Country Reports - Costa Rica through Haiti
Costa Rica is an important transit point for narcotics destined for the United States and Europe. Local consumption of illicit narcotics, particularly crack cocaine, remains a problem. While there are only estimates of the number of current crack cocaine users, this is a key concern for the Government of Costa Rica (GOCR), along with the continued rise in drug-related violent crimes. The Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security (MPS) initiated new security strategies in 2009 to combat crime, including a new community policing program and initiated a program of “zero tolerance” for police officer corruption. In 2009, the USG and the Government of Costa Rica (GOCR) signed the first Merida Initiative Letter of Agreement (LOA) to help combat narcotics trafficking and improve law enforcement capabilities. Costa Rica is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and passed a terrorist financing law in March of 2009 to remain in the Egmont Group. Costa Rica is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Costa Rica’s position on the isthmus linking Colombia with the United States, its long Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, and its jurisdiction over the Cocos Islands make it vulnerable to drug transshipment to South American cocaine and heroin destined for the United States. 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 2009
Policy Initiatives. The Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security (MPS) initiated several new security strategies in 2009. Included among them were a new community policing program, developing a national security policy that is currently in the GOCR interagency clearance process, and several special strategies to combat crime. These special strategies include an increased police presence in the province of Limon, long known for narcotics smuggling activity as well as the highest murder rate in the country. MPS has also increased the length of recruit police training from three months to six months. Also, MPS is planning to install a Closed Circuit TV system with 300 cameras in the San Jose area to target criminal activities and transmit intelligence information in real time. MPS continued its effective cooperation with the USG to interdict narcotics and to combat crack cocaine consumption in Costa Rica. The Ministry, with USG assistance, is continuing a container inspection program at the Caribbean port of Limon. The UNODC signed an agreement with the GOCR to establish a container intelligence program that should complement the container inspection program. Additionally, several key pieces of legislation became law in 2009, including an organized crime law, victims and witness protection law, antiterrorist financing and tougher money laundering legislation. Other legislation currently under consideration in the GOCR’s National Assembly includes instituting a regulatory and tax regime on casinos and gambling as well as a bill that limits the amount of fuel that vessels may carry, especially for fishing vessels that often re-supply drug-running go-fast boats. The government of Costa Rica remains committed to the development of their coast guard (SNGC). For example, the SNGC has received several seized boats from the GOCR’s Costa Rican Drug Institute (ICD, a rough equivalent to the USG’s Office of National Drug Control Policy) to increase their ability to patrol the littorals. Also, in a joint USG-GOCR renovation project of a previously USG-donated interceptor, an additional boat was put into the water in the Puntarenas area on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The Ministry of Finance proposed a budget increase of nearly 27 percent for security in FY2010.
Accomplishments. In 2009, Costa Rican authorities seized 20.6 metric tons (MT) of cocaine, of which 13.8 MT were seized on land or air and 6.8 MT were seized in national and/or joint maritime interdiction operations with U.S. law enforcement. The Government of Costa Rica (GOCR) also seized 206,760 doses of crack cocaine, 10 kg of heroin, nearly 900 kilograms of processed marijuana, and eradicated nearly 1,700,000 marijuana plants. They also seized 289 doses of ecstasy and 34 kilograms of ephedrine. Additionally, Costa Rican authorities confiscated more than $1.7 million in U.S. and local currency. The national legislature passed new laws on organized crime, anti-terrorist financing and tougher money laundering legislation in 2009. The more than 64,000 drug-related arrests made in 2009 represent a raw increase of 29,000 arrests (or 44 percent higher) over 2008. However, understaffing caused a significant prosecution backlog to remain.
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 original 2006 plan to add 4,000 new police officers to its force generated temporary increases in the numbers of police on the street in 2008-9, the total number of police in the force at the end of 2009 remains at around 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.
In addressing one of its most violent provinces, Limon, the GOCR has undertaken several anticrime initiatives in this Caribbean area of Costa Rica. The latest initiative, known as “Operation Limon: Sea, Air, and Land,” has yielded impressive results. According to GOCR sources, an additional 130 uniformed police were stationed in Limon in nine new police stations. MPS also provided the police there with new patrol cars, motorcycles, boats, and buses. As a result of this effort, the homicide rate in Limon, which has been the highest in the country in recent years, saw a dramatic reduction this summer. For example, in 2008 there was an average of two murders per week in Limon province; between July and November of 2009 there were only three murders.
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. One of the ex-presidents’ cases (which dated from 2004) concluded in October 2009 with a corruption conviction and a jail sentence of five years. Also, in 2009 over 40 police officers were arrested/fired for connections to narcotics trafficking. The Minister of Public Security has initiated a program of “zero tolerance” for police officer corruption and over 150 police officers were dismissed or suspended for various corrupt activities. 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 significant seizures at sea during 2009. The 1991 United States-Costa Rican extradition treaty was actively used in 2009. In 2009, Costa Rica arrested 13 fugitives: one of which was extradited, four are awaiting extradition, seven were deported, and one is awaiting deportation. Costa Rica also extradited in 2009 six fugitives who had been arrested in previous years. The USG recently expressed concern to the GOCR regarding extradition refusals on two high profile child abduction cases. The government officials involved in these child abduction cases remain adamant about their positions, which may result in Costa Rica becoming a safe haven for any individual who is wanted on child abduction charges and who disagrees with the outcome of custody disputes.
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 passed a terrorist financing law in March of 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 counternarcotics agreement in April 2003, and is currently taking the steps necessary to bring the agreement into force. In 2009, the USG and the Government of Costa Rica (GOCR) signed the first Merida Initiative Letter of Agreement (LOA) to help combat narcotics trafficking and improve law enforcement capabilities. In 2009, 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 for domestic consumption; however the Costa Rican Drug Institute believes that the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the marijuana is increasing.
Drug Flow/Transit. In 2009 shipments of cocaine ranging from one to 2,600 kilograms continued to flow through Costa Rica. Costa Rican-flagged fishing boats continue to be used by traffickers to smuggle multi-ton shipments of drugs and to provide fuel for go-fast boats that favor Pacific routes. Go-fast boats are increasingly transiting the littorals as a primary method of transporting cocaine through Costa Rica’s territorial waters. Costa Rica has seen a large increase in instances where the traffickers are off-loading their cocaine loads in the southern Golfito region of the country, then transporting the loads north via the Pan-American Highway. Traffickers have also continued smuggling of drugs through the postal system, international courier services and via individual passengers (“mules”) on international flights in/out of the country. Additionally, traffickers use Costa Rica as a “warehouse” to store narcotics temporarily on their trip north, often landing drugs on Costa Rican shores from go-fasts and then storing them until further land- or air-based travel can be arranged. Drug traffickers also now pay for services rendered to local contacts with drugs instead of money. This contributes greatly to the problem of domestic drug use, especially of crack cocaine. The presence of crack cocaine has contributed to the rise in crime in the streets and the sense of domestic insecurity in the country.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The ICD’s Prevention Unit oversees drug prevention efforts and educational programs throughout the country. The GOCR estimates there are 400,000 marijuana users in the country. In 2009, 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. In conjunction with ICD and Furezas Publicas, the DEA San Jose Country Office puts on a large Red Ribbon Week event. They work together with the Country’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) programs and put on a huge event for several hundred kids and area schools.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. USG support to Costa Rica focuses on counternarcotics projects designed to reduce the flow of illegal narcotics and other contraband through Costa Rica and its territorial waters, which cover more than ten times its landmass.
Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S. supported the GOCR’s efforts to improve interdiction by supporting projects that help improve the professionalization of its police; support interdiction efforts at border and mobile checkpoints to stop drugs flowing north and cash and weapons flowing south; provide information-sharing links to the border areas with Nicaragua; and technical assistance and equipment that enable the Costa Rica coast guard to patrol offshore. The USG also provided technical assistance and equipment, including drug detection kits and interceptor boats to the SNGC, via various funding mechanisms including the Merida Initiative. U.S. assistance also focused resources on interdicting maritime-based narcotics shipments to include containerized cargo. SNGC personnel continued to receive outboard motor maintenance training from the U.S. Coast Guard enhancing their capability to conduct preventive maintenance and troubleshooting techniques. The U.S. also supported reforms in police training.
The Road Ahead. Costa Rica could enhance its drug control efforts further by continuing to address drug trafficking both through its own direct efforts and ongoing collaboration with the USG. With support from equipment and training provided by the Merida Initiative, we encourage the GOCR to improve law enforcement training in order to enable its officers to fight crime, including its ability to interdict drug trafficking. The U.S. applauds the passing of the Terrorist Financing law, which guarantees their membership in the Egmont Group as well as the establishment of a financial intelligence unit (FIU). Additionally, the enactment of the organized crime law should provide prosecutors with stronger tools to bring criminals, especially those linked with narcotics trafficking, to justice. The GOCR is encouraged to improve their interdiction capabilities on their coastal littoral areas, which will be aided by the U.S. Southern Command-funded construction of the SNGC Academy and maintenance facilities near the port of Caldera in the province of Puntarenas. This will provide the tools necessary for the GOCR to effectively maintain a responsive coast guard. The USG has also built a radio tower in Cerro Azul, which will now allow VHF/UHF radio communications capabilities. This project should be functional as of January 2010 and will enable Costa Rican air/sea assets to not only communicate with each other but also with the U.S. air/sea assets working in the area.
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 2009, 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 principal 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 2009 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. There are such examples; however, in several of Cote’s neighbors, e.g., Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiative. According to the Director of the DPSD, in 2009 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 counternarcotics law enforcement lacks the resources and training necessary to prevent the flow of drugs into, and out of, the country. Foreign counternarcotics assistance to the Inter-Ministerial Committee (CILAD) has had minimal effect on law enforcement efforts. In addition to the 15 officers dedicated to the counternarcotics 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., lack of computers, vehicles and funds, to conduct investigations.
To date, the total reported drug seizures in Cote d’Ivoire during 2009 were: heroin (440gr), cocaine (2.3 kilograms), cannabis (3,356 kilograms), ephedrine (25,318 pills), diazepam (53,564 pills) and Rivotril/clonazepam (548 pills). There were 1,144 persons arrested, of whom 1,027 were jailed. It is unknown what percentage of these arrests were for intent to sell and what percentage were 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 they are deployed, 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 2008 to 2009.
According to the Director of the DPSD, given Cote’s other serious problems, counternarcotics is sadly 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. 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, reports of widespread public corruption from the lowest policeman up to the ministerial level are common, and at least some of the drug trafficking in Cote is influenced by the pervasiveness of corruption. Cote d’Ivoire has signed but has not yet ratified the UN Corruption Convention.
Agreements and Treaties. Cote d’Ivoire is a 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. The Ivorian Government is also a party to regional counternarcotics cooperation agreements negotiated among members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Cote d’Ivoire signed but has not yet ratified the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. In 1992, 1993 and 1994, it signed letters of Agreement with the USG seeking to enhance Cote d’Ivoire’s capabilities to suppress the cultivation, processing, trafficking, consumption and trans-shipment of illicit narcotics.
Drug Flow/Transit. Abidjan’s Houphouet-Boigny International Airport is the country’s primary transit site for the flow of narcotics. Also, Cote d’Ivoire’s major seaports in Abidjan and San Pedro 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, and sometimes abetted by border officials. It is difficult to gauge the amount of drugs transiting the country, since the government’s data is unreliable.
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 Côte 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 law enforcement assistance and technical training. In 2009, three senior Ivorian counternarcotics officers, two from the CILAD and one from National Police, have been invited to attend an African Center for Strategic Studies regional seminar in Dakar on combating narcotics trafficking. USG and Ivorian law enforcement officials continue to cooperate with one another via information exchanges.
The 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 foster Ivorian participation in regional and international counternarcotics initiatives (e.g., ECOWAS, UNODC, INTERPOL, and Gulf of Guinea). Once 508 sanctions are lifted, the USG might conduct an interagency assessment and develop a program for future cooperation and assistance.
The Republic of Croatia is a transit point through which narcotics are smuggled from 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 over the next few years. According to available indicators, the drug supply in Croatia itself increased and became more diverse in recent years. These changes have led to an increase in drug use, particularly among young people. Some of the factors that are contributing to the growth of narcotic-related crime in Croatia are the liberalization of border traffic as part of the EU integration process, increasing tourism and maritime traffic, the long maritime border, and Croatia’s geographical position as a crossroads between the East and West and Northern and Southern Europe. The 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. The Croatian Government’s Office for Combating Narcotic Drugs Abuse has been intensively working on building and strengthening national drug control systems and is actively involved in European and broader international initiatives.
II. Status of Country
Croatia is located in South-East Europe at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Central Europe, and the Balkans. The long land border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Hungary, and a 1,777 km coastline (plus an additional 1,185 islands) are attractive targets for contraband smugglers seeking to move narcotics into the large European market. The “Balkan Route” is recognized as the shortest drug trafficking corridor 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. There has also been a recent increase in cocaine traffic coming into Croatia from South America via Africa and then on to other European destinations. According to Croatian authorities, there is no significant 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 2009
Policy Initiatives. Beginning in 1995, Croatian officials created a counternarcotics master plan, divided into a National Strategy and an Action Plan which define the tasks of individual ministries and state administration bodies involved in counternarcotics efforts. The “National Strategy on Combating Narcotic Drugs Abuse (2006–2012)” and the “Action Plan on Combating Narcotic Drugs Abuse in the Republic of Croatia for 2009-2012,” 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 that was implemented in 1996 and ended in 2005. The strategy is comprehensive and covers the same five pillars as the EU’s strategy: coordination, supply reduction, demand reduction, international cooperation, and information, research, and evaluation. Its two main goals are: 1) a reduction in drug use, drug addiction and related health and social risks and 2) the promotion of successful law enforcement efforts to curtail the production and trafficking of drugs and precursors. The strategy is complemented by the Action Plan which implements annual programs. The Plan describes in detail the specific aims and methods for achieving the strategic goals, as well as specific tasks of particular offices and ministries for each budgetary period.
Addiction prevention programs in Croatia, which were established in 2005 in all counties, involve sectors such as education, health and social care, nongovernmental organizations, and media. There are 21 counties in the Republic of Croatia, each with a County Commission on Combating Narcotic Drugs Abuse bringing together local experts from different fields. In 2008, the Government also passed the Annual Employment Plan, which includes guidelines for the employment of rehabilitated addicts.
The Croatian Penal Code provides for criminal penalties for narcotics and narcotics-related offenses. The minimum penalty for narcotics production and dealing is three years. The minimum penalty for selling narcotics by organized groups is five years. The minimum penalty for incitement or facilitating the use of illegal narcotics is one year. In addition, punishment for possession of related equipment or precursor chemicals has a mandatory sentence of no less than one year.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry and Customs Directorate share responsibilities for law enforcement efforts, 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 counternarcotics units in police departments throughout the country. The Ministry of Interior reported successful and effective cooperation in 2008 and the first six months of 2009 with DEA, FBI, the General Inspectorate of Interpol, UNODC and other agencies responsible for drug control.
Under Croatian law, police are allowed to use undercover investigators and confidential informers, simulated purchases or sales, simulated bribery, secret surveillance, technical recording of persons, and wiretapping. Croatian criminal legislation strengthened measures to confiscate assets of organized crime groups in late 2008 by shifting the burden of proof about the legitimate origins of assets to the defendant rather than the prosecutors. Reverse sting authorization was included in December 2008 changes to the Criminal Procedure Act, but police did not conduct a reverse sting operation during 2009. According to the amendments to the Croatian Penal Code (article 82), if a case falls under the authority of the specialized prosecutors who work in the Office for Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK), it shall be assumed that all of a defendant’s property was acquired by criminal offences, unless the defendant can prove the legal origin of assets. The pecuniary gain in such cases shall also be confiscated if it is in possession of a close third party (e.g. spouse, relatives, and family members) and it has not been acquired in good faith. Croatia continues to cooperate well with other European states to improve border management. Authorities described this cooperation on narcotics enforcement issues with neighboring states as good.
In 2009, the Croatian Police created separate Police USKOK offices to correspond with the prosecutor’s USKOK offices. This should enable better cooperation on drug trafficking and organized crime cases between police and prosecutors. Croatia also created separate sections within the four largest courts to hear USKOK cases with specially trained and vetted judges.
Croatian laws are generally sufficient to combat narcotics trafficking and drug use. The Criminal Law covers 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 and crime consequences. The Act on Combating Narcotic Abuse, enacted in 2001, covers misdemeanor crimes, the export and use of precursor chemicals, and other administrative and regulatory issues. The act requires all persons or corporations to obtain import, export, or transport licenses for any quantity of listed drugs or precursors. The act also regulates healthcare, treatment, international cooperation, and drug education and other preventive programs.
During 2008, seizures of various types of narcotics declined 10 percent from 2007 to 5,879 seizures. The seizure rate continued to drop in 2009, falling by 9 percent for the first nine months to 4,158.
The largest seizures of cocaine in the Republic of Croatia occurred in the container terminal of the port of Rijeka. No seizures occurred at sea during the reporting period. Evidence indicates that the cocaine was intended for the illegal narcotic markets of Western Europe. Cocaine trafficking has been increasing in recent years and this has been generally reflected in the overall seizure rate.
In the first nine months of 2009, however, cocaine seizures have fallen dramatically with only 5 kilograms seized compared to more than 25 kilograms in the same period in 2008.
