors include its central location, relatively short sentences for drug-related crimes, and the low risk of asset seizure as part of any punishment. A new law on public sector compensation has caused many police officers to pursue early retirement, leading to major understaffing. The abolition of the Financial Police has led to a decrease in detection rates of laundered drug money. The decrease in border control mechanisms as part of EU accession in 2004 and entry into the Schengen System at the end of 2007 have made detection of narcotics coming across the border more difficult. The maximum sentence for a drug-related crime is 15 years imprisonment, but often convicted drug traffickers receive only light or suspended sentences. A four-year governmental action plan, “The National Drug Policy Strategy for 2005-2009,” is re-evaluated internally every year for appropriate changes.

 

According to the annual report of European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the rate of marijuana use in the Czech Republic is the highest in Europe, with 28.2 percent of young adults having used the drug within the previous twelve months. Together with Danes, Czechs are also the most likely to have used marijuana in their lifetimes. Consumption of Ecstasy and pervitine was among the highest in the EU.

 

The “Czech National Focal Point for Drugs and Drug Addiction” is the main body responsible for collecting, analyzing and interpreting data on drug use. According to their annual report the number of drug users was stable in 2007. The report estimates there were 20,900 pervitine and approximately 10,000 opiate users—among the highest percentages of use in the EU. The report stated that both the use of Subutex (an opiate used in the treatment of addiction) and heroin declined, with the numbers of users listed as 4,250 and 5,750, respectively.

 

A 2007 “Health Behavior in School-aged Children” (HBSC) study confirmed the trend observed in the 2006 HBSC survey carried out among 15-year-old students: the dramatic increase in some experience with drug use observed since the mid-1990s has stopped. It showed that 25 percent of 15 year old children have tried marijuana, and 19 percent of them used it in the last twelve months. Based on the Czech National Monitoring Center (Focal Point) the situation improved compared to 2002. At that time, 30 percent of polled 15 year-olds reported they had tried marijuana, and 27 percent admitted that they had used marijuana in the last twelve months.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. Drug policy remains a contentious issue in Czech domestic politics. In March 2008 Minister of Justice Jiri Pospisil submitted a new penal code to the Parliament. The bill is currently due for the second reading in the House of Deputies of the Czech Parliament, and parliamentary sources say it could be passed soon. Under the new bill, imprisonment up to one year may be imposed for possession of so-called “soft drugs,” such as marijuana and Ecstasy, while a two-year limit has been set for the remaining list of illicit drugs. The Greens, one of three parties in the current government, promote legalization of marijuana. The Criminal Code passed in 2005 for the first time made a sharp distinction between the use of “soft” drugs, and “hard” drugs, such as heroin and pervitine. An important and long-awaited law on social services was passed and came into force in 2006. Among other things, it defines basic types of social services for drug users and identifies drug users as a target group. This is important especially for non-governmental organizations providing such services to drug users and requesting funding from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.


 

The Governmental Committee for Coordination of Drug Policy is the main body responsible for the Czech National Drug Policy strategy. The strategy document created for 2005–2009 highlights the importance of enforcement operations against organized criminal enterprises and focuses efforts on the reduction of addiction and associated health risks, and the establishment of a certification system for drug prevention programs. The government also controlled the availability of pills containing chemical precursors. The Committee includes representatives of local governments, medical specialists and Non-Governmental Organizations.

 

The National Drug Headquarters (NDH) is the main organization within the country responsible for major drug investigations. The drug units of the Czech Customs Service are also responsible for tracking drugs, but their roles differ. In addition to the Customs Service’s common operational work and investigations, they focus on the control of the major port-of-entry into the country located at Prague International Airport. Additionally, they use mobile law enforcement teams to monitor suspicious trucks on highways around the country. This work has become more difficult after the country’s 2004 entry into the EU, when border control checks were reduced. The Customs Service is also responsible for monitoring the Czech Republic’s modest licit poppy crop, highway permits, and trafficking in cigarettes, as well as levying certain taxes and fees. As a result of these additional tasks and changes related to the December 2007 accession to the EU Schengen System, the monitoring of drug trafficking is no longer the highest priority.

 

The NDH cooperates regularly with the Customs Service based on an agreement signed between the Ministries of Interior and Finance. Discussions continue on whether the NDH and the Customs Service drug unit should be joined under one institution owing to overlapping responsibilities.

The NDH cooperates regularly with other police units including the Unit Combating Corruption and Financial Crimes, as the NDH is responsible for financial investigations following the abolition of the Financial Police in January 2007. Despite its excellent reputation, the Interior Minister decided to abolish the Financial Police as part of a broader reform package. The decision has been criticized as having been politically motivated. As a result, the NDH conducts its basic financial investigations alone and refers cases requiring extensive financial investigations to the Unit Combating Corruption and Financial Crimes.

Law Enforcement. In the first six months of 2008, the NDH, together with the Customs Service, seized 39.6 kg of heroin, compared to 20, 33 kg in the whole of 2007; 15,936 Ecstasy pills, compared to 63,226 pills in 2007; 1.84 kg of methamphetamine, compared to 5.9 kg of methamphetamine in 2007; 135,425 kg of marijuana, compared to 122,124 kg of marijuana in 2007; 7.9 .5 kg of cocaine, and 11,910 cannabis plants. They also uncovered 197 methamphetamine laboratories, compared to 388 methamphetamine laboratories in 2007; and 61 marijuana cultivation sites, compared to 34 sites in 2007. Of the 61 marijuana cultivation sites, 53 were operated by Vietnamese gangs. The police also seized 245 LSD doses in the first half of 2008.

In March 2008, after two months of intensive work, the police arrested five persons, three Czechs and two Brits, and closed what is believed to have been one of the largest pervitine laboratories, which was producing half of one kilogram of the drug per week. The manufacturing site was funded from Britain, and most of the drugs were smuggled via an air courier to Britain. A smaller part of the production was sold in the Czech Republic. The five detainees are facing up to 15 years in prison. In April 2008, the police broke up an organized gang producing drugs in the Central Bohemian region. Five men and one woman were arrested. The group distributed pervitine and heroin worth more than CZK 4 million ($245,000) mainly among Roma communities. In April the Customs Service detained 31 persons suspected of manufacture and distribution of drugs. The operation, in which Czech officials in cooperation with their counterparts in West European countries and South America seized more than 30 kilograms of various drugs, lasted two years. The gang was operated by Nigerians living in the Czech Republic and using Czechs as couriers for shipments of drugs from Belgium, the Netherlands, Argentina, and Bolivia to the Czech Republic. In August 2008, the police detained an organized group suspected of illicit manufacture and distribution of anabolic steroids. The gang of two Czechs and one Turk were arrested after more than a year of investigation in an operation called “Operation Sword” that involved cooperation with the police in Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany, where four shipments of anabolic steroids worth tens of millions of Czech crowns were seized. On Czech territory the police seized anabolic steroid precursor-chemicals and equipment worth millions of Czech crowns. The gang faces up to five years in prison.

 

The number of drug offences in the Czech Republic has remained relatively stable in recent years. According to the Czech National Monitoring Center, the number of people prosecuted for drug offences in 2007 was the lowest in the past four years and was about 2,282. Two thousand and forty two people were charged with drug offences, which represents a decrease of 12% compared to 2006, and the lowest total number of people charged with such offences since 2000. The annual 2007 Czech National Monitoring Center Report notes that courts passed final sentences for 1,382 persons convicted of drug offences. In 2007, there was an increase in the proportion of individuals prosecuted for drug offences under Section 187a (possession of drugs for personal use). The most frequent drug offences were associated with pervitine (50-70%), followed by cannabis (20-30%). The proportion of offenses associated with cocaine has been increasing in recent years, although it still accounts for fewer than 3% of drug offences. Statistics for the first six months of 2008 show that of 858 convicted criminals 370 received conditional sentences for drug-related crimes, and 228f received prison sentences. Only 38 of this latter group received sentences of 5 to 15 years. The majority of those sentenced to serve time in prison (157t) received sentences ranging from one to five years. According to 2007 data, higher prison sentences are given to people convicted of production and lower sentences are given for possession.

 

Corruption. The Czech government does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. A current provision in Czech law permits possession of a small amount of certain drugs, but does not give a definition of “small amount”. To avoid confusion and encouragement of corruption, the Police President and Supreme Public Prosecutor have issued internal regulations that provide guidelines that attempt to define “small amount”. While not binding, these guidelines are commonly followed. In 2007, no police officer was charged with drug-related crimes. The Czech Republic signed the UN Convention against Corruption in 2005, but has not yet ratified it.


 

Agreements and Treaties. The Czech Republic is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The Czech Republic signed but has not yet ratified the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. All 27 EU member states, including the Czech Republic, have signed bilateral instruments with the U.S. implementing the 2003 U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements. The U.S. has ratified all and all EU countries except Belgium, Greece, Ireland and Italy have also ratified these agreements. None have entered into force. A 1925 extradition treaty between the U.S. and the Czech Republic, as supplemented in 1935, remains in force. U.S. and Czech representatives signed supplements to the U.S.-EU extradition treaty in May 2006.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Whereas in the past heroin trafficking in the country was mainly under the control of ethnic Albanian groups importing their product from Turkey, according to the Czech counternarcotics squad and Customs this is no longer the case. The importation of heroin is now mainly organized by Turks who have closer relations with suppliers in Turkey. Heroin is transported to the Czech Republic primarily using modified vehicles, in many cases vehicles importing textiles. Given the fact that Vietnamese immigrants specialize in the textile business in the Czech Republic, they play a role in further distribution. Heroin can be bought for a street price of 800 – 2000 Czech crowns a gram ($44 – $115). Police and Customs suspect the Balkan route of heroin trafficking has moved south to Austria and, therefore, the Czech Republic is no longer viewed as a transit country for heroin.


 

Cocaine abuse is not as widespread as other drugs, but abuse is increasing due to the growing purchasing power of Czech citizens. Cocaine is frequently imported by Nigerians or Czechs through Western Europe from Brazil, Venezuela or, most recently, Argentina. Mail parcels and Czech couriers, including “swallowers,” are the most common methods of importation. In 2007, the Czech Customs Service detected 38 kg of cocaine, which is almost four times more than in 2006. The drug was smuggled especially from the Netherlands. Customs extended their cooperation with express courier services, which seem to be the most common way of importation. Cocaine can be bought for a street price of 1200 – 3500 crowns a gram ($67 – $200).

 

Pervitine is a synthetic methamphetamine-type stimulant that is popular in the Czech Republic. Statistics for pervitine abuse in the Czech Republic represent the highest rates in Europe. It can be easily produced in home laboratories from locally available flu pills containing up to 30 mg of pseudoephedrine. According to the Czech Pharmaceutical Association, more than 80% of cold medications sold in the Czech Republic are being misused for the clandestine manufacture of pervitine. According to the State Institute for Controlled Substances (SUKL), just 12 pharmacies were responsible for selling one quarter of the 4 million medication packets sold in 2007. The Czech government has been preparing a new law regulating access to those flu pills. Czech police also appears to have stepped up enforcement. On June 5, Czech police announced charges against a pharmacist in connection with allegedly supplying up to 25,000 boxes of cold medications to a suspected meth cook in Chomutov, a city in northern Czech Republic near the German border.

 

It is believed that pervitine is also produced in larger laboratories from imported ephedrine from the Balkans or Russia, and exported to Germany, Austria and Slovakia. Besides Czech citizens, who are still the main producers of the drug, Vietnamese and Albanians residing in the Czech Republic and Germans are also major pervitine traffickers. The Vietnamese control mainly border areas, selling drugs in market places. Pervitine can be bought for a street price of 400 – 4000 Czech crowns a gram ($23 – $222). Imported Ecstasy tablets remain a favorite drug of the “dance scene.” Ecstasy is trafficked primarily from the Netherlands and Belgium. Ecstasy tablets are smuggled into the country by local couriers. The police report an increase of larger one-time imports organized mainly by Czech citizens. Import is less risky due to the EU’s open borders under the Schengen System. Ecstasy tablets can be bought for a street price of 80 – 500 Czech crowns per pill ($4.4– $28.60).

 

A trend toward larger-scale growth of cannabis plants in hydrophonic laboratories continued in 2007. The cultivation is increasingly sophisticated and mainly organized by Vietnamese and Czechs. In 2007, the police detected 34 laboratories. The number of detected hydroponic laboratories increased dramatically in the first five months of 2008. A total of 61 laboratories were detected of which 53 were run by Vietnamese operators. According to the NDC thousands of cannabis plants, dozens of kilograms of the final dry product, and extensive amount of technical equipment were seized. Most of the final product was intended for illegal distribution on the Czech market, and the rest was intended for export, mainly to Germany and the Netherlands. Marijuana can be bought for a street price of 50 – 300 Czech crowns per gram ($2.90 – $17.10).

 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The main components of Czech demand reduction plans continue to be primary prevention along with treatment and re-socialization of abusers. This strategy entails a variety of programs that include school-based prevention education, drug treatment, and needle exchange programs. Within the context of the National Strategy, the government has established benchmarks for success. Some of these include stabilizing or reducing the number of “problem” (hard drug) users, reversing the trend in the Czech Republic toward rising recreational and experimental drug use, and ensuring the availability of treatment centers and social services.


 

To provide high-level treatment services all over the country, the National Strategy sets standards that are required of all drug treatment providers. In connection with this effort, the government began a certification process in 2005 for treatment facilities. A system of certifications of specialized primary prevention programs was launched in 2006. All providers of primary prevention programs must obtain certification prior to the end of 2008. According to the Czech National Monitoring center 2008 report, a total of 22 facilities were certified in 2007 (two treatment facilities and 20 harm reduction facilities) In the first six months of 2008 additional four facilities were certified for services in the field of harm reduction, treatment, and after-care..

 

To assure drug users seeking treatment can find providers, the Czech government produced an online “Map of Help” in 2006, which lists contact information for all drug treatment programs in the Czech Republic, including those providing services by phone and the Internet.

 

In 2007, there were 109 contact centers and street programs in the Czech Republic. About 27,200 drug users used these services, and 4.5 million injection kits were exchanged, which is 700,000 more than in 2006. Thanks to the successful needle exchange program, the percentage of HIV positive drug users is very low. Drug testing of individuals involved in serious traffic accidents or driving under the influence became mandatory in 2006. There were 15 hard drug treatment replacement centers in the Czech Republic in 2007 treating addicts with methadone and two medicines Subutex and, since 2008 Subuxone, which has the active ingredient buprenorphine and can be prescribed by any physician, regardless of their specialization.

 

In 2007 the state spent 367 million crowns ($20.2 million) on its drug policy. Of this amount, 128 million crowns ($5.1 million) were provided from regional budgets and 62 million ($ 3.35 million) was contributed from local budgets. Compared to 2006, total expenses increased on all three levels.

 

The National Focal Point statistics have noted a positive trend: the increasing average age of long-term drug users: 26.1 years in 2007, compared to 25.3 years in 2006, 23.4 in 2004, and 22 in 2002.

 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S. covers Czech Republic drug issues through the DEA office in Vienna, Austria and cooperation with the DEA Vienna Country Office is very good. Investigative leads are routinely exchanged between DEA agents and investigators assigned to the National Drug Headquarters. The DEA Attaché in Vienna maintains close contact with National Drug Headquarters representatives and this relationship is one example of the cooperation between American and Czech officials. This cooperation on law enforcement and border security issues has increased as a result of the Czech Republic's entry into the U.S. visa waiver program.


 

The Road Ahead. The Czech Republic continues to implement police and legal reforms to ensure a stable, effective and independent police force. The Czech Parliament is expected to approve the new Penal Code and Criminal Proceedings Code by the end of 2008, which would come into effect on January 1, 2009. The new codes will ensure that criminal prosecutions are conducted in a timely manner and sentencing is appropriate and predictable. The new Penal Code will differentiate between marijuana and other drugs. The Ministry of Health is expected to complete a draft regulation limiting the sale of medications containing methamphetamine precursors, such as Nurofen Stopgrip, Modafen, Paralen Plus, and Panadol Plus Grip, to one or two packets per person. The National Drugs Headquarters and the Czech Pharmaceutical Chamber favor a stricter limitation to one packet of these medications. Debate about the exact amount of these medications sold over the counter should be concluded by December 2008 and the new regulation should be effective as of January 1, 2009.


 

 

Denmark


 

I. Summary

Denmark’s strategic geographic location and status as one of Northern Europe’s primary transportation hubs make it an attractive drug transit country. The Danes cooperate closely with their Scandinavian neighbors, the European Union (EU), and the U.S. Government (USG) to prevent the transit of illicit drugs. Denmark plays an increasingly important role in helping the Baltic States combat narcotics trafficking. Danish authorities assume that their open border agreements and high volume of international trade will inevitably result in some drug shipments transiting Denmark undetected. Nonetheless, regional cooperation has contributed to substantial heroin and increased cocaine seizures throughout the Scandinavian/Baltic region. Denmark is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.


 

II. Status of Country

Drug traffickers use Denmark’s excellent transportation network to bring illicit drugs to Denmark for domestic use and for transshipment to other Nordic countries. Reports suggest that drugs from the Balkans, Russia, the Baltic countries and central Europe pass through Denmark en route to other EU states and the U.S., although the amount flowing to the U.S. is negligible. Police authorities do not believe that entities based or operating in Denmark play a significant role in the production of drugs or in the trading and transit of precursor chemicals.


 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. EU legislation passed in 2008 requires persons carrying cash or instruments exceeding 10,000 Euros (approximately $12,800) to report the relevant amount to customs upon entry to or exit from Denmark. This law has led to Danish customs proactively intercepting illegal money, and has a favorable impact for drug-related investigations, where the proceeds of illicit sales are frequently retained in cash.


 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Over the past three years, there has been a significant increase in cocaine seizures in Denmark. Cocaine investigations are the current top priority of counter-narcotics police efforts in Denmark. According to the Danish National Police commissioner, the increase in cocaine seizures can be attributed to “police efforts to fight organized crime and with the systematic police investigations aimed at criminal groups and networks which are involved in drug crime.” The police commissioner vowed to continue “goal-oriented and systematic efforts to fight organized crime in close cooperation with the European police unit at Europol and foreign police authorities.” Cocaine trafficking in Denmark is controlled primarily by Serbian, Montenegrin and Moroccan nationals, with supplies originating in South America. Police also targeted members of the Hell’s Angels and Banditos biker gangs by increased enforcement of tax laws. Authorities continue to target tax evasion by members of the biker gangs, as biker gangs are major factors in the drug trade. Heroin availability in Denmark has fluctuated based on the heroin production levels in Afghanistan. Balkan, Iranian and Pakistani nationals typically control heroin trafficking in Denmark... The 2007 year end law enforcement figures show an increase in the quantity of Ecstasy, heroin and cocaine seized by Danish authorities. The number of Ecstasy pills seized increased from 22,712 pills in 2006 to 67,680 pills in 2007, despite a decline in the number of Ecstasy cases from 540 in 2006 to 397 in 2007. The quantity of heroin seized has also increased significantly, from 28.87 kg in 2006 to 47.75 kg in 2007. The amount of cocaine seized increased from 76.22 kg in 2006 to 137.44 kg in 2007. The amount of amphetamines seized in 2007 (69.07 kg) decreased slightly from 2006 figures (79.44 kg). Similarly, the amount of cannabis seized has decreased from 1035 kg in 2006 to 774.56 kg in 2007. These fluctuations are most likely attributable to market trends, rather than the intensity of counter-narcotics efforts. Initial figures for 2008 (first six months) indicate seizures of 38.22 kg amphetamines, 5,932 Ecstasy pills, 801.50 kg cannabis, 20.65 kg heroin and 38.28 kg cocaine.


 

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Denmark does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Similarly, no senior government official is alleged to have participated in such activities.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Denmark is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol. Denmark also is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons, and to the UN Convention against Corruption. The USG has a customs mutual assistance agreement and an extradition treaty with Denmark. In addition, the two countries have concluded protocols to the extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements; they have been ratified in both countries, but have not yet entered into force. Denmark is also a Major Donor to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with an annual pledge of nearly $2,000,000.


 

Cultivation/Production. There is no significant narcotics cultivation or production in Denmark. There are no MDMA (Ecstasy) labs currently known to be operating.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Denmark is a transit country for drugs on their way to neighboring European nations. The ability of the Danish authorities to interdict this flow is slightly constrained by EU open border policies. The Danish Police report that the regular smuggling of cannabis to Denmark is typically carried out by car or truck from the Netherlands and Spain. Amphetamines are typically smuggled from the Netherlands via Germany to Denmark and there distributed by members of the Hell’s Angels and Banditos biker gangs. Amphetamines from Poland and Lithuania are also transshipped through Germany and Denmark.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Denmark’s Ministry of Health estimates that there are approximately 27,000 drug addicts in the country. The governmental action plan against drug abuse, built upon existing programs, offers a multi-faceted approach to combating drug addiction. Its components consist of prevention, medical treatment, social assistance, police and judicial actions (particularly against organized crime), efforts to combat drug abuse in the school and prison systems, and international counter narcotics cooperation. In 2005, the Danish government dedicated additional resources to drug treatment programs. The Ministry of Health enrolled 4,461 new patients in drug treatment programs in 2007. There is no waiting list for drug treatment programs. The number of people in drug treatment programs has increased from 9,438 in 2000 to approximately 11,487 in 2007. Drug treatment for heroin addiction is highest in demand. Approximately 44% of new patients were enrolled for heroin addiction or other opiates. Of those receiving treatment, an estimated 5, 700 people received methadone maintenance treatment in 2007. In 2005, seventy-five percent of treatment recipients were male and the average age of treatment recipients was 36 years old. More current figures are unavailable.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. goals in Denmark are to cooperate with the Danish authorities on drug-related issues, to assist with joint investigations, and to coordinate USG counter-narcotics activities with the eight countries of the Nordic-Baltic region. The USG enjoys excellent cooperation with its Danish counterparts on drug-related issues. The DEA office in the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen coordinates bilateral cooperation with its Danish counterparts. The USCG trained one Danish officer in maritime law enforcement in 2008, at a basic boarding officer course.


 

The Road Ahead. Danish enforcement efforts will be strengthened by legislation that authorizes police to use informants during undercover operations. The introduction of visa-free travel from the new EU member states has increased the opportunity for smuggling. The Danes will continue to expand their cooperative efforts to successfully meet the new smuggling threat. At the same time, the USG will continue its cooperation with Danish authorities and work to deepen joint efforts against drug trafficking.



 

Dominican Republic


 

I. Summary


 

The Dominican Republic (DR) remains a major transit country for cocaine and heroin from South America destined for U.S. and European markets, however, MDMA (Ecstasy) was the drug most often interdicted in the DR en-route from Europe to the United States. During 2008, there was an increase in the frequency of air smuggling of cocaine from Venezuela, while maritime deliveries via go-fast boats and commercial shipping also continued. The increase in trafficking activity was accompanied by an increase in domestic consumption as local traffickers are being paid in narcotics. There was also an increase in corruption, violence, and drug-related homicides in 2008. The Government of the DR’s (GODR) efforts are constrained by insufficient equipment and a limited number of coastal patrol boats available to cover its extensive coastline. Another limiting factor is the lack of helicopters capable of conducting operations over open water and at night. The GODR continues to cooperate in extraditing fugitives and deporting criminals to the United States. Seizures of heroin, cocaine, and Ecstasy in 2008 were comparable to those recorded 2007. The DR made advances in its domestic law enforcement capacity, institution building, and interagency coordination, but only modest progress in prosecuting major bank fraud and government corruption cases. Despite some positive developments, corruption and weak governmental institutions remain a serious impediment to controlling the flow of illegal narcotics. The DR is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Colombian and Dominican criminal organizations are involved in international drug trafficking operations and use the DR as a command/control center and a transshipment hub with much of the narcotics destined for the United States. The number of illicit aircraft flights originating in Venezuela and delivering drugs to the DR continues at a high level. There was also an increase in corruption, violence, and drug-related homicides in 2008. In one notable case that is currently under investigation, seven reported Colombian narcotics traffickers were murdered in the Bain area. Ecstasy was the drug most often interdicted enroute from Europe to the United States. The DR does not import or export a significant amount of ephedrine or any other precursor chemicals utilized in the manufacture of amphetamines or methamphetamines.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. TheFinancial Analysis Unit, which became operational in 2005, still lacks Egmont certification and the resources and institutional support to perform effectively. In 2008, despite assistance from the USG to train DR prosecutors and law enforcement officers in the conduct of money laundering investigations, the GODR continued to struggle to implement anti-money laundering legislation passed in 2002. In 2006 the GODR signed the Cooperating Nations Information Exchange System agreement which allows the DR to receive information on suspected aerial and maritime drug trafficking. In 2007, the GODR signed an agreement with Haiti to combat drug trafficking and promote law enforcement cooperation.


 

Accomplishments. In 2008, Dominican law enforcement authorities seized approximately 2,415 kilograms (kg) of cocaine hydrochloride (HCl), 96 kg of heroin, 15,949 units of Ecstasy, and 219 kg of marijuana. The National Directorate of Drug Control (DNCD) made 14,674 drug-related arrests in 2008, a 15 percent increase over 2007. Through joint operations targeting drug trafficking organizations transporting narcotic proceeds through the various ports of entry in the DR, the DNCD and Dominican Customs (DGA) seized over $2 million in U.S. currency. In 2008, the DNCD and members of the Dominican Armed Forces targeted South American narcotics trafficking organizations that were transporting large amounts of narcotics to the DR via aircraft. When feasible, Customs and Border Control (CBP) Blackhawk helicopters based in Puerto Rico were dispatched to the Dominican Republic to pick-up a Dominican Tactical Response Team and then transported to interdict in-bound drug carrying aircraft as the drops were being made. As a result of these joint operations the DNCD seized over 1,463 kg of cocaine and several aircraft. This dependence on CBP assets from Puerto Rico is driven by the outdated Dominican helicopters and equipment which prevents robust interdiction efforts over open water. On November 13, 2008, DNCD seized over 1,400 kg of liquid cocaine that was contained inside shampoo bottles at the Port of Haina, Santo Domingo.


 

Law Enforcement Efforts.
Maritime seizures remain a challenge for the DR, especially for drugs arriving from South America via maritime airdrop and subsequent offshore recovery by small boats. The limited number of patrol boats available thwarts the GODR’s ability to patrol the extensive coast line and off-shore areas used for drops. In 2008, to complement the boats donated by the U.S. Southern Command’s Operation Enduring Freedom (EF) in 2007, the DR Navy received three “Justice”-type Boston Whaler vessels to enhance intercept and board and seizure capabilities. To date, there have been no successful seizures of large quantities of drugs; however, there is reason to believe there have been disruptions to the traffickers operations.


 

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GODR does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production, processing, or distribution of narcotics, psychotropic drugs, or other controlled substances, nor does it contribute to drug-related money laundering. Nevertheless, corruption is a major problem in the Dominican Republic that renders the economy vulnerable to transfers of illicit funds.


 

The GODR did not score well on internationally recognized measures of transparency, such as Transparency International’s Corruption perception Index (CPI) and the World Bank’s Governance Matters Control of corruption indicator. Both of these international indices reflect widespread public perception of corruption. However, the government has passed a number of key laws that, when fully implemented, should provide better control of corruption. These include a Public Finance Law, a Public Procurement Law and a law reorganizing the Treasury. A financial disclosure law for senior appointed, civil service, and elected officials has been enacted. Though insufficient auditing controls and sanctions weaken the potential effectiveness of this measure, the GODR has begun taking action against government officials who have not complied by withholding their pay pending compliance. With USG assistance, the Directorate for Prosecution of Corruption is establishing a reporting and tracking system for disclosed assets. The DR has enacted a Freedom of Information Act, but requests for information are not uniformly granted, nor has the Act been fully implemented in all government institutions.

