Montenegro is a transit country for illegal drugs entering Western Europe. The most prevalent drugs trafficked through Montenegro include marijuana produced in Albania; heroin from Afghanistan transiting through Kosovo and Albania; and cocaine from Latin America. Approximately 15 percent of drugs trafficked through Montenegro is consumed locally.
Montenegro has strengthened its drug enforcement capacities in 2013, increasing the number of law enforcement positions focused on narcotics from 47 to 55. While Montenegrin police participated in several international operations with neighboring countries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) criticized the government for its perceived failure to disrupt the activities of major drug traffickers. Police estimate that 15 local gangs are involved in international drug smuggling, and have noted the increased involvement of Montenegrins in organized criminal groups abroad. Montenegrin police also noted the increased number of EU citizens, particularly those from Greece and Belgium, participating in drug smuggling operations originating in Montenegro. During the first 10 months of 2013, criminal charges were brought against 135 persons, connected to the seizure of 1.23 metric tons of marijuana, 7.54 kilograms (kg) of heroin, and .07kg of cocaine.
Montenegro has stringent laws against illegal drugs, with sentences ranging from two to 15 years in prison for drug production and distribution. Almost half of the country’s current inmates are reportedly serving sentences for drug trafficking charges. During the first 10 months of 2013, 104 persons were convicted in 82 cases for illegal drug possession, production and distribution.
The Montenegrin government continues to prioritize the fight against drug trafficking and drug abuse. A seven-year national narcotics control strategy for 2013 – 2020 was introduced in 2013, as well as an accompanying action plan. According to research conducted by the Institute for Public Health, drug use among secondary school students is increasing. However, Montenegro’s rehabilitation efforts are hampered by a lack of resources and capacity, particularly for women. Awareness-raising activities on the danger of drugs were conducted in schools and at the local level. There are no authoritative statistics on the number of drug users in Montenegro. Authorities believe that Montenegro has between 2,500 to 3,000 addicts, but NGOs estimate that the actual number may range from 10,000 to 15,000. The Ministry of Health’s Office for Drug Prevention needs to play a more proactive role in combating drug abuse.
In 2013, Montenegro participated in dismantling drug rings in cooperation with the United States, Interpol, Europol, EU Member States and neighboring countries. U.S.-Montenegrin police cooperation remains strong, and Montenegrin police officers received training from the United States on undercover operations, high-risk arrests, and defensive tactics. The head of the Montenegrin police’s narcotics enforcement section also traveled to the United States for a study visit focused on drug enforcement.