A total of 7,882 drug-related criminal offences were registered in 2008, which constitute 10.6 percent of all reported criminal offences in Croatia. Police filed criminal charges against 5,225 individuals. The Ministry of Interior reported 5,610 criminal acts related to narcotic abuse were registered in the period from January 1 to September 30, 2009. Nearly one-third of those are complex felony cases. During this time period, 4,723 persons were charged with narcotic-related crimes.
Corruption. The illicit production and/or distribution of narcotics as well as the 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. The Croatian Constitution prohibits the extradition of Croatian nationals, but the Government was preparing a constitutional amendment at the end of 2009 as part of EU accession negotiations to allow extradition of its nationals.
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 a 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 and precursor chemicals produced in Western Europe smuggled through to the East. Drugs are smuggled through Croatia both overland and via the sea, and 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 in Croatia 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, and 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. According to the Croatian Public Health Institute the number of treated persons continues to decrease. Of the treated addicts the greatest number were treated for addiction to opiates and marijuana. In 2008, 116 drug-abusers died as a direct result of drug abuse, which is a 30 percent decline from 2007. Of these deaths, approximately 70 percent were overdoses. Nearly half of all heroin addicts were infected with the hepatitis C, and 13.6 percent were positive on hepatitis B. The Ministry of Education requires drug education in primary and secondary schools. The state-run medical system offers treatment for addicts, and slots are sufficient to accommodate those seeking treatment.
In 2008 the Republic of Croatia spent 84 million kuna ($17.5 million) for the implementation of the National Strategy and the Action Plan, which include both law enforcement efforts and demand reduction programs. In 2008 the state budget for the implementation of the activities stated in the National Action Plan and the Strategy increased by 26.4 percent in comparison with 2007. During the first six months of 2009, Croatia only spent 30 million kuna ($ 6.3 million), reflecting cuts to the national budget due to the economic crisis.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. counternarcotics policy in Croatia is focused on expanding the capacity of the police and prosecutor’s drug divisions and working with investigators from the Croatian Ministry of the Interior’s Drug Division on their international investigations, particularly with respect to South America-based drug trafficking organizations. DEA is the lead agency in this endeavor and continues to foster an outstanding relationship with Croatian law enforcement. DEA has achieved significant results with respect to bilateral and multilateral investigations and cooperation in 2009. Croatia is also a regular participant at international drug conferences covering strategic as well as operational matters. U.S. assistance for police reform efforts under the State Department-supported ICITAP (Department of Justice) program is now focused on combating organized crime and corruption. The U.S. Export Control and Related Border Security Program (EXBS) also provides support and training to customs and border police. DEA, ICITAP, and EXBS training and cooperation have helped lead to several seizures and more effective prosecutions of drug crimes. The U.S. Coast Guard contributed to efforts in this area through a training course on Rule of Law. The Department of Defense also assisted by providing counternarcotics equipment for border police through the U.S. European Command.
The Road Ahead. In 2010, the INL-ICITAP and EXBS programs will continue to train and advise Croatian law enforcement personnel on counternarcotics activities Resident advisors will continue to assist the Ministry of Interior and Office for Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK) in improving police and prosecutor cooperation in complex narcotics and organized crime cases and plan to assist Croatian police and prosecutors in planning and conducting reverse sting operations and prosecutions. EXBS programs will also assist the Ministry of Interior and Customs Directorate to enhance their capabilities in fighting narcotics and organized crime cases.
Although Cuba is neither a significant consumer nor a producer of illegal drugs, its ports, territorial waters, and airspace are susceptible to narcotics smuggling from source and transit countries. Cuba is located in an ideal transshipment point for the Caribbean between the United States and the drug producing countries of South America. This year, the Government of Cuba (GOC) continued a multi-force counternarcotics interdiction operation in existence for ten years, and a nationwide counternarcotics public awareness campaign. Cuba also carried out some operations in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Drug Interdiction Specialist (DIS) 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 detects and monitors suspect vessels and aircraft in its territorial waters and airspace. In cases likely to involve narcotics trafficking, GOC normally provides detection information to the USCG. The GOC has the legal framework within its criminal justice system to prosecute and assign stiff penalties to narcotic users and traffickers. Cuban counternarcotics officials claim 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 reportedly low incidence of drug consumption. Cuba is active in regional drug control advocacy. The GOC has established an auxiliary force that involves training and educating Cuban citizens regarding its counternarcotics policy. All Cuban citizens are required to report to the appropriate authorities the discovery of actual or suspected narcotics washed up on Cuban shores. The GOC reports to have trained employees at sea-side resorts and associated state-run businesses in narcotics recognition and how to communicate the presence of illicit narcotics to the appropriate Cuban Border Guard (CBG) personnel or post. This approach acts as an interdiction force-multiplier for CBG troops who are responsible for patrolling the Cuban coastline, largely by foot, collect wash-ups of illicit narcotics around Cuba’s 5,746 kilometer coastline. The GOC also provides social service resources to improve prevention for its citizens.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The Cuban government maintains that it has close ties to regional counternarcotics initiatives. The GOC reported in 2009 it was a party to two memoranda of understanding (MOU) and 56 judicial assistance agreements. Further, Cuba participates in international efforts such as the United Nations’ Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) meetings. In May, Havana hosted a working group meeting for the exchange of drug intelligence information among the European Union (EU), Latin America, and the Caribbean that included 44 delegates from 34 nations. In June, a regional seminar was held regarding Mutual Judicial Assistance between Latin American and Caribbean nations, organized by experts from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Cuban Ministry of Justice, attended by 10 regional nations.
Cuban Government personnel attended two training courses offered by international partners that focused on maritime drug interdiction and money laundering. This year, the GOC reported it continued to strengthen its relationship with International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), primarily regarding persons who move internationally and are believed to be involved in drug-related crimes.
Accomplishments. Between January and September 2009, the GOC seized 3,008 kilograms of narcotics—nearly double the amount seized in 2008, including 86 packets of narcotics wash-ups (1,037 kilograms of marijuana, 2 kilograms of cocaine, and 31 kilograms of hashish). Washed-up narcotics are aggressively collected and securely stored for eventual incineration to avoid sale on the internal market. According to the GOC, this increase did not signify an increase of drug use or demand in Cuba; rather, several cases during the year yielded higher net interdiction amounts than did cases in 2008.
In May, Cuban authorities interdicted a go-fast boat utilizing Cuban territorial seas for protection from other regional maritime law enforcement authorities. In July, Cuban authorities secured a small aircraft and its Jamaican crew of three after having made an emergency landing in Camagüey Province. Prior to landing, the crew discarded 13 bales of marijuana totaling 465 kilograms into a nearby field.
According to the GOC, Cuba’s airports were used sporadically this past year to transfer drugs towards third countries or to supply the Cuban domestic market; the incidents of drugs arriving at Havana’s José Martí International Airport increased slightly from 13 to 16 cases. The GOC believes in 11 of these cases the drugs were intended for the Cuban market, while the other 5 were intended for third-countries. In all, 164 travelers were detained during 154 interventions for possession of small quantities of narcotics, believed to be for personal use. In those cases, the GOC fined those tourists and the narcotics were seized. Individuals are generally warned about Cuba’s regulations prohibiting the trafficking and possession of narcotics, and allowed to continue with their trips. GOC reports international drug traffickers have recently shown interest in the 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, and seizes the assets of such individuals. The GOC asserts the government has in place the necessary legal instruments to properly carry out this operation, both penal and administrative. Per the GOC, its actions are in line with international commitments as a state party to control and fight against illicit drug trafficking.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The Cuban National Anti-Drug Directorate (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. Cuban counternarcotics efforts follow a multi-disciplinary approach where various elements of the Cuban Ministry of Interior readily share information to detect, deter, and interdict illicit narcotics, as well as minimize addictions to drugs.
Cuba’s “Operation Hatchet” 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 maritime 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 2009, Cuban law enforcement authorities reported “real time” sightings of 34 go-fast vessels and 4 suspect aircraft transiting their airspace or territorial waters. Of note is the increasing use of Cuban territorial seas by Bahamian and Jamaican narcotics traffickers to avoid primarily USCG patrols. On several occasions, Cuban authorities were quick to act on these maritime incursions. However, in other cases they simply passed the most up-to-date information on the vessel’s whereabouts in their territorial seas to regional law enforcement agencies without attempting to interdict.
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.
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 the Protocol Against the Illicit Manufacturing of Trafficking in Firearms. A 1905 extradition treaty between the United States and Cuba and an extradition agreement entered into in 1926 remain in force but no fugitives were extradited pursuant to these agreements in 2009. While Cuba maintains it is not a producer of chemical precursors, it oversees this issue per the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and close collaboration with the International Narcotics Control Board.
Cultivation/Production. The GOC continues to report 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 low. Prices for both marijuana and cocaine are extremely high due to the low availability of both on the island. Marijuana harvests are considered isolated cases by the GOC.
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 loaded with drugs pose an increasing risk to Cuban ports, especially as joint-interagency counternarcotics efforts in the source zone and heavily-trafficked transit zones prove more and more effective. As Cuba continues to develop its tourism industry, there is increased likelihood for a greater flow of narcotics into the country, be it for personal use or for sale.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The National Drug Commission (CND) is the principal body for prevention, rehabilitation, and policy issues in Cuba. The Minister of Justice heads the body, composed of DNC, which includes representation from 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 encompassing 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, included as part of the educational curriculum at all grade levels.
The majority of Cuban municipalities have counternarcotics organizations with prevention programs that focus on education and outreach to groups most at risk of being introduced to illegal drug use. These include drug dependency treatment centers and community health facilities consisting of family doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, as well as 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 July 2009, the GOC stated it would present the U.S. with a proposed counternarcotics agreement, but as of December, that proposal had not been presented to the U.S. Government. In the absence of normal bilateral relations, the USCG DIS assigned at USINT Havana acts as the main conduit of counternarcotics cooperation with the host country on a case-by-case basis. Cuban authorities have provided DIS continued access 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 antidoping laboratory in Havana; tours of CBG facilities; container x-ray equipment at the Port of Havana, and access to meet with the Chiefs of Havana’s INTERPOL and Customs offices. When scenarios dictate the need for first-hand visits to wash-up or interdiction sites, Cuban authorities have readily involved the DIS in post-incident assessments and site visits, routinely providing post-incident briefings and access to boats and aircraft involved in said cases.
The Road Ahead. Cuba’s Drug Czar Miguel Guilarte raised the idea of greater counternarcotics cooperation with the USG, and Commander-in-Chief Raul Castro publicly called for a bilateral agreement on narcotics, migration, and terrorism. However, these calls have not been accompanied by actionable proposals on which to base future Cuban cooperation. Both nations may gain by pressing forward with expanded cooperation, especially considering Cuba’s location in the Caribbean, and the potential for the island and its territorial seas to be utilized for drug transshipments to the United States.
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 operate its two main seaports as free ports continues 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. In 2009, the Cyprus drug unit has reported the seizure of approximately $90,000 in illegal narcotics proceeds.
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, an approximate average of 7 percent increase per year. 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. Cyprus has adopted a program targeting intervention to encourage rehabilitation, and avoid slippage into a life of criminality or substance abuse for individuals between the ages of 14 to 24 who have been arrested as a result of use or possession of narcotics. Cyprus has funded national counseling centers for the individual and his/her family to accomplish this goal. 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. Through October 2009 there were eight confirmed reports of drug-related overdose deaths in Cyprus. Of the eight deaths, seven were the direct result of an overdose and one was indirectly related to drugs. 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 U.S. 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 2009
Policy Initiatives. There were no new policy initiatives in 2009. 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 Cyprus’ 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 nine months of 2009, the Cyprus Police Drug Law Enforcement Unit opened 540 cases and made 646 arrests. Of those arrested 445 were Cypriots the remainder were foreign nationals. DLEU seized approximately 155 kilograms of cannabis, 725 cannabis plants, 76 kilograms of cannabis resin (hashish), 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, 1129 tablets of MDMA (Ecstasy), 933 grams of opium, and 35 grams of heroin. None of these statistics represent a major change from previous years.
Area administered by Turkish Cypriots: The “Narcotics and Trafficking Prevention Bureau” functions directly under the “General Police Headquarters.” From January to October 2009, the Turkish Cypriot authorities arrested 205 individuals for narcotics offenses and seized 15 kilograms of marijuana/ hashish, 10 grams of heroin, no reported seizure of cocaine, 2 kilograms of opium, 219 cannabis plants, and a minimal amount of Ecstasy. There were no reported deaths related to narcotics. Overall, 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 a Turkish Cypriot Customs official was involved in the illegal importation of marijuana into the area administered by Turkish Cypriots.
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. These protocols will enter into force on February 1, 2010.
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 725 cannabis plants in the first 9 months of 2009.
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 219 cannabis plants during the first nine months of 2009. 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 2009. 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 receives 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. One method used is the smuggling of illegal narcotics through concealed compartments of vehicles or through containers in cargo ships.
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. U.S. 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. During 2009, DEA Cyprus funded the travel of several Cypriot officers to attend DEA hosted training in Greece and Jordan. Also in support of container security initiatives, the U.S. Coast Guard trained Cypriot officials in port security measures.
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. DEA Cyprus has an Airport Asset/Interdiction school planned for Cyprus late in 2010.
The Czech Republic is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Marijuana and methamphetamines (perveitin) are especially prevalent in the Czech Republic, and while the overall number of drug users in the country has remained relatively stable in recent years, the rates of use for cannabis, Ecstasy, and methamphetamine continue to be among the highest in Europe. Domestically cultivated marijuana is used more than any other drug, and local production of high-THC marijuana for export to neighboring countries is being facilitated by a significant rise in the number of high-volume indoor cultivation sites (grow houses) operated primarily by ethnic Vietnamese residents who Czech police officials have discovered to be working in concert with Vietnamese networks elsewhere throughout Europe and in Southeast Asia.
The amount of heroin reaching the Czech Republic declined in the past year, while the accessibility of cocaine increased, mainly due to a reduction in quality and a resulting lower cost. Concerns about the privacy of personal data are impeding what at first appeared to be a successful government effort to monitor and restrict the sales of over-the-counter medications containing precursor chemicals for methamphetamine. An update to the Czech “National Drug Policy Strategy” is being prepared for the period 2010 and beyond. A new penal code taking effect on January 1, 2010 clearly defines the previously ambiguous “small amount” of drugs in personal possession classifiable as a misdemeanor offense, and establishes a lower, one-year maximum sentence for criminal possession of so-called “soft drugs”, as opposed to a two-year maximum penalty for possession of other controlled substances.
II. Status of Country
With lighter sentences for drug crimes than elsewhere in the region, a minimal risk of asset seizure, lower overhead costs for marijuana grow house and methamphetamine lab operators, and its position at the crossroads of a European Union with Schengen open borders, the Czech Republic is a relatively advantageous location for groups engaged in the drug trade.
With the local drug market reportedly saturated, there has been a moderate decrease in the heroin importation arranged by ethnic Albanian gangs from Kosovo and Macedonia who continue to rely mainly on Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, and Bulgarian overland couriers (usually carrying up to 10 kilograms). However, at the same time there has been a notable increase in cocaine smuggling operations allegedly directed by West African (primarily Nigerian) groups with fraudulent marital ties in the Czech Republic who are said to be employing Czech citizens as air couriers between Europe and South America. Domestic cocaine use is on the rise because of a lower cost for the drug. This trend has provided an opening for ethnic Albanian gangs to distribute cocaine in West Europe, after transiting the Czech Republic. But, cocaine remains a fractionally small part of the drug problem in the Czech Republic.
According to the most recent surveys tracked by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the rates of marijuana, Ecstasy, and methamphetamine use in the Czech Republic are some of the highest in Europe, especially among teenagers and young adults, though there has been a slight downward trend recently with regard to Ecstasy and methamphetamine use by younger Czechs.
Meanwhile, the Czech National Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction—the country’s main body responsible for collecting, analyzing and interpreting data on drug use—confirms marijuana’s popularity with teenagers in particular (45 percent of 16-year-olds having tried it at least once), and reports that the population of adult drug users was growing in 2008, especially the number of cannabis users. The Center’s report estimates there were 21,450 pervitin (methamphetamine) users (up from 20,900 in 2007) and approximately 11,050 opiate users (up from 10,000 in 2007). These figures are still among the highest percentages of use in the EU.
III. Country Action Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The Czech Republic’s four-year “National Drug Policy Strategy for 2005-2009,” is about to expire, and the inter-ministerial Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination (GCDPC) is currently drafting a new strategy for 2010 and beyond, relying in great measure on an evaluation of the government’s fulfillment of the associated “Action Plans” (for 2005-2007 and 2007-2009). As with the current “National Drug Policy Strategy,” the upcoming strategy will likewise form the basis for a government-wide “Action Plan,” which will almost certainly remain focused on supporting the four main pillars of the existing national drug policy: “primary prevention,” “treatment and rehabilitation,” “harm reduction” (i.e., reducing the health and social impact of drug use), and “supply reduction”. (While the Ministry of Interior is represented on the GCDPC, law enforcement officials develop their own operational plans aimed at supporting the “supply reduction” pillar, an effort that is of course assisted through GCDPC-coordinated legislative and judicial action as well.)
The top three goals of the current “Action Plan” for 2007-2009 are:
To stabilize or reduce the number of “problem drug users” (the use of drugs by injection and/or the regular or long-term use of opiates and methamphetamine; does not include cocaine, Ecstasy and cannabis).
To halt the growth of experimental and occasional use of legal drugs and illegal drugs.
- To stabilize or reduce the consumption of legal and illegal drugs in society, especially among minors.