 

Agreements and Treaties. The DR is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention; the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol; the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances; the UN Convention against Corruption; the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols on Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling; and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. In 1985, the USG and the DR signed an agreement on international narcotics control cooperation. In May 2003, the Dominican Republic entered into three comprehensive bilateral agreements on Cooperation in Maritime Migration Law Enforcement, Maritime Counter-Drug Operations, and Search and Rescue. All three agreements include permanent over flight provisions for respective operations. The DR has signed, but not ratified, the Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement. The DR is not party to the OAS Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and no bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty is in effect. Direct requests for judicial cooperation continue to be made through letters rogatory, but noticeable delays in compliance are routine. The DR is not party to a bilateral asset forfeiture agreement, nor is it party to any multilateral agreement that would permit the forfeiture of criminally obtained assets. The DR signed the Cooperating Nations Information Exchange System (CNIES) agreement in 2006.


 

Extradition. The U.S.-Dominican Extradition Treaty dates from 1909. Extradition of nationals is not mandated under the treaty, though 1998 legislation does permit extradition to the United States. In 2005, judicial review was added to the procedure for extradition, making extraditions more transparent. During 2008 the U.S. Marshals Service received excellent cooperation from the DNCD Fugitive Surveillance/Apprehension Unit and other Dominican authorities in arresting fugitives and returning them to the United States. The DR extradited 20 Dominicans in 2008 and deported another 16 U.S. and third-country national fugitives to the United States to face prosecution. Of these 36 cases, 21 were narcotics-related.


 

Cultivation/Production. Cannabis is grown in the DR on a small scale for local consumption.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. In 2008, the DNCD and its partners in the Armed Forces continued to focus interdiction operations on the drug-transit routes in Dominican territorial waters along the southern border and on its land border crossings with Haiti, while attempting to prevent air drops and maritime delivery of illicit narcotics to remote areas. The Joint Interagency Task Force South estimates that small aircraft from Venezuela conducted 91 drug airdrop flights to the DR during the year.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. In 2008, the DNCD conducted hundreds of sporting events and seminars that served as a platform to publicize the negative effects related to the use of narcotics and drugs. Approximately 300,000 Dominican youths participated in these events. Though no official surveys have been undertaken to document domestic drug use, we believe that demand for narcotics is increasing, in part as a result of the practice of using drugs as in-kind payment for transit services. A community-policing project initiated in 100 communities with support from the U.S. Mission continues to target high-risk neighborhoods in Santo Domingo and other cities, in part to reduce drug demand and drug related crimes. The project has received great praise from community leaders and law enforcement officials who are seeking to expand it to other cities in the Dominican Republic.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation. In 2008, the Dominican Republic sent 10 students to counterdrug, intelligence, and other related courses through International Military Exchange and Training (IMET) funding. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) participated in joint counternarcotics and illegal migrant operations to identify individuals transiting between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The USCG held three conferences for the benefit of the Dominican Navy: the Annual Interoperability Conference aimed at improving coordination in maritime interdictions; the Caribbean Search and Rescue Conference focused on improving and coordinating collaborative efforts between Rescue Coordination Centers (RCC) and their respective search and rescue resources; and the International Ships and Port Security Conference geared toward enhancing port security in the DR. The USCG also provided maritime law enforcement, leadership, port security expertise, and command and control training to the Dominican Navy.


 

The Law Enforcement Development Program, implemented by the Embassy’s Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS), continued assisting the Dominican National Police (DNP) to transform it into a professional, civilian-oriented organization. Since the program was initiated in 2006, 9,500 police investigators and prosecutors have undergone training in basic crime scene investigation. The DNP’s Internal Affairs (IA) was also restructured and is operating efficiently. Since 2006, approximately 900 police officers have been terminated for testing positive for drug use or involvement in corrupt activities. IA investigators are conducting approximately 80-90 internal investigations monthly against police personnel allegedly engaged in improper conduct. A community-based policing project established in 13 high risk barrios in Santo Domingo has demonstrated positive trends in crime reduction in these neighborhoods. In 2008 this project was expanded to 100 neighborhoods throughout the Dominican Republic. During 2008 an additional 125 prosecutors were trained in Basic Principles of Criminal Investigation, and Interviewing & Interrogation Techniques. In addition, 125 prosecutors and police investigators were trained in Basic Money Laundering Investigation Techniques.

 

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) continued to provide assistance with strengthening the overall justice system, with a particular focus on effective implementation of the Criminal Procedures Code to ensure proper acquisition, storage and handling of evidence and adherence to time limits for prosecuting cases. In addition, assistance was provided to strengthen systems of control of corruption, malfeasance, financial accountability and discipline in institutions of justice. USAID also assisted the National Institute for Forensic Sciences with improving procedures to secure and preserve evidence.

 

The Road Ahead. The GODR cooperates closely with the United States in combating narcotics trafficking. To improve its effectiveness, the DR needs to address inadequacies in implementing judicial reforms and existing laws, particularly as they are applied to the prosecution of major drug cases. The GODR should continue to address ways to promote good governance within the public sector, including full implementation of recently-passed laws in public finance and procurement and the reorganization of the Treasury. The DR is working to build robust counternarcotics programs that can resist the pressures of corruption and can address new challenges presented by innovative narcotics trafficking organizations, but more remains to be done. The DR also needs to upgrade their helicopter assets to enable them to be used for night operations. Money laundering will continue to be a challenge and the DR needs to develop its capability to conduct complex financial investigations.


 

For its part, the USG will provide significant support in the coming year under the Merida Initiative—a partnership between the governments of the United States, Mexico, Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to confront the violent national and transnational gangs and organized criminal and narcotics trafficking organizations that plague the entire region, the activities of which spill over into the United States. The Merida Initiative will fund a variety of programs that will strengthen the institutional capabilities of participating governments by supporting efforts to investigate, sanction and prevent corruption within law enforcement agencies; facilitating the transfer of critical law enforcement investigative information within and between regional governments; and funding equipment purchases, training, community policing and economic and social development programs. Bilateral agreements with the participating governments were in the process of being negotiated and signed at the time this report was prepared.

 


Dutch Caribbean

 

I. Summary


 

Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and the Netherlands together form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The two Caribbean parts of the Kingdom have autonomy over their internal affairs, with the right to exercise independent decision making in a number of counter narcotics areas. The Government of the Netherlands (GON) is responsible for the defense and foreign affairs of all three parts of the Kingdom and assists the Government of Aruba (GOA) and the Government of the Netherlands Antilles (GONA) in their efforts to combat narcotics trafficking. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and all three parts are subject to the Convention. Both Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles are active members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

 

II. Status


 

Netherlands Antilles. The islands of the Netherlands Antilles (NA) (Curacao and Bonaire off Venezuela and Saba, Sint Estates, and Sint Maarten east of the U.S. Virgin Islands) continue to serve as northbound transshipment points for cocaine and increasing amounts of heroin coming from South America; chiefly Colombia, Venezuela, and to a much lesser extent, Suriname. These shipments typically are transported to U.S. territory in the Caribbean by "go-fast" boats although use of fishing boats, freighters, and cruise ships are becoming more common. Direct transport to Europe, and at times to the U.S., is by "mules" (drug couriers) using commercial flights. The DEA and local law enforcement saw typical go-fast boat traffic this year with some load sizes reduced because of a potential exposure to law enforcement. These shipments were generally en route to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, but Sint Maarten continued to hold some measurable popularity among couriers as a gateway to Europe. In addition to go-fast boat activity and smuggling via commercial airlines, large quantities of narcotics continued to be moved through in containers.


 

Sint Maarten within the structure of the Netherlands Antilles separates itself distinctly, although it falls under the authority the Netherlands Antilles government. In December of 2008, legislation has been approved by the GNOA that will make Sint Maarten and Curacao sovereign countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Sint Maarten’s geographical location and its multi-national population make it an attractive transshipment point between South America and the United States, for the drug and human smuggling. Statistics on significant seizures in 2008 indicate that Dutch Sint Maarten continues to pose a serious threat as a staging ground for moving cocaine and heroin into the U.S. market. Officials in Sint Maarten have taken this threat seriously by initiating joint U.S. cooperative investigations as well as adopting new law enforcement strategies to combat the problems. Dutch Sint Maarten is considered a “Free Zone”, which means there are limited controls placed on import and export of goods. This situation also applies to financial crimes. The absence of stringent checks into monetary flows means that money laundering and proceeds from illegal activities are relatively easy to conceal.

 

In Curacao, all elements of the law enforcement and judicial community recognize that the NA, chiefly due to geography, faces a serious threat from drug trafficking. The police, who are understaffed and need additional training, have received some additional resources, including various support and training by the Netherlands and the United States including recent training regarding money laundering investigations. The rigorous legal standards that must be met to prosecute cases constrain the effectiveness of the police; nevertheless, local police made progress in 2008 in initiating complex, sensitive cases targeting upper-echelon traffickers. These efforts demonstrated the effectiveness of cooperation with other law enforcement entities in the region.

 

During 2008, the Police Chief in conjunction with the Minister of Justice made a concentrated effort to improve Criminal Intelligence by creating a new Operational Intelligence Unit within the Korps Politie Curacao. These improvements were formed through money grants from the Netherlands and partnerships with the U.S. law enforcement; specifically the Drug Enforcement Administration. This specialized Intel Unit has made an instant impact on the Police Department and has improved investigative effectiveness. In 2008, the KPC Operational Intelligence Unit improved their place in the regional scheme of enforcement as a viable international partner for law enforcement matters.

 

Consistent with the continued smuggling ventures, arrests were frequent in 2008. Curacao’s prison remains at capacity. Aware of this problem, the GONA, with the assistance of their Dutch partners, has undertaken efforts to reduce the prison population by pre-trial diversion of non-violent offenders and by constructing new jail space with Dutch financial assistance.

 

The specialized Dutch police units named “Recherche Samenwerkingsteam” (RST) that support law enforcement in the NA and Aruba continued to be effective in 2008 and continued to include local officers in the development of investigative strategies to ensure exchange of expertise and information. The RST shared intelligence with international law enforcement contributing to several successful operations to thwart organized crime groups.

 

The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba Coast Guard (CGNAA) scored a number of successes in 2008. The CGNAA has developed a very effective counter narcotics intelligence service and is considered by DEA to be an invaluable international law enforcement partner. The CGNAA was responsible for several seizures of cocaine and heroin. As an example of their continued success and ability to be forward leaning with law enforcement initiatives, during 2008, the CGNAA, in coordination with the new KPC Operational Intel Unit and several notable seizures off go-fast vessels. Seizures like this by the CGNAA have become commonplace and highlight the CGNAA’s desire to be a regional player in law enforcement endeavors. The most impressive CGNAA effort was the tracking of a go-fast vessel as it passed Bonaire N.A, which ultimately culminated with the seizure of approximately 900 kilograms of cocaine.

 

Authorities in both the NA and Aruba are intent on ensuring that there is a proper balance between the CGNAA’s international obligation to stop narcotics trafficking through the islands, and its local responsibility to stop narcotics distribution on the islands. Under the continued leadership of both the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the GONA continued to strengthen its cooperation with U.S. law enforcement authorities throughout 2008. This cooperation extended to Sint Maarten, where the United States and the GONA continued joint efforts against international organized crime and drug trafficking.

 

The regular Dutch Navy also operates in the Netherlands Antilles under the auspices of Component Task Group 4.4 (CTG 4.4) which operates in international waters under the oversight of the Joint Inter Agency Task Force (JIATF) South. Over the past two years, particularly during 2007 and 2008, the CTG 4.4 has become a close and essential ally of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other U.S. agencies. Their continual efforts to thwart drugs trafficking from the region have been noted at the highest levels of the DEA and U.S. government. Several notable seizures occurred during 2008. The most impressive effort was the tracking of a maritime vessel from Colombia past the ABC Islands to Puerto Rico which ultimately culminated with the seizure of approximately 4000 kilograms of cocaine. This was the largest single seizure of cocaine ever made by the Dutch Navy.

 

In addition to these improvements in law enforcement, the GONA demonstrated its commitment to the counter narcotics effort by continued support for a U.S. Forward Operating Location (FOL) at the Curacao Hato International Airport. Under a ten-year use agreement signed in March 2000 and ratified in October 2001 by the Dutch Parliament, U.S. military aircraft conduct counter narcotics detection and monitoring flights over both the source and transit zones from commercial ramp space.

 

Aruba. Aruba is a transshipment point for increasing quantities of heroin, and to a lesser extent cocaine, moving north, mainly from Colombia, to the U.S. and Europe. Drugs move north via cruise ships and the multiple daily flights to the U.S. and Europe. The island attracts drug traffickers with its good infrastructure, excellent flight connections, and relatively light sentences for drug-related crimes served in prisons with relatively good living conditions.


 

While Aruba enjoys a low crime rate, crime reporting during 2008 indicates that prominent drug traffickers are established on the island. Drug abuse in Aruba remains a cause for concern. In 2008, Aruba law enforcement officials continued to investigate and prosecute mid-level drug traffickers who supply drugs to "mules." There were several instances where Aruba authorities cooperated with U.S. authorities to realize U.S. prosecutions of American citizens arrested in Aruba while attempting to return to the United States with drugs in multi-kilogram quantities. Aruba also devotes substantial time and effort to the identification of the person’s responsible for the importation of drugs to Aruba.

 

The GOA hosts the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection pre-inspection and pre-clearance personnel at Reina Beatrix airport. These officers occupy facilities financed and built by the GOA. DHS reported several seizures of cocaine and heroin in 2008. Drug smugglers arrested are either prosecuted in Aruba or returned to the U.S. for prosecution, if appropriate. Aruba jails remain critically overcrowded. The GOA established special cells in which to detain those suspected of ingesting drugs. Aruba officials regularly explore ways to capitalize on the presence of the FOL and pre-clearance personnel, seeking to use resident U.S. law enforcement expertise to improve local law enforcement capabilities.

 

Aruba also continued to participate in the Coast Guard of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Agreements and Treaties. The Netherlands extended the 1988 UN Drug Convention to the NA and Aruba in March 1999, with the reservation that its obligations under certain provisions would only be applicable in so far as they were in accordance with NA and Aruba criminal legislation and policy on criminal matters. The NA and Aruba subsequently enacted revised, uniform legislation to resolve a lack of uniformity between the asset forfeiture laws of the NA and Aruba. The obligations of the Netherlands as a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, apply to the NA and Aruba. The obligations of the Netherlands under the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances have applied to the NA since March 10, 1999. The Netherlands’s Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the United States applies to the NA and Aruba. Both Aruba and the NA routinely honor requests made under the MLAT and cooperate extensively with the United States on law enforcement matters at less formal levels.


 

Cultivation/Production. Cultivation and production of illicit drugs are not issues.


 

Seizures. Available drug seizure statistics for calendar year 2008 as of October 31, 2008 are as follows: Aruba seized 144 kilograms of cocaine, 27 grams of heroin, 13 kilograms marijuana. The Netherlands Antilles seized 1,965 kilograms of cocaine and 7.2 kilograms of heroin.


 

Corruption. The effect of official corruption on the production, transportation, and processing of illegal drugs is not an issue for Aruba and Curacao. During 2008, Sint. Maarten continued an aggressive and notably successful program to identify certain links from prominent traffickers in the region to law enforcement officials, which prompted additional investigation in the region. The NA has been quick to address these issues through criminal investigations, internal investigations, new hiring practices, and continued monitoring of law enforcement officials that hold sensitive positions. To prevent such public corruption, there is a judiciary that enjoys a well-deserved reputation for integrity.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Both the NA and Aruba have ongoing demand reduction programs. In 2007, the Korps Politie of Curacao in conjunction with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program opened a new D.A.R.E. facility in Willemstad, Curacao to aid in Demand Reduction activities for the youth of Curacao.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

The United States encourages Aruba and NA law enforcement officials to participate in INL-funded regional training courses provided by U.S. agencies at the GOA and GONA’s expense. Chiefly through the DEA and DHS/Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States is able to provide assistance to enhance technical capabilities as well as some targeted training. The U.S. continues to search for ways in which locally assigned U.S. law enforcement personnel can share their expertise with host country counterparts.

 

Appreciation of the importance of intelligence to effective law enforcement has grown in the Dutch Caribbean. The USG is expanding intelligence sharing with GOA and GONA officials as they realize the mutual benefits that result from such sharing. Because U.S.-provided intelligence must meet the strict requirements of local law, sharing of intelligence and law enforcement information requires ongoing, extensive liaison work to bridge the difference between U.S. and Dutch-based law.

 

The Road Ahead. The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba should continue to strengthen its cooperation with international law enforcement agencies.


 

 

Eastern Caribbean


 

I. Summary


 

The seven Eastern Caribbean countries—Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines—are vulnerable to drug trafficking from South America to markets in the U.S. and Europe. Illicit narcotics transit the Eastern Caribbean mostly by sea, in small “go-fast” vessels, larger fishing vessels, yachts and freight carriers. Each of the Eastern Caribbean countries has a bilateral maritime counternarcotics agreement with the U.S.

 

The USG provided leadership, marine engineering and maintenance, small arms, maritime law enforcement, and seamanship training courses to the Eastern Caribbean nations in 2008. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) maintains a three-person Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT) that provides technical/logistic support and coordinated depot-level maintenance for over 40 maritime security vessels in the Eastern Caribbean. In July 2008, the United Kingdom Security Advisory Team (UKSAT) was dissolved in Antigua. The Regional Security System (RSS) operates the only air assets in the region dedicated to counternarcotics operations, with two C-26 aircraft to cover the seven islands. All seven Eastern Caribbean states are parties to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Countries and Actions Against Drugs in 2008

Antigua and Barbuda. The islands of Antigua and Barbuda are transit points for cocaine moving from South America to U.S. and European markets. Narcotics entering Antigua and Barbuda are transferred from go-fast boats, fishing vessels, and yachts to other go-fasts, powerboats or local fishing vessels for further movement. Secluded beaches and uncontrolled marinas provide opportunities to conduct drug transfer operations. Marijuana cultivation in Antigua and Barbuda is not significant and is imported for domestic consumption from St. Vincent.

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda (GOAB) believes that approximately 60 percent of the cocaine that transits Antigua and Barbuda is destined for the United Kingdom, while the United States market accounts for 25 percent. Approximately 10 percent of the cocaine transiting Antigua and Barbuda is destined for St. Martin/Sint Maarten. There were no reports of production, transit or consumption of methamphetamines in Antigua and Barbuda. There is also no legislation that imposes specific recordkeeping on precursor chemicals.

Antigua and Barbuda is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. It has a six-part maritime counterdrug agreement with the USG. The GOAB is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the Inter-American Convention on Extradition, and the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (Inter-American Firearms Convention), and the Inter-American Convention on Extradition. The GOAB is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The Misuse of Drugs Act was recently tabled in Parliament. This amendment seeks to increase the penalties for drug offenses.

 

Through October 2008, GOAB forces seized 14 kilograms (kg) of cocaine, which was more than double the total seized in 2007, and 96 kg of marijuana, down from 464 kg in 2007. There were 125 drug-related arrests, and ten traffickers were prosecuted. Four cannabis fields were discovered in 2008, and the GOAB eradicated 6,828 plants. Antigua and Barbuda has both conviction-based and civil forfeiture legislation. An extradition treaty and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) are in force between the U.S. and Antigua and Barbuda.

 

The police operate a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, targeting youth between ages 10 and 12. The police also speak to church groups and other civic organizations on the dangers of drugs. Local organizations such as the Optimist Club and Project Hope conduct their own school programs or assist groups that work with drug addicts. There is one drug rehabilitation center, the Cross Roads Centre, which offers treatment from two separate locations.

 

Barbados. Barbados has developed a robust coast guard presence with the recent purchase of three new Damnen patrol boats. Barbados is a transit country for cocaine and marijuana, and the strengthened coast guard is designed to stem the flow of narcotics transiting Barbados. Notable trends in 2008 included an increase in the number of drug couriers swallowing cannabis, the continued use of go-fast boats from neighboring islands of St. Vincent and St. Lucia, and the use of in-transit passengers to transport drugs. The trend of employees working in key commercial transportation positions, e.g. baggage handlers, FedEx, DHL assisting with drug trafficking also continued.


 

Approximately 99% of the cannabis entering Barbados is consumed locally, while local consumption of cocaine represents only five percent of the amount thought to transit the island. Barbados has legislation in force that imposes recordkeeping on precursor chemicals. There were no reports of production, transit or consumption of methamphetamines in Barbados. Seventy percent of the cocaine transiting the island is destined for the U.K., fifteen percent for Canada, ten percent within the region, and five percent for local consumption.

 

From January 1 to September 30, 2008, Government of Barbados (GOB) agencies reported seizing 46 kg of cocaine–an 80% reduction from 2007. Local intelligence suggests that the reason for the reduction is due to strategic measures put in place by the police force that have caused traffickers to experience great losses in product and persons at sea which makes them reluctant to use Barbados as a transit point. The GOB also seized 4,662 kg of marijuana in 2008. There have not been any seizures of Ecstasy (MDMA) since 2005, when Barbados, for the first time, confiscated 2,445 Ecstasy tablets. The GOB brought drug charges against 213 persons during 2008, 29 fewer than in 2007. Seven major drug traffickers were arrested during this period. In 2008, the GOB destroyed 5,240 cannabis plants, down from 7,194 in 2007.

 

Barbados is party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. It has a six-part maritime counterdrug agreement with the USG. Barbados has signed, but not ratified, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and is a party to the Inter-American Firearms Convention. Barbados has not signed the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters or the Inter-American Convention on Extradition. The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act allows Barbados to provide mutual legal assistance to countries with which it has a bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty, Commonwealth countries, and states-parties to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Barbados has an asset-sharing agreement with Canada. Barbados has signed but has not yet ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols and the UN Convention against Corruption. An extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) are in force between the United States and Barbados.

 

The GOB’s National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) and various concerned NGOs, such as the National Committee for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, are active and effective. NCSA works closely with NGOs on prevention and education efforts and supports skills-training centers. The NCSA sponsored a “Drugs Decisions” program in 45 primary schools and continued sponsoring prison drug and rehabilitation counseling initiatives. Barbados’s excellent D.A.R.E. and Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education (P.R.I.D.E.) programs remained active throughout the school system. There are four (4) drug rehabilitation clinics in operation.

 

Commonwealth of Dominica. Dominica and the island serve as a transshipment point for drugs destined for the U.S. and Europe and marijuana is cultivated there. The coast guard’s limited capability to patrol Dominica’s extensive shoreline offers drug traffickers the ability to conduct drug transfer operations with relative impunity. The Dominica Police Force conducted 20 eradication missions in rugged, mountainous areas. During the year, Dominican law enforcement agencies reported seizing 11 kg of cocaine. This represents a downward trend from 2007 and 2006 – largely due to a diminishment in Dominica’s Drug Unit manpower and equipment, such as vehicles to conduct effective counternarcotics operations. In 2008 the Drug Unit was reduced from 15 members to 10, and the 10 remaining officers were sometimes given additional duties outside of the Drug Unit. In 2008 Dominica also seized 139,769 marijuana plants and 842 kg of marijuana – up from 181 kg in 2007. Dominica’s Police arrested 243 persons on drug-related charges and prosecuted one major drug trafficker. According to the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica (GCOD) Police, most of the drugs that transit through Dominica are intended for foreign markets. Marijuana accounts for approximately 90 percent of all drug consumption on the island. There were no reports of production, transit or consumption of methamphetamines in Dominica.


 

The Ministry of Health and its National Drug Abuse Prevention Unit have been successful in establishing a series of community-based drug use prevention programs, including the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (D.A.R.E.).

 

Dominica is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. It has a maritime Counterdrug agreement with the USG, which does not include over-flight provisions. Dominica is a party to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Inter-American against Trafficking in Illegal Firearms Convention, the Inter-American Convention against Firearms, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and Inter-American Convention against Terrorism. An extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) are in force between the United States and Dominica. Notwithstanding the existence of the treaties, however, the United States has experienced difficulty in receiving assistance from Dominica, purportedly because U.S. requests did not comply with local Dominican legislation. The United States has requested consultations with Dominica in order to discuss treaty obligations in both mutual legal assistance and extradition matters, but to date has not received a response.

 

Grenada. Grenada’s coastal waters serves as a transit stop by South American and Caribbean drug traffickers shipping cocaine and marijuana to the U.S. and other markets. It is estimated that 70 percent of the cocaine is intended for the United Kingdom (UK), 20 percent for the U.S. and 10 percent for local consumption. Marijuana remains the most widely used drug among Grenadian users. Marijuana is smuggled through Grenada from both St. Vincent and Jamaica. Local officials estimate that about 75 percent of the volume remains on the island. The remaining 25 percent is destined for other markets, primarily Barbados and Trinidad. There is a small amount of marijuana cultivation in Grenada, primarily for local consumption. There are no drug processing labs in Grenada. According to the police, the second ever seizure of Ecstasy tablets was recorded in 2008. This involved a Grenadian male who was convicted of possession and trafficking of 3,302 Ecstasy tablets. The increase in violence and gang activity associated with the drug trade, including armed robbery and kidnapping continues to cause concern. Petty crimes, including theft and break-ins for cash to pay for drugs, are another byproduct of the drug trade.


 

The police drug squad continues to collaborate closely with Drug Enforcement Administration officials in the targeting and investigation of a local drug trafficking organization associated with South American and other Caribbean traffickers. From January through September 2008, the police arrested 244 people on drug-related charges, down from 382 in 2007. Three drug traffickers were arrested and successfully prosecuted during this period, but all received fines and no jail time.

Grenadian authorities reported seizing approximately 48 kg of cocaine, 247 cocaine balls, 14,360 marijuana plants, 355 kg of marijuana, and 741 marijuana cigarettes in 2008. Regular rural patrols contribute significantly to deterring cultivation of marijuana on the island on a major scale. Cultivation usually consists of around 50 or fewer plants in any one plot. Approximately five acres of marijuana were eradicated in 23 separate eradication exercises during the period.

Legislation proposed in 2007 to amend the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act to prevent the misuse of a controlled drug to include pseudoephedrine and ephedrine has not passed. Still pending action since 2005 is a draft Precursor Chemical Bill to develop an institutional infrastructure to implement controls preventing the diversion of controlled chemical substances.

 

The new anticorruption laws, Integrity in Public Service Act number 14 of 2007 and Prevention of Corruption Act number 15 of 2007, which require all public servants to report their income and assets, have been passed and the Prevention of Corruption Act has been implemented and is in full force. The oversight commission for the Integrity in Public Service Act has not yet been formed, nor has the mechanism for reporting been established so the act is in force but not fully implemented. Grenada is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. It has a six-part maritime Counterdrug agreement with the USG. Grenada also is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, Inter-American Convention against trafficking in Illegal Firearms, the Inter-American Convention against Firearms, the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and Inter-American Convention against Terrorism. Grenada is a party to the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols. An extradition treaty and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) are in force between the U.S. and Grenada.

 

There are a number of drug demand reduction programs available to the public through the National Drug Avoidance Committee. There are specific programs for students from the pre-primary level up to the college level, teachers, and adults (community outreach program). There is also a specific program targeting women. Grenada’s sole drug-rehabilitation clinic Carton House whose building was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and by fire in 2006 has reopened at a new location. Presently, the Rathdune Psychiatric Wing of the Mental Hospital provides limited rehabilitation services for “extreme cases.” The need for rehabilitation services continues to outstrip capacity.

 

St. Kitts and Nevis. St. Kitts and Nevis is a transshipment point for cocaine from South America to the United States and the United Kingdom as well as to regional markets.


 

Trafficking organizations operating in St. Kitts are linked directly to South American traffickers, some of whom reportedly are residing in St. Kitts, and to other organized criminal organizations. Marijuana is grown for local consumption.

 

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis (GOSKN) is party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The GOSKN has a six-part maritime Counterdrug agreement with the USG. St. Kitts and Nevis is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and the Inter-American Firearms Convention, but has not signed the Inter-American Convention on Extradition or the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. St. Kitts and Nevis is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols. An extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) are in force between the United States and St. Kitts and Nevis.

 

The GOSKN Defence Force augments police counternarcotics efforts, particularly in marijuana eradication operations. GOSKN officials reported seizing 78 kg of cocaine, 155 kg of marijuana and 9 kg of cannabis seeds from January through October 21, 2008. There were no reports of production, transit or consumption of methamphetamines in St. Kitts or Nevis.

 

From January to October 21, 2008, 1,222 drug related arrests were made–more than double that of 2007. Marijuana eradications in 2008 resulted in 83,309 plants being eradicated – half that of 2007. This was largely due to an upsurge in violent crimes and gang activity that forced the police to channel limited resources to the urban areas rather than to conducting weekly eradications as planned.

 

Drug demand reduction programs are available to schools and the public. D.A.R.E., Operation Future and the National Drug Council also have programs to prevent drug abuse in SKN. There are no drug rehabilitation clinics in SKN and persons seeking such treatment are sent to St. Lucia.

 

St. Lucia. St. Lucia is a transshipment point for cocaine from South America to the U.S. and Europe. Cocaine arrives in St. Lucia in go-fast boats, primarily from Venezuela, and is delivered over the beach or off-loaded to smaller local vessels for delivery along the island’s south or southwest coasts. Marijuana is imported from St. Vincent and the Grenadines for local consumption and grown locally as well. Foreign and local narcotics traffickers are active in St. Lucia and have been known to stockpile cocaine and marijuana for onward shipment.


 

The GOSL has received an increase in reports of drugs transiting the island, but they are seizing less of it. The drugs are usually shipped to Canada (12 percent) U.S.A. (12 percent), UK (25 percent) France (40 percent) with local consumption making up 5 percent. For the period January 1 to August 31, 2008, the Government of St. Lucia (GOSL) Police reported seizing 21 kg of cocaine in 2008, down from 792.5 kg in 2007. The GOSL also seized 534 kg of marijuana in 2008, down from 793 kg in 2007. The GOSL estimates that 90 percent of crimes committed and arrests made are drug related. There were 318 arrests made for actual drug offences, such as possession or trafficking of cannabis, cocaine and other drugs, down from 376 in 2007. The GOSL eradicated approximately 19,729 marijuana plants and 3,489 seedlings were also seized, down from 44,588 marijuana plants and 11,751 seedlings in 2007. Twenty-three drug eradications were conducted and 41 plantations destroyed.

 

During the year, the St. Lucia Customs and Police participated in a number of joint operations with French Customs which resulted in 1,282 kg of cocaine and 150 kg of marijuana being seized. The vessels and occupants were taken to the neighboring island of Martinique for prosecution.

 

Two locations which were considered to be processing labs were located and eliminated. Literature, equipment, suitcases with false bottoms and specially reconstructed shoes were seized. In both cases Jamaican nationals were involved. Jamaicans are said to be responsible for the majority of cases involving sophisticated methods of concealment and trafficking.

 

The USG and the GOSL cooperate extensively on law enforcement matters. St. Lucian law permits asset forfeiture after conviction. The law directs that forfeited proceeds be applied to treatment, rehabilitation, education and preventive measures related to drug abuse. In 2005, the GOSL adopted wiretap legislation, and is considering civil forfeiture legislation. It has also taken steps to strengthen its border controls and plans to automate its immigration control systems

 

St. Lucia is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The GOSL has a six-part maritime Counterdrug agreement with the USG. An MLAT and an extradition treaty are in force between St. Lucia and the United States. St. Lucia is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Trafficking in Illegal Firearms, the Inter-American Convention against Firearms, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the Inter-American Convention on Extradition, and Inter–American Convention against Terrorism. St. Lucia has signed but has not yet ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

 

St. Lucia has instituted a centralized authority, the Substance Abuse Council Secretariat, to coordinate the government’s national counternarcotics and substance abuse strategy. Various community groups, particularly the Police Public Relations Office, continue to be active in drug use prevention efforts, with a special focus on youth. St. Lucia offers drug treatment and rehabilitation at an in-patient facility known as Turning Point, run by the Ministry of Health, but it is currently under renovation. The St. Lucian Police reports that the D.A.R.E. Program has been tremendously successful.

 

St. Vincent and the Grenadines. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the largest producer of marijuana in the Eastern Caribbean and the source for much of the marijuana used in that region. Extensive tracts are under high volume marijuana cultivation in the inaccessible northern half of St. Vincent. The illegal drug trade has infiltrated the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, making some segments of the population dependent on marijuana production, trafficking and money laundering. However, total cultivation is not at the level which would designate St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a major drug-producer because it does not significantly affect the United States. Compressed marijuana is sent from St. Vincent and the Grenadines to neighboring islands via private vessels. St. Vincent and the Grenadines has also become a storage and transshipment point for narcotics, mostly cocaine, transferred from Trinidad and Tobago and South America on go-fast and inter-island cargo boats. Boats off-loading cocaine and weapons in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will return to their point of origin carrying marijuana.


 

For the period January 1 to October 17, 2008, Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (GOSVG) officials reported seizing only 5 kg of cocaine which is down from 524.4 kg in 2007. Information from the GOSVG indicates that SVG drug traffickers are meeting the traffickers from South America at sea and transporting the drugs directly to Dominica, without the drugs landing in St. Vincent. They also seized 316 cocaine rocks and 17,911 kg of marijuana. For the first time, a small quantity of heroin (5 grams) was seized. GOSVG authorities arrested 454 persons on drug-related charges and convicted 330. There are 84 cases still pending and 5 cases under investigation. No major drug traffickers were arrested in 2008; however GOSVG seized over one million U.S. dollars on a yacht and arrested two non-nationals who were charged under the Money Laundering Act. The funds are believed to belong to a major cocaine dealer in St. Vincent. During the year, 160 acres consisting of 2,935,611 marijuana plants were eradicated. The police, customs, and coast guard try to control the rugged terrain and territorial waters of St. Vincent and the chain of islands making up the Grenadines. There has been an increase in drugs transiting St. Vincent, mainly cocaine from Venezuela via Trinidad and Tobago, and a prevalence of crack cocaine use in some communities. The Caribbean market makes up approximately 50 percent of marijuana consumption from SVG, with the U.S. accounting for 15 percent, and the UK and Europe together at 23 percent, Canada 10 percent, and 2 percent for local consumption. There is currently legislation on precursor chemicals from various pharmaceuticals. There were no reports of production, transit or consumption of methamphetamines in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The GOSVG is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and has signed but not ratified the Inter-American against Trafficking in Illegal Firearms, the Inter-American Convention against Firearms, and Inter-American Convention against Terrorism. The GOSVG has signed but not yet ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. The GOSVG has a maritime Counterdrug agreement with the USG, which does not include over-flight provisions. An extradition treaty and an MLAT are currently in effect between the U.S. and the GOSVG. USG law enforcement officials received good cooperation from the GOSVG in 2008. In the past, St. Vincent Police has been cooperative in executing search warrants pursuant to U.S. MLATs.

 

In 2008, the Drug Prevention of Misuse Act Chapter 219 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of St. Vincent & the Grenadines 1990 was amended to increase the punishment from 3 years and $100,000 fine to 7 years and a $500,000 fine on a summary charge for supplying. The new Act will increase indictment from 14 years and $200,000, to 25 years and $5,000,000 on a supplying charge.

 

A statute-mandated advisory council on drug abuse and prevention has been largely inactive for several years. A draft national counternarcotics plan remains pending. The government mental hospital provides drug detoxification services. The family life curriculum in the schools includes drug prevention education and selected schools continue to receive the excellent police-run D.A.R.E. Program. The OAS is assisting the GOSVG develop a drug demand reduction program for St. Vincent’s prison.

 

The Road Ahead. Eastern Caribbean law enforcement authorities should strengthen efforts to counter drug trafficking and related crimes such as money laundering, arms trafficking and corruption.


 

 

Ecuador


 

I. Summary

Ecuador is a major transit country for illicit drugs trafficked to the United States and chemical precursors for drug production. Cartels in Colombia and Peru continue to take advantage of large, sparsely populated border regions and difficult-to-monitor maritime routes to move cocaine, heroin, and precursor chemicals through Ecuador. In 2008, the Government of Ecuador (GOE) continued to identify and destroy cocaine laboratories capable of refining multi-ton quantities of cocaine, and police and military units destroyed several multi-hectare plots of coca plants near the Colombian border. The GOE significantly increased military operations in this region during the year to counter persistent narcotics activity by Colombian armed insurgent groups that have rendered Ecuador’s northern border region particularly vulnerable and dangerous.

Tensions between the governments of Ecuador and Colombia escalated when, in March 2008, Colombia attacked a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp in Ecuador, killing a FARC Secretariat member. In response to the attack on its soil, Ecuador severed diplomatic relations with Colombia and continued to criticize the GOC for the attack throughout the year. The GOE also continued to allege that Colombian aerial eradication near the border harms humans, animals, and licit crops on the Ecuadorian side, however, Colombia ceased spraying near the Ecuadorian border in early 2007.

In 2008, while cocaine seizures on land continued at record levels, traffickers continued to diversify shipment methods such as, the use of go-fast and small fishing boats, capable of carrying smaller loads and hugging the coastline, or Self-Propelled Semi-Submersibles (SPSS) capable of maintaining a low profile to avoid interdiction. Traffickers also appeared to be using containerized shipping to a greater extent than in the past. There was an increase in drug flows from Ecuador to Europe and Africa; a trend first noticed in 2007, and, in 2008, the first major seizure of cocaine departing Ecuador destined for Asia was made.

In July, the GOE gave notice that it will not renew the bilateral agreement with the U.S. to allow U.S. aircraft to use the Forward Operating Facility (FOL) at the Ecuadorian Air Base in Manta. This agreement, which has been in place since 1999, permitted important aerial surveillance of drug trafficking which will be difficult to duplicate. Ecuador is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Ecuador’s large, sparsely populated border regions and difficult to monitor maritime routes are exploited by cartels in Colombia and Peru to transit through Ecuador an estimated 200 to 220 metric tons of cocaine per year, with an estimated 60 percent destined for the U.S. and the rest mainly to Europe. Ecuador is also a major transit country for chemical precursors for drug production and for heroin destined for the U.S. Ecuador remains vulnerable to organized crime due to historically weak public institutions and a judicial sector that is susceptible to corruption. The GOE continued to make efforts to speed up and strengthen criminal prosecutions but with limited success. Border controls of persons and goods are gradually improving but remain weak and are frequently evaded. The Ecuadorian National Police (ENP), military forces, and the judiciary do not have sufficient personnel, equipment, or funding to meet all of the international criminal challenges they face.

In 2008, GOE authorities found and eradicated a small amount of coca cultivation and destroyed cocaine laboratories near the borders of Colombia and Peru. Authorities also destroyed a small plantation of poppy plants near the Colombian border, the first such plantation discovered since 2005.

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008

 

Policy Initiatives. President Rafael Correa and his administration continued to place a high priority on combating counternarcotics production and trafficking. The Correa Administration also continued to strengthen controls over money laundering through the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which was established under a 2005 Money Laundering Law. The FIU is cooperating closely with the Anti-Narcotics Police Directorate (DNA), the Superintendent of Banks, the courts, and the private banker association to identify suspicious transactions and develop information for the prosecution of cases. A new emphasis of the FIU this year, with USG assistance, is to monitor casinos for money laundering activities.


 

Accomplishments. Total seizures by the GOE in 2008 were 22 metric tons (MT) of cocaine, 144 kilograms (kg) of heroin and 1,980 kg of cannabis. By comparison, total seizures in 2007 were 22.45 MT of cocaine, 180 kg of heroin and 740 kg of cannabis. An additional 8.4 MT of cocaine was seized in international waters based on Ecuadorian intelligence, but was returned to the U.S.  Strong enforcement efforts by the DNA produced record land-based seizures in 2008, with a total of 14.51 MT. The largest single land seizure was 4.8 metric tons in September in the Esmeraldas province near Colombia. Also in September, the DNA discovered and destroyed a laboratory in the Southern Province of El Oro capable of producing one ton of cocaine per month. The DNA also played a critical role in the maritime seizures of six metric tons in January from the fishing vessel Mercedes V, 3.2 metric tons in September from the fishing vessel Tam Fuk Yuk, and 5.2 metric tons in December from the fishing vessel Emperatiz.

Total maritime seizures in 2008, including those returned to Ecuador for prosecution (7.48 MT) and those sent to the U.S. for prosecution (8.4 MT), were higher than in 2007. One of the four maritime seizures during the year—from the Chinese freighter Tam Fuk Yuk, was the first large seizure of cocaine from Ecuador destined to Asia.

Heroin seizures at the airports and post office were slightly lower in 2008 than 2007, with most shipments still destined for the United States. Anti-narcotics police also identified and destroyed a field of almost 50,000 poppy plants in the northern province of Tulcan.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2008, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces continued operations near the Colombian border. The operational tempo, which in early 2008 was already higher than in previous years, was increased even further after a March 1 Colombian attack in Ecuadorian territory on a FARC camp which killed the number two leader of the FARC, Raul Reyes. During the year, Ecuadorian Armed Forces conducted a total of 14 battalion-level operations, which led to the discovery and destruction of nine cocaine producing laboratories, 182 FARC facilities (bases, houses, camps), the eradication of 10 hectares of coca, and the confiscation of weapons, communications equipment, and other support equipment. As a result of these Ecuadorian operations 20 FARC members were detained and one was killed during the year.

The Ecuadorian Coast Guard continued to develop a main operations center and satellite offices in the Galapagos and other strategic locations. The operation centers are intended to coordinate monitoring and control over vessels in Ecuadorian waters. A significant development this year was the implementation of a satellite vessel monitoring system for vessels 20 tons or larger. The system is functioning but not yet fully implemented; the GOE plans to expand use to monitor smaller vessels as well. Ecuador continues to improve biometrics capabilities in order to more quickly identify individuals aboard vessels in Ecuadorian waters.

The Navy also procured eight high-speed boats to improve its ability to control illicit activities. With support from the U.S., the Navy acquired boarding and drug detection equipment, along with necessary training required for the equipment’s use. The Navy still plans to procure unmanned surveillance drones to strengthen controls over Ecuadorian waters.

The Director of the National Postal System continued to improve anti-narcotics controls by working in conjunction with the DNA to ensure increased drug detection canine screening and using USG purchased screening equipment at international airport and other postal facilities. Seizures quadrupled in 2007 over 2006, and 2008 seizures increased over the 2007 figures.

The DNA continued its “1-800-Drogas” nationwide hotline, which allows citizens to anonymously report illicit drug activity. Tips from the hotline resulted in numerous seizures of cocaine and supported development of cases against other illegal activities such as weapons smuggling. New DNA facilities, built with USG assistance, were opened in 2008 in Quito and Guayaquil.


 

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GOE does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The 1990 drug law (Law 108) provides for prosecution of any government official who deliberately impedes the prosecution of anyone charged under that law. Some other aspects of official corruption are criminalized in Ecuador, but there is no comprehensive anti-corruption law. President Correa’s creation of an Anti-Corruption Secretariat in 2007 and support of the FIU are helping to strengthen the government’s ability to respond to corruption by gathering information on suspicious financial transactions to build cases against the individuals involved.


 

Overcrowding and corruption in prisons continues as a serious problem, with many drug traffickers able to conduct trafficking and other criminal operations from prison while awaiting trial. President Correa’s 2007 emergency decree to address prison overcrowding and to improve management of the institutions has not yet had any impact. Early in the year the Ministry of Justice reportedly released about 300 prisoners, comprised predominantly of women and their children, whose time in prison would have exceeded potential sentences if their cases had been actually processed.

 

Agreements and Treaties. The United States and Ecuador are parties to an extradition treaty, which entered into force in 1873, and a supplement to that treaty which entered into force in 1941. Ecuador’s Constitution prohibits the extradition of Ecuadorian citizens; however the GOE does cooperate in the extradition or deportation of third country nationals. Ecuador is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention of Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. It is also a party to the 1992 Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the UN Convention against Corruption, and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols. The GOE has signed bilateral counternarcotics agreements with Colombia, Cuba, Argentina, and the United States, as well as the Summit of the Americas money laundering initiative, and the OAS/CICAD document on an Anti-Drug Hemispheric Strategy. The GOE agreed in 1999 to permit the USG to operate for ten years a forward operating location (FOL) at the Ecuadorian Air Force base in the coastal city of Manta for counternarcotics detection and monitoring operations. The FOL will cease operations and close completely by November 2009 as the GOE is not renewing the agreement. The GOE and the USG have agreements on measures to prevent the diversion of chemical substances, on the sharing of information on currency transactions over $10,000, and a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement. The USCG and Ecuadorian Navy have Operational Procedures to facilitate maritime Counterdrug cooperation, which has resulted in fewer Ecuadorian-flagged vessels engaging in drug smuggling.


 

Cultivation/Production. Ecuadorian military forces located and destroyed approximately 10 hectares of cultivated coca plants in scattered sites near the Colombian border compared with 36 hectares last year. It is not clear whether the reduction in hectares identified and destroyed indicates a reduction in planting. The discovery of three hectares of coca under cultivation in southern Ecuador near the Peruvian border was considered surprising as a first such finding. In 2008, the Government signed an agreement with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for a two-year survey of coca cultivation in the country. The survey, which is partially USG-funded, will complement similar surveys in neighboring Colombia and Peru to provide a more complete understanding of cultivation in the area.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Cocaine and heroin from Colombia, and cocaine from Peru, transit Ecuador by land and sea routes for international distribution in volumes ranging from a few hundred grams to multi-ton loads. Although seizures in postal facilities have increased significantly in the past two years, traffickers continue to ship drugs via international mail and messenger services, with cocaine generally destined for European markets and heroin for the U.S. Traffickers continued to ship white gas and other precursor chemicals in large quantities from Ecuador to Colombia and Peru for cocaine processing.


 

Demand Reduction. Coordination of abuse prevention programs is the responsibility of The National Council on Drugs and Illegal Substances (CONSEP), which continued its multi-agency national prevention campaign in the schools, and expanded programs in 2008 to certain municipalities. All public institutions, including the armed forces, are required to have abuse prevention programs in the workplace. In March, the GOE signed an agreement with UNODC to strengthen the methodology and collection of drug consumption data in Ecuador.


 

Regional Coordination. Tensions between the governments of Ecuador and Colombia escalated when Colombia attacked a FARC camp in Ecuador on March 1, killing FARC Secretariat member, Raul Reyes. In response to the attack on its soil, Ecuador severed diplomatic relations with Colombia and continued to criticize the GOC for the attack throughout the year.

Senior GOE officials also continued to allege that Colombian aerial eradication near the border harms humans, animals, and licit crops on the Ecuadorian side. Colombia ceased spraying near the Ecuadorian border in early 2007. On March 31, the GOE filed suit at the International Court of Justice at The Hague alleging that Colombia’s aerial eradication actions near Ecuador’s border violates Ecuadorian sovereignty and requests that the government of Colombia be required to pay reparations and cease spraying.


 

Alternative Development. In 2008, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) continued to work to support GOE efforts to provide social and productive infrastructure, strengthen local government, and open opportunities to expand licit economic activity as part of its northern border development master plan. Despite a wealth of natural resources, Ecuador's border region is mired in poverty. A paucity of licit employment opportunity, isolation, and proximity to rebel-held Colombian territory combine to make the region unstable.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Policy Initiatives. U.S. counternarcotics assistance is provided to improve the professional capabilities, equipment, and integrity of Ecuador’s police, military, and judicial agencies to enable them to combat more effectively criminal organizations involved in narcotics trafficking and money laundering. A U.S. priority has been to support Ecuadorian police and military presence in the northern border region proximate to Colombia, and police presence in other strategically important locations throughout the country. USG programs also support increased awareness of the dangers of drug abuse.


 

Bilateral Cooperation. In 2008, the U.S. continued to provide support to the military to facilitate their mobility and communications during operations near the Northern Border, and to Ecuadorian Navy elements to better mobilize, equip, and train for narcotics interdiction activities.

The DNA remains the primary recipient of U.S.-provided counternarcotics assistance, including vehicles, equipment, and training. The DNA includes special nation-wide units such as Mobile Anti-Narcotics Teams (GEMA), and a drug detection canine program, which contributed to a second consecutive year of high levels of land seizures.

Cooperation in the judicial sector remained strong in 2008 although changes to the structure of judicial institutions as required under the new Constitution (passed in September), created some uncertainty regarding the process of criminal cases. A major U.S.-funded American Bar Association training program continued to provide prosecutors, judges, and judicial police throughout the country with training to strengthen their ability to effectively investigate and prosecute criminal cases. The USG, in cooperation with the National Judicial Council, continued nationwide implementation of an automated database of all criminal cases (a process begun in 2003). This database is in the process of being installed nationwide in all 24 provinces, it will enhance management and transparency of the adjudication of criminal cases to help address perennial problems of delay and corruption. Some preliminary reports have been produced from courthouses where the system is already in place.

The U.S. also provided technical assistance and equipment to support continued implementation of the Financial Intelligence Unit, as well as police investigative units. Training assistance programs encompassed anti-money laundering, financial crimes, and maritime law enforcement.


 

The Road Ahead. The USG supports Ecuador’s efforts and encourages the GOE to continue to place a high priority on the interdiction of illicit drugs and chemicals, eradication of coca cultivation near the Colombian border, and destruction of cocaine-producing labs. Increased GOE patrols near the Colombian border, which the USG will continue to support, will enable Ecuador to better control Colombian based drug cartels and destroy production sites. As traffickers shift tactics and make greater use of fast boats for smaller shipments along the coast, containers, and SPSS’s, enhanced controls along Ecuador’s maritime border, including improved port security, patrolling, and inspections, will be essential tools for controlling maritime trafficking. Strengthening coordination between military and police forces will also facilitate GOE evidence gathering and prosecution of cases related to these activities. Additionally, we encourage the GOE to give high priority to prosecution of money laundering and official corruption, which are key to attacking the leadership of narcotics cartels.


 

El Salvador


 

I. Summary

El Salvador is a transit country for cocaine and heroin from South America to the United States via land and sea. In 2008, the National Civilian Police (PNC) seized 1.35 metric tons (MT) of cocaine, 430 kilograms (kg) of marijuana, and 8.4 kg of heroin. The government also seized $716,905 in suspicious bank accounts and cash transactions, as well as $859,621 in undeclared bulk cash taken from narcotics-linked smugglers. El Salvador is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

El Salvador remains a transit country for cocaine and heroin from the Andean region of South America, enroute to the United States. We do not have reliable estimates of quantities flowing through El Salvador land routes or territorial waters, but estimates indicate that approximately 400 MT of cocaine flows through the Eastern Pacific. In 2008 the Government of El Salvador (GOES) continued to target maritime and land trafficking of cocaine and heroin along its coastline and overland routes, as well as narcotics-related money laundering operations. El Salvador hosted a Cooperative Security Location (formerly known as the Forward Operating Location) at Comalapa airport. The base is crucial to regional detection and interception efforts. Transnational street gangs are involved in street level drug sales but not major trafficking. While authorities have not yet detected serious problems with production/transit of precursor chemicals or illicit trading in bulk ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, investigations suggest it could become a more serious problem. For example, a recent audit of one of El Salvador’s principal pharmaceutical laboratories showed two million ephedrine pills missing from the inventory.

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. The GOES continued its special organized crime unit featuring embedded prosecutors and police investigators, and undertook efforts to increase cooperation between prosecutors and the police.

The Transnational Anti-Gang Unit (TAG) celebrated its first year. It is primarily focused on investigating transnational gang activity and orchestrating bilateral law enforcement actions, but impacted counternarcotics efforts, as gangs are linked to street-level narcotics distribution and drug-related violence.

In December 2008 the Automated Finger Print Analysis system was inaugurated, enabling El Salvador to identify criminals and share information with the United States and the region under the Central American Fingerprint Exchange (CAFÉ) program.


 

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2008, the Anti-Narcotics Division (DAN) of the National Civilian Police (PNC) focused on interdiction operations in the sectors of overland transportation, commercial air, package delivery services, and maritime transportation in the Gulf of Fonseca. GOES police investigators and prosecutors shared law enforcement intelligence and coordinated operations with USG counterparts resulting in successful interdictions. Overall in 2008, the PNC seized a total of 1.35 MT of powdered cocaine 8.4 kg of heroin, 5.8 kg of crack cocaine, and 430 kg of bulk marijuana. The majority cocaine seizures for 2008 were the result maritime operations. Land seizures primarily resulted from searches of stopped vehicles and inspections of passengers and luggage transiting on long haul bus routes. DAN continues to be hampered by insufficient resources and legal impediments to telephone intercepts.

The PNC/DAN chemical unit also seized 3.4 kg of ephedrine that had been diverted from legitimate pharmaceutical use. In 2008, the DAN confiscated $859,621 in undeclared bulk cash from travelers transiting Comalapa International Airport and other international land border crossings adjacent to Honduras and Guatemala. The Financial Investigative Unit (FIU) of the Attorney General’s office seized $716,095 in funds from drug-related financial crime.

The Government of El Salvador did not make any significant advances in 2008 in terms of improving its ability to detect, investigate, and prosecute money laundering and financial crime. The FIU appears to be underutilized, as well as lacking in institutional direction and investigative capacity.


 

Corruption. The GOES does not as a matter of policy encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotics, psychotropic drugs, or other controlled substances, nor does it launder proceeds from illegal drug transactions. No senior Salvadoran government officials are known to engage in, encourage, or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs, nor the laundering of proceeds from illicit drug transactions. However the DAN removed some working-level agents in 2008 due to isolated instances of personal corruption. Salvadoran law severely penalizes abuse of an official position in relation to the commission of a drug offense, including accepting or receiving money or other benefits in exchange for an act of commission or omission relating to official duties. The PNC’s Internal Affairs Unit and the Attorney General’s Office investigate and prosecute GOES officials for corruption and abuse of authority. El Salvador is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and to the UN Convention against Corruption.


 

Agreements and Treaties. El Salvador is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the Central American convention for the Prevention of Money Laundering Related to Drug-Trafficking and Similar Crimes, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, and the UN Convention against Corruption. El Salvador is also a party to the Inter American Convention against Corruption, the Inter American Convention on Extradition, and Inter American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. The 1911 extradition treaty between the United States and El Salvador is limited in scope, and the constitutional prohibition on life imprisonment is amongst the most significant obstacles to negotiating a new bilateral extradition treaty. In late 2008, the Salvadoran Supreme court took up the first case for the extradition of a Salvadoran national to the United States. While the Court initially voted to extradite the fugitive, the Court’s term (and the terms of several of the judges) expired before it issued a written order for extradition. Narcotics offenses, however, are extraditable crimes by virtue of El Salvador’s ratification of the 1988 UN Drug Convention.


 

Cultivation/Production. Local growers cultivate small quantities of marijuana for domestic consumption.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Traffickers using go-fast boats and commercial vessels to smuggle cocaine and heroin through the Eastern Pacific transit routes along El Salvador’s coastline. Land transit of cocaine and heroin from Colombia is typically along the Pan-American Highway. Most land transit consists of drugs carried in the luggage of commercial bus passengers or in hidden compartments of commercial tractor-trailers traveling to Guatemala.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Ministry of Education provides lifestyle and drug prevention courses in public schools, and also sponsors after-school activities. The Ministries of Governance and Transportation have units that advocate drug-free lifestyles. The PNC operates a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. The Public Security Council (Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Publica) promotes gang member demobilization, and actively sponsors substance abuse prevention outreach towards El Salvador’s gang population. The USG-supports a Salvadoran non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides substance abuse awareness, counseling, rehabilitation and reinsertion services including programs directed towards gang members. In 2008 this NGO provided demand reduction outreach to 3,515 individuals, as well as addiction treatment to 388 patients. There are also local faith-based demand reduction programs and counseling programs administered by recovering addicts.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Policy Initiatives. U.S. assistance focuses on increasing the operational capacity of Salvadoran law enforcement agencies to interdict narcotics shipments and combat money laundering, financial crime, and public corruption. There is also a strong emphasis on transparency, efficiency, and institutional respect for human and civil rights within Salvadoran law enforcement organizations and the criminal justice system. The USG provides support for Salvadoran measures to fight organized crime, including a test case for the new extradition law, as well as anti-money laundering efforts of the PNC financial crime unit and federal prosecutor’s Financial Investigative Unit. USG support also aids Salvadoran efforts to fight transnational gangs. These measures are intended to improve public security and counter street-level drug sales, narcotics consumption, and related violence.