Along with most of the other priority goals, these three highest goals of the “Action Plan” are to be accomplished primarily through treatment, prevention, and raising public awareness. It should also be noted that legal drugs (i.e., alcohol and tobacco) receive equal attention in this context, insofar as “harm reduction”—the policy pillar within which their impact is considered significant—is the most politically visible aspect of the Czech Republic’s drug program, and the one enjoying broadest public support. A recent Anti-Drug Services and Public Health Research Center survey on attitudes toward illegal drug users finds that 32 percent of Czechs believe they should be “accepted, so long as non-users are protected,” while 63 percent feel they must be “tolerated, but required to accept treatment, or possibly prosecution.” The first figure is up from 20 percent roughly a decade ago, while the latter is down almost ten percent. Meanwhile, in an early 2009 press release, the Czech Minister of Interior’s Advisor for Drug Issues identified harm reduction as “the main criteria for judging the drug situation” in the country.
Among the most visible steps taken by the government in the preceding year to combat drug abuse was the long-awaited passage in May 2009 of a measure requiring purchasers of over-the-counter medications containing pseudoephedrine to register with a national database as a way of imposing an effective control measure on the sale of this methamphetamine precursor ingredient. Not long after the new rule took effect, a remarkable decline was noted in the sale of medications containing pseudoephedrine—as much as a 90 percent decline according to law enforcement officials, though Ministry of Health data place the figure at a 70 percent drop. In an unexpected move, however, the Bureau for the Protection of Personal Data has ordered a halt to the collection and storage of personal information about purchasers of medication, a step sharply criticized even by the pharmaceutical industry as a contradictory about-face. The Minister of Health has publicly vowed to pursue urgent legislative action to restore the control measure by March 2010.
Law Enforcement. The new penal code discussed in last year’s INCSR was approved in February 2009 and will come into force on January 1, 2010. Under the new law, the previously vague allowance for a “small amount” of drugs for personal use classifiable as a misdemeanor offense has been clearly defined:
At the same time, the revised criminal code differentiates between so-called “soft drugs” (marijuana and Ecstasy) and other illegal substances when establishing maximum sentencing for personal possession exceeding the amounts stated above. For possession of marijuana and Ecstasy, the maximum jail time is one year, while it is set at a two-year maximum for the other drugs.
In 2008, the National Drug Headquarters (NDH), the country’s principal drug enforcement arm within the Czech National Police, seized 46 kilograms of heroin (up from 20 kilograms in 2007), 16,609 Ecstasy pills (down from 62,226 in 2007), 3.78 kilograms of methamphetamine (5.98 in 2007), 393 kilograms of marijuana (122 kilograms in 2007), 7.63 kilograms of cocaine (3.75 kilograms in 2007), 246 LSD doses (117 in 2007), and 25,223 cannabis plants (6,992 in 2007). They also uncovered 434 methamphetamine laboratories, and over 200 marijuana cultivation sites (compared to just 34 sites in 2007), most operated by ethnic Vietnamese gangs. For completeness, Customs Service data for 2007 was: 9.3 kilograms of marijuana; 0.4 kilograms of hashish; 0.9 kilogram of pervitin; 28.6 kilograms of cocaine; 8.9 kilograms of heroin; 4.8 kilograms of ecstasy.)
As reflected in the foregoing data as reported by Czech counternarcotics officials, large-scale cultivation of marijuana in grow house facilities is expanding significantly. The amount of high-quality cannabis being produced in these illicit operations is estimated to exceed potential domestic demand, and law enforcement agencies have already uncovered numerous cases in which such facilities in the Czech Republic are being established as the lower-cost, lower-risk alternative to undertaking high-volume cultivation in other European countries. Relying upon existing distribution networks—a number of which include otherwise seemingly legitimate commercial elements within the Czech Republic and elsewhere throughout Europe and Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam—the gangs running these enterprises appear to be working toward achieving an economy of scale that will ensure profitability even in the face of inevitable losses to interdiction efforts. There are even special “consultants” who are traveling to newly-established cultivation sites to help with initial training and setup.
The number of drug offenses in the Czech Republic remains within recent parameters. According to the Czech National Monitoring Center, total prosecutions for drug offenses in 2008 reached 2,304, slightly above, but still very near, the four-year low figure registered in 2007 (2,282). A similarly small increase occurred in the number of people charged with drug crimes in 2008: 2,100 versus 2,042 in 2007, with the 2008 figure being the lowest total since 2000. Justice Ministry statistics for 2008 show that courts passed final sentences upon 1,360 persons convicted of drug offenses. Methamphetamine cases continue to account for up to three-quarters of prosecutions, with marijuana cases making up most of the remaining quarter, and other drug offenses filling out the remainder.
Statistics for the first six months of 2009 show that of 844 investigated criminal drug cases, 712 defendants were convicted, but only 203 received prison sentences. Just 18 of those imprisoned received sentences lasting five to 15 years, while the majority (143) of those sentenced to serve time in jail received sentences of one year to less than five years.
Corruption. The Czech government does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs and other controlled substances, nor the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. There were no charges made against law enforcement or government officials for drug-related crimes during this reporting period.
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 and ratified bilateral instruments with the U.S. implementing the 2003 U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements. The U.S. has ratified all of these agreements, and they will enter into force on February 1, 2010. A 1925 extradition treaty between the U.S. and the Czech Republic, as supplemented in 1935, remains in force.
Cultivation/Production. As noted above in the Law Enforcement section, large-scale domestic cultivation of high-quality cannabis in illicit grow houses is a recent trend of concern as the collective output of what is already a “cottage industry” continues to increase sharply.
Drug Flow/Transit. There was a decline in the domestic demand for heroin in the Czech Republic 2008. Though the overland importation of heroin continues to be organized by ethnic Turks—and to a lesser extent ethnic Albanians—with Vietnamese operatives taking part in distribution, Czech police and customs authorities suspect the Balkan route of heroin trafficking has moved south to Austria, and they therefore no longer view the Czech Republic as a transit country for heroin.
Czech counternarcotics officials have recently recorded an increased popularity of imported cocaine that is mostly distributed by West African nationals, especially Nigerians, with fraudulent local marital ties. The reason for the growing demand may well be a lower quality and the resulting cheaper street price. Czech citizen “spouses” continue to act as air couriers for these groups, smuggling cocaine from South America—especially Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and Peru—to Western Europe. Albanian-speaking criminal gangs are also involved.
As noted above in both the Law Enforcement and Cultivation/Production sections, the trend toward large-scale growth of cannabis plants has already been clearly linked with a deliberate export aim.
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 Policy 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 Policy 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 were required to obtain certification prior to the end of 2008. According to the National Monitoring Center, a total of 59 facilities were certified in 2009. 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 2008, there were 116 contact centers and street programs in the Czech Republic. 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 like its predecessor Subutex has the active ingredient buprenorphine and can be prescribed by any physician, regardless of his or her specialization.
In 2008 the government spent 100 million crowns ($5.882 million) on its drug policy. The National Monitoring Center’s statistics have noted a positive trend: The increasing average age of long-term drug users—28.7 years in 2008, compared to 26.1 years in 2007, 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. Czech law enforcement officials report that cooperation with the DEA Vienna Country Office is excellent, with bilateral investigations routinely conducted between DEA agents and Czech investigators assigned to the National Drug Headquarters and the Customs Service. 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. In the nearest term, the Czech Government’s goal will be to reestablish the control mechanisms discussed above aimed at limiting the abuse of methamphetamine precursor ingredients contained in over-the-counter medications. At the same time, evaluation of the government’s “Action Plans” associated with the 2005-2009 National Drug Policy Strategy (scheduled for completion in March 2010) will lead to the formulation of a new policy that is likely to continue its focus—and resulting resource allocation—on prevention, education, and treatment and other aspects of their “harm reduction” policies. Law enforcement’s efforts toward supply reduction will focus on reining in the ongoing expansion of domestic cannabis production, and the National Drug Headquarters good cooperative ties with other European services will be maximized to deal with the increasingly international dimension of this activity.
Denmark’s relatively central geographic location and status as one of Europe’s transportation hubs make it an attractive drug destination and transit country. The Danish authorities cooperate closely with counternarcotics authorities in their Scandinavian neighbors, the European Union (EU), and the U.S. government (USG) to prevent the transit of illegal drugs. Additionally, building on a multi-year partnership, Denmark plays an important role in the Baltic Sea Region combating narcotics trafficking.. Danish authorities acknowledge that the European Union’s open border environment and high volume of international trade will inevitably result in a certain level of illegal 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 and bilateral U.S.-Denmark counternarcotics cooperation is excellent.
II. Status of Country
Drug traffickers routinely use Denmark’s comprehensive transportation network to bring illicit drugs to Denmark for domestic consumption and transshipment to other Nordic and European countries. Danish police report that drugs from the Balkans, Russia, the Baltic nations, and Central Europe routinely pass through Denmark en route to other EU states and the U.S., although the amount flowing to the U.S. is very small. 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 2009
Policy Initiatives. EU legislation passed in 2008 requires persons carrying cash or instruments exceeding 10,000 Euros to report the relevant amount to Customs officials upon entry to or exit from Denmark. As organized crime and drug traffickers have attempted to evade these constraints, Danish Customs has intercepted increased levels of illegal funds. This, in turn, has had a favorable impact on drug-related investigations, where illicit sales are almost always conducted on a cash basis.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Over the past four years there has been a significant increase in cocaine seizures by police authorities in Denmark. Cocaine investigations and seizures remain the top priority of counternarcotics police efforts in Denmark. According to the Danish National Police, the increase in cocaine seizures can be attributed to police efforts to fight organized crime with systematic, focused investigations aimed at specific recognized criminal groups and networks. The police remain committed to “goal oriented and systematic efforts” to fight organized crime close cooperation with the European police intelligence center Europol and with other foreign police authorities. Police authorities state that cocaine trafficking in Denmark is controlled primarily by Serbian, Montenegrin and Moroccan nationals, with most supplies originating from South America. Police continue to target the distribution system for illegal drugs by prosecuting members of the Hell’s Angels and Bandidos motorcycle gangs and immigrant gangs for violations of Denmark’s strict tax laws. Authorities focus on tax evasion by members of gangs because successful prosecutions disrupt their networks and significantly impede their ability to traffic illegal drugs. Heroin is traditionally smuggled into Denmark via the Balkans. Turkish, Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani nationals control much of the heroin trafficking in Denmark. West African groups routinely utilize drug couriers to smuggle cocaine via commercial flights from various European cities. According to police, a recent development is the active participation of Middle Eastern groups in cocaine trafficking to Denmark. Lastly, authorities in Denmark, as well as those in other Nordic countries, have noted an increase in the indoor cultivation of marijuana by ethnic Vietnamese immigrant groups.
Law enforcement statistics from 2008 year-end show a mixed picture relative to the quantities of Ecstasy pills, heroin, hashish, amphetamines, and cocaine seized by Danish authorities: The number of Ecstasy pills seized significantly decreased from 82,400 pills in 2007 to 17,600 pills in 2008. The quantity of heroin seized also decreased, but less significantly, from 48 kilograms in 2007 to 44 kilograms in 2008. Meanwhile, the amount of amphetamines seized in 2008 (120 kilograms) strongly increased from 2007 figures (70 kilograms). Similarly, the amount of hashish seized greatly increased from 877 kilograms in 2007 to 2,914 kilograms in 2008. Marijuana likewise showed an increase from 70 kilograms in 2007 to 170 kilograms in 2008. Lastly, cocaine seizures by Danish police fell from 92 kilograms in 2007 to 56 kilograms in 2008. Initial figures for 2009 (first 9 months) show that Danish authorities have seized of 61 kilograms of amphetamines, 48,000 pills of Ecstasy, 748 kilograms of hashish, 12 kilograms of heroin, and 55 kilograms of cocaine.
Corruption. The Danish government does not as a matter of 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. Denmark prohibits the unlicensed production and distribution of narcotics and other controlled substances, as well as the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. According to judicial records, no senior Danish official has been charged or alleged to have participated in activities associated with illegal drugs in either 2008 or 2009.
Agreements and Treaties. Denmark is a party to the 1988 United Nations (UN) Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol. Denmark is also party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, as well as its associated Protocols Against Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons and the UN Convention Against Corruption. The U.S. and Denmark have a Mutual Customs Assistance Agreement and an Extradition Treaty. The two countries have concluded protocols and have exchanged Instruments of Ratification pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements to streamline their mutual legal assistance and extradition efforts. The strengthening protocols will enter in force at the same time as the parallel U.S.-EU agreements come into effect. The U.S.-EU agreements and the U.S.-Denmark bilateral protocols will enter into force on February 1, 2010. Denmark is also a major contributor to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), committing approximately $2.0 million annually to the organization.
Cultivation/Production. There is no suspected major cultivation or production of illegal drugs in Denmark. There are no suspected MDMA (Ecstasy) laboratories in Denmark.
Drug Flow/Transit. Denmark remains a transit country for drugs on their way to neighboring European states due to its relatively central location, efficient transportation system, and open borders. The ability of Danish authorities to interdict illegal drug traffic is constrained by EU’s open border policies. The Danish police report that the smuggling of cannabis into Denmark is typically carried out by road, originating from the Netherlands and Spain. Amphetamines are also smuggled from the Netherlands, via Germany, to Denmark. Once in country, illegal drugs are typically distributed by the two largest motorcycle gangs, as well as smaller immigrant-based gang networks. Amphetamines from Poland and Lithuania are reportedly transshipped through Germany.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Denmark’s Ministry of Health estimates there are approximately 27,000 persons addicted to illegal drugs in Denmark. According to a government-sponsored study in 2008, among 16-34 year olds, 48 percent report having tried cannabis at least once, 10.5 percent reported at least one instance of amphetamine use, and 9.5 percent have tried cocaine at least one time. Compared to a similar 2003 report, reported usage was up slightly in all surveyed categories. The government strategy to combat drug abuse is multi-faceted; combining education, interdiction, prosecution (particularly against organized crime and gang activity), medical treatment, and social assistance. Denmark has established extensive programs to combat drug abuse in schools and its prison system. In 2008, the Danish government dedicated significant additional resources to its drug treatment facilities and programs.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. counternarcotics strategy in Denmark is to cooperate closely with Danish authorities in identifying, interdicting and prosecuting international drug traffickers. For example, Denmark extradited its first Danish national to the United States to face U.S. criminal charges in connection with the fugitive’s participation in an international drug trafficking conspiracy. The U.S. also participates in joint investigations when requested. Finally, the U.S. coordinates counternarcotics strategy with all eight countries of the Nordic-Baltic regions. The USG enjoys excellent cooperation with its Danish counterparts on all counternarcotics issues. The Drug Enforcement Administration located in the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen coordinates bilateral cooperation with the Danish government.
The Road Ahead. Although the border-free environment of the EU makes trafficking easier in many ways, Danish authorities continue to gather intelligence and target organizations that are transnational in scope and successfully prosecute them in the judicial system. Lastly, the Danish government is dedicated to expanding its drug education and programs to both prevent new victims and assist those who are currently addicted. The USG, specifically through its DEA office at the U.S. Embassy, will continue to cooperate and share appropriate information with Danish counternarcotics authorities and build upon an already strong bilateral cooperation relationship in the drug control field.
The Dominican Republic (DR) is a major transit country for illicit narcotics originating from South America to the United States and Europe. Illicit drugs arrive in DR via air and sea. Small civil aircraft carrying an average of 350 to 1,000 kilograms per flight originate from Venezuela. Maritime deliveries arrive via go-fast boats, privately owned fishing and recreational boats, and cargo containers. The majority of these originate in the Maracaibo area of Venezuela and the Colombian Guajira Peninsula. The DR is experiencing increased domestic consumption of drugs. In 2009, the DR cooperated in extraditing fugitives and deporting criminals to the United States. Seizures of drugs during 2009 appear to be running at levels consistent with past years. Improvements in domestic law enforcement capabilities and cooperation between the Dominican National Police (DNP) and the National Directorate for the Control of Drugs (DNCD) were evident during the past year with an increased focus on fighting corruption and money laundering activities. However, endemic corruption at all levels of the government of Dominican Republic (GODR) and throughout private sector special interest groups still hinders efforts to counternarcotics smuggling, money laundering, migrant smuggling and a wide variety of other criminal activities. The DR is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
The DR is a major narcotics transit country, especially for cocaine, en-route to North America and Europe. A substantial number of illicit drug flights from Venezuela to Hispaniola drop their loads over the DR and its territorial waters. Per the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or Ecstasy) en-route from Europe to the United States was interdicted by DR authorities. For the first time the GODR made several large seizures of pseudoephedrine, a methamphetamine precursor, transiting from Asia to Central America. In addition to the drug transit problem, the DR is experiencing an increasing domestic drug problem that has affected the youth of the country and led to increased drug-related violent crimes.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. In August, President Leonel A. Fernandez replaced the head of the DNCD with General Rolando Rosado Mateo from the DNP to foster greater cooperation between the two national police entities. With the new DNCD chief accompanying agents on raids and taking a lead role in operations, the impact was immediate, resulting in an increased tempo of drug seizures (see Law Enforcement Efforts below). The GODR also participated in the Cooperating Nations Information Exchange System (CNIES) agreement, which allows it to receive information on suspected aerial and maritime drug trafficking. During the year, the GODR continued participation in a joint agreement with Haiti to fight drug trafficking and increase law enforcement cooperation. The GODR took an active role in the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative working group meetings and hosted the October meeting in Santo Domingo.
Accomplishments. During the first 11 months of 2009, Dominican authorities seized approximately 4.4 metric tons of cocaine, 1.4010 metric tons of marijuana, 39 kilograms of heroin, 10,166 tablets of Ecstasy, and 1.3 million tablets of pseudoephedrine. During Operation Firewall, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Dominican Customs confiscated $608,400 in U.S. currency.
Law Enforcement Efforts. As a result of the change in leadership of the DNCD, the government improved interdiction and achieved strong results pursuing drug traffickers. Seizures for the first half of 2009 were lackluster in comparison with the same period in 2008, but in the three months following the leadership change, the government seized an additional 2,245 kilograms of cocaine—an almost threefold increase over the first half of the year.
The new head of the DNCD emphasized pursuing major drug traffickers. In one case, based on information from the U.S. Marshals, the DNCD Tactical Response Team attempted to capture major drug trafficker Jose D. Figueroa Agosto. Though Figueroa eluded capture, authorities recovered a laptop computer containing information that led to the seizure of cash and jewelry worth over $9.1 million, three vehicles and two apartments. Interdiction capabilities were expanded in December when President Fernandez received the first two of eight Super Tucano aircraft that the GODR purchased from Brazil in order to combat illicit air-trafficking from South America. Armed Forces Minister Lieutenant General Rafael Pena Antonio predicts that the Brazilian Super Tucano jets purchased by the Dominican government will reduce drug drops by 75 percent.
Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GODR does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production, processing, or distribution of narcotics, psychotropic drugs, and other controlled substances, nor does it contribute to drug-related money laundering. Despite this, corruption in the DR remained endemic and numerous law enforcement and military officials, many of high rank, were implicated in corrupt activities to include trafficking in narcotics and money laundering. Entire police units are under investigation and were removed from duty for suspected drug trafficking activities. Corruption is also pervasive in the prison system.
During the year, the GODR reduced the influence of narcotics traffickers in the judicial system by focusing on internal affairs and changing the venue of judicial proceedings when needed. The DNP Internal Affairs office (IA) was also restructured in 2009 and operated more efficiently. During the year, approximately 500 police officers in a police force of 30,000 members were terminated for testing positive for drug use. IA investigators conducted approximately 70-90 internal investigations monthly against police personnel engaged in improper conduct, which are then referred to the Chief of Police and/or Prosecutor General’s office for disciplinary action. The GODR increased its fight against corrupt public officials in response to investigative reporters’ exposure of corruption in the electrical system, highway construction and other areas where the government uses public funds.
Agreements and Treaties. The GODR 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 Transnational Organized Crime; the UN Convention against Corruption; and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. In 1985, the USG and the GODR signed an agreement on international narcotics control cooperation. In 2003, the DR entered into three comprehensive bilateral agreements on Cooperation in Maritime Counter-Drug Operations, Maritime Migration Law Enforcement, and Search and Rescue. All three agreements include provisions for over-flight of Dominican territorial seas. The GODR signed, but did not ratify, the Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement. The GODR is not party to the OAS Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and no bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty is in effect. The United States continues to make direct requests for judicial cooperation through the relevant UN conventions letters, but noticeable delays in compliance are routine. The GODR 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 U.S.-Dominican Extradition Treaty dates from 1909. Extradition of nationals is not required by the treaty, but, in 1998, President Fernandez signed legislation permitting such extraditions. In 2005, judicial review was added to the procedure for extradition, making extradition procedures more transparent. During 2009, the DNCD Fugitive Surveillance/Apprehension Unit and other relevant Dominican authorities continued excellent cooperation with the U.S. Marshals Service. The GODR extradited a total of 24 Dominicans in 2009 (18 to the United States), and deported 17 U.S. and third-country national fugitives to the U.S. to face prosecution; 22 of the 41 extraditions/deportations were narcotics-related. In addition, the United States extradited one fugitive to the DR, an accused murderer of a Dominican police officer.
Cultivation/Production. Cannabis is grown in the DR on a small scale for local consumption. Ten thousand plants were destroyed in a raid on a marijuana plantation led by the new DNCD chief. Each plant’s yield would have averaged approximately one pound of marijuana with a value of $500 per pound, making the total value of this seizure approximately $5 million.
Drug Flow/Transit. In 2009, the DNCD focused interdiction operations on the drug-transit routes in Dominican territorial waters along the southern border, while attempting to prevent air drops and maritime delivery of illicit narcotics to remote areas. According to the latest USG estimates, seven percent of the cocaine directed towards the United States transits Hispaniola. Per the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 11percent of all drugs going to Europe transits DR. There were fewer suspect drug flights detected from Venezuela destined for DR in 2009 (58) compared to in 2008 (87). Tracks peaked at 109 in 2007. Drugs remained easily available for local consumption in most metropolitan areas in 2009. The distribution of drugs throughout the DR varies with the type of drug; however, a common denominator is widespread use of cocaine and heroin in tourist zones and major metropolitan areas. The majority of crack cocaine and ecstasy seizures occurred in the province of La Altagracia in the east, Peravia in the central area and Santiago and Puerto Plata in the north. Cocaine and heroin seizures were most often in the northern and eastern tourist provinces of Puerto Plata, El Seybo and La Altagracia and in the metropolitan areas of Santo Domingo, Santiago and La Romana. Marijuana seizures have been concentrated in the northwest and southwest provinces of the country bordering on Haiti.
The number of noncommercial aviation flights departing South America to deliver illicit drugs to the DR is one of the biggest challenges faced by the country. Almost half of the drugs transiting through the DR are believed to be delivered by these illicit flights. To counter this flow, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Blackhawk helicopters from Puerto Rico transporting DEA agents are routinely dispatched to the DR to pick up a DNCD team in an effort to interdict drug drops and make seizures and arrests. Although there have been successes, the limited availability of the CBP Blackhawks and the time and distance required to respond often hamper these missions.
Intelligence indicates that the majority of the illicit narcotics transiting the DR to North America and Europe moves through its seaports. Presently, only one Dominican port, Caucedo, is operating in compliance with the Container Security Initiative (CSI). The other DR Mega Port is Rio Haina where 270,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit containers) per year transit, much of it to the US; however, Haina is not CSI compliant.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. During the year, the DNCD conducted sporting events and seminars to help publicize the negative effects related to the use of narcotics and drugs. Hundreds of thousands of Dominican youths participated in these events. The USG believes that the demand for narcotics in the DR is increasing because narcotics are often used as a method of payment for criminals involved in drug transit. In addition, based on the number of arrests and those seeking treatment, the Consejo Nacional de Drogas assesses there to be a continued increase of domestic consumption of drugs. The government has never undertaken an official survey regarding domestic drug use due to a lack of resources. A community-policing project initiated in 2006-2007 with support from the USG continued in high-risk neighborhoods in Santo Domingo, in part to reduce drug demand and drug-related crimes. Community leaders and law enforcement officials praised the project, and are seeking to expand it to other cities.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. USG policy objectives in the DR are to enhance existing land and maritime law enforcement capabilities to act against narcotics traffickers and to improve the GODR’s ability to successfully investigate and prosecute criminal cases.
Bilateral Cooperation. During 2009, the USG, through Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) provided equipment and training to: maintain the drug and explosive detection canine units; support the DNCD’s vetted Sensitive Investigation Unit (SIU) and Tactical Response Team; expand DNCD computer training, database expansion and systems maintenance support; improve the DNCD’s capability to detect drugs smuggled through airports; and enhance the DR’s anti-money laundering capacity. CBP conducted two international interdiction training seminars on airport and seaport cargo for the DNP, DNCD and Dominican Customs (DGA). DGA provided their Regional Training Center and transportation for these seminars and the U.S. Embassy’s Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) funded the courses. Other NAS-funded training included sending candidates to the Colombian Jungle Commando course, airport narcotics detection training in Bogotá, Colombia, and a twelve-module anti-money laundering course developed by NAS.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) participated in joint counternarcotics and illegal migrant operations, including the use of mobile biometrics to identify and prosecute criminals transiting the Mona Passage between the DR and Puerto Rico. In addition, the USCG held three subject-matter expert exchange 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 to improve and coordinate collaborative efforts of mutual search and rescue resources; and the International Shipping and Port Security Conference geared towards enhancing port security in the DR. The USCG also provided maritime law enforcement, leadership, engineering and maintenance, port security, and command and control training to the Dominican Navy. Under the maritime bilateral agreement with the GODR, 88 lbs of cocaine were removed, three smugglers were detained, and one vessel was seized. This agreement continued to facilitate counternarcotics cooperation between the Dominican Navy and the USCG.
The Law Enforcement Development Program, implemented by the Embassy’s NAS assisted the DNP with reforms aimed at completing its transformation into a professional, civilian-oriented organization. Since the program was initiated in 2006, over 9,000 police investigators and prosecutors have undergone training in basic crime scene investigation. A community based policing project established in 13 high risk barrios in Santo Domingo led to positive trends in crime reduction in these neighborhoods. This project has been expanded to Puerto Plata, Cabarete, and Santiago. National Police and Prosecutors received joint training. During the year 500 cadets completed Police Academy training, which used the revised curriculum designed by NAS. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided assistance to strengthen the DR’s 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 reasonable time limits for prosecuting cases. USAID also assisted the National Institute for Forensic Sciences with improving procedures to secure and preserve evidence.
The Road Ahead. The GODR is encouraged to continue building coherent counternarcotics programs that can resist the pressures of corruption and address new challenges presented by narcotics trafficking organizations. The most important task facing the GODR is to stop the endemic corruption and improve public confidence in the government. Results of a Gallup-Hoy poll indicate that 52.6 percent of the population believe drug trafficking has penetrated the DR because of complicity between drug dealers and the authorities. We encourage the GODR to institutionalize judicial reforms and make efforts to address money laundering by developing the capacity to conduct complex financial investigations as a priority. Expanding its community-policing program to additional neighborhoods in Santo Domingo and other cities in the DR will improve the GODR’s ability to ensure safety for its citizens. Increased cooperation between the DNP and DNCD has proven to be effective in fighting drug related crimes. The GODR can build on this cooperative effort through the development of Micro-Trafficking Units comprised of members from both organizations and with the participation of the Attorney General’s office. Much is discussed concerning the airdropping of drugs from aircraft originating from Venezuela, and the DR is encouraged to place more emphasis on their ports and bring them into compliance with the CSI. The USG will work with the DR to help it build capacity in the DR Air Force helicopter program to address the threat of noncommercial aviation flights departing South America to deliver illicit drugs to the DR and enable them to take over the role currently filled by CBP.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and the Netherlands, with the two Caribbean members having autonomy over their internal affairs, with the right to exercise independent decision making in a number of counternarcotics areas. National defense and foreign affairs are Kingdom responsibilities and exercised under supervision from The Hague in the Netherlands. The Netherlands Government 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 of Country
Netherlands Antilles. Islands of the Netherlands Antilles (NA) (which includes Curacao and Bonaire off Venezuela; and Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten east of the U.S. Virgin Islands) 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 Drug Enforcement Administration (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 St. Maarten continued to hold some 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.
St .Maarten currently falls under the authority of the Netherlands Antilles government. St. Maarten and Curacao are scheduled to become semi-autonomous entities within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010, when the NA is dissolved. St. Maarten’s geographical location and open society make it a useful transshipment point between South America and the United States, for drug and human smuggling. Dutch St. Maarten continues to pose a serious threat as a staging ground for moving cocaine and heroin into the U.S. market. Officials in St. 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. Sailing vessels and larger vessels continued to be identified infrequently as they were used clandestinely to move multi-hundred kilogram shipments of cocaine under the guise of recreational maritime traffic. It has been established that drug smugglers have a multitude of routes and methods. The diversity of the methods coupled with limited law- enforcement controls upon the flow of goods works in favor of criminals. Dutch St .Maarten is considered a “Free Zone”, which means there are limited controls placed on import and export of goods. This also applies to financial crimes where 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 reportedly are understaffed and need additional training, have received some additional resources, including various support and training by the Netherlands and the United States. The rigorous legal standards that must be met to prosecute cases affect the effectiveness of the police; nevertheless, local police made progress in 2009 in initiating complex, sensitive cases targeting upper-echelon traffickers. These efforts demonstrated the effectiveness of cooperation with other law enforcement entities in the region.
Building upon an initiative from 2008, in 2009, the Police Chief in conjunction with the Minister of Justice expanded efforts to improve Criminal Intelligence by creating a new Regional Expertise and Information Center (REIC) Unit within the Curacao Police Corps (KPC). Established with grants from the Netherlands and partnerships with U.S. law-enforcement agencies, specifically the DEA, this specialized Intel Unit and has further improved investigative effectiveness. In 2009, the KPC REIC Unit gained regional recognition as a viable international partner for law enforcement matters.
Consistent with the continued smuggling ventures, arrests were frequent in 2009. 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 combined in the Joint Kingdom Investigative Team (“Recherche Samenwerkingsteam” RST) that support law enforcement in the NA and Aruba continued to include local officers in the development of investigative strategies to ensure exchange of expertise and information. During 2009, the RST have proven to be effective in sharing intelligence in a regional and international arena resulting in several successful operations to thwart organized crime groups.
The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba Coast Guard (CGNAA) scored a number of successes in 2009. The CGNAA has developed a very effective counternarcotics 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, the CGNAA, in coordination with the new REIC Unit, had several notable seizures off go-fast vessels.
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 prevent narcotics distribution on the islands. Under the continued leadership of both the Justice Minister and Attorney General, the GONA continued to strengthen its cooperation with U.S. law enforcement authorities throughout 2009. This cooperation extended to St. 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 Commander 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 three years, the CTG 4.4 has become a close and essential ally of the DEA and other U.S. agencies. Their continual efforts to thwart drug trafficking from the region have been noted at the highest levels of the DEA and U.S. government.
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 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 2009 indicates that prominent drug traffickers are established on the island. In 2009, 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.
Aruba also continued to participate in the Coast Guard of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
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, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three Protocols 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.
Seizures. In 2009, Aruba seized 75 kilograms of cocaine and The Netherlands Antilles seized 2,774 kilograms of cocaine and 16.5 kilograms of heroin.
Corruption. As a matter of policy, neither the Government of Aruba nor the GONA encourage or facilitate illicit drug production, nor is involved in laundering the proceeds of the sale of illicit drugs. The effect of official corruption on the production, transportation, and processing of illegal drugs is relatively small for Aruba and the NA, although it does occur on occasion. Aruba and the NA have been quick to address these issues through criminal investigations, internal investigations, new hiring practices, and continued monitoring of law enforcement officials who 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. The Curacao Police Corps, in conjunction with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), operates a DARE facility in Willemstad, Curacao to aid in demand reduction activities for the youth of Curacao.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba have demonstrated their commitment to the counternarcotics effort by continued support for a USAF Forward Operating Location (FOL) at the Curacao Hato International Airport as well as a smaller FOL on at Reina Beatrix International Airport in Aruba. Under a ten-year use agreement signed in March 2000 and which entered into force in November 2001, U.S. military aircraft conduct counternarcotics detection and monitoring flights over both the source and transit zones from commercial ramp space.
Aruba hosts the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance personnel at Reina Beatrix airport. These officers occupy facilities financed and built by the GOA. DHS reports several seizures of cocaine in 2009. Chiefly through the DEA and DHS/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States is able to provide assistance to enhance technical capabilities as well as some targeted training.
The Road Ahead. 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. 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. The trend of the past several years continues as appreciation of the importance of intelligence to effective law enforcement has grown in the Dutch Caribbean. While continued expansion of the intelligence sharing with GOA and GONA officials has provided mutual benefits, because U.S-provided intelligence must meet the strict requirements of local law, this requires ongoing, extensive liaison work to bridge the difference between U.S. and Dutch-based law. With forthcoming changes in the structure of the Kingdom relationships, this liaison effort will also grow more complex and require additional effort by U.S. as well as all the Kingdom partners at various levels to leverage available resources.
As renewal (for five years) of the FOL agreement nears, all the Kingdom partners remain interested in respecting the terms of the agreement. The continuation of those facilities is critical not just to U.S. but also international efforts to detect and monitor illicit trafficking through the transit zone. We encourage all parties to continue abiding by agreed operating arrangements and ensuring support for continued operations that are mutually beneficial.
The seven Eastern Caribbean (EC) countries—Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines—continue to experience significant drug trafficking from South America to markets in the U.S. and Europe. There was an increase in cocaine transiting from Venezuela in 2009. Marijuana, predominantly from Colombia, St. Vincent, and Jamaica, continues to flow into the region in small “go-fast” vessels, larger fishing vessels, yachts and freight carriers. More illegal drugs are staying on the islands for internal consumption, and this is causing an increase in violent crime in the region. Police forces, already limited in their capacity to combat trafficking, now find themselves challenging drug-related crime on their streets.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) actively works with local law enforcement officials and international organizations in the region to support counternarcotics operations. The U.S. Military’s Southern Command, through the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), provides a wide range of services to the region from financial support of flight hours to the Regional Security System (RSS) to the construction of piers in St. Lucia. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) maintains a three-person Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT) in Puerto Rico that provides support and coordinated depot-level maintenance for over 40 maritime security vessels in the EC. The RSS, based in Barbados, operates the air assets dedicated to counternarcotics operations. The fleet consists of two C-26 aircraft donated in the late 1990s by the U.S. Government. Each of the Eastern Caribbean countries has a bilateral maritime counternarcotics agreement with the U.S. As a matter of policy, no Government of the seven Eastern Caribbean countries encourages or facilitates illicit drug production or distribution, nor are they involved in laundering the proceeds of the sale of illicit drugs. All seven Eastern Caribbean states are parties to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Countries and Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Antigua and Barbuda. The islands of Antigua and Barbuda are transit points for cocaine moving from South America to the 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 marijuana is imported for domestic consumption from St. Vincent and Jamaica.