 

Bilateral Cooperation. In 2008, the U.S. provided operational support to the joint DEA and DAN high profile crimes unit (GEAN), as well as training and logistical assistance to various DAN entities. The USG has increasingly focused on training and equipping the Salvadorans to deal with emerging narcotics threats, such as diversion of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and possible establishment of methamphetamine labs in El Salvador. The International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) provided police management and specialized training to the region, with strong Salvadoran participation (148 as of October 2008).

An INL Regional Gangs Advisor began coordinating anti-gang policy and initiatives for El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in January 2008. Although gang involvement in narcotics trafficking appears to be confined to retail distribution, the Regional Gang Advisor is nonetheless routinely consulted on narcotics issues that may factor into his area of responsibility, including programs that combat gangs, such as prison reform and CAFÉ (fingerprint exchange). The U.S. Coast Guard provided training and technical assistance on marine law enforcement and other maritime control and management measures.

In the coming year, the DEA and INL San Salvador will work with the PNC and DAN to establish two mobile inspection teams capable of deploying to highway choke points adjacent to El Salvador’s land borders with Guatemala and Honduras, as well as stand up a specialized container cargo inspection unit at the port of Acajutla. Automated fingerprint analysis equipment is installed and training completed; 2009 will be the first full year of applying this important crime fighting tool.


 

The Road Ahead. El Salvador is not yet implementing procedures for civil forfeiture of assets linked to drug crimes. Dedicating these resources to counternarcotics efforts would strengthen the nation’s capacity to fight trafficking. The GOES should ensure the passage of civil asset forfeiture legislation that is currently under consideration by the legislature. Establishment of a wiretap statute would also strengthen GOES ability to investigate and prosecute criminal activity.


 

El Salvador should also strengthen its ability to investigate and prosecute financial crime. As remittances remain an important sector of the Salvadoran economy, we encourage the GOES to carefully monitor this activity to ensure that remittances are not a cover for money laundering. The GOES should also ensure that sufficient resources are provided to the overburdened Attorney General’s office, as well as to the financial crime and narcotics divisions of the National Civilian Police.

 

For its part, the USG will provide significant support in the coming year under the Merida Initiative--a partnership between the governments of the United States, Mexico, Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to confront the violent national and transnational gangs and organized criminal and narcotics trafficking organizations that plague the entire region, the activities of which spill over into the United States. The Merida Initiative will fund a variety of programs that will strengthen the institutional capabilities of participating governments by supporting efforts to investigate, sanction and prevent corruption within law enforcement agencies; facilitating the transfer of critical law enforcement investigative information within and between regional governments; and funding equipment purchases, training, community policing and economic and social development programs. Bilateral agreements with the participating governments were in the process of being negotiated and signed at the time this report was prepared.

 

Estonia


 

I. Summary


 

The seizures of record amounts of narcotic substances, destruction of cannabis plantations and detection of drug trafficking conspiracies, as well as arrests of Estonian drug traffickers abroad indicate drug production and transit activity are on-going in Estonia. They are also indications of the success of counternarcotics efforts by Estonian law enforcement agencies. Except for the higher HIV-infection rate among intravenous drug users, the drug situation in Estonia is similar to that in other European countries. Estonia is a party to the main international drug control conventions, including the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Trimethylphentanyl, an opiate-synthetic drug mixture “White Persian,” and black heroin, very poor quality heroin which is produced in Azerbaijan and used in the ethnic Russian community in Estonia, continue to be Estonia's most popular illegal narcotics in 2008. Ecstasy, cocaine, amphetamines, gammahydroxylbutyrate (GHB), cannabis and poppy are also available in Estonia. The frequent arrests of drug traffickers at the border and seizure of precursors indicate Estonia's involvement inhibits Estonia from being a major drug cultivator, in five months Estonian police detected and destroyed five cannabis plantations demonstrating drug dealers' intentions to start supplying the domestic market locally. Also, in recent years a number of Estonian drug traffickers have been arrested in foreign countries, suggesting that Estonian drug traffickers are involved in the international illegal drug trade. Seizures of large quantities of narcotic substances by Estonian law enforcement agencies indicate that Estonia is located on a drug transit route in the region but also that Estonian Police and Customs and Border Guard are making special efforts to reign in the illegal drug trade.

 

According to Government of Estonia (GOE) and NGO estimates, there are about 14,000 intravenous drug users (IDUs) in Estonia–about one percent of the population. Due to the large number of IDUs, Estonia has the highest growth rate per capita of HIV infections in Europe. As of October 2008, a total of 6,808 cases of HIV have been registered nationwide, 444 of which were registered in 2008. To date, AIDS has been diagnosed in a total of 247 people, 56 of whom were diagnosed in 2008. Male IDUs still account for the largest share of newly registered HIV cases. However, in 2008, young women made up 32 percent of new HIV cases, indicating that the HIV epidemic is starting to spread to the general population. The women making up these new cases come largely from among IDUs and their sexual partners.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. Estonia's domestic anti-narcotics legal framework is in compliance with international drug conventions and European Union (EU) narcotics regulations. As of January 1, 2008, the final provisions of the Law Amending the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (LANDPSA) adopted in 2007 came into force. The last amendments regulating identification (i.e., creating a list of controlled substances) of narcotic psychotropic substances and precursors brought the domestic law into compliance with the 1988 UN Convention.


 

Following Estonia's accession to the European Union Schengen visa convention in 2008, the number of Finnish 'drug-tourists' traveling to Estonia legally to buy psychotropic medicines has decreased significantly. Under the Schengen regime, a traveler who is taking narcotic or psychotropic medication in his home country needs a permit from the State Agency of Medicine (SAM) to be supplied that medication in Estonia. Further in 2008, in order to eliminate illegal medical drug exportation to neighboring countries (primarily Finland), the Minister of Social Affairs issued a decree to terminate the sales of the narcotic preparation Subutex, a medication approved for the treatment of opiate dependence, in drug stores. After January 1, 2009, Subutex will be available only for in-patients.

 

In 2008, the GOE continued implementation of its 2007-09 Action Plan based on the National Strategy on Prevention of Drug Dependency for 2004-2012, adopted in 2003. Activities continued in all six objectives of the strategy: prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, harm reduction, demand reduction, addressing the problem of drugs in prisons, and overall monitoring and evaluation of the Action Plan.

 

Also in 2008, Estonia continued to implement its national 2006-2015 anti-HIV/AIDS strategy, which pledges to bring about a steady reduction in the spread of HIV and improve the quality of life of people with the disease. The strategy pays special attention to programs for various at-risk groups, including IDUs, which currently form the largest sub-group within the HIV positive population. The GOE plans to focus its prevention efforts on young people and their parents, with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of new cases of HIV to the European regional average of 50-70 cases per one million people per year, or one-tenth the current rate.

 

After the United Nations Global Fund (GF) to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria finished its four-year program in Estonia in 2007, the GOE committed to take over all HIV-related activities carried out under Global Fund's $10.4 million grant. While the Ministry of Social Affairs has overall coordinating responsibility, each cabinet Minister is responsible for HIV prevention, harm reduction and treatment in his or her administrative area (i.e., Ministry of Justice–HIV in prisons; Ministry of Defense–HIV in defense forces; Ministry of Education and Research (MOER)–HIV prevention in schools and colleges). In 2008, all involved ministries except for the MOER carried out their responsibilities under the anti-HIV strategy. MOER has not prioritized HIV education and has not implemented mandated programs. As the HIV-epidemic in Estonia is predominantly drug-driven, narcotics prevention has formed a considerable part of the extensive HIV/AIDS prevention programs in the schools implemented by NGOs under the GF program. As these programs were put on hold in 2008, there may also be a negative impact on drug prevention efforts in schools.

 

Under the anti-HIV strategy, the GOE established a governmental committee to coordinate HIV and drug abuse prevention activities in 2006. The committee comprises representatives from the Ministries of Social Affairs, Education and Research, Defense, Internal Affairs, Justice, and Finance. The committee also includes representatives of local governments, the World Health Organization, organizations for people living with HIV/AIDS, and members of the original working groups that drafted the GOE's 2005-2015 anti-HIV/AIDS strategy. It reports directly to the Cabinet on a bi-annual basis.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Combating narcotics is a major priority for Estonian law enforcement agencies. Police, customs officials and the border guard maintain good cooperation on counter-narcotics activities. Currently, about 90 police officers work solely on drug issues. Their primary mission is to destroy international drug rings, rather than to catch individual street pushers. In addition to these full time counter-narcotics officers, all local constables also process drug-related misdemeanor acts. From January-August 2007, the Estonian police registered 1,034 drug-related criminal cases and 4,333 misdemeanor acts. The year-by-year increase in the number of drug related crimes investigated by police is evidence that the Estonian Police are increasing their efforts to cut back on the illegal drug trade. As Estonia's major weekly newspaper recently reported, the disappearance of cannabis from the domestic market was a direct result of several counter-narcotics operations carried out by police. From December 2007 to May 2008, police detected five major cannabis plantations and destroyed over 1,200 plants. In May, a criminal case was started against two men from Tallinn growing cannabis in central Estonia. During the operation the police seized 760 cannabis plants plus 'ready-made products', the largest number of cannabis plants ever seized in Estonia.


 

In June, officers of the North Police Prefecture drug squad seized 36.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, a record amount of this substance confiscated from criminals in Estonia. The seizure amounted to an estimated 70,000 doses with a total street value of $1.6 million. According to the prosecutor, such a large amount was clearly not intended just for the Estonian market. During the same operation 5.2 kilograms of hashish were also confiscated. In September, together with the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (ETCB), the drug squad of the Northern Prefecture arrested an Estonian who had swallowed capsules containing 700 grams of pure cocaine with a street value of $250,000. He had been tasked to take the capsules from the West African coast to London, but flew to Tallinn instead, where he was arrested. The Estonia Central Criminal Police (ECCP) considers cocaine a top priority in their investigative efforts.

 

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from January 2006 to June 2008, 89 Estonian drug traffickers have been arrested abroad. Fifteen of these came in the first six months of 2008 (10 in Europe, three in South America, two in the U.S.)

 

Combating the illicit narcotics trade is also a top priority for the ETCB. All customs, investigation, and information officers have received special training in narcotics control, and all customs border points are equipped with rapid drug tests. There are about 100 customs officers working on the Estonia-Russian border (the European Union's easternmost border). About 150 Customs officers work in mobile units all over Estonia. Six customs officers deal with information analysis and 14 officers from the Investigation Department specialize solely on narcotic- related crimes. All four Customs regions have a designated narcotics control liaison officer, and are supported by narcotics analysts in the Tallinn headquarters. There are 18 Customs teams with 21 drug-sniffing dogs. (Estonian drug sniffing dogs are among the best in Europe. They recently won prizes at an international contest for customs drug dogs.) In March, a drug sniffing dog detected 36 bottles (about 22 liters) of a precursor for amphetamine in the car of a Lithuanian citizen. The seizure prevented up to 20 kilograms of amphetamine from reaching the streets. During several operations from December 2007 through April 2008, customs investigators seized about three kilos of marijuana with a street value of $90,000 that involved the same criminal group acting in different locations around Estonia.

 

Corruption. Estonia is a relatively corruption-free country. The GOE does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotics or psychotropic drugs or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. There are no reports of any senior official of the GOE engaging in, encouraging, or facilitating the illicit production or distribution of narcotic substances.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Estonia is party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (1990). A 1924 extradition treaty, supplemented in 1934, is in force between the U.S. and Estonia, and a mutual legal assistance treaty in criminal matters was entered into by the countries in 2000. In 2006, the Estonian Parliament ratified a new Estonian-U.S. extradition agreement and a revised agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. The new agreements relate to the U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements, and have not yet entered into force. Estonia is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols. Estonia's domestic drug legislation is consistent with international laws combating illicit drugs.


 

Cultivation/Production. Estonia's cold climate means Estonia will never be a major drug cultivator. However, the recent destruction of cannabis plantations shows Estonians' involvement in small scale marijuana production for the domestic market. Also, in northeastern Estonia small amounts of poppies are grown for domestic consumption. Nevertheless, seized precursors at the border indicate that synthetic narcotics production is ongoing in Estonia. According to drug-prevention NGOs, most of the labs are very small and mobile, making it difficult to detect and close them. In addition to production for domestic consumption, synthetic drugs produced in Estonia are exported to neighboring countries, including the Nordic countries and northwestern Russia. According to press reports, 90 percent of amphetamine available on the Finnish market comes from or via Estonia.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Estonia's geographical position makes it attractive to drug smugglers. Frequent arrests of drug traffickers and seizures of narcotic substances at the border indicate Estonia's involvement in the international drug trade, but also demonstrate the high performance level of Estonian law enforcement agencies. Frequent arrests of Estonian drug traffickers around the world show their involvement in the international drug trade.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. In 2008, Estonia continued to implement its 2004-2012 National Strategy on the Prevention of Drug Dependency. Combating the drug trade and reigning in domestic consumption continue to be high priorities for all Estonian law enforcement agencies and for key government ministries. There are more than 60 governmental, non-governmental, and private entities in Estonia working with IDUs to provide services to decrease demand and reduce harm. Currently, there are six voluntary HIV testing and counseling agencies providing services at ten sites. The GOE and local governments fund these agencies. A needle exchange program is operational in 43 sites, including 13 field work areas and a number of mobile needle exchange stations are in operation in Tallinn and northeast Estonia. Six organizations provide methadone treatment at eight sites in Tallinn and northeast Estonia. A toll-free helpline for drug addicts is operational 24 hours a day. 18 organizations provide drug rehabilitation services. There are 11 major rehabilitation centers nationwide, four of which are church-sponsored.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) negotiated with the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) the second phase of a project entitled “DOD HIV/AIDS Prevention Program” to raise the awareness of military personnel and to assist in the creation of a sustainable EDF HIV/AIDS prevention system. In the second phase the EDF will procure rapid tests to map the HIV situation among conscripts. In June 2008, the U.S. Embassy's Office of Defense Cooperation issued a $200,000 grant under its humanitarian assistance program, to complete construction of the first ever rehabilitation center for drug-addicted women.

 

Post utilized the Department's International Visitors Program on HIV in 2008 to familiarize Estonian experts with U.S. practices in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In October, under the Department's Voluntary Visitors Program, six Estonian HIV case management experts visited the best HIV case management program sites in the United States.

 

The Road Ahead. The U.S. will continue to work with Estonia to reduce one of the most significant side-effects of drug abuse: the spread of HIV/AIDS. Estonia and the U.S. will also continue to cooperate in law enforcement efforts to keep drugs out of Estonia, and from transiting Estonia on their way into other countries in Europe and to the U.S.


 

 

Finland


 

I. Summary


 

Finland is not a significant narcotics-producing or trafficking country. Drug use and drug-related crime rates have been mixed over the past four years. During 2008, there were no significant increases in any of the classes of narcotics seized in 2007. Finnish officials describe the situation as generally stable. Finnish law enforcement believes that increased drug use in Finland may be attributable to the wider availability of narcotics within the European Union, increased experimentation by Finnish youth and cultural de-stigmatization of narcotics use. While there is some overland narcotics trafficking across the Russian border, Finnish law enforcement believes that existing border controls are largely effective in preventing this route from becoming a major trafficking conduit into Finland.

 

Estonian and Russian organized crime syndicates, and to a lesser degree syndicates from other Baltic countries, are believed responsible for most narcotics trafficking into Finland. Estonia's accession to the Schengen Treaty has complicated law enforcement efforts to combat narcotics trafficking through the reduction in border checks of the nearly 5.8 million annual travelers and 900,000 cars, which transit between Helsinki and Tallinn. Asian crime syndicates have begun to use new air routes between Helsinki and Asian cities like Bangkok to facilitate trafficking-in-persons, and there is the possibility that these routes could be used for narcotics trafficking as well. Finland is a major donor to the UNDCP and is active in counternarcotics efforts within the EU. Finland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Finland maintains strong law enforcement and customs relationships with its Baltic neighbors, with Russia and with EU member states in combating the production and trafficking of narcotics in the region.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Narcotics production, cultivation, and the production of precursor chemicals in Finland are very modest in scope. Most drugs that are consumed in Finland are produced elsewhere, and Finland is not a source country for the export of narcotics. Estonia, Russia and Spain are Finland's principal sources for illicit drugs, with Spain representing the origin point within the EU for most cocaine entering Finland. Finnish law criminalizes the distribution, sale and transport of narcotics; the Government of Finland cooperates with other countries and international law enforcement organizations regarding extradition and precursor chemical control.

 

The overall incidence of drug use in Finland remains low (relative to many other western countries); however, drug use has increased over the past decade. Cocaine is rare, but marijuana, khat, amphetamines, methamphetamine, synthetic club drugs, Ecstasy, LSD and heroin and heroin-substitutes can be found, although heroin is very rare and extremely difficult to find in HelsinkI. . Finland has historically had one of Europe's lowest cannabis-use rates. Cannabis seizures have been mixed since 2003, with total numbers of seizures in several areas increasing, yet with total quantities of cannabis seized having decreased. Ecstasy, GHB, Ketamine (“Vitamin K”) and other MDMA-Ecstasy-type drugs are concentrated among young people and associated with the club culture in Helsinki and other large cities.

 

Social welfare authorities believe the introduction of GHB and other date rape drugs into Finland has led to an increase in sexual assaults. Changing social and cultural attitudes towards the acceptance of limited drug use also contribute to this phenomenon. Heroin use began to increase in Finland in the late 1990s, but seizures have continued to decline since 2003. The quantity of seized heroin has remained small for several years. With the exception of a 51.7 kg seizure of heroin in 2005, seizures have never been larger than (and consistently much smaller than) 1.6 kg since 2003. Typically, heroin is smuggled by ethnic groups residing in Scandinavia using vehicles. They pass by way of Germany and Denmark to the rest of Scandinavia.

 

Abuse of Subutex (buprenorphine-used in treating addiction) and other heroin-substitutes seems to have replaced heroin abuse to a significant extent. Finnish officials note that Finland is one of few countries reporting that people become addicted from Subutex use. Possession of Subutex is legal in Finland with a doctor's prescription, but Finnish physicians do not readily write prescriptions for Subutex unless patients are actually in a supervised withdrawal program. Finnish couriers do obtain Subutex from other EU countries, however. A major change occurred at the end of 2007 when the Baltic countries joined the Schengen area. This means that a person who resides principally in Finland is no longer allowed to import Subutex prescribed elsewhere. Finnish officials have not seen a significant move to heroin now that Subutex is not as readily available from the Baltic countries. The volume of Subutex seizures by Finnish customs has remained consistent over the last five years.

 

According to Finnish law enforcement the number of organized crime groups has grown slightly in the past few years, as has the number of their members; most Finnish syndicates have international contacts, particularly with crime groups operating in Russia or the Baltic countries. Since Estonia's entry into the Schengen Treaty, Estonian travelers to Finland are no longer subject to routine customs inspection at ports-of-entry, making it difficult to intercept narcotics. Although Estonian syndicates control the operations, many of the domestic street-level dealers are Finns. Estonian smugglers also organize the shipment of Moroccan cannabis from Southern Spain to Finland. Again, overall amounts are small. Finnish law enforcement reports that cooperation with Estonian law enforcement is excellent.

 

Finnish law enforcement appears well prepared to address the potential use by Asian crime groups of new air routes from Helsinki to major Asian cities like Bangkok, Beijing and New DelhI. In 2000, Finland had 4 non-stop flights per week between Finland and Asia. In 2008, Finnair has 11 non-stop flights per day to Asia. To reduce the likelihood of Asian syndicates' exploiting such routes, Finnish law enforcement has established close cooperation with airline officials and Asian law enforcement to coordinate interdiction efforts.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. Finland's comprehensive 1998 policy statement on illegal drugs articulates a zero-tolerance policy regarding narcotics. However, a 2001 law created a system of fines for simple possession offenses rather than jail time. The fine system enjoys widespread popular support and is chiefly used to punish youth found in possession of small quantities of marijuana, hashish, or Ecstasy. There is limited political and public support for stronger punitive measures. Finnish officials state new forms of international cooperation, such as joint investigation teams and the rapid exchange of information, available now that Finland is a signatory of the Pruem Convention, will support the fight against the crime at national level.


 

Finland's constitution places a strong emphasis on the protection of civil liberties and this sometimes adversely impacts law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute drug-related crime. The use of electronic surveillance, such as wiretapping, under the Finnish Coercive Measures Act is generally permitted in serious narcotics investigations. Finnish political culture tends to favor the allocation of resources to demand reduction and rehabilitation efforts over strategies aimed at reducing supply.

 

The use of wiretapping as a method of criminal investigation may expand in spring 2009. The present legislation provides for use of wiretapping only in those cases which would result in a prison sentence (such as homicide, espionage, aggravated sexual abuse and aggravated narcotic crime). The new proposal would also allow wiretapping in specific criminal cases, where the prescribed penalty is only a fine. The Government is supposed to propose legislation to the Parliament by the end of 2008. The new mandate will be adopted in May 1, 2009, if the proposal is approved by the Parliament as scheduled.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Finnish law enforcement continued to effectively investigate and prosecute instances of narcotics possession, distribution and trafficking. Within Finland, the Finnish Police and Customs have primary responsibility for interdicting and investigating narcotics trafficking and distribution (the Border Guards, who primarily interdict narcotics during immigration checks, can also conduct investigations, and since 2005 their authority was expanded to cover all of Finland). Within the police, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is charged with coordinating organized crime investigations, as well as serving as the Finnish focal point for international law enforcement cooperation. The police, as well as the Finnish Border Guards, fall under the Finnish Ministry of the Interior. Customs falls under the Finnish Ministry of Finance, and maintains responsibility for coordination of Finnish customs narcotics interdiction efforts with other nations' customs services. Finnish judicial authorities are empowered to seize assets, real and financial, of criminals.


 

Finnish law enforcement has effectively prioritized narcotics cases through Joint Intelligence Teams and Centers, which comprise representatives of the police, Customs and Border Guards. These centers are located at the national, provincial and local levels, where a broad range of intelligence and analysis capabilities are brought to bear in identifying priority narcotics investigations. For instance, the center responsible for Helsinki includes representatives from the NBI, Helsinki police, Customs, Border Guards, prison authorities and provincial police representatives. In 2007 several joint operations were launched, aimed at uncovering connections between organized crime groups. In 2007, the Finnish law enforcement community received additional government funding to pursue a number of interagency, target-oriented narcotics investigations, which included the unusual step of assigning prosecutors to an investigation from its inception.

 

In 2006, Finnish Customs deployed a mobile X-ray scanning facility at Helsinki's Western Harbor to provide Customs with the ability to conduct scanning of incoming trucks and containers. In 2007, Customs employed two such scanning devices and had one permanent scanning facility placed at Vaalimaa, which is the primary border-crossing between Finland and Russia. More than 25,000 cargo units were scanned by the Finnish Customs during 2007. Additionally, Customs has enhanced its use of narcotics detection canine units at key ports of entry into Finland.

 

The 2007 Police report on narcotics offenses and seizures is the latest available. In 2007, Finland experienced a 13 percent increase to 16,300 in the number of drug offenses. While that represents a significant increase, the overall number had declined from 15,990 in 2003 to 14,300 in 2006, so the rise brings the number to roughly the 2003 level. Of the 16,300 offenses reported for 2007, 10,400 were related to narcotics use; the number of aggravated narcotics offences was 962.

 

Evidence of the limited cannabis market comes from the Customs figures for 2007, showing seizure of 2.9 kg of marijuana and 22.5 kg of hashish, the smallest quantity of hashish in 12 years. In 2007, 17 percent of the suspects of aggravated narcotics offenses were foreigners; of those, 28 percent were Estonian and 12 percent were Russian. While overall amounts of cocaine entering Finland remain low, authorities estimate that the use of cocaine has increased. Finnish authorities have asserted that cocaine predominantly enters Finland from Spain. In 2007, the number of cocaine seizures increased to 92 (compared to 82 in 2006). The volume for 2006 (6.5 kg) is somewhat unusual and reflects a single end-of-year seizure. Though the volumes for 2005 (1.2kg) and 2007 (4.0 kg) were significantly less, authorities believe importation will continue to increase.

 

Cocaine has not threatened the position of cannabis, amphetamine or Subutex among the most popular drugs. Finnish authorities have noted an increase in the number and quantity of steroid seizures on the Finnish market, from 111,000 and 116,000 tablets/ampoules seized in 2004 and 2005, respectively, to 200,000 and 192,000 seized in 2006 and 2007. One potentially worrying trend is that the few smuggling enterprises that do exist are becoming increasingly sophisticated. For instance, consignments of amphetamine have been hidden in trucks, and subsequently buried in remote locations. The locations are then mapped and sold to criminals in Estonia handling the retail trade in Finland.

 

To counter schemes of this type, the Finnish police are increasingly dependent on cooperation with their Estonian counterparts -cooperation they describe as outstanding. It is now estimated that 90 percent of amphetamine is imported to Finland from or through Estonia. Finnish law enforcement believes that significant quantities of the amphetamine on the Finnish market are produced in Lithuania by Lithuanian crime groups. According to Finnish law enforcement, Estonian and Lithuanian organized crime groups appear to be working in close cooperation in trafficking amphetamine into Finland.

 

According to Customs officials, there has been an increase in the number of Subutex couriers departing Finland on a regular basis to Estonia and Latvia. However, as the couriers possess valid Subutex prescriptions, Customs authorities are prevented from seizing these legally prescribed drugs. Suspected courier travel has increased annually for the past few years. Since December 2007 changes in EU regulations prevent Latvian and Estonian pharmacies from filling Subutex prescriptions for Finnish citizens. However, Finnish couriers are likely attempting to identify other EU sources for Subutex, including France.

 

In 2007, altogether 1.3 million Euros of cash was seized by the authorities in connection with investigations of narcotics offences. In addition, an increased number of handguns, submachine guns and gas sprays were seized in connection with drug related crimes. Finland continued its impressive record on multilateral law enforcement, working through, among other organizations, EUROPOL, INTERPOL and the Baltic Sea Region Task Force on organized crime. Finland maintains thirteen liaison officers in ten cities, (Finland's reach extends to 36 countries if one includes Finland's participation in the Nordic liaison network). Along with great cooperation with Estonian authorities, Finnish authorities report very good cooperation with Russian authorities. Finnish law enforcement personnel continue to conduct criminal narcotics investigations involving Finland or Finnish citizens abroad, including the investigation of suspects beyond Finland's borders.

 

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Finland does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions and there are no known reports of such activity by Finnish officials. Official corruption would seem to be extremely rare in Finland. There have been no arrests or prosecutions of public officials charged with corruption or related offenses linked to narcotics in Finnish history.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Finland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Finland is also a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Finland is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling and the UN Convention against Corruption. A 1976 bilateral extradition treaty is in force between the United States and Finland. Finland signed bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance instruments related to the EU-U.S. Extradition Treaty in 2004, and completed parliamentary approval procedures in 2007; these agreements have not yet entered into force. Finland has also concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement with the United States. Finland is a member of the major Donors' Group within the Committee on Narcotic Drugs. The vast majority of Finland's financial and other assistance to drug-producing and transit countries has been via the UNODC. The Treaty of Pruem, which addresses cross-border cooperation (including information exchange) in combating crime and terrorism, took effect in Finland in June 2007.