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 and five percent consumed locally. 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 counternarcotics 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 amended in June 2009 to impose stiffer penalties for drug offenses.
Through September 2009, GOAB forces seized 2.3 kilograms of cocaine, down from 14 kilograms in 2008, and 496 kilograms of marijuana, an increase of 400 kilograms compared to 2008. There were 149 drug-related arrests, up from 125 in 2008 and one major trafficker was prosecuted, down from ten in 2008. Approximately three acres of cannabis fields were discovered in 2009, and during eighteen eradication exercises the GOAB eradicated 11,601 plants, almost 70 percent more than in 2008. 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.
Marijuana cultivation for local consumption takes place in the hills in Antigua. Routine patrols are carried out and when cultivations are discovered, they are destroyed and in the event that persons are caught in cultivated areas, they are arrested and charged. The Police have reported that several Jamaicans have been caught at the airport importing cannabis from Jamaica on the once-daily airline service. There has also been a trend of traffickers ingesting the drugs in order to smuggle them onto the island. Means of combating the movement of illegal drugs by sea are by utilizing the services of the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force Coast Guard (which is very limited in its resources) in joint operations with police. The Regional Security System’s (RSS) Air Wing also assists in tracking down traffickers at sea. The Police have stepped up vigilance at the sea port and regular checks are carried out on containerized cargo and vessels. The Police are in the process of obtaining at least two narcotics canines to assist in carrying out searches at the sea port and airport. In 2009, the USCG provided 11 training quotas and 3 mobile training teams to Antigua and Barbuda Coast Guard in the areas of maritime law enforcement, small boat operations, engineering and maintenance, and leadership and management.
The Police operate a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) 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. Marijuana and cocaine continue to be in high demand in Barbados. Marijuana is sourced primarily from St. Vincent and Jamaica, and cocaine is shipped or flown to the island via Venezuela or Colombia. Barbados is a transit point for drugs destined for North America and Europe, primarily the United Kingdom. The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) estimates that 60 percent of drugs transiting through Barbados are destined to the U.K., 15 percent to Canada, 10 percent to the U.S., 10 percent to other Caribbean islands, and five percent for local consumption. Despite Barbados’ well-equipped Coast Guard, go-fast boats are able to penetrate lines of defense and transport drugs to and through the country. In response to persistent concerns of corruption within the Barbados Coast Guard, the Barbados Defense Force is taking steps to require a polygraph and integrity test of all Coast Guard officers, and all 500 members of the military unit.
The U.S. Military Liaison Office (USMLO) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) work closely with the Barbados Defense Force, the Regional Security System (RSS) and local law enforcement officials in counternarcotics activities. In 2009, the USCG provided 7 training courses and 5 mobile training teams to Barbados in the areas of maritime law enforcement, small boat operations, engineering and maintenance, search and rescue, and leadership and management.
Marijuana and cocaine are transited through the island in different ways. Marijuana is imported by 8-12 known traffickers who pool their resources to fund a consignment. The drugs arrive on “go-fast” boats or fishing boats on the northern end of the island and distribution for internal consumption and external delivery follows. Cocaine is imported by the use of pleasure boats, especially yachts. Evidence indicates the importation of cocaine is organized primarily by Trinidadians, Guyanese, Venezuelans, and Colombians. There is no pooling of resources and traffickers each organize their own consignments. Cocaine is also shipped through the airport using people as drug mules, or through air freight which is placed on aircraft by so called “rip on” teams (usually baggage handlers, airport staff, or officials with airside access). This baggage bypasses customs and security checks and on arrival will be “ripped off” by another set of criminals at the other end. This was a trend that emerged in 2008 and continued in 2009.
The RBPF reports, for the period January 1 to October 15, 2009, a total of 3,989 kilograms of marijuana were seized, including 22 kilograms by sea. This is down from 4,662 kilograms in 2008. Cocaine seized in 2009 increased to 78.3 kilograms in 2009 from 46 kilograms in 2008. The total number of marijuana plants eradicated for this period was 7,212. Drug-related arrests totaled 149, down from 213 in 2008.
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 counternarcotics 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 National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) and various concerned NGOs, such as the National Committee for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, remain active and effective. The NCSA works closely with NGOs on prevention and education efforts and supports skills-training centers. The NCSA sponsored programs entitled “Drugs in my World,” “Voices of the Children,” and “Drug Facts and Issues Decisions” in 45 primary schools. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) program is administered by the RBPF and also reaches out to thousands of school children on the island. There are four drug rehabilitation clinics in operation: Verdun House, Casa, Drug Rehabilitation Centre, and Teen Challenge.
Commonwealth of Dominica. The Commonwealth of Dominica continues to be negatively affected by the illegal drug trade. Law enforcement continues to wrestle with large scale cultivation of marijuana for both trafficking and internal use. It is estimated that approximately 210 acres are grown annually and the rugged terrain poses a major challenge to enforcement activities and efforts to assess crop sizes. Cocaine is frequently trafficked from Colombia and Venezuela to Dominica and countries north, including Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Dominica Police Force (DPF) estimates that 100-200 kilograms of cocaine are transited to Dominica from Venezuela each week. According to the DPF, this represents an increase in cocaine transiting the island. Although the island’s law enforcement community is committed to combating the criminal elements present within and outside its borders, limited resources prevent officials from consistent interdiction of drugs destined to U.S. and European markets.
In 2009, the Dominica Coast Guard added a new vessel to its fleet to assist in its maritime counternarcotics operations. Close relations continue to exist between local and regional law enforcement agencies to further assist in patrolling international waters. Dominican authorities are grateful for U.S. assistance in training intelligence, but request more logistical support. In 2009, the USCG provided four small boat engineering and maintenance mobile training teams to Dominica.
The Dominican police report 259 drug seizures during 2009, compared to 243 in 2008. There were 195 drug-related arrests in 2009 compared to 243 in 2008. About 90 percent of operations were focused on major traffickers. Two were arrested in 2009 compared to only one in 2008. In 2009, a total of 1,415 kilograms of marijuana was seized, up from 842 kilograms in 2008. A total of 294,719 marijuana plants were destroyed compared to 139,769 in 2008. In addition, 30.5 grams of cocaine were seized in 2009.
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 counternarcotics 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. Dominica’s maritime cooperation was excellent in FY2009 as evidenced by the USCG seizure of a Dominica flagged vessel under the bilateral agreement in place with the USG. The vessel was boarded under the bilateral agreement and was found to be smuggling over 350lbs of marijuana. Three smugglers were also removed from the seized vessel for prosecution.
There is no drug rehabilitation clinic in the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (DARE) administered by the Ministry of Health and its National Drug Abuse Prevention Unit has enjoyed continued success in maintaining a series of community-based drug use prevention programs.
Grenada. Grenada is the southernmost island of the Eastern Caribbean archipelago. Its proximity to South American drug producing and transit countries and the difficulty policing numerous uninhabited islands, beaches and cays make it an ideal location for the transshipment of cocaine and marijuana to the U.S. and other markets. Traditional means such as go-fast boats, yachts and schooners are used to transport narcotics. Traffickers also continue to use drug mules and courier services to export cocaine. There is a small amount of marijuana cultivation in Grenada, primarily for local consumption. There are no drug processing labs in Grenada. Law enforcement officials have noticed an increase in collaboration between Trinidadian traffickers and their Grenadian counterparts during the latter part of the year and there are indications that drug trafficking organizations from Jamaica are attempting to set up shop in order to facilitate transshipment of cocaine to the U.S. and European markets. 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 officials of the DEA and the British Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) in the targeting and investigation of major drug traffickers, sharing intelligence and conducting joint investigations. In 2009, the USCG provided 6 training courses and two mobile training teams to the Grenada Coast Guard in the area of small engineering and maintenance.
From January through October, 2009, the police arrested 242 people on drug-related charges, very similar to the 244 arrested in 2008. One major marijuana dealer was prosecuted for possession of a controlled drug (162 kilograms). He was fined $3,704 and his fishing boat valued at approximately $46,300 was confiscated.
Grenadian authorities reported seizing approximately 6 kilograms of cocaine, down from 46 kilograms in 2008; 495 cocaine balls (crack cocaine) which is double the amount seized in 2008; 22,037 marijuana plants, up from 14,360 in 2008; 460 kilograms of marijuana, up from 355 kilograms in 2008; and 1,309 marijuana cigarettes, up from 741 in 2008. The decline in cocaine seizures was attributed by Grenadian authorities to increased security and the presence of Naval ships due to the Summit of the Americas held nearby in Trinidad and Tobago. Regular rural patrols contribute significantly to deterring cultivation of marijuana on the island on a major scale. Cultivation usually consists of around 250 to 500 plants in any one plot. The terrain is usually difficult to access by vehicle and aerial surveillance is unavailable due to lack of aircraft. The size of the crop is determined by the amount of trees uprooted and the stage of maturity. It is estimated that a fully grown cannabis plant (approx eight feet) can yield one half kilogram of cannabis when cured.
It is estimated that 80 percent of the cocaine trafficked through Grenada is intended for the United Kingdom (UK), 10 percent for the U.S., 5 percent for Canada and 5 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.
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 did not pass in 2009. Still pending action since 2005 is a draft Precursor Chemical Bill to develop institutional infrastructure to implement controls preventing the diversion of controlled chemical substances.
The oversight commission for the Integrity in Public Service Act, which passed in 2008, 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 counternarcotics 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 Carlton 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. The Federation of 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 and, while previously concentrated in the mountainous region, there has been an increased level of marijuana cultivation discovered in abandoned sugar cane fields.
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 Counternarcotics 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 Defense Force augments police counternarcotics efforts, particularly in marijuana eradication operations. From January to October, 2009, GOSKN officials reported seizing only one half kilogram of cocaine and 44 kilograms of marijuana. This is down from 78 kilograms of cocaine and 155 kilograms of marijuana in 2008. There were no reports of production, transit or consumption of methamphetamines in St. Kitts or Nevis. In 2009, the USCG provided 5 training courses and four mobile training teams to Barbados in the areas of maritime law enforcement, small boat operations, engineering and maintenance, port security, and leadership and management.
From January to October 2009, 150 drug related arrests were made, down from 1,222 in 2008. There were 93 prosecutions during this period and 77 convictions. Marijuana eradication exercises in 2009 resulted in 104,571 marijuana plants being eradicated, up from 83,309 plants in 2008.
The Precursor Chemicals Act No. 20 of 2007 which came into force in July 2008 deals with specific record keeping and reporting on precursor chemicals and the record keeping and reporting on the importation of pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and pharmaceutical products containing these products.
Drug demand reduction programs are available to schools and the public. DARE, Operation Future and the National Drug Council also have programs to prevent drug abuse in St. Kitts and Nevis. There are no drug rehabilitation clinics in St. Kitts and Nevis and persons seeking such treatment are sent to St. Lucia.
St. Lucia. There has been an increase of both cocaine and marijuana transiting St. Lucia from South America en route to the U.S. and European countries. This continues to be a major concern for law enforcement officials in St. Lucia. Complicating matters is the fact that more drugs are staying on the island and resulting in higher rates of violent crime. The Royal St. Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) is stretching already thin resources to combat these dual priorities. Marijuana is the only drug cultivated in St. Lucia, supplying an estimated 20 percent of the local market. The other 80 percent is believed to come from neighboring St. Vincent.
St. Lucia is equidistant from Martinique and St. Vincent, commonly known to be a major marijuana producer. The one-hour trip by boat makes St. Lucia a natural trading ground for illegal drugs. Vincentians use St. Lucians as intermediaries to overcome language barriers with the growing number of French traffickers in Martinique.
The St. Lucia Customs Department established a canine unit comprised of two officers and two dogs. One officer and dog tandem were trained in the U.S. Future teams will be trained as resources become available. This initiative is expected to improve detection abilities and increase drug seizures. The police department is also stepping up efforts to develop an informant recruitment program to assist in identifying criminals trafficking drugs on and through the island. Currently there is no formal program due to lack of funding.
The RSLPF has experienced modest success in curbing marijuana trafficking. The RSLPF Marine Unit has combined efforts with U.S and French law enforcement to make several significant arrests, and they continue to work with the Regional Security System utilizing RSS surveillance aircraft. In 2009, the USCG provided 3 training quotas and 4 mobile training teams to the St. Lucia Defense Force in the areas of small engineering and maintenance, and leadership and management.
For the calendar year ending September 30, 2009, the Government of St. Lucia (GoSL) reported seizing 93 kilograms of cocaine. This represents an increase from 2008 when only 21 kilograms were seized, but is still far below the 792 kilograms figure reported for 2007. The GoSL seized 540 kilograms of marijuana for 2009, up slightly from the 2008 total of 534. More than 70 percent of all arrests made in 2009 were drug related. In 2009, 270 people were arrested, down from 318 in 2008.
Law enforcement has made progress controlling the cultivation of marijuana. Approximately 120,000 grown marijuana plants and 30,000 seedlings were destroyed—an increase over 2008. Cultivation is mostly in remote, mountainous, snake-infested parts of the island. Detection of marijuana fields has been possible mainly by the use of informants when funding is available to pay them, local knowledge, and civilian helicopter aerial surveillance.
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 counternarcotics 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. Under the maritime counternarcotics agreement with the USG, St. Lucian riders embarked aboard USCG cutters in FY2009 and conducted dynamic patrols in the vicinity of St. Lucia. This resulted in the removal of over 160 kilograms of marijuana, the seizure of 2 vessels engaged in illicit activity, and the detention of 3 smugglers.
The only official drug rehabilitation clinic on the island is the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Detoxification and Rehabilitation Center. The center has a twenty-bed capacity and serves St. Lucia as well as other islands of the Caribbean. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (D.A.R.E) is also active in drug prevention outreach.
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 the 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 (SVG), 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. Some of the Grenadine Islands are uninhabited and used to store large quantities of marijuana. Drugs are exchanged for US, Barbados and Euro currencies and also for supplies such as generators, jewelry, foodstuff and brand name clothing. Special operations in 2009 involving the Regional Security System and forces from the Eastern Caribbean, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago resulted in a significant increase in the amount of marijuana eradicated.
Through 2009, Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (GOSVG) officials reported seizing only 8 kilograms of cocaine, up from 5 kilograms in 2008. 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 481 cocaine rocks, increased from 316 in 2008 and 8,911 kilograms of marijuana, half the amount seized in 2008. For the first time, a small quantity of heroin (5 grams) was seized. GOSVG authorities arrested 427 persons on drug-related charges and convicted 303. There are 65 cases still pending and 8 cases under investigation. One major trafficker was arrested on an extradition warrant on behalf of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). He is wanted for importing cocaine into the BVI island of Tortola. During the year, 300 acres consisting of 9,541,094 marijuana plants were eradicated, significantly increased from 160 acres and 2,935,611 plants in 2008.
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, the UK and Europe together at 23 percent, Canada 10 percent, and 2 percent for local consumption. There were no reports of production, transit or consumption of methamphetamines in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The recent establishment of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) and its deployment in districts throughout the island, and the recent graduation of 52 new police officers, has had a positive impact on drug trafficking in some areas. In 2009, the USCG provided one training course and four mobile training teams to St. Vincent in the areas of contingency planning and small engineering and maintenance.
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 Convention 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 counternarcotics 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 2009. In the past, St. Vincent Police has been cooperative in executing search warrants pursuant to U.S. MLATs. 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 DARE Program. The OAS is assisting the GOSVG develop a drug demand reduction program for St. Vincent’s prison. The GOSVG Plan Against Crime Program, started in 2008, targets youth throughout the island and has been successful so far. Another successful program is the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP). The program is run by retired police officers who go into schools and communities to speak on crime prevention and provide social activities for youths.
The Road Ahead. There is a growing desire among leaders of the Eastern Caribbean to create a regional maritime force to complement the air assets that identify drug traffickers. Enforcing asset forfeiture laws, increasing the quality and quantity of financial investigations, and addressing corruption issues are among the priorities identified by the U.S. Government, the international community, and law enforcement officials. Assistance in these and other areas is part of the USG’s continuing engagement with its Caribbean partners. This will be further strengthened through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative that President Obama announced at the 2009 Summit of the Americas.
Ecuador is a major transit country for illicit drugs trafficked from Colombia and Peru to the United States, as well as a source of chemical precursors diverted for illicit narcotics manufacturing. Large, sparsely populated border regions and difficult-to-monitor Pacific maritime routes are exploited by narcotics traffickers to move cocaine, heroin, and precursor chemicals on to the United States and other countries. Ecuador remains vulnerable to organized crime due to historically weak public institutions and corruption.
In 2009 the Government of Ecuador (GOE) continued to focus its counternarcotics efforts on cocaine interdiction and identifying and destroying large scale multi-ton cocaine laboratories. The GOE maintains a significant military presence near the Colombian border, which was stepped up following the March 1, 2008 bombing by the government of Colombia of a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp in Ecuador. This military presence counters persistent transnational narcotics activity by criminal elements operating in Ecuador’s porous northern border area. In 2009 the GOE reported significant increases in cocaine seizures, totaling 43.5 metric tons, including 10.6 metric tons of maritime seizures—a 98 percent increase over 2008 seizures. Ecuador is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Ecuador’s geographic location—bordering the Pacific Ocean on the west, and two of the largest coca cultivation source countries—Colombia to the north and Peru to the south—make it vulnerable to the ‘balloon effect’ that can follow successful counternarcotics efforts in neighboring countries, and to exploitation by international cartels. It is estimated that as much as 200 metric tons of cocaine is transited through Ecuador each year, with 60 percent of that cocaine estimated to transit toward the U.S., with most of the balance destined for Europe. Ecuador is also a major transit country for chemical precursors and for heroin destined for the U.S. Ecuador remains vulnerable to organized crime due to historically weak public institutions and corruption. Border controls remain weak and are frequently evaded, but are gradually improving. The Ecuadorian National Police (ENP), military forces, and the judiciary do not have sufficient personnel, equipment, or funding to meet all of the transnational criminal challenges they face.
In addition to significant increases in cocaine seizures, the GOE made encouraging strides in 2009 addressing financial crimes. The largest money laundering investigation in Ecuador’s history was completed in February, resulting in a $30.4 million total asset seizure (the previous money laundering record seizure was $6.5 million in 2006). Bulk cash seizures increased over 15 percent ($2.6 million in fiscal year 2009, versus $2.2 million in FY 2008).
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. In 2009 President Rafael Correa and his administration continued to place a high priority on combating narcotics production and trafficking. Nevertheless, in February 2009 the Correa government declared two U.S. Embassy officials persona non grata following GOE claims that the USG had interfered with the work of specialized Ecuadorian police units. Several months of negatively toned public statements regarding USG assistance to the Ecuadorian national police followed. In this tense period the GOE suspended or temporarily scaled back some police programs pending discussions to resolve the impasse between the GOE and the U.S. government. In August, the GOE signed two bilateral memorandums of understanding (MOUs) related to U.S. and GOE cooperation with specialized Ecuadorian police units, along with an amendment to the 2002 bilateral letter of agreement on counternarcotics cooperation. With the signing of these agreements U.S. and Ecuador counternarcotics cooperation was restored.
The GOE continued to strengthen oversight and enforcement of financial crimes through the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), established earlier under anti-money laundering legislation. The FIU has cooperated closely with Ecuador’s Attorney General, the Anti-Narcotics Police Directorate (DNA), the Superintendent of Banks, the courts, and the private banking association to identify suspicious transactions and develop information for the prosecution of cases. In 2009 the FIU focused on monitoring casinos for money laundering activities.
Accomplishments. GOE seizures in 2009 totaled 43.5 metric tons of cocaine, including 32.9 metric tons in land-based seizures and 10.6 metric tons in maritime seizures, which was a 98 percent increase over 2008. The GOE also seized 148 kilograms of heroin, and 2.78 metric tons of cannabis. Seizures in 2008 totaled 22 metric tons of cocaine, 144 kilograms of heroin, and 1,980 kilograms of cannabis.
In November the DNA discovered a large-scale cocaine-processing laboratory in the Chiriboga area of Pichincha Province. The laboratory was well-outfitted with two generators, microwave ovens, and three (one) kilo presses. Along with confiscation of small amounts of drugs and chemicals, over $1,800 in U.S. currency and two vehicles valued at $26,722 were seized. Four of six related arrests were Colombian nationals.
During October Ecuadorian police, in one coordinated operation covering three provinces, made multiple seizures totaling 8.3 metric tons of cocaine worth an estimated street value of $250 million dollars. Seizures included eight properties, a cocaine processing laboratory, weapons, and currency. This operation titled “Aniversario,” disrupted a drug trafficking organization directly linked to the 48th Front of the FARC, as well as purported trafficking links to Colombia, Mexico, Spain, and the United States. Total U.S. currency seized equaled $127,000, and arrests included an active duty Ecuadorian military intelligence officer. This cocaine seizure broke an earlier record set in August for the largest land seizure in Ecuador’s history. In late October, another operation thwarted an attempt to ship cocaine inside pineapples via shipping containers to Europe. This seizure yielded 850 kilograms of cocaine and over $7,000 in U.S. currency, and included the arrest of eight Colombian nationals.
In August an operation named “Victoria,” took place near San Lorenzo, in the northern border province of Esmeraldas. The six metric tons cocaine seizure was discovered in 5,412 cocaine bricks and had an estimated street value of $182 million.
In February the DNA, in coordination with their Colombian counterparts, finished a long-term money laundering investigation which resulted in the seizure of $30.4 million in total assets and the arrest of seven persons in Ecuador. The previous record was for a case with asset seizures worth $6.5 million.
The DNA continued to locate and seize large capacity cocaine production processing laboratories (cocaine base to cocaine hydrochloride); four such large capacity processing labs were seized during the year, as well as others of a smaller scale. On March 3, the Ecuadorian Navy seized an Ecuadorian-flagged vessel, the Maria Eulalia, containing 3.45 metric tons of cocaine. This was the largest maritime seizure by Ecuadorian forces in their history.
Law Enforcement Efforts. In a coordinated effort the Ecuadorian police and military identified and destroyed large cocaine processing laboratories and some others of a more limited scale in 2009. The Ecuadorian military continued to sustain operations near the border with Colombia, leveling off from the stepped up tempo that was in play since March of 2008. This build-up was a response to persistent narcotics activity by transnational criminal elements that have rendered the northern border particularly vulnerable and dangerous, as well as to counter a perception that Ecuador was not shouldering its burden in fighting narcotics traffickers in the north.
In 2009 the Ecuadorian Coast Guard continued to enhance their command-and-control capacity, commissioning a main operations center in Guayaquil and a satellite office in the Galapagos. These operation centers will coordinate the Coast Guard’s maritime monitoring and control capabilities to confront illicit activity in Ecuadorian waters. The Coast Guard also improved a satellite monitoring system for vessels 20 tons or larger that was first implemented in 2008. Ecuador’s Coast Guard continues to seek improved biometric capabilities in order to quickly identify individuals on suspect vessels boarded in Ecuadorian waters.
The Navy procured six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in 2009 to strengthen surveillance over Ecuadorian waters. The UAVs will work in coordination with six high-speed boats acquired in 2008 to improve the Coast Guard’s ability to monitor and interdict. The GOE asserts UAVs will fill the gap in surveillance coverage of the Eastern Pacific resulting from the non-renewal of the Manta FOL lease and basing agreement, which expired in November. In 2009 Ecuador’s Navy acquired boarding and drug detection equipment, along with training required for the equipment’s use.
Ecuador’s postal system authorities continued to improve counternarcotics controls, coordinating with the counternarcotics police (DNA) to ensure increased drug detection. Utilizing canine screening and USG-purchased screening equipment at international airport and other postal facilities, postal system seizures have doubled over those in 2008.
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 illicit narcotics and supported development of cases against other illegal activities such as weapons smuggling.
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 prosecution of anyone charged under that law. Some other aspects of official corruption are criminalized in Ecuador, but there is no comprehensive anticorruption law. President Correa’s creation of an Anti-Corruption Secretariat in 2007, along with support of the FIU are helping to strengthen the government’s ability to target corruption by gathering information on suspicious financial transactions to build cases against the individuals involved.
Overcrowding and corruption in prisons continues to be a serious problem; many drug traffickers are able to continue to conduct trafficking and other criminal operations from prison. President Correa’s 2007 emergency decree to address prison overcrowding and to improve management of the institutions has had limited impact—primarily with respect to releasing some prisoners. In 2009 the Ministry of Justice released 850 prisoners; 250 were released without ever being sentenced, and 600 were released under an Ecuadorian amnesty provision for possession of less than 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds).
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 occasionally cooperate in the deportation of third country nationals. One pending U.S. extradition request has been awaiting final approval since 2003. 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 protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. 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 Anti-Drug Hemispheric Strategy. Ecuador and the United States have agreements on measures to prevent the diversion of chemical substances; on the sharing of information for currency transactions over $10,000; and a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement. The U.S. Coast Guard and Ecuadorian Navy have effective Operational Procedures to facilitate maritime counternarcotics cooperation.
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 ceased all operations in September 2009, following the GOE announcement that it would not renew the agreement which expired November 11, 2009.
Cultivation/Production. Ecuadorian police located and destroyed approximately six hectares of cultivated coca plants in scattered sites along the northern border, and 100,530 individual poppy plants, estimated to equate to less than one hectare of poppy production, at scattered sites located throughout Ecuador. No poppy plants were discovered in 2008. In September 2009, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released results of a two-year coca cultivation survey; the survey confirmed that coca cultivation in Ecuador continues to be negligible.
Drug Flow/Transit. Cocaine and heroin from Colombia, and cocaine from Peru, transit Ecuador by various routes for international distribution in shipments ranging from a few hundred grams to multi-ton loads. Shipment methods for illicit drugs and other contraband continued to diversify, including use of small fishing boats, self-propelled semi-submersibles (SPSS), high-speed go-fast boats, and containerized cargo. Another shift in tactics was reported in 2009—by shipping smaller quantities (200-300 kilograms) traffickers could secure illicit cargo on decks allowing speedy jettisoning of suspect cargo overboard at the first sign of detection. This approach diversifies risk and hinders confiscation of costly transport vessels. Although seizures in postal facilities have increased significantly in recent years, traffickers continue to ship drugs via international mail and messenger services, with cocaine generally destined for European markets and heroin for the United States. Postal targets remain a prime target for increased interdictions. There has been a reported rise in the use of shipping containers, and 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 leads a multi-agency national prevention campaign in schools. Ecuadorian officials have stated that CONSEP may be partially dismantled and brought under the control of the Ministry of Government and Police. All public institutions, including the armed forces, are required to have abuse prevention programs in the workplace. Funded by a U.S. government grant, the UNODC conducts demand reduction and drug prevention programs in Ecuador.
Regional Coordination. Friction persists and diplomatic relations remain severed between Ecuador and Colombia following the March 1, 2008 Colombian attack on a FARC camp in Ecuador. The operation killed a FARC senior leader, Raul Reyes, along with 16 other FARC members. One Colombian military officer was killed while securing the FARC campsite after the operation. Ecuador and Colombia met in September to begin a process aimed at resumption of relations.
Senior GOE officials 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. However, the GOE has continued to pursue a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, alleging that Colombia’s aerial eradication actions near Ecuador’s border violated Ecuadorian sovereignty; despite results of a recent OAS/CICAD-commissioned study that concluded drift from aerial eradication is not likely to affect Ecuador under spraying procedures followed by aerial eradication aircraft. The suit seeks reparations from Colombia and the cessation of aerial spraying.
Alternative Development. Ecuador’s border region is mired in poverty. A paucity of licit employment opportunity, isolation, and proximity to FARC-held Colombian territory combine to make the region unstable. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) continued to support GOE efforts to improve livelihoods and infrastructure, strengthen local government, and open opportunities to expand licit economic activity as part of its northern border development master plan.
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 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 supported programs also address increased awareness of the dangers of drug abuse.
Bilateral Cooperation. The DNA remains the primary recipient of U.S.-provided counternarcotics assistance, including vehicles, equipment, and training. The DNA which contributed significantly to the continued record level of land-based seizures includes special nation-wide units, such as the Mobile Anti-Narcotics Teams (GEMA) and a drug detection canine program. The U.S. also increased support to DNA’s money laundering unit to combat money laundering organizations operating in Ecuador.
In 2009, the U.S. continued to provide support to the military to facilitate their mobility and communications during operations along the Northern Border, and to Ecuadorian Navy elements to better mobilize, equip, and train for narcotics interdiction activities.
In 2009 the U.S. Coast Guard, in cooperation with Ecuadorian authorities, removed over 7.8 metric tons of cocaine, seized two vessels, and detained14 smugglers through the use of Maritime Operational Procedures. Ecuador is an active participant in the Multilateral Counterdrug Summit, in which the U.S. participates, along with Panama, Colombia, and Mexico to facilitate regional counternarcotics interoperability.
Work on judicial sector reform continued in 2009 although changes to the structure of judicial institutions as required under the new Constitution, which went into effect in October 2008, created some uncertainty regarding the process of criminal cases. A major USG-funded training program continued to train prosecutors, judges, and judicial police throughout the country to more effectively investigate and prosecute criminal cases. In cooperation with the Judicial Council (formerly the National Judicial Council), the U.S. supported nationwide implementation of an automated database of all criminal cases. However, in February implementation was suspended by a political decision of the Judicial Council, as supported by the Ministry of Justice. Once fully implemented this database would enhance management and transparency of the adjudication of criminal cases to address problems of delay and corruption.
The U.S. provided technical assistance to support continued implementation of the Financial Intelligence Unit and provided training and equipment to 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 and poppy cultivation, and destruction of cocaine-producing labs. Increased GOE patrols near the Colombian border 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 for controlling maritime trafficking. The U.S. encourages the GOE to permit U.S. maritime patrol aircraft use of Ecuadorian airports on a planned “gas-and-go” basis in support of extending maritime detection, monitoring, and surveillance capabilities to counter the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations. 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—key to attacking the leadership of narcotics cartels.
The Arab Republic of Egypt is not a major producer, supplier, or consumer of narcotics or precursor chemicals. Heroin and cannabis are transported through Egypt, but presumed levels have not risen in recent years. The Anti-Narcotics General Administration (ANGA) oversees most of the counternarcotics operations in Egypt. The ANGA is considered a competent and progressive organization, and cooperates fully with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in Cairo. In the past, DEA and ANGA have worked together to uncover and destroy narcotic laboratories, as well as identify millions of dollars of drug related proceeds. Egypt is a party to the 1988 UN Convention and several other international treaties and agreements regarding narcotics trafficking.
II. Status of Country
Egypt is not a significant producer or consumer of narcotics or precursor chemicals, despite the fact that opium poppy and cannabis plants are grown in Egypt. The substances that are most commonly abused are cannabis derivatives, which are commonly known in Egypt as “bango,” and legitimate pharmaceuticals. Egypt is considered a transit point for transnational shipments of narcotics from Africa to Europe. Egypt’s long and mostly uninhabited borders with Libya and Sudan, combined with the high level of trade shipping passing through the Suez Canal Zone, make Egypt prone to the transshipment of Afghan heroin and narcotics from countries such as Morocco. Other types of narcotics periodically pass through Cairo International Airport. The narcotics primarily are destined for Western Europe, with only small amounts headed to the United States. Trafficking has diminished considerably in recent years due to the elevation of security measures in Egypt at the airports, borders, and ports, and the region as a whole.
The ANGA is the oldest counternarcotics unit in the Arab world. In Egypt, the ANGA has jurisdiction over all criminal matters pertaining to narcotics and maintains offices in all major Egyptian cities and ports of entry. Despite limited resources, ANGA continually strives to improve its capabilities. Over the past two years, ANGA successfully shifted resources, based on drug trafficking trends, from eastern border areas in the Sinai to the western border area with Libya. Additionally, ANGA increased its manpower by 8 percent during the past two years and updated its equipment to include vehicles and communication equipment capable of operating in the western border area, which is mainly a desert region. Furthermore, ANGA has initiated coordination efforts with the Egyptian Special Forces and Frontier Guards during operations in the western border areas.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The Government of Egypt (GOE) continues to aggressively pursue a comprehensive drug control strategy that was developed in 1998. ANGA, as the primary Egyptian drug enforcement agency, coordinates with the Egyptian Ministry of Interior (MOI), the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and select military units on all aspects of drug law enforcement. Government and private sector demand reduction efforts exist, but are hampered by financial constraints and logistical challenges.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Internal security and combating terrorism are the major foci of Egyptian law enforcement efforts. Despite these priorities, ANGA is able to operate an effective program against narcotics trafficking that primarily focuses on narcotics transiting Egypt rather than narcotics grown locally. ANGA investigates and targets significant drug traffickers, intercepts narcotics shipments via land and sea, and detects and eradicates illegal local crops. Large-scale seizures and arrests are rare, primarily because Egypt does not have a significant narcotics market or narcotics abuse culture. ANGA operates its own drug awareness campaign in addition to other government and private sector demand reduction programs. ANGA’s Eradication Unit conducts monthly operations against cannabis and opium crops in the Sinai, the primary domestic region for growing these products in Egypt.
According to the GOE, drug seizures in recent years have included cannabis, hashish, and smaller amounts of heroin, opium, psychotropic drugs, and cocaine. Significant amounts of prescription and “designer” drugs such as Ecstasy, amphetamines, and codeine were also seized. With the passage of the first anti-money laundering law in 2002, which criminalized the laundering of proceeds derived from trafficking in narcotics and numerous other crimes, seizures of currency in drug-related cases have increased significantly over the past several years.
Corruption. As a matter of government policy, the GOE 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 transactions. The GOE has strict laws and harsh penalties for government officials convicted of involvement in narcotics trafficking or related activities. In the last few years, a limited number of local low-level police officials involved in narcotics-related activity or corruption were identified and arrested.
Agreements and Treaties. Egypt 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. Egypt is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons and the UN Convention against Corruption. Egypt and the United States cooperate in law enforcement matters under a 1998 MLAT and an 1874 extradition treaty. The 1988 UN Drug Convention, coupled with the 1874 extradition agreement with the former Ottoman Empire, provides the United States and Egypt with a basis to seek extradition of narcotics traffickers.