 

Cultivation/Production. There were no reported seizures of indigenously cultivated opium, no recorded diversion of precursor chemicals and no detection of illicit methamphetamine, cocaine, or LSD laboratories in Finland in 2007. Finland's climate makes cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy almost impossible. Local cannabis cultivation, while described by authorities as increasing is nevertheless believed to be limited to small-scale, indoor hydroponic culture for individual use, not sale. Seizures by weight of cannabis plants have fluctuated over the past several years, although in 2007 there was a significant increase of the amount of seizures up to 87 kg (36 kg in 2006). In 2007, Finnish law enforcement agencies seized a total of 7,600 cannabis plants. The majority of cultivation cases were very small, with an average of 1 to 20 plants per seizure. The distribution in Finland of 22 dual-use precursor chemicals listed by international agencies is tightly controlled.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Medical narcotics (including Subutex), amphetamine and methamphetamine represent the majority of police seizures of illegal drugs in Finland during 2007. Finland is not a major transit country for narcotics. Most drugs trafficked into Finland originate or pass through Estonia. Finnish authorities report that their land border with Russia is well guarded on both sides to ensure that it does not become a major transit route.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. According to the Development Center for Social Affairs and Health, there are approximately 20,000 registered drug users in Finland, with some 10,000 undergoing treatment. Despite these low numbers, the Ministry of Health and Social Services has stated that the Government must do more to reduce demand. The central government gives substantial autonomy to regional and municipal governments to address demand reduction using general revenue grants, and often relies upon the efforts of Finnish NGOs. Finnish schools continued to educate students about the dangers of drugs. Finland's national public health service offered rehabilitation services to users and addicts. Such programs typically use a holistic approach that emphasizes social and economic reintegration into society and is not solely focused on eliminating the subject's use and abuse of illegal drugs. The government has been criticized for its failure to provide adequate access to rehabilitation programs for prison inmates. An additional challenge in Finland in terms of treatment is that there is no drug replacement therapy for amphetamine in Finland.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Policy Initiatives and Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S. has worked with Finland and the other Nordic countries through multilateral organizations in an effort to combat narcotics trafficking in the Nordic-Baltic region. This work has involved U.S. assistance to and cooperation with the Baltic countries and Russia.


 

The Road Ahead. The U.S. and Finland will continue their cooperation on drugs issues impacting both countries.


 

France


 

I. Summary


 

France continues to be a major transshipment point for drugs moving through Europe. Given France’s shared borders with trafficking conduits such as Spain, Italy and Belgium, France is a natural distribution point for drugs moving toward North America from Europe and the Middle East. France’s presence in the Caribbean, its proximity to North Africa, and its participation in the Schengen open border system, contribute to its desirability as a transit point for drugs, including drugs originating in South America. France’s own large domestic market of cannabis users is attractive to traffickers as well. Specifically, in descending order, cannabis originating in Spain and Morocco, cocaine from South America, heroin originating in Afghanistan or transiting through Turkey, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and Ecstasy (MDMA) originating in the Netherlands and Germany, all find their way to France.

 

The total number of seizures reported in 2007 (latest published figures) increased by 20.62 percent from 2005 levels (to 94,431), including seizures of some cannabis products, morphine, amphetamines, LSD and mushrooms. The gross total of the quantity of seizures of cocaine (HCL), Heroin, Khat, and MDMA, which increased in 2006, decreased in 2007. Drug trafficking and possession arrests increased in 2007 by 21.57 percent to 134,320. This represents the largest increase in seizures in the last thirty years. France is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Cannabis users are the largest group of drug users in France, according to official French government statistics. By contrast, users of the next most popular drugs, heroin and cocaine, account for approximately 5.7 percent and 3.58 percent of the total number of drug abusers respectively. France’s drug control agency, the Mission Interministerielle de la Lutte Contre la Drogue et la Toxicomanie (MIDLT, or the Interministerial Mission for the Fight Against Drugs and Drug Addiction), is the focal point for French national drug control policy. Created in 1990, the MILDT (which received its current name in 1996) coordinates the 19 ministerial departments that have direct roles in establishing, implementing, and enforcing France’s domestic and international drug control strategy. The MILDT is primarily a policy organ, but cooperates closely with law enforcement officials. The French also participate in regional cooperation programs initiated and sponsored by the European Union.

 

Since the mid-1990s, death by drug overdose has declined dramatically from 564 reported deaths in 1994 to 57 deaths during 2005. Possession of drugs for personal use and possession of drugs for distribution both constitute crimes under French law and both laws are regularly enforced. Penalties for drug trafficking can include up to life imprisonment. French narcotics agencies are effective, technically capable and make heavy use of electronic surveillance capabilities. In France, the counterpart to the DEA is the Office Centrale pour la Repression du Traffic Illicite des Stupefiants (OCRTIS), also referred to as the Central Narcotics Office (CNO). French authorities report that France based drug rings are increasingly involved in other poly-criminal activities such as money laundering and clandestine gambling.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. In late 2004, France launched a five year action plan called “Programme de Drogue et Toxicomanie” (Drug and Addiction Program) to reduce drug use among the population and lessen social health damage caused by the use and trafficking of narcotics. A full assessment of the program is expected to be published during 2008, as it approaches the end of its planned duration. Depending upon the result of this assessment, a new program will be introduced. The 2004 program’s successes include launching a 38 million Euro (approx. $50.5 million) national information campaign on cannabis use in 2005 as well as increased options in France’s medical treatment for cannabis and heroin users/addicts. The program also provided funding (up to €1.2 million (approx. $1.6 million)) for France’s contributions to EU and UN counternarcotics programs in four priority areas: Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Central Asia and Latin America/Caribbean.


 

While France’s bilateral counternarcotics programs focus on the Caribbean basin, special technical bilateral assistance has also been provided to Afghanistan through France’s Development Agency (AFD). €10 million—approximately $13 million—went to training Afghan counternarcotics police and to fund a crop substitution program that will boost cotton cultivation in the Afghan provinces of Condos and Balkh.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2007, French authorities made several important narcotics seizures: On January 18, 2007, French customs officials at the port in the northern city of Dunkerque seized 356 kg of heroin, a record for the seizure of this drug in France. The heroin, which was valued at approximately €10 million (approximately $13 million), was being transported in a truck originating from Turkey and bound for Great Britain.


 

On March 9, 2007, French customs authorities seized 490,000 Ecstasy pills from the car trunk of a British national near Dunkerque. The suspect was reportedly working with drug traffickers in Brussels, and agreed to transport the drugs from Belgium to Great Britain. The estimated resale value of the Ecstasy seized was reported to be €735,000 ($967,157).

 

With the help of the OCRTIS and French and British customs authorities, on August 7, 2007, French maritime authorities conducted an important operation which led to the seizure of approximately 600 kg of cocaine from a sailing boat in the English Channel. The boat which originated in the Caribbean was headed to a port in northern Europe. The value of the cocaine seized is estimated to be between €16 and €18 million (approx. $22-$24.85 million).

 

During 2007, French authorities also conducted frequent operations involving the seizure of cannabis. On September 10, 2007, French customs agents in the southern city of Montpellier seized 618 kg cannabis resin. The cannabis is estimated to be worth around € 1.2 million (approx. $1.65 million).

 

Another operation, on October 13, 2007, led to the seizure of over 2 tons of cannabis resin by French customs agents in the northern city of Arras. The cannabis with an estimated resale value of over €4.3 million (approx. $6.1 million) was found concealed in several canvas sacs inside a truck en route from Spain to Germany.

 

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, France is firmly committed to the fight against drug trafficking domestically and internationally. The government does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Similarly, no senior government official is alleged to have participated in such activities.


 

Agreements and Treaties. France is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and a 1971 agreement on coordinating action against illegal trafficking. France and the U.S. have an extradition treaty and an MLAT, which provides for assistance in the prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of crime, including drug offenses. In 2004, bilateral supplemental extradition and mutual legal assistance instruments were concluded in order to implement agreements in these areas between the U.S. and the EU, which will enhance cooperation further once they enter into force. The U.S. also has a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with France. France is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. In addition, France and the United States have concluded protocols to the extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements. The protocols are pending entry into force.”


 

Cultivation/Production. French authorities believe that the cultivation and production of illicit drugs is not a significant problem in France. France cultivates opium poppies under strict legal controls for medical use, and produces amphetamines as pharmaceuticals. The government reports its production of both products to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and cooperates with the DEA to monitor and control these products. According to authorities, the majority of illicit drugs produced in France come from smaller home laboratories.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. There is no evidence that significant amounts of heroin or cocaine enter the United States from France. France is a transshipment point for illicit drugs to other European countries. Traffickers move heroin from both Afghanistan and Southeast Asia (of Burmese origin) to the United States through West Africa and France, with a back-haul of cocaine from South America to France through the United States and West Africa. New routes for transporting heroin from southwest Asia to Europe are developing through Central Asia and Russia and into Belgium and the Netherlands. West African drug traffickers (mostly Nigerian) are also using France as a transshipment point for heroin and cocaine. Law enforcement officials believe these West African and South American traffickers are stockpiling heroin and cocaine in Africa before shipping it to final destinations. Most of the South American cocaine entering France comes through Spain and Portugal. To counter this flow, France joined six other European countries to form the Maritime Analysis and Operations Center-Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon, which should bolster EU capacity to protect its southwestern flank. In addition, officials are seeing an increase in cocaine coming directly to France from the French Caribbean, giving impetus to the creation of the Martinique Task Force: a joint effort with Spain, Colombia and the UK. France also has seconded a Liaison Officer to Joint Interagency Task Force South to coordinate maritime counternarcotics operations in the Caribbean Basin. Most of the Ecstasy in or transiting France is produced in the Netherlands or Belgium.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. MILDT is responsible for coordinating France’s demand reduction programs. Drug education efforts target government officials, counselors, teachers, and medical personnel, with the objective of giving these opinion leaders the information they need to assist those endangered by drug abuse in the community. In an effort to combat the consumption of cannabis in France, which has consistently increased over the past 20 years, in October of 2007, Etienne Apaire, the President of MIDLT (since September 2007) announced a new government policy aimed at cannabis users. Beginning in 2008, the state will force those arrested for cannabis use to take a two day class on the dangers of cannabis consumption. The cost of the class, €450 (approx. $660.00) will be paid by the drug user. France’s current law (dating from 1970) includes stiff penalties for cannabis use including up to a year prison sentence and a €3750 (approx. $5,515) fine though the penalties are rarely, if ever, applied. This new measure is intended to be a more effective approach towards the prevention of cannabis use.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Policy Initiatives/Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. and French counternarcotics law enforcement cooperation remains good. During 2008, the DEA’s Paris Country Office and the French Office Central Pour la Repression Du Trafic Illicite Des Stupefiants (OCRTIS), continued to routinely share operational intelligence and support one another’s investigations. The DEA and the OCRTIS shared intelligence was developed from a program which identifies orders for precursor chemicals placed from French companies for exportation outside of France. Since its inception seven years ago, this program has resulted in the seizure of 33 MDMA labs worldwide (including 22 in the U.S.), and the arrest of 65 individuals involved in the supply chain.


 

Additionally, during 2008, the DEA’s Paris office passed intelligence to French OCRTIS regarding two possible drug couriers intending to transit France while traveling from Turkey to the United States. As a result of that information, in February, French authorities arrested two Orthodox Rabbis transporting approximately 12 kilograms of morphine base in concealed compartments built into their suitcases.

 

Information developed from the French investigation was shared with the DEA and several other countries’ law enforcement services, which has led to a number of valuable investigative links. The DEA and the OCRTIS regularly exchange information relating to suspected airline internal drug couriers traveling internationally, and other routine law enforcement information that leads to arrests and drug seizures.

 

SOUTHCOM and the French Navy signed an agreement in June 2008 to establish COMSUP Antilles as a regional counterdrug coordination center within the JIATF-South organization. The French Navy participates in JIATF-S operations as CTG 4.6.

 

France provided vital Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) coverage throughout the deployment of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter with a LEDET from Cape Verde deployed aboard it in June 2008. France’s steadfast support of the operation helped mark the first multilateral combined maritime law enforcement operation ever conducted in Africa with countries from three continents.

 

France has become a more active partner in the Caribbean transit zone, particularly with regard to cooperating with JIATF-S. On 3 October, 2008, the USCG facilitated a boarding request from France regarding a U.S.-flagged sailing vessel involved in illicit traffic. The subsequent boarding resulted in the discovery and seizure of 48 kg of cocaine and 2 kg of heroin. France requested the U.S. waive jurisdiction in a timely manner over the two non-U.S. crewmembers aboard the vessel in order to meet the judicial requirements of France. This occurred well within the time frame requested and enabled France to prosecute the two smugglers.

 

The Road Ahead. The United States will continue its cooperation with France on all counternarcotics fronts, including through multilateral efforts such as the Dublin Group of countries coordinating narcotics assistance and the UNODC.


 

 

French Caribbean


 

I. Summary


 

French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, the French side of Saint Martin, and St. Barthelemy are all overseas departments of France and therefore subject to French law, including all international conventions signed by France. The French Judiciary Police, Gendarmerie, and Customs Service play a major role in narcotics law enforcement in France's overseas departments, just as they do in the rest of France. Cocaine moves through the French Caribbean and from French Guiana to Europe and to a lesser extent, to the United States.

 

II. Status


 

The Martinique Task Force, created in 2006, in response to an increase in the trafficking of cocaine coming directly to France from the French Caribbean, is a multilateral cooperative effort that brings together French, Spanish, Colombian, U.S. and British law enforcement officials to promote coordinated operations against trafficking. French Customs also takes an active part in the undertakings of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (C.C.L.E.C), which was established in the early 1970s to improve the level of cooperation and exchange of information between its members in the Caribbean. In 2007, C.C.L.E.C. broadened its scope to include training programs, technical assistance and other projects. All of the French Islands now use or have access to the CCLEC Regional Clearance System, an automated system for the reporting of private vessel clearances within the region.

 

III. Actions Against Drugs in 2008


 

During 2008 important drug seizures included the August 4 seizure by the French Coast Guard of more than 1,072 kilograms (kg) of cocaine aboard a French-registered sailboat in the French Antilles. The contraband had a street value of more than 45 million euros (approximately $62 million). On October 4, the French Coast Guard intercepted a sailboat near Saint Lucie containing 50 kg of cocaine and 2.3 kg of heroine. On March 21, the French Coast Guard seized near French Guiana 454 kg of cocaine on board a sailboat near the southwest of Martinique. On February 9, the French Coast Guard intercepted a “go fast” speed boat in the northern French Antilles transporting 400 kg of marijuana. The ten individuals arrested during this seizure had been responsible for conducting 35 similar “go fast” missions in the French Caribbean before being captured. On January 15, French Customs agents in Guadeloupe captured two principle suspects wanted for their role in a drug ring in French Antilles. During the arrest, French Customs agents discovered 300 kg of cannabis in the suspect’s vehicle with a street value believed to be around 264,000 euros (approximately $362,000).

 

Agreements and Treaties. In addition to the agreements and treaties discussed in the report on France, United States and French counternarcotics cooperation in the Caribbean is enhanced by a 1997 multilateral Caribbean Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement that provides for information sharing to enforce customs laws and prevent smuggling, including those relating to drug trafficking. The assignment of a French Navy liaison officer to the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force-South at Key West, Florida, continued to enhance law enforcement cooperation in the Caribbean. In 2007, France joined the U.S., Jamaica and Belize in signing and ratifying the Dutch-sponsored Caribbean Maritime Agreement (formally the “Accord Concerning the Cooperation in Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Aeronautical Trafficking in Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean Region”) originally negotiated in 2003. However, the agreement has yet to enter into force because it lacks the requisite number of ratifications. In 2006, France, along with 11 other nations became a signatory to the “Paramaribo Declaration” at a conference in Suriname. This agreement established an intelligence sharing network, to coordinate and execute drug sting operations among countries and to address money laundering.


 

Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation. The French Inter-ministerial Drug Control Training Center (CIFAD) in Fort-de-France, Martinique offers training in French, Spanish and English to law enforcement officials in the Caribbean and Central and South America, covering subjects as money laundering, precursor chemicals, mutual legal assistance, international legal cooperation, coast guard training, customs valuation and drug control in airports. CIFAD coordinates its training activities with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Organization of American States/CICAD, and individual donor nations. U.S. Customs officials periodically provide training at the CIFAD. French Customs is also co-funding with the Organization of American States (OAS), on a regular basis, training seminars aimed at Customs and Coast Guard Officers from OAS member states. The French Navy also now hosts “Operation Carib Royale” – a French Eastern Caribbean counternarcotics operation, which Joint Interagency Task Force South supports with available air and marine assets.


 

France supports European Union initiatives to increase counternarcotics assistance to the Caribbean. The EU and its member-states, the United States and other individual and multilateral donors are coordinating their assistance programs closely in the region through bilateral and multilateral discussions. The GOF participates actively in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) as a cooperating and support nation (COSUN).

 

The Road Ahead. The French Caribbean should expand its cooperative efforts with international law enforcement in the region.


 

 

Georgia


 

I. Summary

Georgia has the potential to be a transit country for narcotics flowing from Afghanistan to Western Europe.  For some years, there have been no western-bound, significant seizures of narcotics in Georgia.  However, in December 2008 375 kilograms of heroin were seized in the Bulgarian port city of Burgas, after arriving from the Georgian port of PotI. Subutex, a Methadone-like pharmaceutical produced throughout Europe, and used in replacement therapies for heroin addiction, continues to flow from Western Europe into Georgia, although cooperation with international law enforcement is hindering its entry into the country.  Separatist territories beyond the control of Georgian law enforcement authorities and occupied by Russia since August 2008,--South Ossetia and Abkhazia--provide additional routes for drug flow and other contraband.  There is little or no exchange of information on drug trafficking between the Russian authorities or the de facto governments of these territories and the Government of Georgia (GOG).  These de facto separatist regimes are widely assumed to protect individuals and organizations involved in drug trafficking, but tensions between Georgia and these areas are high, and this view might simply be a local prejudice.  

Anecdotal evidence indicates a sizable domestic drug-use problem in Georgia.  In 2007 the GOG adopted a national Anti-Drug Strategy, increased penalties for drug offenses and passed new anti-drug legislation.  The GOG also is continuing efforts to increase border security with the assistance of the United States, European Union (EU) and other donors.  Statistics on the number of drug abusers in the country vary widely, though the National Forensics Bureau maintains a database of identified drug users.  State-supported treatment centers were inadequate in number, but received increased funding in 2008.  Georgia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.  

II. Status of Country

Georgia's geography and geographic position between Europe and Asia make it a potential narcotics trafficking route.  Afghan opiates destined for Europe may enter Georgia from Azerbaijan via the Caspian and exit through the northern separatist Abkhaz region or southern land and water borders.  Thinly staffed ports of entry and confusing and restrictive search regulations make TIR trucks (long-haul trucks carrying nominally inspected goods under Customs Seal) the main means for westward-bound narcotics trafficking in the region.  Based on Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) statistics, there were no significant seizures of drugs moving west in 2008.  The December seizure of 375 kg's of heroin in Burgas, Bulgaria indicates however that Georgia is being used as a transit country.  The heroin was secreted in three separate TIR trucks, which arrived at Burgas on a Black Sea ferry from the port city of Poti, Georgia.  The “cover load” for the trucks, in other words their legitimate cargo, was fertilizer and fruit.  The drivers of the trucks were Bulgarian and all three were arrested.

Licit pharmaceutical drugs from Europe, namely Subutex, are trafficked in small quantities via “used-car trade routes,” where vehicles purchased in Western Europe are driven through Greece and Turkey destined for Georgia.  Subutex, misused as an intravenous drug, is popular due to a lower price in comparison to heroin, a longer high, and a wide profit margin for dealers.  Seizure statistics and anecdotal evidence suggests that Subutex use is beginning to decrease; law enforcement officials credit increased law enforcement cooperation with Western Europe.  Given the clamp-down on Subutex, three possible new trends emerged in late 2008—increased incidence of Subutex imported from Armenia (where it is a legal pharmaceutical), increased Methadone seizures, and higher prices.  The street price for Subutex has spiked.  One pill of Subutex now sells for approximately $300, compared to $90 last year.  Methadone appears to be entering Georgia from Russian sources via Ukraine and the separatist region of Abkhazia.  

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008

Policy Initiatives.  There were no new narcotics policy initiatives in 2008 in Georgia.  

Law Enforcement Efforts.  The Special Operatives Department of the MOIA is the lead agency for fighting drug trafficking.  The Georgian Border Police also play a role, though far smaller.  The Border Police reported four seizures of narcotics at border points in 2008.  Most arrests for cultivation are believed to be small plots intended for personal use.  In the first nine months of 2008, all drug seizure statistics—except for Methadone—are lower than the previous year, in some cases dramatically.  While the August conflict with Russia may account for lower seizure numbers for the third quarter of 2008, law enforcement official describe the current drug market as “chaotic,” with recent dramatic price spikes, reflecting an unstable market with many shifting suppliers, as opposed to more well-developed markets where steady supplies and prices are ensured by organized criminal syndicates to keep a well-satisfied and profitable customer base.  The estimated price of heroin in Georgia, for example has soared to nearly $800/gram, up from $350-$400/gram last year. 

According to MOIA statistics:

 

   2007
(Jan-Sep)
2007 2008
(Jan-Sep) 
Drug-related cases 6,156 8,493 5,790
Felonies 1,531  1,970 1,407
Contraband 58 71 64
Street Sale 137   151 46
Cultivation 77  79 66
Heroin seizure 6.79 kg  9.78 kg 5.24 kg
Marijuana seizure 1.35 kg 1.36 kg 150.57 g
Opium seizure   123 g  127.19g 39.85 g
Cocaine .558 g .558 g 0
Subutex   7,913 pills 77.25 g  55.36 g*
Methadone    83.4 g 96.15 g 146.17 g  

*Note the MOIA has changed the measuring unit for Subutex seizure statistics.  The drug is now measured by weight rather than pill count. 

Corruption.  As a matter of policy, the GOG neither encourages nor facilitates illicit drug production, distribution, or the laundering of drug profits.  No senior officials are known to be engaged in such activities.  Rather, the GOG declared war against corruption after the 2003 Rose Revolution and remains committed to this effort.  In 2008, three Customs officers were jailed for corruption and another was arrested for the purchase and possession of Subutex.  Statistics from the World Bank and other organizations indicate that there has been a dramatic decrease in corruption across the government.  The GOG is continuing civil service, tax and law enforcement reforms aimed at deterring and prosecuting corruption.  Despite these efforts, however, corruption allegations still surface.  

Agreements and Treaties.  Georgia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substance and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol.  Georgia is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling and in November 2008 acceded to the UN Convention against Corruption.  In addition, the GOG has signed anti-narcotics agreements with the Black Sea basin countries, the GUAM Group (Georgia-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova), Iran, and Austria.  Georgia had also signed a counternarcotics agreement with the Commonwealth of Independent States, but withdrew from that body following the Russian invasion in August.  

Cultivation and Production.  A small amount of low-grade cannabis is grown for domestic use, but there are no other known narcotics crops or synthetic drug production in Georgia.  Although Georgia has the technical potential to produce precursor chemicals, it has no known capacity for presently producing them in significant quantities.  In fact, many factories that could produce precursors closed after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  

Drug Flow/Transit.  The GOG has no reliable statistics on the volume of drugs transiting through Georgia.  MOIA figures illustrate however that Georgia has not had significant seizures of illegal narcotics in recent years.  Even those who argue that drugs transit Georgia to Western markets believe that Georgia is at best a secondary route.  Inadequate policing may also limit opportunities for significant seizures.  For their part, counternarcotics police report that a lack of scanning equipment and canines trained in drug detection severely undermine their capability to properly examine vehicles at border points of entry.  

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction.  There are no widely accepted figures for drug dependency in Georgia, and more generally, statistics in this subject area are poorly kept.  Past figures that have been reported are disputed as highly inflated.  Using UN methodology which estimates that about 3 percent of the population may be using drugs at a given point in time, the figure would total approximately 135,000, although local drug treatment experts cite figures of approximately 200,000.  The Ministry of Justice's National Forensic Bureau maintains annual statistics on persons tested for drug use, but this figure includes employees who are subject to routine drug tests as a condition of employment, and as such is not an accurate indicator of illegal drug use.  The National Forensic Bureau also maintains a database of identified drug users, which currently totals 41,223.  

The Government of Georgia, for the second year in a row, increased state budget allocation for drug addiction treatment programs, including substitution therapy.  The 2007 budget for addiction treatment was a total of 750,000 GEL ($500,000).  In 2008, the budget allocation was 900,000 GEL ($600,000).  Even with these funding increases however, demand for detoxification and substitution therapy far outstrips availability.  With government and NGO support, three treatment centers currently offer Methadone substitution therapy, with an additional center scheduled to open by the end of the year.  These centers serve up to 300 patients.  A pilot substitution therapy program is also scheduled to begin in the penitentiary system.  The GOG also plans to co-finance operation of 5 additional centers to serve an additional 300 patients.  Since private clinics are prohibited by law from procuring Methadone for substitution therapy, the government purchases and imports the drug for use by those clinics.  

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

 

Bilateral Cooperation.  In 2008, the USG continued direct assistance on: procuracy reform, prosecution of narcotics crimes, money laundering, writing a new criminal procedure code, provision of training and equipment for Georgia's forensics laboratories, creating regional evidence collection centers, building new facilities and providing training at the police academy, providing training in fighting human trafficking, and equipping the patrol police with modern communications equipment and a criminal database.  Border security train and equip programs for Georgian Border Police and Customs officers continued and focused on the identification and detention of violators and criminals at the border; the detection of stolen vehicles; the targeting and inspection of high risk conveyances, cargo, and travelers; contraband detection; and revenue collection.  A USCG mobile training team provided a course on Maritime Operations Planning and Management.

The Road Ahead.  The effect of the August conflict with Russia on the drug situation in Georgia is not yet known.  Law enforcement has observed increased incidence of stolen vehicles bound for sale in the conflict zones and north to Russia.  Conceivably, drug flow could be similarly affected, but a reportable trend has not yet been observed.  Adopting tougher counternarcotics legislation last year and increasing funding for demand reduction and treatment activities two years in a row demonstrate the Government's commitment to carrying out its anti-drug strategy.  Increased international cooperation with European law enforcement is also an encouraging trend.  

 

Germany


 

I. Summary


 

Germany is a consumer and transit country for narcotics. The German government actively combats drug-related crimes and focuses on prevention programs and assistance to drug addicts. Germany continues to implement its Action Plan on Drugs and Addiction, which it launched in 2003 with a specific focus on prevention. Cannabis remains the most commonly consumed illicit drug in Germany. Seizures of amphetamines and methamphetamines increased substantially in 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available, compared to 2006, with a 12 percent increase in confiscations and a 13 percent increase in amounts seized. The vast majority of seized amphetamines and methamphetamines originated from the Netherlands. Organized crime continues to be heavily engaged in narcotics trafficking. The Federal Health Ministry publishes an annual report on licit and illicit drugs and addiction, and the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) publishes an annual narcotics report on illicit drug-related crimes, including data on seizures, drug flows, and consumption. Germany is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Germany is not a significant drug cultivation or production country. However, Germany's location at the center of Europe and its well-developed infrastructure make it a major transit hub. Ecstasy moves from the Netherlands to and through Germany to Eastern and Southern Europe as well as to Scandinavia. Heroin is trafficked to Germany from Turkey via the Balkan states as well as from Austria and Italy. Cocaine moves through Germany from South America and the Netherlands. In 2007, organized criminal groups expanded their involvement in narcotics trafficking compared to 2006. Germany is a major manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, making it a potential source for precursor chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics, although current precursor chemical control in Germany is excellent.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. Germany continues to implement the Federal Health Ministry's “Action Plan on Drugs and Addiction” adopted by the Cabinet in 2003. The action plan establishes a comprehensive multi-year strategy to combat narcotics. The key pillars are (1) prevention, (2) therapy and counseling, (3) survival aid as an immediate remedy for drug-addicts, and (4) interdiction and supply reduction. Germany also implements the EU Drugs Action Plan. The National Inter-agency Drug and Addiction Council, composed of Federal and State government officials as well as civil society organizations, was established in 2004 to advise the government with regard to the implementation of measures against drugs and addiction. The government continued to focus on demand reduction in the consumption of cannabis and to offer a variety of treatment and awareness raising programs. Germany is actively involved in a large variety of bilateral cooperative arrangements, European, and international counter-narcotics fora. For example, Germany is an active participant in the European “Horizontal Group on Drugs,” the European Monitoring Center for Drugs Addiction, and narcotics-related units within the Council of Europe and the United Nations. Germany also sponsors counter-narcotics development programs in numerous countries.


 

Germany amended its Narcotics Act and added Salvia Divinorum, Benzylpiperazine (BZP) and Oripavin to the schedules of the Act. Narcotics and psychotropics as defined by the German Narcotics Act are listed as substances and preparations in Schedules I to III of this Act. Schedule I lists so-called “not marketable” substances meaning trade, production, and research, as well as prescription are illegal (as an exception, special approvals may be given e.g. for research purposes). The substances listed in schedule II are “marketable” under certain requirements (an authorization is required), but prescription is excluded. Schedule III lists substances that are “marketable” and that may be prescribed. Salvia Divinorum was added to schedule I, making it an illegal substance; BZP and Oripavin were added to schedule II as they are used for research purposes and in the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Counter-narcotics law enforcement remains a high priority for the BKA and the Federal Office of Customs Investigation (ZKA). German law enforcement agencies scored numerous successes in seizing illicit narcotics and arresting suspected drug dealers.

In July 2008, German police participated in a joint operation with Austrian and Swiss officials that resulted in the search of more than 600 residences and commercial premises in the three countries. Investigators searched for raw materials needed for synthetic drugs such as amphetamines and liquid XTC. In Germany, more than 1290 police officers were involved, conducting 340 searches.

In 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available, the number of heroin seizures remained approximately the same compared to 2006, but the amount increased by 22 percent (to 1,074 kilograms (kg)) due to two especially large seizures of 300 and 150 kg. Cocaine seizures increased in 2007 by 6 percent compared to 2006. With regard to amphetamines and methamphetamines, increases in seizures and amounts were registered in 2007. The amounts of Ecstasy seized continued to decrease in 2007. A notable Ecstasy seizure occurred in June 2008 with the arrest of a Dutch national in the German state of Thuringia and confiscation of 80,000 Ecstasy tablets. The amount of seized cannabis decreased by 13 percent in 2007 compared to 2006. Overall in 2007, 13.5 tons of the chew-drug Khat were seized. The majority of narcotics traffickers are German nationals, followed by Turkish nationals.

Illicit seizures at sea comprise a small proportion of overall narcotic drug seizures. The most noteworthy cases during the year were the seizure of 20 kg of cocaine that were discovered on a freighter coming from Ecuador via Antwerp in April 2008 and the dismantling of an international trafficking ring that, inter alia, had trafficked 48 kg of cocaine on a freighter to Hamburg from Colombia in May 2008–six of the men involved are at present standing trial in Hamburg. The German ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven hold strategic significance in the development of smuggling routes between South American source countries and the Baltic Sea region, as maritime traffic routes converge at these transshipment ports.

 

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Germany does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. No cases of official corruption by senior officials have come to the USG's attention.


 

Agreements and Treaties. A 1978 extradition treaty and a 1986 supplemental extradition treaty are in force between the U.S. and Germany. The U.S. and Germany signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters (MLAT) on October 14, 2003, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate on July 27, 2006. Additionally, the U.S and Germany signed bilateral instruments to implement the U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements on April 18, 2006. The U.S. approval process for the U.S.-EU Agreements and the corresponding bilateral instruments has been completed. Germany passed implementing legislation for the MLAT, the U.S.-EU agreements and the bilateral instruments and published the law in the Federal Gazette on November 2, 2007. None of these agreements have yet entered into force. There is a Customs Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (CMAA) between the U.S. and Germany. In addition, Germany is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol. Germany is a party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in women and children. Germany has signed but has not yet ratified the UN Corruption Convention.


 

Cultivation and Production. Germany is not a significant producer of hashish or marijuana. However, officials assess that the cultivation of cannabis in so-called indoor plantations increased in 2007. The BKA statistics reported seizure of ten synthetic drug labs in Germany in 2007.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Germany's central location in Europe and its well-developed infrastructure make it a major transit hub. Traffickers smuggle cocaine from South America to Germany for domestic use as well as through Germany to other European countries. Heroin transits Germany from the Balkans to the rest of Western Europe, especially to the Netherlands. Cannabis is trafficked to Germany mainly from the Netherlands, however smaller amounts are also trafficked through Spain and other Western European countries. Amphetamines and methamphetamines are trafficked mainly from the Netherlands but also in lesser amounts from Poland and Belgium. Authorities noted a sharp increase in the transit of Khat through northern Germany from the Netherlands to Scandinavia.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Federal Ministry of Health continues to be the lead agency in developing, coordinating, and implementing Germany's drug treatment/prevention policies and programs. The National Drug Commissioner at the Federal Ministry of Health coordinates Germany's national drug policy. Drug consumption is treated as a health and social issue. Policies stress prevention through education. The Ministry funds numerous research and prevention programs. In 2008, the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Drug Commissioner began a new demand reduction effort by providing advice on a drug story line to a popular TV series aimed at young audiences as well as free advertising for the national drug and addiction hotline. Addiction therapy programs focus on drug-free treatment, psychological counseling, and substitution therapy. Germany sees substitution therapy as an important pillar in the treatment of opiate addicts. Approximately 70,000 patients undergo substitution therapy in Germany, the most widely used medication being methadone with an increase in recent years of buprenorphine and levomethadone. The Health Ministry provided funding for a new nationwide clinical epidemiological study that began in November 2007 on the long term effects of substitution therapy. A previous heroin-based (diamorphine) treatment research study, largely completed in 2005, found this treatment to be an effective program for seriously ill, long-term addicts. A number of cities are continuing the treatment for the remaining 275 project participants with special approval of the federal government. This project triggered a debate about whether to create a legal basis to allow such treatments in general. In 2007 the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament, made use of its right to initiate legislative proposals and introduced corresponding draft legislation to the Bundestag, which however has not been debated to date. The Federal government issued a statement in November 2007 regarding the Bundesrat proposal, stressing inter alia, that diamorphine-based substitution therapy should only be used as a last resort. In 2007, there were approximately 25 medically controlled “drug consumption rooms” in Germany. German federal law requires that personnel at these sites provide medical counseling and other professional help. Evaluations of these programs are conducted regularly.


 

Although drug-related deaths have been decreasing for several years, in 2007 they increased to 1,394 deaths–a 7.6 percent increase compared to 2006. 18,620 first-time users of illicit drugs were registered in 2007, a decrease by 3.6 percent compared to 2006. First-time use of Ecstasy, heroin and cocaine decreased in 2007, while the first-time use of methamphetamine and amphetamine as well as crack cocaine increased. Regarding use of cannabis products by youth, there are signs that a trend from recent years is being reversed: 2007 data reveal that 13 percent of 14-17 year olds have used Cannabis products at least once in their life compared to 22 percent in 2004.

 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation. German law enforcement agencies work closely and effectively with their U.S. counterparts in narcotics-related cases. Close cooperation to curb drug trafficking continues among DEA, FBI, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and their German counterparts, including the BKA, the State Offices for Criminal Investigation (LKAs), and the Federal Office of Customs Investigation ZKA. German agencies routinely cooperate very closely with their U.S. counterparts in joint investigations to stop the diversion of chemical precursors for illegal purposes (e.g., Operation Crystal Flow and Operation Prism). A DEA Diversion Investigator is assigned to the BKA headquarters in Wiesbaden to facilitate cooperation and joint investigations. The DEA Frankfurt Country Office facilitates information exchanges and operational support between German and U.S. drug enforcement agencies. The BKA and DEA also participate in exchange programs to compare samples of cocaine and MDMA pills. German–U.S. cooperation has been particularly successful in Operation Raw Deal, an international investigation that targeted underground steroid laboratories and internet steroid sales worldwide. During the operation, the BKA served 30 search warrants, dismantled six underground laboratories and opened 14 investigations related to the sale and trafficking of steroids. The USCG provided training in maritime law enforcement boarding in the U.S. for German officers.


 

Road Ahead. The U.S. will continue its close cooperation with Germany on all bilateral and international counter-narcotics fronts, including the Dublin Group, a group of countries that coordinates the provision of counter-narcotics assistance and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).



 

Ghana

I. Summary


 

Ghana has taken some limited steps to combat illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. It has an active enforcement, treatment and rehabilitation program. However, corruption, a lack of resources, and some would argue, a lack of political will, continue to seriously impede interdiction efforts. While law enforcement authorities continue to arrest low level narcotics traffickers, there has been less interest in pursuing the so-called “drug barons.” Ghana-U.S. law enforcement cooperation was strong in 2008, and the Drug Enforcement Administration is expected to open an office in Accra late in the year. Interagency coordination among Ghana’s law enforcement entities remains a challenge. Ghana is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Ghana has become a significant transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly cocaine from South America, as well as heroin from Afghanistan. Europe is the major destination, but drugs also flow to South Africa and to North America. Accra’s Kotoka International Airport (KIA) is a focus for traffickers. Ports at Tema, Sekondi, and Takoradi are also used, and border posts at Aflao (Togo) and Elubo and Sampa (Cote d’Ivoire) have seen significant drug trafficking activity. Gangs trafficking South American cocaine have increased their foothold in Ghana, establishing well-developed distribution networks run by Nigerian and Ghanaian criminals. Ghana’s interest in attracting investment provides good cover for foreign drug barons to enter the country under the guise of doing legitimate business. However, South American traffickers reduced their need to visit Ghana in person by increasing reliance on local partners, thus further insulating themselves from possible arrest by local authorities.

 

Ghanaians will elect a new president in December 2008. Ghana’s role in international narcotics trafficking has become a campaign issue, with the opposition parties accusing the ruling party of an insufficient response, and on occasion a level of complicity. All the major political party platforms call for increased efforts to address drug trafficking.

 

The 2006 case of the MV Benjamin, a merchant ship allegedly carrying two tons of cocaine into Ghana, continued to make news. The case became a scandal when a secret recording surfaced of an Assistant Police Commissioner and known narcotics traffickers discussing why they had not been alerted to the cocaine shipment (of which only 30 kilos were recovered). Five persons involved in the case were sentenced to twenty-five year prison terms. In December 2007, three policemen involved in the disappearance of 76 parcels of cocaine from the shipment were sentenced to long prison terms. The Government of Ghana (GOG) created a special commission to investigate the case, and several recommendations were made. By the end of 2008, however, only a handful of the recommendations had been acted on.

 

The Narcotics Control Board received an interim director in 2007. By mid-2008 the director was petitioning to be allowed to return to his former job, but a replacement had not been announced.

Trafficking has also fueled increasing domestic drug consumption. Cannabis use continues to increase as does the local cultivation of cannabis. Law enforcement officials have repeatedly raised concerns that narcotics rings are growing in size, strength, organization and capacity for violence. The government has initiated public education programs and has implemented (with limited success) a cannabis crop substitution effort. Diversion of precursor chemicals is not a major problem.

III. Country Action Against Drugs in 2008

 

Policy Initiatives. The Narcotics Control Board (NCB) coordinates government counternarcotics efforts. These activities include enforcement and control, education, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and social reintegration. The two top officials at the NCB were suspended at the outset of the 2006 MV Benjamin narcotics scandal. The top official was ultimately replaced, but the NCB remained without an operations chief until June 2007. In 2007, the NCB launched an intensive awareness campaign on radio and television to combat trafficking and created a new position, which deals with demand reduction. The program has continued in 2008.


 

In 2007, the NCB initiated a three-year plan, which focuses on strengthening operational capacity, promoting awareness and decentralizing NCB’s operations. Through the decentralization plan, the NCB has begun to station officers in major cities and border posts. NCB officers have been assigned to Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale and the border posts at Aflao (Togo) and Elubo (Cote d’Ivoire). As part of its rebuilding, by the end of 2008 the NCB plans to have a total staffing level of 140 employees.

 

Each year since 1999, the NCB has proposed amending the 1990 narcotics law to fund NCB operations using a portion of seized proceeds. The Attorney General’s office has not acted on this proposal. In 2006, the Attorney General succeeded in amending the narcotics law to allow stricter application of the bail bond system (i.e., no general granting of bail when flight is a real possibility; higher sureties to assure that defendants appear for trial). The change came in response to NCB complaints that courts often release suspected smugglers, including foreign nationals, on bail that is often set at only a tiny fraction of the value of the drugs found in a suspect’s possession. In 2008, this amendment has worked well, as defendants are not released on bail as readily as before. The NCB also called for amendment, without success, of PNDC Law 236 (1990) to enable it to confiscate property and assets purchased by identified drug dealers using illegal proceeds of crime. The government began drafting a Proceeds of Crime bill but the draft legislation has not yet been sent to Parliament. A new Money Laundering Act was approved in 2007 but has not yet been fully implemented; a Financial Crimes Intelligence Center, authorized in the Act, has yet to be formed, for example.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2008, Ghanaian law enforcement agencies continued to conduct joint police-NCB operations against narcotics cultivators, traffickers and abusers. NCB officers, who are not armed, depend on the Organized Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) narcotics unit in situations where armed assistance is required. The Ghana Police Service has assigned several investigators to narcotics cases; it detains suspects and prepares cases for presentation at trial. The Customs Excise and Prevention Service (CEPS, in the Finance Ministry) also has a role in interdiction, as do (in varying degrees) the Immigration Service, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Ghana Navy. Representatives of the various agencies meet regularly, but the overall level of coordination and intelligence sharing between them remains limited.


 

The NCB continues its efforts to decentralize operations, and has opened regional offices in Tamale, Kumasi and TakoradI. At the end of the third quarter of 2008 the NCB had approximately 140 employees. In 2008 the NCB was authorized to recruit 74 new personnel.

 

The NCB works with DHL, UPS, Ghana Post and Federal Express to intercept parcels containing narcotics. The NCB also works with a team from the United Kingdom’s Revenue and Customs Service, which is based in Accra. The team assists NCB with interdiction work at Kotoka International Airport and has had some success in arresting smugglers and frustrating—but not significantly slowing—narcotics shipments through the airport. A program in cooperation with the United Nations now searches cargo containers at the Port of Tema. The NCB also has officials at the “cargo village” at Kotoka International Airport for profiling import and export shipments. This operation has uncovered much of the cannabis the NCB has seized. Ghana’s Customs, Excise and Prevention Service (CEPS) also inspects cargo transiting the airport.

 

Officials at UK airports found that the total tonnage of trafficked narcotics seized from passengers on flights originating in Ghana eclipsed those from Nigeria in 2006. In partial response to this trend, the British Government launched “Operation Westbridge,” a program deploying experienced U.K. customs officers and state of the art ion scan detection equipment to Kotoka International Airport. The program educated Ghanaian customs officers on the use of the equipment, profiling, targeting, intelligence-gathering and other security techniques. Since 2006 Operation Westbridge has been successful in interdicting 462 kg. of cocaine, 1.3 kg. of heroin, and 3,442 kg. of cannabis.

 

In October, CEPS intercepted 664 kg. of cannabis and heroin (hashish) in packages heading to the U.K. via the cargo area of the airport. The clearing agent is in custody.

 

In June, Ghana Traffic Police discovered twenty brick slabs (380 kg.) of cocaine in a vehicle. Four Ghanaians were arrested. Police suspect a Latin American connection.

 

Interdiction remains a focus of law enforcement efforts, with less attention going toward arresting senior members of the narcotics rings or to the building of cases against local drug barons. In June a truck was stopped by police outside of Accra, carrying 399 kg. of cocaine. The vehicle originated in Conakry, Guinea. The Togolese and Ghanaian drivers were arrested, but the police operation did not follow the shipment in such a way as to identify the organizer of the illicit drug trafficking operation. Newspaper reports carry stories about unnamed “drug barons.” Journalists and members of civil society speculate about connections between narcotics trafficking and politicians. A Ghanaian MP, from the ruling party, is currently serving time in the U.S. following a 2005 arrest for heroin smuggling.

 

The Ghana Police Service’s Statistics Unit reported that from January to August 2008 505 narcotics related arrests were made, up from 421 in the same period in 2007, although many of these were for relatively small amounts.

 

The NCB reports that from January to June, 2008, 48 arrests were made. Courts sent down 32 convictions as of the end of October, 2008 from arrests made in 2006 and 2007.

 

As of June 28, 2008, 23.4 kg. of cocaine had been seized by the NCB. In 2006, the NCB reports 1,972 kg. of cocaine were seized, while in 2007 the figure was 779 kg.

 

The apparent lack of a centralized system for collecting statistics makes it difficult to ensure accurate numbers or to prevent double counting.

 

Police and NCB state that a one kilogram slab of cocaine had an estimated value in Ghana of $22,000. One bread loaf size parcel of cannabis sold for about $15. A wrap, or joint of cannabis, sold for about $.50.

 

According to CID officials, cocaine in crack form is beginning to appear in Ghana. Crack cocaine is relatively inexpensive, selling for Ghana cedis 1.5 (about $1.25 US) per hit.

The Ghana Police Service, NCB, Navy and other Government of Ghana law enforcement organizations remain seriously under resourced, both in terms of staff and equipment. Officials in all of the agencies state a need for additional staff training. NCB officials have said that their status as a sub-agency within the Ministry of Interior creates constraints on their ability to operate with other GOG agencies. Limited intelligence sharing between agencies is also an issue.

The NCB and other law enforcement agencies continued to cooperate with U.S. and other national law enforcement agencies. Several diplomatic missions in Ghana have law enforcement or related staff, including the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The U.K. plans to open in Accra an office of its Serious Organized Crimes agency.

Corruption. Ghana does not, as a matter of official government policy, encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Regardless, corruption is pervasive in Ghana’s law enforcement community, including sections of the police and the Narcotics Board. Despite the regular arrests of suspected narcotics traffickers, Ghana has a low rate of conviction, which law enforcement officials indicate is likely due to corruption within the judicial system. The lack of apparent success in targeting drug barons or even middle level traffickers may result from a combination of a lack of political will, resources and competency.

Corruption in the police force is widespread. A study by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative found that over 90% of Ghanaians reported being asked to pay a bribe to a police officer, sometimes to receive police services, such as to submit an accident report.

In January, an audit of CID evidence storage revealed that approximately twelve kg. of narcotics had been replaced with cornstarch. The officer in charge of the Narcotics Exhibits Store was arrested. The Minister of Interior formed a five-member panel to investigate the breach of security. The panel found evidence that additional exhibits were missing. In May, the President of Ghana appointed a second committee to review the panel’s report. The presidential committee has yet to make its report.

Agreements and Treaties. Ghana is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol. U.S.-Ghana extradition relations are governed by the 1931 U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty. In 2003, Ghana signed a bilateral Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement with the United States. In July 2006, Ghana ratified both the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

Cultivation and Production. Cannabis (also known as Indian hemp in Ghana) is widely cultivated in rural farmlands. The Volta, Brong-Ahafo, Eastern, Western, and Ashanti regions are principal growing areas. Most cannabis is consumed locally; some is trafficked to neighboring and European countries. Cannabis is usually harvested in September and October, and law enforcement teams increase their surveillance and investigation efforts at these times. NCB, together with the Ghana Police, investigated several cases of cannabis production and distribution, and destroyed cannabis farms and plants in 2008. A pilot scheme begun in 2003 to provide cannabis farmers with alternative cash crops was discontinued in 2008. The NCB realized that the scheme was not sustainable, and that some farmers were continuing to grow cannabis despite receiving the incentives not to.

Drug Flow/Transit. Cocaine and heroin are the main drugs that transit Ghana. Cocaine is sourced mainly from South America and is destined for Europe, while Afghan heroin comes mainly by way of Southwest Asia on its way to Europe and North America. Cannabis is shipped primarily to Europe, specifically to the United Kingdom. Law enforcement officials report that traffickers are increasingly exploiting Ghana’s relatively unguarded and porous maritime border, offloading large shipments at sea onto small fishing vessels which carry the drugs to shore undetected. Some narcotics enter Ghana from other locations in West Africa, particularly nations closer, in terms of air miles, to South America. Narcotics are often repackaged in Ghana for reshipment, hidden in shipping containers or secreted in air cargo. Large shipments are also often broken up into small amounts to be hidden on individuals traveling by passenger aircraft. The most common individual concealment methods utilize false bottom suitcases or body cavity concealment. Arrests in 2008 revealed a variety of creative concealment methods, including cocaine hidden inside women’s specially designed underwear, cans of palm oil and containers of yoghurt, in wheelchairs, and bricks of marijuana hidden in false-bottom crates which contained handicrafts bound for Europe.

There is no direct evidence that drugs transiting Ghana contribute significantly to the supply of drugs to the U.S. market. However, there are indications that direct shipments to the United States—particularly of heroin—are on the rise, fueled by an increase in shipments of heroin to Ghana from Pakistan and Afghanistan beginning in 2006.

Ghana Police Service officials report that crime groups move into drug trafficking from other crimes, such as internet crime or financial fraud. The GPS believes that Nigerians living in Ghana are behind some of these groups.

In the past, direct flights from Accra played an important role in the transshipment of heroin to the U.S. by West African trafficking organizations. In July 2004, the Federal Aviation Administration banned Ghana’s only direct flights to the United States for safety reasons. However, this did not appear to reduce the trafficking of drugs between the two countries. Instead, drug traffickers rerouted the flow through Europe, according to the NCB. In addition to multiple carriers providing connecting flights to the United States via Europe, direct air links were re-established in 2005, with a second airline adding non-stop service between Ghana and the United States in December 2006. This may result in increased attempts at smuggling by direct air links.

In 2006, the U.S. Embassy uncovered widespread visa fraud associated directly with drug trafficking organizations, further raising fears of highly organized smuggling rings attempting to carry drugs into the United States from Ghana by air. However, there are no more recent indications of similar visa fraud. The NCB reported that in response to increased vigilance against West African drug mules arriving at foreign airports, a new trend appears to be use of Caucasians as carriers of narcotics to arouse less suspicion by customs and immigration officials at European and U.S. airports, and arrests have been made of drug mules fitting this profile.

There are currently five U.S. citizens incarcerated in Ghana on drug charges. Two are on remand, and three are serving their sentences. In 2008, there was only one extradition action, involving a Ghanaian citizen in Ghana wanted by the State of Virginia.

Despite concerns with increased use of air travel for drug transshipment, however, the primary problem remains Ghana’s long, generally unpatrolled coastline where the drugs in transit enter Ghana. The Ghana Navy has responsibility for maritime security—the NCB and police, for example, do not have any maritime capacity. According to the Ghana Armed Forces Intelligence Section, the Navy does carry law enforcement detachments on patrols.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The NCB works with schools, professional training institutions, churches, local governments, and the general public to reduce local drug consumption. The Ministries of Health and Education further coordinate their efforts through their representatives on the Board. Board Members and staff frequently host public lectures, participate in radio discussion programs, and encourage newspaper articles on the dangers of drug abuse and trafficking. Although treatment programs have generally lagged behind preventative education and enforcement due to lack of funding, in 2007, the NCB announced that it has established treatment centers to assist addicts, adding to the three government psychiatric hospitals which receive drug patients and three private facilities in Accra run by local NGOs.

The NCB’s national drug education efforts continued in schools and churches, heightening citizens’ awareness of the fight against narcotics and traffickers. The NCB continued broadcasting TV programs to explain narcotics’ effects on the human body, individual users and society. These programs are broadcast on state television in local languages. In partial response to the narcotics scandal, the NCB also began efforts to sensitize coastal fishermen on the dangers of getting involved in the drug trade and on the need to cooperate with law enforcement officials. The NCB also held a drug awareness concert in 2008. The “Angel of the Night” program has NCB officers, in collaboration with a private rehab center, visit with drug users to counsel them on alternatives.

 

The Government of Ghana, with UK assistance, launched Operation Hibiscus in October to spread awareness about the dangers of transporting narcotics. This program, which features a cartoon character, is used in print and on television. The program describes the unfortunate consequences for the Ghanaian family of a woman arrested trying to enter the UK carrying drugs

 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation. The USG’s counter-narcotics and anticrime goals in Ghana are to strengthen Ghanaian law enforcement capacity generally, to improve interdiction capacities, to enhance the NCB’s capacity, and to reduce Ghana’s role as a transit point for narcotics. In 2008 the USG continued efforts to support Ghana’s counter-narcotics efforts and made plans for additional support in future years. In September, a joint State Department-INL/DEA/Department of Justice/Department of Defense assessment team visited Ghana to better understand Ghana’s counter-narcotics capacity and issues, with the intention of improving efficiency of U.S. assistance efforts to Ghana’s anti-drug programs.


 

In 2008 the Department of Defense (through AFRICOM) funded acquisition of four 27-foot “Defender” class patrol boats for the Ghana Navy. The boats will increase the Ghana Navy’s capacity for maritime interdiction. Training, spare parts, and other support was also provided. AFRICOM is also funding the construction of a $75,000 climate-controlled space at Kotoka International Airport to provide an appropriate environment for sensitive drug detection equipment, such as the two “itemizers” donated in 2003. AFRICOM is also providing approximately $500,000 toward construction of an evidence storage and training facility at the Ghana CID headquarters in Accra. The USCG, in conjunction with Africa Partnership Station operations, provided boarding officer training as well as training in the area maritime operations planning and management.

 

The Road Ahead. In December, 2008 it is anticipated that the Drug Enforcement Administration will open an office in Accra. A DEA presence in Accra will allow for regular liaison with Ghanaian law enforcement officials. The office will also provide support for counter-narcotics efforts in the larger region.


 

State Department narcotics assistance and other funds have been used in Ghana to support training and equipment for law enforcement agencies. Plans for future funding include the purchase of a body scanner/detector for Kotoka International Airport. Funding will also be used to support a U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor who will provide long-term training to Ghanaian prosecutors on complex prosecutions (money laundering, narcotics, corruption).

 

Greece


 

I. Summary


 

Greece is a “gateway” country in the transit of illicit drugs and contraband. Although not a major transit country for drugs headed for the United States, Greece is part of the traditional “Balkan Route” for drugs flowing from drug-producing countries in the east to drug-consuming countries in Western Europe. Greek authorities report that drug abuse and addiction continue to climb in Greece as the age for first-time drug use drops. Drug trafficking remains a significant issue for Greece in its battle against organized crime. Investigations initiated by the DEA and its Hellenic counterparts suggest that a dramatic rise has occurred in the number and size of drug trafficking organizations operating in Greece.

 

During 2008, the DEA and Hellenic authorities conducted numerous counternarcotics investigations, which resulted in significant arrests, narcotics seizures, and the dismantling of drug trafficking organizations. The Greek court system and the Ministry of Justice continued to lack databases for the case management and tracking of convictions and sentences for traffickers. Greece is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

With an extensive coastline, numerous islands, and land borders with other drug transit, Greece’s geography makes it a favored drug transshipment country on the route to Western Europe. Greece is also home to the world’s largest merchant marine fleet. While many of these vessels fly flags of countries such as Panama and Liberia, it is estimated that Greek firms own one out of every six cargo vessels and control 20-25 percent of cargo shipments worldwide. The utilization of cargo vessels is the cheapest, fastest and most secure method to transport multi-ton quantities of cocaine from South America to distribution centers in Europe and the United States. Greece is not a significant drug producing country. However in recent years, Hellenic Authorities have noted a rise in marijuana production. Some of the Greece-based organizations involved in marijuana production have exported large quantities of the drug to countries in western Europe, such as Holland. Hellenic Authorities estimate that annual production of the drug appears to be well over 80 tons, most of which is exported. Crete, Arcadia, Messinia, Ileia and Laconia are the top production regions, while only Arta and Grevena appear to have completely clean records. Only 10-20 percent of the domestically grown marijuana is believed to be consumed locally. Marijuana for local consumption is also imported from Albania.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. Greece participates in the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative’s (SECI) anticrime initiative and in a specialized counternarcotics task force at the regional Anti-Crime Center in Bucharest. Enhanced cooperation among SECI member states has the potential to disrupt and eventually eliminate the ability of drug trafficking organizations to operate in the region.