Cultivation and Production. Cannabis is grown year round in the northern and southern Sinai and in Upper Egypt, while opium poppy is grown in the southern Sinai only from November through March. Rugged terrain means that plots of illegal crops are small and irregularly shaped. ANGA combats this production by using aerial observation and confidential informants to identify illegal plots. Once the crops are located, ANGA conducts daylight eradication operations that consist of cutting and burning the plants. ANGA has yet to implement a planned herbicide eradication program. No heroin processing laboratories were discovered in Egypt within the last 15 years and no evidence is available indicating that opiates or cannabis grown in Egypt reach the United States in sufficient quantities to have a significant impact. Furthermore, Egypt has had success in uncovering and eliminating narcotics laboratories before they reached significant production capabilities.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). As of 2009, the National Council for Combating and Treating Addiction continued to be the GOE’s focal point for domestic demand reduction programs. The Council falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Family and Population. Previously, the Council was independent from the Ministry and headed by the Prime Minister. The Council receives all of its funding from the MOI seizures of drug-related assets. Therefore, the Council’s budget fluctuates from year to year and is dependent upon MOI financial records, which the MOI does not release to the Council. While the Council enjoys high-level leadership, its actual capabilities and influence within Egypt are minimal. The Council primarily funds training for drug addiction workers and drug awareness prevention campaigns, but is not actively involved in rehabilitation programs or harm reduction programs. The Ministry of Communications provides the Council with television time for its awareness campaigns.
The MOH has an annual budget of 150 million Egyptian pounds for the treatment of all mental health diseases, including addiction related conditions. The MOH state hospitals provide free treatment for drug addicts. The MOH flagship state-sponsored drug rehabilitation program is located at the State Airport Hospital in Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt. The MOH also works with foreign entities and companies, such as the Red Cross, to provide training to drug rehabilitation workers in Egypt. The majority of foreign assistance is coordinated through the State Airport Hospital. Neither the Council nor the MOH sponsor education programs in Egypt to help reduce the crime rate related to narcotics abuse or provide awareness about the numerous health hazards associated with drug addiction such as the spread of HIV through contaminated needles.
Egyptian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are actively involved in demand reduction programs; however, the majority of the NGO funding is used for the training of drug rehabilitation workers instead of the treatment of drug addicts. The Narcotics Anonymous Group was founded in 1987 in Egypt. Within the last four years, the MOH has begun to offer Narcotics Anonymous Group meetings at all government hospitals.
Private Egyptian companies operate halfway houses and drug rehabilitation centers throughout the country, and the number of rehabilitation centers is increasing every year. The GOE does not require licenses for rehabilitation centers, has no governmental standards for these private programs, or government oversight of the rehabilitation centers. While drug treatment at the State Airport Hospital and some private facilities, such as the Behman Hospital, is provided only to individuals volunteering for treatment, the vast majority of drug rehabilitation centers allow for nonconsensual admissions. The majority of the private rehabilitation facilities do not allow the families to have access to the addicts once they enter a program, which can last several weeks to months. Addicts often suffer from both sexual and physical abuse at the private rehabilitation centers. At this time, the GOE and the Council have no programs to help educate and provide community awareness to the Egyptian population on proper standards and treatment methods for drug addiction in order to help addicts’ families select qualified rehabilitation centers and counter the abuses at some of the private companies.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives/Bilateral Cooperation. The current U.S. counternarcotics policy is to engage the GOE through bilateral programs to reduce narcotics transshipments and decrease opium poppy and cannabis cultivation. The policy includes the following specific objectives: increase training to ANGA and other government offices responsible for narcotics enforcement; assist with the identification of illegal crop eradication targets; improve narcotics interdiction methodology; and improve intelligence collection and analysis. Of note, the Department of Homeland Security has engaged the GOE in customs capacity building efforts with training focused on airport and land border enforcement techniques. In addition, ICE Cairo has conducted fraudulent document training, bulk cash smuggling, and tunnel detection training for the GOE. ICE Cairo has strong relationships with GOE airport, customs, and law enforcement authorities.
The Road Ahead. The U.S. continues to work on plans to increase joint operations with ANGA in an effort to move beyond the previously predominant focus on monitoring the narcotics problem only. The GOE is receptive to DEA assistance in narcotics operations and joint investigations around the country. The DEA also is providing training on improving interdiction and eradication techniques, as well as developing additional sources of information on trafficking and production. The counternarcotics cooperation between the U.S. and the GOE is considered an important and beneficial bilateral relationship for the two countries.
El Salvador is a transit country for cocaine and heroin sent from South America to the United States via land and sea. In 2009, the security forces of the El Salvador seized over 3.8 metric tons of cocaine, 323 kilograms of marijuana, and five kilograms of heroin. While the government seized $819,000 in suspicious bank accounts and cash transactions, as well as $939,845 in undeclared bulk cash taken from narcotics-linked smugglers, it did not make any significant advances in terms of improving its ability to detect, investigate, and prosecute money laundering and financial crime. In June 2009, the Egmont Group suspended El Salvador for lack of adequate terrorist financing legislation. 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, en route to the United States. While it remains difficult to determine reliable estimates of quantities flowing through El Salvador land routes or territorial waters, USG experts estimate that approximately 400 metric tons of cocaine flows through the Eastern Pacific region. In 2009 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. El Salvador hosts 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 GOES authorities have not seen serious problems with production/transit of precursor chemicals or illicit trading in bulk ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, investigations by the Anti-Narcotics Division (DAN) of the National Civilian Police (PNC) suggest it could become a more serious problem and additional steps to address the ephedrine problem have yet to be taken. In 2008 the GOES passed new legislation regarding the control of pseudoephedrine products, and, to date, the GOES has confiscated over 42 metric tons of pseudoephedrine products.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The GOES continued to support its special organized crime unit featuring embedded prosecutors and police investigators.
In fall 2009, the Salvadoran Navy, under the auspices of the “Grupo Cuscatlan” counternarcotics (CN) task force, stepped up maritime patrols aimed at drug traffickers transiting El Salvador’s territorial waters. The Navy, supported by the USG, showed a new-found aggressiveness in pursuit of a previously neglected CN mission. From December 2008 to December 2009, the Salvadoran Navy inspected roughly 25 suspected narcotics trafficking vessels, and seized over two metric tons of cocaine.
The Transnational Anti-Gang Unit (TAG), although not focused primarily on drugs, did detect some links between transnational street gangs and street-level drug distribution and related violence. Ongoing TAG investigations, as well as the TAG’s growing role as a regional clearinghouse for transnational street gang information, holds promise for future law enforcement investigations and prosecutions aimed at the Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS 13) and 18th Street (M-18) street gangs.
Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2009, the DAN focused on interdiction operations in the sectors of overland transportation, commercial air, package delivery services, and maritime transportation in the Gulf of Fonseca. The DAN continues to be hampered by insufficient resources, manpower shortages, and legal impediments to telephone intercepts, however, in 2009, GOES police investigators and prosecutors continued to share law enforcement intelligence and coordinated operations with USG counterparts resulting in successful interdictions. The GOES seizes property in conjunction with narcotics arrests, but has no legal mechanism to turn those assets over to law enforcement use, nor to sell the assets and recycle the proceeds into the GOES counternarcotics efforts. The GOES has drafted asset forfeiture legislation that remains under consideration by the legislature. Passage of that legislation, as well as corresponding implementation procedures could strengthen counternarcotics efforts in El Salvador.
Overall in 2009, the PNC seized a total of 1,769 kilograms of powdered cocaine, 2.5 kilograms of crack cocaine, 5 kilograms of heroin, and 323 kilograms of bulk marijuana. Consistent with the fact that the majority of illicit drugs flowing through the region appear to be using maritime routes, the majority of cocaine seizures for 2009 were the result of maritime interceptions. Land seizures primarily resulted from searches of stopped vehicles and inspections of passengers and luggage transiting on long-haul bus routes.
In 2009, the DAN confiscated $939,845 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 $819,000 in funds from drug-related financial crime. However, the GOES did not make any significant advances in 2009 in terms of improving its ability to detect, investigate, and prosecute money laundering and financial crime. The GOES appears to lack both the political will and the technical capacity through the FIU to detect, investigate and prosecute financial crime and money laundering. In June 2009, the Egmont Group suspended El Salvador for lack of adequate terrorist financing legislation.
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. Shortly after winning the March 2009 Presidential elections, Mauricio Funes of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) announced that his government would conduct investigations of allegations that former high-ranking members of the DAN are linked to narcotics traffickers. It is not clear at this point whether these allegations, so far unsubstantiated, are primarily political in nature, or, in fact, reflect a legacy of narcotics-fueled 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 among the most significant obstacles to negotiating a new bilateral extradition treaty. On December 22, 2009, the Salvadoran Supreme Court approved the first such case since the extradition treaty went into effect. Narcotics offenses are extraditable crimes by virtue of El Salvador’s ratification of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. El Salvador signed an agreement of cooperation with the U.S. in 2000 permitting access to and use of facilities at the international airport of El Salvador (Comalapa) for aerial counternarcotics activities.
Cultivation/Production. Local growers cultivate small quantities of marijuana for domestic consumption.
Drug Flow/Transit. Traffickers use 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. It is not clear if this program has had any discernable impact. The PNC operates a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, but it is not clear that the undertaking has yielded any significant results. 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 FUNDASALVA, a Salvadoran non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides substance abuse awareness, counseling, rehabilitation and reinsertion services including programs directed towards gang members. 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 enhancing 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 anti-money laundering efforts of the PNC financial crime unit and federal prosecutor’s FIU. 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 2009, the U.S. provided operational support to the joint Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and DAN Specialized Anti-Narcotics unit (GEAN), as well as training and logistical assistance to various DAN entities. The USG provided specialized vehicles, cargo inspection equipment, bullet-resistant vests, radios, computers and other basic law enforcement equipment, to the GEAN and other DAN constituent units. The USG also funded tactical training in such areas as vehicle stops, roadway interdiction, and emergency responder first aid. The USG also continued training and providing equipment for the Salvadorans to enhance their capability 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. ILEA trained roughly 300 PNC officers and law enforcement officials in FY 2009. The U.S. Coast Guard provided resident, mobile training in maritime law enforcement, port security, and leadership and management.
Established in January 2008, the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ (INL) Regional Gangs Advisor (RGA) continued coordinating antigang policy and initiatives for El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The RGA provided policy direction and training on issues such as community policing, formation of task forces, and security measures for prisons housing large numbers of transnational street gang members. Although gang involvement in narcotics trafficking appears to be confined to retail distribution, the INL RGA 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 the Central America Fingerprint Exchange (CAFE) program. In 2009, DEA and INL San Salvador worked with the DAN to further develop two mobile inspection teams capable of deploying highway choke points adjacent to El Salvador’s land borders with Guatemala and Honduras, as well as the specialized container cargo inspection unit at the port of Acajutla. The units were provided with a basic vehicle fleet and cargo inspection equipment, as well as specialized training on conducting vehicle stops and roadway interdiction. Progress on the maturation of the units has been slowed, however, by considerable turnover in the upper ranks of the DAN in the wake of the change in government in March 2009.
Merida Initiative funds continue to assist the GOES to confront the organized criminal and narcotics trafficking organizations that plague the entire region, as well as support programs that will strengthen its institutional capabilities to investigate, sanction and prevent corruption within law enforcement agencies; facilitate the transfer of critical law enforcement investigative information within and between regional governments; and fund equipment purchases, training, community policing, and economic and social development programs. Despite the absence of a maritime bilateral counternarcotics agreement, the GOES always provides prompt and cooperative responses to USG requests regarding maritime drug interdiction cases.
The Road Ahead. El Salvador’s ability to investigate and prosecute criminal activity would be enhanced by passage of pending legislation for asset forfeiture and wiretaps. Although the Salvadoran Congress voted in 2009 to amend the constitution to allow for use of wiretaps and other electronic intercepts, they have yet to pass implementing legislation to allow prosecutors and police to begin using the new investigative tools.
El Salvador also lacks the basic ability to investigate and prosecute financial crime. Institutional shortcomings in the Attorney General’s FIU leave the country dangerously vulnerable to financial crime and money laundering. 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 can 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.
On a broader level, El Salvador could enhance its drug control efforts further by providing additional manpower, resources, and equipment to the National Civilian Police units on the front lines of the fight against narcotics traffickers. Additional measures, such as implementation of wire tap enabling legislation and establishing an asset forfeiture regime, would also be very welcome indications of the GOES’s sincerity in addressing narcotics-fueled transnational crime.
The seizures of large amounts of narcotic substances, detection of drug trafficking conspiracies, destruction of drug labs, as well as arrests of record numbers of Estonian drug traffickers abroad indicate drug production and transit activity are ongoing in Estonia. It is also an indication 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 the Country
Trimethylphentanyl as well as other synthetic opiates referred to as “Persian” and “Afghanistan” continue to be of great concern to Estonian law enforcement, but also Ecstasy, amphetamines, gammahydroxylbutyrate (GHB), cocaine, and cannabis and poppy are available in Estonia. According to the field workers of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working at needle exchange points, most narcotic and psychotropic substances are available in Estonia. In 2009 Customs confiscated at the border 8.8 kilograms of liquid phenylacetone (P2P) of Russian origin hidden in car parts. Although P2P is a precursor for both amphetamine and methamphetamine, according to the police over the past few years there has been no evidence of methamphetamine production in Estonia. Methamphetamine is however frequently abused by drug users who consume the drug mistakenly thinking they are ingesting amphetamine. Both drugs are heavily marketed to users in the Baltics, and retail prices as the same. Some amphetamine, however, is produced in Estonia.
Detection of four drug labs in Estonia, frequent arrests of drug traffickers at the border and seizure of precursors seeking to enter Estonia indicate Estonia’s continuing involvement in synthetic drug production. According to Finnish police most amphetamine sold in Finland was produced in Estonian labs. While climate precludes Estonia from being a major drug cultivator, Estonian police have detected and destroyed several small-scale cannabis plantations—demonstrating drug dealers’ intentions to start supplying the domestic market locally. Also, the increasing number of Estonian drug traffickers arrested in foreign countries shows Estonian drug traffickers’ involvement in the international illegal drug trade. While in 2008, 32 Estonian drug traffickers were arrested in foreign countries, 48 Estonian traffickers were arrested abroad in the first nine months of 2009. It should be noted that low-level couriers account for virtually every drug-related arrest of Estonian nationals overseas. Estonian drug trafficking organizations do not have a significant presence outside Estonia, but young Estonians have been regularly recruited to work for West African organizations based in Western Europe. 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, Customs and Border Guards 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. According to NGOs the economic recession has brought a rapid increase of clients—both new and relapsed—who need recovery support services. Due to the large number of IDUs, Estonia has the highest per capita growth rate of HIV infections in Europe. As of October 2009, a total of 7,210 cases of HIV have been registered nationwide, 301 of which were registered in 2009, demonstrating that Estonia’s infection rate while high absolutely continues to decline.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. Estonia’s domestic counternarcotics legal framework is in compliance with international drug conventions and European Union (EU) narcotics regulations. The final provisions of the Law Amending the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act that came into force in 2008 brought the domestic law into full compliance with the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The GOE continuously upgrades its domestic counternarcotics regulations. In the beginning of 2009, Estonian Customs reported increased mail order sales of synthetic cannabinoids called “Spice” in Estonia and the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) immediately included Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids to the list of narcotic and psychotropic substances and precursors.
Estonia’s accession to the European Union’s Schengen visa convention in 2008 significantly reduced the number of Finnish “drug-tourists” traveling to Estonia to buy psychotropic medicines. Under the new regime, a traveler on narcotic or psychotropic medication within the Schengen zone needs a permit from the state medicine authority indicating the amount of medicine needed during the trip. Additionally, on January 1, 2009, the sale of narcotics such as Subutex (A brand name for buprenorphine, used for maintaining addicts during treatment for heroin withdrawal) in pharmacies was terminated. Subutex had been the most popular drug with finish drug-tourists. These drugs are now made available only for hospital inpatients.
In 2009, 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. Despite significant state budget cuts, all activities continued in a limited form 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.
Under Estonia’s 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 MOSA, Ministry of Education and Research (MOER), Ministries of Defense, Internal Affairs, Justice, and Finance. The committee also includes 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. The Committee reports directly to the Cabinet on a bi-annual basis.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Combating narcotics is one of the top priorities for Estonian law enforcement agencies. Police, customs and the border guard maintain good cooperation on counternarcotics activities. Currently, about one hundred police officers work solely on drug issues. Their primary mission is to destroy international drug rings, rather than to catch individual suppliers. In addition to these full time counternarcotics officers, all local constables also process drug-related misdemeanor acts. In 2009 the overall trend in crime remained low in Estonia and a remarkable decline took place in drug related offences: the number of cases of handling of narcotics in small amounts dropped by 58 percent and cases of handling large amounts by 36 percent. The decline is attributed to the increased efforts by Estonian Police to reign in the illegal drug trade.
In June, after months of investigation, officers of the North Police Prefecture drug squad seized one kilo of threemethylfentanyl (aka China White) in Tallinn, a record amount of synthetic heroin confiscated in Estonia. The seizure amounted to an estimated 35,000 doses with a total street value of $300,000. In addition major seizures from different police operations include: 37.4 kilograms of amphetamine, 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl, 9.2 kilograms of GHB, 8.8 kilograms of cannabis and cannabis products, 4.6 kilograms of cocaine and 1.7 kilograms of Methylenedioxymethamphetamine and its analogues.
Combating the illicit narcotics trade is also a top priority for the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (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 Estonian-Russian border (the European Union’s easternmost border). Another 150 customs officers work in mobile units all over Estonia. Four customs officers deal with information analysis and 12 officers from the Investigation Department are specialized solely on narcotic- related crimes. There are 18 customs teams with 21 drug sniffing dogs. In March, a drug sniffing dog detected 4.5 kilograms of narcotic substances (3 kilograms of powdered amphetamine and 4867 Ecstasy tablets) hidden in the spare wheel of a car boarding a ferry to Helsinki.