 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Several notable joint U.S./Hellenic counternarcotics investigations occurred during 2008 with significant arrests and seizures. Drug trafficking organizations in the Balkan region, including Greece, usually transport Afghan heroin from the Middle East and Turkey to Western Europe. Recent investigations and trends indicate more frequent cocaine seizures by Hellenic authorities.


 

During February 2008, with intelligence provided to the DEA by Hellenic Authorities, the French Coast Guard seized 3,210 kilograms of cocaine. Nine (9) individuals were arrested, two of whom were Hellenic Nationals. In addition, the Greek owner of the vessel was also arrested for his knowledge of, and participation in, the smuggling operation. This shipment originated in South America and was destined for Western Europe.

 

In April 2008, the Hellenic Coast Guard seized 22.5 kilograms of heroin from an individual in the port city of Igoumenitsa. This individual was going to board a ferry destined for Italy when the heroin, hidden in his vehicle, was discovered.

 

During the same month, the Hellenic Special Control Service (YPEE) seized 4 kilograms of cocaine, which had been mailed from Costa Rica and was concealed inside cereal boxes. Subsequent to the initial seizure, YPEE identified two additional packages destined for members of the same drug trafficking organization. YPEE seized the newly identified packages, which were found to contain an additional seven kilograms of cocaine. Two individuals were arrested in connection with this case.

 

In July 2008, the YPEE inspected a motorized RV/camper on the island of Hios; the vehicle had just arrived from Turkey. After a careful search of the vehicle, 140 kilograms of heroin were seized; three (3) Hungarian nationals were arrested.

 

During August 2008, the Hellenic National Police seized 6.6 kilograms of heroin and arrested two (2) individuals, one Greek and one Albanian. Also seized were a handgun and loaded magazines, an electronic scale, and 11,000 euro in cash.

 

In September 2008, the Hellenic Coast Guard seized 26 kilograms of marijuana hidden inside a vehicle. The Albanian national associated with the marijuana escaped.

 

While Greek law enforcement authorities achieved successes in making seizures and arrests, the Greek court system and the Ministry of Justice continued to lack databases to track convictions and sentences for traffickers. This lack of information management capacity also hinders the ability of law enforcement authorities to manage and complete complex, long-term investigations in narcotics trafficking.

 

Drug Seizure Statistics, 2005-2007

Source: Coordinating Body for Drug Enforcement, National Information Unit

Statistics are provided in this format: 2005 / 2006 / 2007

 

Drug Seizures (Cases): 10,461 / 9,873 / 9,540
Accused Persons (Persons): 14,922 / 13,963 / 13,253


 

Cannabis:
Processed Hashish (kg): 10,209.28 / 74.964 / 4.833
Unprocessed Cannabis (kg): 8,004.04 / 12,314.205 / 6,909.688
Hashish “Honey Oil” (kg): 3.011 / 0.523 / 1.484
Cannabis Plants (units): 4,993 / 32,495 / 17,611


 

Opiates:
Heroin and Morphine (kg): 331.329 / 312.243 / 259.33
Raw Opium (kg): 1.680 / 0.314 / 24.891
Methadone (kg): 8.719 / 9.456 / 24.783
Codeine (tablets): 0 / 50.5 / 0
Other Opiates (kg): 0.023 / 0.419 / 0.005
Poppy Plants (units): 0 / 0 / 62


 

Stimulants:
Cocaine (kg): 42.819 / 60.658 / 225.247
Coca Leaves (kg): 0.005 / 0.898 / 0.115
Amphetamines (kg): 1.11 / 0.05 / 0.112
Methamphetamines (kg): 0.09 / 0.006 / 0.066
Crystal Methamphetamines (kg): 0 / 0 / 0.079
Ecstasy (kg): 0.023 / 0.051 / 0.281
Qat (kg): 34.398 / 25.08 / 10.697
New Synthetic Drugs (kg): 0 / 0.288 / 0.047


 

Narcotic Pharmaceuticals:
Hallucinogens (kg): 0 / 0.83 / 0
LSD (drops): 120 / 146 / 2,880
LSD (tablets): 6 / 120 / 4
Psilocybin (kg): 0 / 0.041 / 0
Tranquilizers (kg): 0.1 / 0.058 / 0.261
Barbiturates (kg): 0.003 / 0 / 0


 

Precursor Substances:
Ephedrine Hydrochloride (tablets): 1088 / 14 / 0
Sassafras Oil (liters): 0 / 0 / 3


 

Burgled Drugstores: 43 / 33 / 19


 

Corruption. Officers and representatives of Greece’s law enforcement agencies are generally under-trained and underpaid. Thus, corruption in law enforcement is a problem. In November 2007, corrupt law enforcement officers and politicians were involved with a large-scale, international drug trafficking organization that was producing multi-ton quantities of marijuana on the island of Crete. Subsequent investigation revealed that this organization had exported large quantities of marijuana to Holland for many years. In September 2008, a former Minister and personal aide of the Prime Minister was convicted and given a 12-month suspended prison sentence for intervening on behalf of a constituent who was growing cannabis.


 

As a matter of government policy, Greece neither encourages nor facilitates the illicit production or distribution of narcotics, psychotropic drugs, or other controlled substances or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.

 

Agreements and Treaties. Greece is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol. An agreement between Greece and the United States to exchange information on narcotics trafficking has been in force since 1928. A bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty and an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Greece are in force. In addition, the two countries have concluded protocols to the mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU mutual legal assistance and extradition agreements. The U.S. Senate has approved the protocols, but they are still pending Greek government/parliamentary and EU approval. However, in practice the Greek government refuses to extradite Greek nationals and Greek-Americans to the United States, because to do so would violate domestic Greek law. The United States and Greece also have concluded a customs mutual assistance agreement (CMAA). The CMAA allows for the exchange of information, intelligence, and documents to assist in the prevention and investigation of customs offenses, including the identification and screening of containers that pose a terrorism risk. Greece ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption in September 2008; Greece has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.


 

Cultivation/Production. Marijuana is the only illicit drug produced in Greece. In November 2007, Hellenic Authorities dismantled a large-scale, international drug trafficking organization that was producing marijuana on the island of Crete. Documents found by Hellenic Authorities indicate that the organization had been supplying ton quantities of marijuana to countries in Western Europe for many years.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Greece is part of the “Balkan Route” and as such is a transshipment country for Afghan heroin, and marijuana coming predominantly from the Middle East and Africa. 2007 statistics, released in 2008, indicate that one ton of heroin transited the city of Thessalonica--only 10% of which was confiscated by police. In addition, metric-ton quantities of marijuana and smaller quantities of other drugs (principally synthetic drugs) are trafficked into Greece from Albania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Macedonia. Hashish is offloaded in remote areas of the country and transported to Western Europe by boat or overland. Larger shipments are smuggled into Greece in shipping containers, on bonded Transport International Routier (“TIR”) trucks, in automobiles, on trains, and in buses. Some Afghan heroin is smuggled into the United States by way of Greece, but there is no evidence that significant amounts of narcotics are entering the United States from Greece. There have also been unconfirmed reports that Turkish-refined heroin is traded for Latin American cocaine.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Drug addiction problems continued to increase in Greece. According to new statistics from the National Documentation Center for Narcotics and Addiction, run by the Mental Health Research Institute of the Medical School of the University of Athens, 19.4 percent of the Greek population between 12 and 64 years of age reported that they experimented or used an illegal substance at least once. The most commonly used substances were chemical solvents, marijuana, and heroin. There was a surge in the illegal use of tranquilizers and, to a lesser extent, Ecstasy pills, reflecting growth in the European synthetic drug market. The government of Greece estimated that there were between 20,000 and 30,000 addicts in Greece and that the addict population was growing; approximately 20,000 individuals were addicted to heroin, and 9,500 of this population used injected heroin. Recent enforcement trends indicated a rise in the distribution and use of cocaine within Greece and in Europe in general. Cocaine use has tripled in Europe over the past decade.


 

Demand reduction programs in Greece are typically government-supported; few drug prevention and treatment programs with independent or private funding exist. The DEA regularly conducts Demand Reduction Seminars for parents and students attending local and international elementary and high schools throughout Greece.

 

The Organization Against Narcotics (OKANA) is a government-supported agency that coordinates the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addiction in Greece. Besides OKANA, other officially supported drug treatment organizations include the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals (KETHEA), the “18 Ano” Detoxification Unit of the Psychiatric Hospital of Attika, the Psychiatric Hospital of Thessaloniki, the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Athens, and other public hospitals in Greece which run joint programs with OKANA. OKANA operates 70 prevention centers, 57 therapeutic rehabilitation centers (33 of which offer “drug free” programs), and 20 drug addiction substitution centers, offering methadone and buprenorphine. In 2006, 4,847 drug addicts were treated (a 14% increase over 2005), and while 3,250 individuals were treated in drug substitution programs, as of May 2007 the waiting list was 4,000 persons. OKANA extended its programs to new regions in 2007 and 2008 despite strong local reactions against the establishment of treatment centers.

 

KETHEA operates four narcotics prevention centers in Athens, offering prevention, support, and drug awareness programs--as well as referrals to other rehabilitation/detoxification centers. Demand for these prevention and treatment programs continues to outstrip supply. In June 2008, a Thessaloniki newspaper reported that a lack of funding for drug addiction treatment and prevention centers in the city contributed to long waiting lists for these rehabilitation programs. The report indicated that 950 persons were in treatment but that the waiting list was approximately 1,500 persons long.

 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Cooperation. DEA officers work with the Hellenic police to support coordination of regional counternarcotics efforts through joint operations as well as training seminars. The DEA Athens Country Office conducted multiple workshops with counterparts from the Hellenic National Police and Hellenic Coast Guard during this year. The workshops provided an opportunity for DEA personnel and Greek counterparts to receive and exchange ideas on various issues, including regional drug trends, the nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism, officer safety and survival, undercover operations, and confidential source management. The workshops were well received by Greek law enforcement authorities and the Hellenic Police has expressed interest in further events. In 2008, a USCG mobile training team provided a basic boarding officer course in Greece. A DEA international training team may travel to Athens to conduct a more formal training seminar with Greek and regional counterparts in early 2009.


 

The Road Ahead. The United States continues to encourage the GOG to participate actively in international organizations focused on narcotics assistance coordination efforts, such as the Dublin Group of narcotics assistance donor countries. The DEA will continue to organize regional and international conferences, seminars, and workshops with the goal of building regional cooperation and coordination in the effort against narcotics trafficking.


 

 

Guatemala


 

I. Summary


 

Guatemala is a major transit country for the estimated 400 metric tons (MT) of South American cocaine headed towards the United States and other global markets. It is also small producer of opium poppy that is processed into heroin in Mexico and exported to the United States. In the first year of the administration of President Alvaro Colom, the Government of Guatemala (GOG) confronted enormous challenges posed by narcotics trafficking in Guatemala, and limited success. The GOG has replaced both high-level leadership and lower-level police, but corruption remains a significant problem in justice sector institutions. The Colom administration increased funding for law enforcement efforts, including counternarcotics. However, as Mexico has greatly expanded anti-drug efforts, Mexican drug cartels have expanded into Guatemala. As part of its response, the GOG established a special joint task force to focus on anti-drug, law enforcement and counterterrorism operations. The GOG, through this unit, also provides pilots, mechanics, fuel, and logistical support for four helicopters that the USG delivered to Guatemala this year. Guatemalan authorities eradicated record amounts of opium poppy in western Guatemala in 2008; however, cocaine seizures were minimal. Guatemala is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

An increase in violence, much of it narcotics related, led the government to make a mid-course correction after six months in office. Gun battles between narcotics traffickers in Guatemala in 2008 as well as a narcotics-related massacre of passengers on a bus drew attention to the increasing presence of Mexican drug cartels in Guatemala and their struggle with the Guatemalan cartels over territory. The weak criminal justice system in Guatemala, coupled with pervasive corruption, has made it difficult for the government to address the rise in narcotics activity in Guatemala. President Colom removed his senior security advisor, replaced the Attorney General, the police chief and two senior military leaders. The new police chief replaced most of the senior police leadership and removed record numbers of lower-level police officers accused of corruption.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. The Colom administration achieved some success in reforming the legal framework for attacking drug trafficking and use and violent crime, including establishing a drug incineration protocol. The Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), INACIF (the national, independent forensics laboratory), Ministry of Government (MOG), and the Attorney General’s Office (Public Ministry –MP) signed an agreement on procedures for the proper incineration of seized drugs with close technical support of the U.S. Embassy’s Narcotics Affairs Section’s (NAS) Prosecutors program. The new protocol established uniform procedures, resulting in drastically decreased processing time, avoiding legal maneuvering, and facilitating prompt trials and stronger cases. In 2008, the Guatemalan Congress also passed an improved extradition law, which includes extradition of Guatemalan nationals. Previously extradition requests took at least 2-3 years to process. The first few cases under the new law are currently being processed. To improve coordination between the police and prosecutors, the GOG also standardized procedures between police and state's attorneys in the 24-hour courts, and the Narcotics Prosecutor has been assigned vetted investigators.


 

In conjunction with a USG-provided air support program that delivered four helicopters to Guatemala this past year, the GOG established Joint Task Force Fuentes, known as the FIAAT (Fuerza de Intervención Aérea Antidrogas y Terrorista, the Aerial Anti-drug and Terrorist Intervention Force), a fully vetted, independent unit that can improve capacity in anti-drug, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism operations. Consisting of a total of 75 police, military, and legal officers, the new force will give the GOG central government a new, strategic ability to reach out and impose rule of law in areas where corruption or lack of resources has called into question the local government's ability to effectively enforce rule of law. The FIAAT has been integrated into the international and interagency Central Skies operation.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Widespread corruption and inadequate law enforcement efforts contributed to dismal interdiction numbers over the past several years. According to GOG statistics, the narcotics police (SAIA and the Guatemalan military seized only 2.2 MT of cocaine; although more than 400 MT is estimated to flow through the region. They also seized 9 kilos of heroin and almost a million pseudoephedrine tablets. The ports police (DIPA) had more success in confiscating drug profits transiting through the airports and seized over US $4.5 million in suspected narcotics money, for a total of over $6 million in cash seizures. DIPA seized 1.2 MT of cocaine as well, for a total of 3.3 MT DIPA agents also seized at least seven shipments of pseudoephedrine at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. The GOG Customs Service was also instrumental in stopping the entry of methamphetamine though careful checking the registry of importing companies, many of which were not licit importers.


 

The Guatemalan military also played an important role in counternarcotics operations in 2008. With U.S. assistance, the Navy is in the process of standing up a vetted unit that will focus on combating drugs transiting through Guatemala’s Pacific coast. The Guatemalan Air Force tracked drug flights coming into Guatemalan air space, and the Guatemalan Army provided perimeter security for Guatemalan counternarcotics law enforcement operations. However, neither the Colom Government nor the Guatemalan Congress significantly increased the military’s 2009 budget to give it needed resources for counternarcotics efforts.

 

During 2008, there was only one arrest of a major trafficker, Waldemar Lorenzana, who was quickly released on a technicality, and few significant drug seizures. The GOG has not fully implemented an organized crime law that was passed by Congress in 2006. The seized assets law adopted in 2003 has not been adequately implemented; the Supreme Court, however, turned over six seized aircraft to the Air Force in December 2008.

 

In 2008, the UN-affiliated International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) continued to work with the Guatemalan Public Ministry to investigate and prosecute organized crime. It has opened active investigations into a number of crimes that can be traced back to narcotics trafficking.

 

Corruption. The GOG does not as a matter of policy encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotics, psychotropic drugs, or other controlled substances, nor does it launder proceeds from illegal drug transactions. No senior Guatemalan government officials are known to engage in, encourage, or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs, nor the laundering of proceeds from illicit drug transactions. However money from the drug trade has woven itself into the fiber of Guatemalan law enforcement and justice institutions. It has been necessary to work with units composed of vetted police officers and prosecutors to provide a core of reliable law enforcement professionals who can take on narcotics cases. The recently named Attorney General has made fighting organized crime and corruption one of his highest priorities.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Guatemala is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and its 1972 Protocol; the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances; the 1988 UN Drug Convention; the Central American Commission for the Eradication of Production, Traffic, Consumption and Illicit Use of Psychotropic Drugs and Substances; and the Central American Treaty on Joint Legal Assistance for Penal Issues. Guatemala is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols and the UN Convention against Corruption. A maritime counternarcotics agreement with the U.S. has been in effect since 2003. Guatemala also is a party to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, and the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. In addition, Guatemala ratified the Inter-American Mutual Legal Assistance Convention, and is a party to the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (an entity of the OAS).


 

The extradition treaty between the GOG and the USG dates from 1903. A supplemental extradition treaty adding narcotics offenses to the list of extraditable offenses was adopted in 1940. All U.S. requests for extradition in drug cases are consolidated in specialized courts located in Guatemala City. As mentioned above, during 2008, the Guatemalan Congress passed a major reform to the extradition law, and extradited three drug traffickers to the United States.

 

Cultivation and Production. Guatemala continues as a minor producer of opium poppy, primarily in the Northern provinces bordering Mexico, as well as of low-quality marijuana for domestic consumption. USG and GOG information points to evidence that Mexican cartels manage Guatemalan poppy production, provide seed, and guarantee the purchase of opium gum from Guatemalan smallholders.


 

During calendar year 2008, three poppy eradication operations were carried out by the SAIA, the military, and the public ministry. Drug control authorities eradicated 536 hectares of opium poppy and 33 hectares of marijuana.

 

Drug Flow/Transit. USG analyses indicate that Guatemala is a major transit country for an estimated 400 metric tons per year of South American cocaine that flows through the region and is a producer of opium poppy that is processed into heroin in Mexico and exported to the United States and Europe. Trafficking is focused in the Northern provinces bordering Mexico, the jungle department of Peten, the Pacific coastal area, as well as the Lake Izabal area on the Caribbean coast.


 

There are currently seven cases being processed for pseudoephedrine seizures, compared to only one last year, suggesting that Guatemala, like other countries in the region, is receiving more precursor shipments.

 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. One of the brightest spots on the Guatemalan counternarcotics landscape has been the renewal of commitment to the Demand Reduction Agency (SECCATID) during 2008. Vice President Rafael Espada is personally committed to a forward-leaning anti-addiction strategy, and he hired an energetic technocrat to spearhead the effort as the new head of SECCATID. This year has seen the creation of a new National Drug Policy for the GOG as well as the establishment of the Guatemalan National Drug Observatory, part of the OAS/CICAD network of national observatories. The GOG is providing more resources than any previous administration. The GOG’s Model Precinct Program in Villa Nueva began a Police Athletic League as an adjunct to its community policing strategy. The League targets at-risk youth and provides, in addition to a safe and healthy environment, information on and links to the broader network of prevention, treatment, and social support available within Guatemala. The Directorate of Physical Education of the Ministry of Health (DIGEF) is considering funding sports infrastructure development at schools that sponsor the League.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Policy Initiatives. The USG provides support to the GOG Public Ministry, the Civilian National Police and the specialized Drug Police for GOG initiatives to improve its capability to interdict drugs and arrest and prosecute major traffickers. This includes: the drafting of the Organized Crime bill, which is still pending regulations for implementation; support for the new extradition law; and support for the Aerial Joint Task Force.


 

Bilateral Cooperation. In 2008, the USG provided technical assistance in drafting the new extradition law and also supported the Attorney General’s efforts to combat corruption in the Public Ministry with a week-long ethics seminar and training that was attended by 87 senior officials of the Ministry of Government (MOG) and other government entities. Training for Public Ministry (MP) attorneys focused on case development, case management, development of a statistical reporting capability, and strengthening the MP's capacity to fight internal corruption. The USG-funded drug detection canine program (K-9) currently has 47 trained handlers and, in 2008, trained and certified 19 K-9 instructors from four different countries throughout the region and trained ten K-9 handlers from El Salvador and Guatemala. The USG-supported Model Precinct program has had an impact on drug use and retail drug sales in 2008; although it’s primary focus is improved policing, public security and implementing anti-gang measures. The U.S. Coast Guard provided leadership and maritime law enforcement training to Guatemalan Navy personnel.


 

The NAS Aviation Support Program (ASP) consists of four loaned helicopters and a training program. It has provided flexibility in support of eradication operations especially in the area of intelligence gathering. The Ministry of Government has provided substantial funding for fuel for the program and is making preparations to take over all fuel expenses for the ASP beginning in January 2009. In 2008 the USG also provided technical assistance in drafting a manual for the National Civilian Police (PNC) which will provide explicit instructions for the investigators on how to implement the Organized Crime Law that was passed in 2006.

 

The Road Ahead. As the Mexican cartels make greater inroads, the Colom administration will be faced with even greater security challenges in Guatemala. While U.S. assistance will play an important role in interdiction efforts and the prosecution of major traffickers, success of the GOG’s counternarcotics activities will depend to a large extent on the political will of the Colom administration to confront corruption and to make available the resources needed to improve law enforcement. This includes: allocation of sufficient resources to counternarcotics efforts; strategic realignment of DIPA resources toward better coverage of seaports and border crossings that could replicate the success seen in airport operations; enactment and application of effective asset seizure laws to channel resources to counternarcotics efforts; and completion of regulations governing the Organized Crime bill and full application of the law.


 

For its part, the USG will provide significant support in the coming year under the Merida Initiative--a partnership between the governments of the United States, Mexico, Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to confront the violent national and transnational gangs and organized criminal and narcotics trafficking organizations that plague the entire region, the activities of which spill over into the United States. The Merida Initiative will fund a variety of programs that will strengthen the institutional capabilities of participating governments by supporting efforts to investigate, sanction and prevent corruption within law enforcement agencies; facilitating the transfer of critical law enforcement investigative information within and between regional governments; and funding equipment purchases, training, community policing and economic and social development programs. Bilateral agreements with the participating governments were in the process of being negotiated and signed at the time this report was prepared.

 

Guinea


 

I. Summary


 

Guinea is a major transit point for illicit cocaine trafficking to Europe. Although drugs have been transiting Guinea for several years, both international and domestic observers agree that the volume increased exponentially in 2008. Large quantities of cocaine are routinely transshipped through Guinea via air (both commercial and private), land, and sea. The country’s endemic corruption, weak governance, porous borders, and ineffective law enforcement have proven increasingly attractive to international narcotics traffickers from South America, Europe, and elsewhere in Africa.

 

Guinea is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. However, the Guinean Government was generally ineffective in addressing drug trafficking issues over the year. Narco-corruption permeated the government, including the military and police forces. Frequent cabinet changes, lack of technical capacity, and the country’s underlying political instability posed significant challenges to both policymakers and law enforcement officials interested in combating narco-trafficking. The Guinean Government is only beginning to recognize Guinea’s emergence as a major drug transit point, and as such, has not developed a comprehensive counter-narcotics strategy. The U.S. Government continues to engage with the Guinean Government at the highest levels in order to focus attention and attention on the issue.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Guinea is a major narco-trafficking hub in the West African region. Continued political instability puts the country at risk of developing into a narco-state. Although some government officials have demonstrated their commitment to addressing the problem, the high level of narco-corruption in an environment of almost complete impunity raises questions about the GoG’s overall political will to develop an effective counter-narcotics strategy. Due to significant technical, logistical, and political constraints, the GoG’s enforcement efforts in 2008 lacked focus and follow-through.

 

III. Country Action Against Drugs In 2008


 

The Government of Guinea was generally ineffective in addressing drug trafficking issues in 2008. Narco-corruption appeared to be gaining a foothold throughout the government, and especially within the military and police forces. Over the course of the year, the president appointed three different ministers of security, with the last appointment taking effect in early October. The Police Anti-Drug Unit (OCAD) lacked adequate staffing, training, equipment, and funds.

 

Policy Initiatives. Due in part to frequent turnover at the ministerial level, the Government of Guinea did not implement any specific counternarcotics policy initiatives in 2008, nor had it discussed developing a counternarcotics master plan.


 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Guinea’s law enforcement mechanisms were largely ineffective in countering narcotics trafficking. The national police lacked the capacity to reliably plan for and carry out seizures and arrests. Reports of arrested traffickers being released from prison after having bribed police officials were common, as were reports of confiscated narcotics disappearing while in police custody. The police referred several trafficking cases to the courts, but no convictions were reported. Lack of training among law enforcement officers made it impossible to conduct difficult investigations targeted on major trafficking kingpins, instead enforcement focused on small-scale traffickers. The GoG’s overall lack of training, equipment, sufficient staff, and, of course, corruption contributed to inconsistent interdiction efforts.

Narcotics transit Guinea via air, land, and sea. The GoG did not effectively eliminate suspected clandestine airstrips used by drug traffickers, flying directly from South America, nor did the GoG develop any strategies for addressing sea shipments.

The GoG orchestrated two public drug incineration ceremonies during the year, under two different ministers. During the first ceremony in May, the GoG claimed to have incinerated 160 kg of marijuana and 390 kg of cocaine, although the GoG refused international requests for random testing, and media reports suggested that no drugs were destroyed, but instead inert substances were substituted. At the second burning, in August, international observers were allowed to test and confirm a random sample of cocaine. GoG officials announced that 690 kg of marijuana and 34 kg of cocaine were destroyed.

 

Corruption. Corruption permeates the drug trafficking business in Guinea. The GoG took neither legal nor law enforcement measures to prevent and punish public corruption at any level. Guinea does not have any laws that specifically address narcotics-related corruption. General corruption and narcotics issues are covered under the Guinean Penal Code, but are rarely prosecuted. The GoG did not address any corruption cases during the year. While the GoG does not overtly encourage or facilitate narcotics trafficking as a matter of policy, numerous senior officials are believed to be engaging in, encouraging, and/or facilitating drug trafficking in Guinea.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Guinea is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the UN Convention against Corruption, and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. Guinea does not have any extradition treaties or other counternarcotics agreements with the U.S. Government.


 

Cultivation/Production. Illegally grown marijuana is believed to be cultivated and distributed locally, but more precise information was unavailable. There were no reports of other narcotics being cultivated or produced in Guinea.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. Guinea is a major transit point for cocaine shipments to Europe, most of which departs from Venezuela by both non-commercial maritime and air. Reliable statistics are unavailable, but international observers and Guinean Government officials agree that the trend is rapidly increasing. Available information suggests that the quantity of drugs transiting Guinea may now exceed the quantity of narcotics transiting neighboring Guinea-Bissau, possibly making Guinea the largest narco-transit point in West Africa. During the year, the GoG made minimal efforts to interdict and seize narcotics that were transiting the country.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The GoG ran a limited anti-drug campaign in public secondary schools. However, local consumption appears limited to marijuana as extreme poverty puts higher-priced narcotics out of reach for most Guineans.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Bilateral Relations. Guinea’s narcotics trafficking problem has exploded over the past year in a highly unstable political environment. In response, the U.S. Government is developing an appropriate strategy to address the problem on a bilateral level. Endemic corruption, weak governance, and frequent cabinet changes pose significant ongoing challenges.


 

The Road Ahead. In the short-term, the U.S. Government is focused on highlighting narcotics as a growing problem, encouraging high-level engagement, and developing local law enforcement capacity. The U.S. Government in consultation with concerned Guinean officials is considering ways to help develop local law enforcement capacity. In addition, the U.S. Government will continue to engage with the Guinean Government at the highest levels in order to focus attention on the issue.


 

 

Guinea-Bissau


 

I. Summary


 

Guinea-Bissau, a tiny impoverished country in West Africa, has become a major transit hub for narcotics trafficking from South America to Europe. The country, a party to the 1988 United Nations (UN) Drug Convention, provides an opportune environment for traffickers because of its lack of enforcement capabilities, its susceptibility to corruption, its porous borders, its location in relation to Europe, South America and neighboring West African transit points, and its linguistic connections to Brazil, Portugal and Cape Verde. The un-policed islands off the coast of Bissau are hubs for the major drug trafficking from Latin America, and the associated problems of arms trafficking and illegal immigration. Corruption, specifically the complicity of government officials at all levels in this criminal activity, inhibits both a complete assessment and resolution of the problem. Degeneration of Guinea-Bissau into a narco-state is a real possibility, although the international community is making significant efforts to avoid such a troubling development.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Only three times the size of Connecticut, Guinea-Bissau has a population of fewer than 1.8 million persons. The country is also one of the poorest in the world, placing 175th out of 177 countries on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. Security forces lack the most basic resources. The country possesses no adequate detention facilities, and civil servants are often not paid for months at a time. Guinea-Bissau's history since independence from Portugal in 1974 has been plagued by political instability and civil unrest. The U.S. embassy in Bissau closed in June 1998 due to civil unrest; however, U.S. engagement with the Government of Guinea-Bissau (GOGB) has increased since parliamentary elections in 2004 and 2008 and presidential elections in 2005 were deemed free and fair by the international community. Guinea-Bissau’s fragility was underscored, however, by two apparent coup attempts, the first in August and the second in November, 2008.

 

In January, 2008, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime in West Africa stated that Guinea-Bissau was on the brink of becoming Africa’s first narco- state. In his September 29 report to the Security Council, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon warned that the country was evolving from a narcotics transit hub into a “major marketplace in the drug trade.” The Secretary General proposed the formation of a panel of experts to investigate narcotics trafficking in Guinea-Bissau and held out the possibility of targeted UN sanctions, should the investigation support such a decision.

 

In July, 2008, GOGB authorities attempted to seize a grounded Gulfstream 2 jet, originating from Venezuela and believed to have been transporting a significant quantity of cocaine. The plane’s cargo, however, was unloaded by Guinea-Bissau military personnel before they allowed judicial police officers to investigate the scene. Authorities successfully interdicted four smaller quantities of cocaine throughout the year, but the apparent major drug cargo aboard the jet plane was never heard of again. The traffickers in the smaller cases were arrested; no one associated with the plane incident was ever tried. In general, GOGB drug enforcement efforts remain under-funded and undermanned, allowing international trafficking and the illegal cannabis trade to continue unabated. UNODC views Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde—a former Portuguese colony off the coast of Senegal—as part of a Lusophone Atlantic network with criminal links to Brazil and Portugal. Due to cultural links and existing air and sea connections, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde serve as a transshipment point for drugs originating in Brazil that are destined for the European market. UNODC’s October 2008 report suggests that traffickers continue to use Guinea-Bissau as a hub for narcotics smuggling from South America. Investigators posit that once large shipments of cocaine are off-loaded from planes and boats in Guinea-Bissau, the drugs are disbursed in smaller quantities throughout the region before being shipped out on commercial air flights and other means to Europe.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

Policy Initiatives. The GOGB further has welcomed the European Union’s Security Sector Reform Mission, launched in March, 2008. In collaboration with GB officials, the EU mission seeks to restructure and reform the armed forces, the police and the judiciary. The objective is to make the security forces more efficient and accountable. In 2008, representatives from Guinea-Bissau participated in the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS) counter-narcotics conference in Praia, Cape Verde, and GB was a signatory to the political declaration that came out of the conference.


 

Law Enforcement Efforts. During 2008, a number of drug seizures were made. On August 13, three Nigerian nationals were arrested in the Military neighborhood of Bissau in possession of 160 capsules of cocaine sealed in latex. Capsules of this sort are frequently ingested by paid drug couriers and trafficked to Europe from the region’s airports. On September 23, at Osvaldo Vieira International Airport in Bissau, officials seized two belts containing two kilograms of cocaine and arrested a Bissau-Guinean national. On September 25, again at Bissau’s airport, officials seized 180 capsules of cocaine, sealed in latex, and arrested a Bissau-Guinean national. In October, autopsy officials removed 58 capsules of cocaine, sealed in latex, from the stomach of a Bissau-Guinean national. The courier died when one or more of the capsules burst open inside of him. A regular flow of courier “mules” with upwards of a kilo of pure cocaine in their stomachs are apprehended in Nigeria’s two major airports of Lagos and Abuja, most heading for Europe, with Spain an especially preferred destination.


 

With support from UNODC, a new headquarters is nearly complete for the judicial police. UNODC, with support from Portugal, also arranged the training of 50 new judicial police officers specialized in counter-narcotics. The officers were being trained in Brazil at the turn of2008 to 2009.

 

In August, authorities in GB reported that they had uncovered an attempted coup d’etat, allegedly organized by the Navy Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto. Na Tchuto, long suspected of being a major facilitator of narcotics trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, eventually fled to the Gambia where officials arrested him then later released him. He remained in exile in the Gambia at year’s end.

 

On July 12, a Gulfstream-2 jet from Venezuela landed at the Bissau airport without the requisite permission. Upon landing, it immediately was cordoned off by Bissau-Guinean military officials and its cargo unloaded. Due to mechanical difficulties, the plane could not again take off. On July 17, the Minister of Justice reportedly learned of the unauthorized plane and ordered the arrest of the crew, who were taken into custody on July 19. Military officials refused to allow the judicial police and international investigators to remove the black box and Global Positioning System apparatus from the plane. On August 19, a judge set bail and released the crew of the plane from custody, despite the issuance of an international arrest warrant against one member and protests by the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor General. The pilot subsequently disappeared, and the judge was later suspended pending an investigation into possible corruption. Given limitations on funding, training, and policy, there is only limited ability to guard against the transit of drugs through Guinea-Bissau. Due to weak enforcement efforts and inadequate record keeping, it is difficult to assess accurately the scope of the drug problem. Police lack the training and equipment to detect drug smuggling. Once arrests are made, there are no adequate detention facilities to hold suspects. There are furthermore no secured vehicles with which to transport suspects.

 

Corruption. Corruption is a problem for narcotics law enforcement all over Africa, and Guinea-Bissau is particularly susceptible. The Government does not, as a matter of policy, encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, nor the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. However, anecdotal stories of corruption at the highest levels are common. Observers noted the apparent complicity of military personnel in the July plane incident, and the judge’s release of the suspects, despite the existence of an international warrant. As of December 31, 2008, the government was four months in arrears in paying civil servant salaries, making law enforcement and security officials further susceptible to bribery.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Guinea-Bissau is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the UN Convention against Corruption, and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on Trafficking in Persons, and has signed, but not yet ratified, the protocol on Migrant Smuggling. The status of the 1999 UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the African Union Convention on Terrorism Finance is not known.


 

Cultivation/Production. The extent of cannabis cultivation in the country is unknown. Cannabis cultivation is quite common in the Senegal's southern Casamance region and linked to a more than 20-year-old separatist movement, the Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC). As elements of the MFDC frequently find sanctuary on the Guinea-Bissau side of the border with Senegal, it can be assumed that cannabis is cultivated to some degree. There are no/no known efforts to determine the scope of the cultivation or eradicate it.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. The drug flow that transits through Guinea-Bissau is mostly in the form of cocaine which flows from South America on either air or maritime traffic and continues on to Europe by means of other maritime traffic, traffickers on commercial air flights, or even traditional caravan routes through Northern Africa and across the Mediterranean to Southern Europe. The U.S. is not believed to be a predominant destination point for drugs transiting Guinea-Bissau.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. According to the UN, local drug abuse is a growing problem in Guinea-Bissau, as traffickers occasionally pay their local accomplices in kind with drugs. There are no GOGB efforts targeted specifically to reduce local drug consumption. There are also no GOGB drug treatment programs, although private organizations have established drug rehabilitation centers.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Policy Initiatives. The U.S. Embassy in Bissau closed in June 1998. The U.S. Ambassador to Senegal is accredited there and one U.S. officer assigned to the Embassy in Dakar monitors events there. The U.S. Embassy liaison office opened in Bissau in 2008 and is staffed by two Foreign Service nationals. During 2008, DEA and FBI representatives visited Bissau to assist in the investigation surrounding the July seizure of the plane from Venezuela. Representatives from AFRICOM and the FBI made frequent visits to Bissau in 2008 to provide technical assistance and to conduct needs assessments.


 

The Road Ahead. The USG will continue to work closely with the GOGB to improve the capacity of its narcotics law enforcement officers to investigate and prosecute narcotics crimes. The USG also will seek to identify credible partners within the Bissau-Guinean security forces and will seek to build their capacity to respond to the threat of narcotics trafficking. In recognition of the importance of strengthening broader institutional capacity, the USG will support the EU’s efforts to reform the judiciary, and will seek to strengthen the legislative and oversight capacity of the National Assembly. Furthermore, in recognition of the broad role that socio-economic factors play in narcotics trafficking, the USG will seek to promote economic development and political stability.


 

Guyana


 

I. Summary


 

Guyana is a transit point for cocaine destined for North America, Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean, but not, in quantities sufficient to impact the U.S. market. In 2008, domestic seizures of cocaine fell more than 50 percent from 2007. In the penultimate year of its National Drug Strategy Master Plan (NDSMP) for 2005-2009, the Government of Guyana (GOG) has achieved few of the plan’s original goals. Minimal cooperation among law enforcement bodies, weak border controls, and limited resources for law enforcement have allowed drug traffickers to move shipments via river, air, and land without meaningful resistance.

 

However, a major personnel transition within the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) offers some promise of improved coordination and interdiction efforts. In December, the government passed laws that allow for plea bargaining, wiretapping, and the collection of cell phone ownership data in order to modernize Guyana’s legal system and augment the tools available to law enforcement authorities. In April, Guyana acceded to the UN Convention Against Corruption, and in June, it acceded to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Guyana is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Guyana is a transit country for cocaine, and to a lesser degree marijuana. Guyana offers ample cover for drug traffickers and smugglers with its vast expanse of unpopulated forest and savannahs. Government counternarcotics efforts remain hampered by inadequate resources for, and poor coordination among, law enforcement agencies; an overburdened and inefficient judiciary; and the lack of a coherent and prioritized national security strategy. Murders, kidnappings, and other violent crimes commonly believed to be linked with narcotics trafficking are regularly reported in the Guyanese media. Guyana produces high-grade cannabis mostly for domestic consumption.

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs


 

Policy Initiatives. The GOG undertook a major overhaul of its chief counternarcotics body (CANU). Nine of its officers were fired in May, including the Acting Head, after failing polygraph examinations. In October, a new Director of CANU was hired, and the replacement of recently dismissed officers was ongoing at year’s end. CANU’s new Director has promised regularization of its operations, improved efficiency, and enhanced collaboration among law enforcement bodies.


 

The GOG continued implementation of a $5 million, multi-year Security Sector Reform plan funded by the United Kingdom that commenced in 2007. However, the GOG has made little progress on some of the plan’s key provisions. A Parliamentary committee to oversee national security has not been established, and a comprehensive national security policy has not yet been developed. Additionally, legislation tabled in 2007 that would augment the tools currently available to law enforcement in fighting money laundering, including regulations to allow for the seizure of assets, is stalled in Parliament. The chances for its passage remain unclear.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2008, Guyanese law enforcement agencies seized 48 kilograms (kg) of cocaine, compared to 167 kg in 2007. This decrease was largely due to the lack of any seizures of more than a few kilograms, as well as to the effects of the recent personnel shifts within CANU. However, eradication of domestically grown marijuana increased sharply, with 34,000 kg identified and destroyed, compared to 15,280 kg in 2007. Criminal charges were filed against 473 individuals for activities related to the trafficking or distribution of illicit drugs.


 

As noted last year, Guyana’s counternarcotics activities have long been encumbered by a British colonial-era legal system that does not reflect the needs of modern-day law enforcement. But in December, the government took a significant step forward by passing laws that permit plea bargaining, wiretapping, and the recording and storage of cell phone ownership data. The new laws collectively enhance both the investigative capability of law enforcement authorities, as well as the tools available to prosecutors in drug-related and other criminal matters. In addition, at year’s end the government was in the process of procuring new surveillance cameras for Guyana’s international airport, after signing an inter-agency agreement that facilitates the sharing of airport surveillance footage among all relevant law enforcement bodies.

 

The GOG has not identified or confronted major drug traffickers and their organizations. Efforts by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) Narcotics Branch and CANU have been limited to arresting low level drug couriers at Guyana’s international airport, who carry only small amounts of marijuana, crack cocaine or powder cocaine. Law enforcement agencies are hamstrung by insufficient personnel budgets, and there are no routine patrols of the numerous land entry points on the 1,800 miles of border with Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname.

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GOG does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. However, news media routinely report on instances of corruption reaching to high levels of government that are not investigated and thus go unpunished. USG analysts believe drug trafficking organizations in Guyana continue to elude law enforcement agencies through bribes and coercion. Guyana is party to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC), but has yet to fully implement its provisions, such as seizure of property obtained through corruption. In April, Guyana acceded to the UN Convention against Corruption.

 

Agreements and Treaties. In June, Guyana acceded to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Guyana is party to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Guyana also is a party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on trafficking in persons and the Inter American Convention Against Corruption. The 1931 Extradition Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom is applicable to the U.S. and Guyana. Recent case law in the Barry Dataram extradition matter, however, has eviscerated the Treaty. Dataram is being sought by the Eastern District of New York for cocaine-smuggling offenses. First, a Guyanese court has made it difficult, if not impossible to request a fugitive’s provisional arrest. Second, in December 2008, another Guyanese court ordered Dataram’s release, holding that the Treaty was invalid because, in essence, it lacked a re-extradition clause (although such a provision was not relevant to the Dataram case); such a provision is required under Guyana’s domestic extradition law. Guyanese Legal Affairs Minister Doodnauth Singh has confirmed that Guyana will not extradite fugitives to the United States unless the extradition treaty is changed. Guyana signed a bilateral agreement with the U.S. on maritime counternarcotics cooperation in 2001; however, it has not yet taken the necessary domestic actions to bring the agreement into force. In April 2008, Guyana ratified the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, to which the United States is also a party, though, to date, neither party has submitted an official request to the other under the Convention. Guyana has bilateral agreements to cooperate on drug trafficking issues with its neighbors and with the United Kingdom. Guyana is also a member of the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (OAS/CICAD).


 

Cultivation and Production. A very high-grade form of cannabis is grown in Guyana, primarily for domestic consumption, but some is also exported to other Caribbean countries.


 

Drug Flow/Transit. While there are no reliable estimates regarding the amount of cocaine or cannabis that transits Guyana, USG law enforcement authorities say that Guyanese narcotics traffickers regularly move shipments of cocaine through the country. Some cannabis cultivated in Guyana is also smuggled out of the country, although in more modest quantities. Guyana’s uncontrolled borders and coastline allow unfettered drug transit. Light aircraft land at numerous isolated airstrips or make airdrops where operatives on the ground retrieve the drugs. Smugglers use small boats and freighters to enter Guyana’s many remote but navigable rivers. Smugglers also take direct routes, such as driving or boating across the borders with Brazil, Suriname, and Venezuela. The Guyana Defense Force Coast Guard does not have any seaworthy vessels, as its lone patrol boat is currently in dry dock awaiting repairs.


 

Once inside the country, narcotics are transported to Georgetown by road, water, or air and then sent on to the Caribbean, North America, or Europe via commercial air carriers or cargo ships. Authorities have arrested drug mules attempting to smuggle small amounts of cocaine on virtually every northbound route out of the international airport. Suitcases not checked by any boarding passenger have also been intercepted by counternarcotics officials just prior to loading.

 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Marijuana is sold and consumed openly in Guyana, despite frequent arrests for possessing small amounts of cannabis. Anecdotal evidence, sources within the GOG and a local NGO note that consumption of all psychotropic substances in Guyana is increasing, with a particularly notable rise in the incidence of crossover addiction, i.e., addicts of one illicit substance becoming hooked on at least one other. In addition, the potency of locally grown marijuana has reportedly increased, which has fueled local consumption. Media reports have indicated the possible widespread use of sniffing agents such as gasoline and glue among students. Guyana’s ability to deal with drug abusers is hampered by the modest financial resources to support rehabilitation programs. Guyana only has two facilities that treat substance abuse: the Salvation Army and the Phoenix Recovery Center. The Phoenix Recovery Center conducts weekly substance abuse counseling sessions in five of Guyana’s prisons; this activity is funded by the government.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

U.S. policy focuses on cooperating with Guyana’s law enforcement agencies, promoting good governance, and facilitating demand reduction programs. In 2008, the USG continued to encourage Guyanese participation in bilateral and multilateral counternarcotics initiatives, and commenced a substance abuse treatment program for women, as well as gender-specific training for drug counselors. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding projects to improve governance in Guyana, which includes parliamentary and judicial reform.

 

Bilateral Cooperation. In 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Trinidad office continued to collaborate with Guyana’s law enforcement agencies in counternarcotics-related activities, and reported a generally favorable working relationship. The USCG provided resident and on-the-job training in engineering and maintenance procedures.


 

The Road Ahead. The U.S. continues to encourage the GOG to organize an effective counternarcotics program, especially within the context of the British-funded overhaul of the security sector. The GOG should pass and implement the proposed anti-money laundering legislation. We also encourage the GOG to draft implementing regulations for its new plea bargaining and telecommunications intercept laws. The U.S. will work with GOG to try and resolve the extradition difficulties.


 

Haiti


 

I. Summary


 

Haiti remains a major transit country for cocaine and marijuana from South America and the Caribbean, respectively. The Preva Administration continued the struggle to overcome pervasive corruption, weak governance, and mismanagement, but this effort was complicated by food riots in April, the lack of a functioning government for five months following the dismissal of the Prime Minister (and his cabinet) by the Legislature, and the devastating effects of four hurricanes that hit Haiti in quick succession in August-September.

 

Haiti’s law enforcement institutions remain weak and its judicial system dysfunctional. In 2008, with the support of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Haitian National Police (HNP) continued a successful campaign in the Port-au-Prince area to disrupt gang elements involved in kidnapping, drug trafficking, and intimidation. Although the campaign decreased criminal activity in those areas, the Government of Haiti (GOH) has yet to deliver the sustained police presence needed to eliminate the gangs’ criminal activity and a resurgence of kidnapping and robberies has occurred.

 

The GOH, with assistance from international donors – principally MINUSTAH, the United States and Canada – continues to promote the restoration of the rule of law. The HNP, with the support of MINUSTAH, completed the second year of its reform plan, which includes a vetting and certification process for all officers, and reform of institutional elements, including the General Administration Department and Logistics Bureau. Despite operations conducted by the HNP’s counternarcotics unit during the year, there were limited seizures of drugs. Haiti is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

 

II. Status of Country


 

Haiti’s 1,125 miles of shoreline, poorly controlled seaports, numerous clandestine airstrips, combined with a struggling police force, dysfunctional judiciary system, corruption, and weak democracy make it an attractive transshipment hub for drug traffickers to move cocaine, and to a lesser extent, marijuana, through Haiti to the United States. Smaller quantities of the drugs are also moved to Canada and Europe in addition to being shipped directly to the United States; drugs brought into Haiti also are moved overland into the Dominican Republic for onward delivery to the United States and Europe. Haiti experienced an increase in drug smuggling flights from 20 in 2007 to 23 through October 2008, according to the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force–South (JIATF-S).

 

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


 

During 2008, MINUSTAH civilian police advisers assisted the HNP in training over 500 veteran officers. Though no recruits graduated from the HNP Academy in 2008—a setback in achieving the minimum number of 14,000 police by 2011 as agreed with MINUSTAH as part of the HNP reform plan adopted in 2006—the 20th class of 708 police cadets entered the Academy in July 2008. An expansion of the Academy will enable the training of simultaneous classes, thereby increasing the number of trainees graduated. Morale is high among HNP officers, as recent polls indicate that 58% of the population sees improvement in the HNP and 66% list the HNP as the most trusted Haitian government institution, major changes from surveys in past years. MINUSTAH military troops, United Nations Police (UNPOL), MINUSTAH Formed Police Units, and HNP officers have made progress in dismantling gangs that conduct kidnapping.

 

In 2008 a USG-funded project to enhance the effectiveness of GOH anti-money laundering and anti-corruption efforts became fully operational. The project provides mentoring on the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes by U.S. Treasury advisers and has helped restructure the GOH Central Financial Intelligence Unit by separating its investigative and intelligence gathering functions. The HNP Financial Crimes Unit (French acronym BAFE) has been revitalized, moved into new offices shared with prosecutors and judges, and has referred several cases for prosecution for the first time in many years.

 

Law Enforcement Efforts. Though President Préval continued to urge strong action against drug trafficking and did not back away from his support for bilateral operations to arrest DEA-wanted fugitives for removal to the United States, the Government of Haiti overall made only modest advances in the fight against drug trafficking this year.


 

The HNP counternarcotics unit (French acronym BLTS), with support from the USG, worked to improve their response to air smuggling of cocaine. This response included establishing roadblocks to contain traffickers near the scenes of reported clandestine landings and conducting follow-up investigations upon learning of successful cocaine offloads. Resultant interdiction operations resulted in limited drug seizures and arrests.

 

The HNP Financial Crimes Unit, BAFE, has made great strides this year. In September 2008, the BAFE obtained forfeiture orders and seized two houses, one of which belonged to Jean Nesly Lucien, a former Director General of the HNP, and the other owned by Jean-Mary Celestin—both convicted in the U.S. on drug related charges. By year’s end, $21 million in property and assets had been seized by the GOH. The BAFE is aggressively implementing a plan to use convictions in U.S. courts as the legal basis for asset forfeiture in HaitI. This would help overcome a significant deficiency of Haiti’s current asset forfeiture regime which requires conviction of the trafficker in Haiti prior to forfeiture of assets.

 

Selected HNP officers who have graduated from a five-week course at the Drug Enforcement Academy in Quantico, Virginia, form the nucleus of the vetted Special Investigative Unit (SIU), a partnership between DEA and the GOH, and are charged with investigating Haitian drug organizations that have a nexus to the United States. The unit has conducted several joint interdiction operations with DEA/FBI/JIATF-S.

 

The Haitian Coast Guard (HCG) conducted drug interdiction operations from its bases in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien during the year. U.S.-sponsored training programs also helped Haiti achieve compliance with International Ships and Port Security (ISPS) standards in three international ports. Though several other ports have not yet met those standards, this certification bodes well for increased port screening and control of contraband.

 

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GOH does not encourage or facilitate illicit drug production or distribution, nor is it involved in laundering the proceeds of the sale of illicit drugs, and does not discourage the investigation or prosecution of such acts. Moreover, the GOH has demonstrated willingness to undertake law enforcement and legal measures to prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish public corruption. President Preval has publicly identified the fight against corruption and drug trafficking as major priorities for his administration. Vetting has taken place among selected units in Port-au-Prince and will be further expanded in the capital area where the majority of police officers are assigned. The HNP Director of Administration and Director of Logistics were both removed from their positions in 2008 for suspected corruption and their replacements have taken positive steps to increase accountability and transparency through the use of centralized databases, more controlled authorization of expenditures, and standard operating procedures. BAFE investigations continue to target government officials suspected of corruption and money laundering activities and to cooperate with U.S. officials on investigations into allegations of corruption under the previous administration.


 

Agreements and Treaties. Haiti is a party to the 1961 Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol; the 1988 UN Drug Convention; the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption; and the Inter American Convention against Trafficking in illegal firearms. A U.S.-Haiti maritime counternarcotics agreement entered into force in 2002. Haiti has signed but not ratified the UN Convention against Corruption, the Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Work, assisted by U.S. legal experts, is on-going on a bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and HaitI. Requests for assistance historically have been made through letters rogatory and the first such request in years was made in 2008, to which the GOH is responding.


 

Extradition. Haiti and the United States are parties to an extradition treaty that entered into force in 1905. Though the Haitian Constitution prohibits the extradition of its nationals, Haitians under indictment in the U.S. have been returned to the United States by non-extradition means. During 2008, the GOH arrested six defendants wanted in the United States on federal drug trafficking charges and transferred custody to the DEA for removal to the United States. All of these defendants were transported to the United States and several have already been convicted at trial or have entered guilty pleas.


 

Cultivation/Production. Haiti produces small amounts of marijuana for local consumption.


 

Drug flow/Transit. In 2008, traffickers continued to use small aircraft to make offshore air drops of illegal drugs as well as land deliveries using clandestine airstrips. At least 29 such landing strips have been identified. Suspect drug flights from Venezuela increased at least 15 percent in 2008 following on the 38 percent increase officially recorded in 2007. However, the actual rate of increase may be much higher. Several new trends emerged, including more daylight air drops, flights following the Haitian-Dominican Republic border further north into Haiti before making drops, and some planes being abandoned and burned once the drugs are offloaded. In addition, some of the increase in Haiti-bound flights appears to be linked to a corresponding drop in flights tracked to the Dominican Republic, a potentially worrisome trend that is expected to continue and demonstrates the need for coordinated action against drug traffickers throughout Hispaniola. Go-fast boats transporting cocaine from South America arrive at a number of locations on the southern coast of HaitI. The cocaine is then transported overland to Port-au-Prince where it is frequently concealed on cargo and coastal freighters destined for the United States and Europe. Marijuana is shipped via fast boats from Jamaica to waiting Haitian fishing vessels and cargo freighters to seaports along Haiti’s southern claw. It is then shipped directly to the continental United States or transshipped through the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. Seizures of very small quantities of crack for personal use also occurred in 2008. Pharmacies in Haiti are essentially unregulated and some controlled medications are sold in quantities through those businesses.


 

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Drug abuse is a growing but largely unacknowledged problem in Haiti. Increased use of marijuana among school-aged children has been reported. There are almost no formal demand reduction programs in place at this time.


 

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


 

Policy Initiatives. The cornerstone of USG efforts to combat drug trafficking in Haiti is reform of the HNP. In cooperation with MINUSTAH, the USG provided substantial equipment and technical assistance in 2008. The Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) of the U.S. Embassy coordinated the procurement of vehicles, radios, forensic lab and other technical equipment for the HNP, funded police academy and in-service training, and provided support for specialized HNP units. The USG contributed 50 officers to MINUSTAH’s UNPOL contingent, many of whom are involved in training recruits at the HNP academy. A USG-funded communication project continues installation of solar-powered radio base stations for the HNP throughout the country and assisted in repairs to such installations following the four hurricanes that impacted Haiti in 2008. The USG also is contributing three corrections experts to form the nucleus of a UN team to improve the infrastructure and management of Haiti’s prison system.


 

In addition, the USG provided two advisers to help the HNP Director General implement anti-corruption and strategic planning measures. As part of a multi-year anti-money laundering and anti-corruption project, advisers from the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) visited Haiti monthly to review cases of financial crimes with prosecutors and judges, mentor the HNP officers assigned to financial investigations and staff of the Financial Intelligence Unit. OTA advisers also provide training for financial investigators, judges, and prosecutors involved in money laundering and corruption cases. USCG Mobile Training Teams supported HCG operations with maritime law enforcement, port security, engineering, logistics and maintenance training in 2008, tripling the number of HCG trained and increasing Haitian capacity to carry out border protection activities. The USCG, retrofit four vessels and brought the boats to Haiti in April 2008. NAS also purchased two rigid-hull inflatable boats for the HCG. The addition of these assets will allow the HCG to respond better to future drug and migrant operations, particularly on the northern coast of Haiti.

 

The Road Ahead. Haiti must continue the reform and expansion of the HNP and step up the reform of its judicial system as prerequisites for effective counternarcotics operations throughout the country. The GOH must follow through by demonstrating the political will to fight corruption within state institutions and to overcome the under-resourcing and under-staffing of the HNP, problems which remain major impediments to sustained progress. More importantly, the restoration of the rule of law, including reform of the judicial system, must receive greater support and be prioritized to prevent erosion of the gains of the HNP and to provide the security and stability Haiti needs to meet the economic, social and political development needs of the Haitian people.


 

For its part, the USG will provide significant support in the coming year under the Merida Initiative—a partnership between the governments of the United States, Mexico, Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to confront the violent national and transnational gangs and organized criminal and narcotics trafficking organizations that plague the entire region, the activities of which spill over into the United States. The Merida Initiative will fund a variety of programs that will strengthen the institutional capabilities of participating governments by supporting efforts to investigate, sanction and prevent corruption within law enforcement agencies; facilitating the transfer of critical law enforcement investigative information within and between regional governments; and funding equipment purchases, training, community policing and economic and social development programs. Bilateral agreements with the participating governments were in the process of being negotiated and signed at the time this report was prepared.

Country Reports - Honduras through Mexico



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.