Corruption. Estonia has a low incidence of corruption. 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 main international drug control conventions: the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (1990). On April 07, 2009, a new extradition treaty between the United States and Estonia came into force, replacing the 1924 agreement. The U.S.-Estonian mutual legal assistance treaty in criminal matters has been in force since 2000.In addition the two countries have concluded, pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements, protocols to the bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties, which will enter into force on February 1, 2010.
Estonia is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols.
Cultivation/Production. Estonia’s cold climate precludes it from becoming a major drug cultivator. However, the recent destruction of hydroponic cannabis plantations shows Estonians’ involvement in small-scale marijuana production for the domestic market. According to press reports four small plantations, ranging in size from five plants to 247 plants were destroyed in 2009. Also, in northeastern Estonia small amounts of poppies are grown for domestic consumption. Further, 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 them difficult to detect and close. In 2009 police detected four drug labs: three producing GHB and one producing amphetamine. In addition to production for domestic consumption, synthetic drugs produced in Estonia are exported to neighboring countries, including the Nordic countries, especially Finland, and northwestern Russia. Although the police know the main route of the contraband, discovery of drugs is difficult because of the busy Tallinn-Helsinki ferry traffic.
Drug Flow/Transit. Estonia’s geographic 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. From January to September 2009, 48 Estonian drug traffickers were arrested around the world, demonstrating Estonians’ increasing involvement in the international drug trade (in 2008 total 32 Estonian drug traffickers were arrested abroad).
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. In 2009, 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. Nonetheless, amphetamine continues to flow from Tallinn to Helsinki by ferry, and a variety of drugs and precursor chemicals move in both directions at the Narva border crossing with Russia. 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 eight voluntary HIV testing and counseling centers providing services at nine sites. The GOE and local governments fund these centers. A needle exchange program is operational at 36 sites, including 23 field work areas and a number of mobile needle exchange stations in Tallinn and northeast Estonia. Five organizations provide methadone treatment at seven sites in Tallinn and northeast Estonia. A toll-free help line for drug addicts is operational 24 hours a day. Six organizations that provide drug rehabilitation services in major rehabilitation centers are funded by the GOE and three centers are church-sponsored.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Relations. In 2009, the U.S. European Command Counter Narcotics Terrorism Division allocated $800,000 to build two helicopter refueling stations in Estonia. The project is in cooperation with the Estonian Border Guard and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and directly contributes to national narcotics control capacity. Construction will be completed in 2010.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) in cooperation with the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) continued implementation of the second phase of a project entitled “DOD HIV/AIDS Prevention Program”. The aim of the second phase of the project is to generate baseline statistical information on infection rates within the Estonian Military Forces using rapid tests.
The Road Ahead. In cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers and the MOER, Embassy Tallinn is hosting an international HIV education conference “The Challenges of Health Education in the Baltic Sea Region” to emphasize the importance of health education and promote cooperation between stake holders on HIV prevention. Intravenous drug abuse is a primary transmission vector for HIV. The USG will endeavor to continue helping Estonia on drug issues through exchange of information and enforcement assistance.
Ethiopia does not play a major role in the production, trafficking, or consumption of illicit narcotics or precursor chemicals associated with the drug trade. However, Ethiopia is strategically located along a major narcotics transit route between Middle Eastern, Asian, and West African heroin markets, and the amount of drugs transiting via Ethiopia is increasing. Heroin transits Ethiopia for markets in West Africa, Europe, and the United States, primarily due to Ethiopia’s good airline connections between those markets and Asia. Nigerian and Ghanaian traffickers use Ethiopia as a transit point on a limited, but increasing basis. Although cannabis is grown throughout Ethiopia, it is mostly consumed in rural areas of the country. Khat, a chewable leaf with a mild narcotic effect, is legal in Ethiopia. Khat is now one of Ethiopia’s largest exports. Seizures of illicit drugs are up, and illegal exports from Ethiopia, through Europe to the U.S., are rising. The Illicit Drug Control Service (IDCS), formerly the Ethiopian Counter Narcotics Unit (ECNU), has a small staff, limited training and equipment, and would like to partner with the international community to improve its capabilities. The IDCS maintains an interdiction team at the international airport in the capital. Ethiopia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Ethiopia is not a significant producer, trafficker or consumer of narcotic drugs or diverted precursor chemicals. In the past two years, however, it has become a significant transiting point for heroin and cannabis trade. Cannabis is produced in rural areas throughout Ethiopia. Only a small portion of cannabis is being produced for export, primarily to neighboring countries. The majority of locally produced cannabis is consumed at home, but absolute quantities in both cases are moderate. According to the IDCS, cannabis is primarily grown and used by Ethiopia’s resident Rastafarian population. The highest volume has been grown in and outside of the town of Shashemene, approximately 250 kilometers south of Addis Ababa. IDCS also believes that cannabis is often sold concurrently with khat. Since 2000, IDCS has made 111 seizures of opium (heroin), six seizures of cocaine and a single seizure of codeine.
III. Country Action Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The use of heroin and other hard drugs remains low, due primarily to the limited availability of such drugs, their high street prices, and low incomes of most Ethiopians. The extent that such hard drugs are available is in large part due to the spillover effect from drug couriers transiting through Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. Bole is a major hub for pan-African flights, as well as flights between Africa, Asia, and Europe. According to Ethiopian authorities, much of the heroin entering and/or transiting Ethiopia comes from Asia, although absolute quantities in both cases are fairly low. Some of the flights require up to a two-day layover in Addis Ababa, permitting a limited opportunity for the introduction of these drugs into the local market. From January-October 2009, Ethiopian authorities arrested nine traffickers in possession of heroin, four in possession of cannabis, and two in possession of cocaine at Bole International Airport. Authorities now randomly search passengers flying from “high risk” points of origin.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The IDCS has a small staff and inadequate budget, limiting its capabilities. There is currently no new training offered for officers in IDCS, and IDCS has no permanent programs. Since changing its leadership in 2002, IDCS has been more proactive at the federal level, but is still hampered by financial constraints. IDCS is comprised of approximately 40 individuals, including federal police officers and administrative personnel. Its efforts include an airport interdiction team comprised of 15 staff members, a four-person surveillance team, and an educational unit with six staffers. At the airport, the interdiction team uses four drug sniffer German shepherd dogs to examine, with a degree of randomness, cargo and luggage. Sniffer dogs are primarily trained and used to detect cocaine, cannabis, and heroin. The IDCS routinely screens passengers, luggage and cargo on flights arriving from “high risk” origins, such as Dubai, Bangkok, Mumbai, New Delhi, Karachi, and Islamabad. The interdiction unit continues to improve its ability to identify male Ghanaian/Nigerian/Tanzanian drug “mules,” who typically swallow drugs to smuggle them. However, the airport interdiction unit relies heavily on tips from other countries to identify the drug mules. The Ethiopian government reports that the overall volume of drugs interdicted has been low, as most seizures involve airline passengers carrying small quantities in luggage or on their person.
The Counter Narcotics Division (CND) was formed in 1993 and it coordinates drug enforcement in all regions of the country. As of September 2009 there were 59 officers in the CND, some of whom have provided training to regional police by translating DEA training manuals into Amharic. The CND also conducts drug awareness initiatives among the public and undertakes drug (cannabis) eradication. There are currently fifteen people working in Criminal Intelligence, and eleven people working on Airport Interdiction. The CND has noted a need to increase its airport surveillance capabilities and adopt a more effective risk assessment and passenger profiling system.
The CND provided statistics from 2000-2009 on the number of arrests and seizures for heroin, cocaine and cannabis. For heroin, 2004-2005 were the peak years for this category of arrests when 38 people were arrested and 33 kilograms of the drug were seized. For cocaine, 2007 was the peak year with three people arrested and three kilograms seized. For cannabis, 2007 was again the peak year for seizures when 194 kilograms were seized and 41 people were arrested. Overall data for 2009 is not yet available (data from Bole International Airport is included).
The Federal Police Counter Narcotics Unit’s Deputy Commander provided the following initial details on the amount of drugs seized by the Federal Police Counter Narcotics Unit in 2009: 423 kilograms of cannabis, and 51 kilograms of heroin. Nearly half the traffickers arrested were Tanzanian, but Ugandan, South African, British, Ethiopian, Belgian, and Guinean traffickers were caught as well. Traffickers were mostly male.
Corruption. Ethiopia 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. The Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, created in 2001, was given substantial police powers to investigate corruption, and for a short while attracted considerable attention when it arrested and charged several high-level government officials with corruption (unrelated to drugs) in 2001 and 2002. Since the formation of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, there have been no charges of drug-related corruption against government officials.
Agreements and Treaties. Ethiopia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol and the 1971 UN Convention against Psychotropic Substances. Ethiopia is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption.
Cultivation/Production. Cannabis is produced in rural areas throughout Ethiopia, of which a small portion is for export, primarily to neighboring countries, but with increasing amounts trafficked abroad via the Ethiopian postal system. The majority of cannabis is consumed at home, with quantities in both cases being moderate. Khat is grown widely in Ethiopia and is increasingly exported becoming Ethiopia’s seventh largest export earner in 2007 and remaining so through 2009. While khat is legally produced in Ethiopia, it is considered to be an illegal drug in the United States.
Drug Flow/Transit. The amount of drugs transiting Ethiopia remains moderate, but is increasing, according to local authorities. Heroin transits Ethiopia for markets in West Africa, Europe and the United States, primarily due to Ethiopia’s good airline connections between those markets and Southwest/Southeast Asia. Drug trafficking within Ethiopia is a growing problem as lax cargo inspections at airports in the country have made the transshipment of heroin from Pakistan and Afghanistan an increasingly significant problem.
Domestic Programs. The only domestic program to combat narcotics in Ethiopia is the IDCS, which has both an enforcement and limited drug education role. The IDCS’ Education Unit aims to increase public awareness by partnering with counternarcotics clubs in high schools. Further, the education unit educates domestic police on how to detect and control drugs in all areas of Ethiopia.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. The United States is working to raise the profile of crime-related issues and encourage criminalization of money laundering. The U.S. provides training assistance to the IDCS.
The Road Ahead. Ethiopia is likely to remain a moderate trafficking center for Africa because of the broad connectivity options of Ethiopian Airlines described above. The Ethiopian Government’s goal is to partner with the international community to improve its detection capabilities. While Ethiopia is not a significant producer, trafficker, or consumer of narcotic drugs, its location among the major narcotics routes—linking Asian heroin production, European markets, and West African trafficking networks—make it a prime candidate for continued drug trafficking and transit.
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, although there was significant increase in only one of the classes of narcotics seized in 2008—pharmaceutical preparations classified as narcotics. Finnish officials describe the situation as generally stable. 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 under the Finnish Coercive Measures Act, such as wiretapping, is generally permitted in serious narcotics investigations. The police may carry out a simplified pre-trial investigation in cases where the statutory punishment for the offence/s is restricted to a fine or maximum of six months imprisonment (e.g. unlawful use of narcotics). In a simplified pre-trial investigation the questioning and other aspects of the investigation can often be performed at the place that the offence was committed in order to target investigation resources towards more serious offences. Finnish political culture tends to favor the allocation of resources to demand reduction and rehabilitation efforts over strategies aimed at reducing supply. 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. Early indications that increased numbers of direct flights to Asia would result in Asian criminal syndicates becoming more involved with the Finnish drug trade have not played out.
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, the European Union and Russia—these close ties have been very helpful 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. The number of persons suspected of narcotics offenses in 2008 was 4,543, which represented less than one-tenth of one percent of the 5.2 million person population. Cocaine is not common, but marijuana, Subutex, khat, amphetamines, methamphetamine, synthetic club drugs, Ecstasy, LSD can be found; heroin is quite rare in Finland. 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. In 2008, the Finnish authorities seized 56 kilograms of Marijuana and 41 kilograms of cannabis plants. Ecstasy, GHB, Ketamine (“Vitamin K”) and other MDMA-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 general phenomenon of increasing drug abuse.
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 kilograms seizure of heroin in 2005, seizures have never been larger than (and consistently smaller than) 1.6 kilograms since 2003. Typically, heroin is smuggled by non-Finns residing in the Nordic countries using vehicles. They pass by way of Germany and Denmark to the rest of the Nordics.
Abuse of Subutex (buprenorphine) and other heroin-substitutes used in maintenance treatment 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 to Subutex. 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 size of Subutex seizures by the Finnish customs have remained consistent over the last five years.
Finnish Customs recorded 94 firearm violations, approximately the same amount as in the previous reporting period. There were a total of 125 weapons seized in connection with these violations, with 14 being firearms and 111 being gas-spray guns.
According to Finnish law enforcement, the number of organized crime groups has grown slightly in the past few years, and so has the number of their members. At the end of 2008, there were 88 organized crime groups with some 1,200 members. The number of crime organizations that meet the EU criterion for “organized crime group” was 36. 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 more 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, including the posting of liaison personnel in Beijing and Guangzhou.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. Finland’s comprehensive 1998 policy statement on illegal drugs articulates a zero-tolerance policy regarding narcotics. Finnish comprehensive drug policy is based on general public policy measures, national legislation and international agreements. A Government Resolution that runs from 2008 to 2011 on co-operation in drug policy defines an overall plan to guide the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health preventing drug use and distribution. In accordance with the Government Resolution, a new Narcotics Act was adopted by Parliament in 2008. The Act brings the Finnish drug legislation in conformity with the current EU legislation and practice.
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 that new instruments available in international cooperation, such as joint investigation teams and the rapid exchange of information, available now that Finland is a signatory of the Prüm Convention, will support the fight against the crime at the national level.
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). A bill went before Parliament in 2009 that attempted to expand the use of wiretapping in criminal investigations, but it was eventually voted down. The proposal would have also allowed wiretapping in specific criminal cases .
Finland has a streamlined system that allows it to categorize new designer drugs as illegal narcotics within two to three months of their first appearance. This new law responds to the capability of criminals to slightly modify existing narcotics to make them not technically illegal. The authorities had been frustrated with the 12-24 months that the E.U. and the UN can take to make new designer drugs illegal.
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 conduct investigations into the trafficking of the drugs they encounter 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 also maintains responsibility for coordination of Finnish customs narcotics interdiction efforts with other nations’ customs services. Finnish judicial authorities are empowered to seize assets of criminals, real and financial..
Finnish law enforcement has improved the investigation of narcotics cases through the establishment of Joint Intelligence Teams and Fusion Centers, which bring together 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 how best to proceed in 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. A new national level Fusion Center will provide up-to-date information and monitoring for lower level law enforcement organs.
Participants in the Fusion Centers are well-trained. In Addition to their own branch-specific training modules, they received a collective course on crime analysis at the Police College in the fall of 2008.
Since 2006 Finnish Customs has deployed a mobile X-ray scanning machine at Helsinki’s Western Harbor. By 2007, Customs was using two such scanning devices and had an additional, permanent scanning facility available at Vaalimaa, which is the primary border-crossing between Finland and Russia. More than 25,000 cargo containers 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. While these resources have yielded limited narcotics seizures, the authorities feel that they serve a strong deterrent function.
In 2008 (Latest data available), Finland experienced a 1 per cent increase in the number of drug offenses and a 10 percent decrease in the number of aggravated narcotics offenses. 9,933 of the 16,530 offenses reported for 2008 were related to narcotics use; the number of aggravated narcotics offenses was 869. Evidence of the limited cannabis market comes from the Customs figures for 2008 which show seizures totaling only 56 kilograms of marijuana. In 2008, 25 percent of the suspects of aggravated narcotics offenses were foreigners; of those, 40 percent were Estonian and 21 percent were Russian.
Authorities estimate that the use of cocaine has increased in Finland and in the other EU countries. While overall amounts of cocaine entering Finland remain extremely low, Finnish law enforcement believes the importation of cocaine will continue to increase. Finnish authorities have asserted that cocaine predominantly enters Finland from Spain and that Finnish motorcycle gangs play a significant role in the supply chain. 3 kilograms of cocaine were seized in 2008, down from 4 kilograms in 2007. Amphetamines remain the overwhelming drug of choice in Finland.
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 anabolic 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. Steroids are primarily used to enhance athletic performance (“doping”), but regular use has a negative effect on health and well-being
One potentially worrying trend is that the few DTOs 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 dependant on cooperation with their Estonian counterparts—cooperation they describe as outstanding. It is now estimated that 90 percent of amphetamine available on the streets of Finland is imported directly from or through Estonia. Finnish law enforcement believes that another significant source for amphetamine on the Finnish market are 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 legal prescriptions. Suspected courier travel has increased annually for the past few years. From December 21, 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.
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 abroad, including the investigation of suspects beyond Finland’s borders.
Several international joint operations were launched during 2008, aimed at uncovering connections between organized crime groups, trafficking of drugs, illegal medicines and other substitutes, money laundering, forgeries and cargo surveillance. Five out of total eleven operations initiated in 2008 were EU related, two were coordinated by the European Anti-Fraud Office and four operations were transnational. Besides European and Finland’s neighboring countries, the cooperating partners included countries from Asia (China, India, Thailand), South and North America (Argentina, Chile, Peru and U.S.) and Africa (Algeria, Tunis, Morocco).
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. Official corruption is 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 has also concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement with the United States. All 27 EU member states, including Finland, have signed and ratified bilateral protocols with the U.S. that implement the 2003 U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements, which will streamline the mutual legal assistance and extradition efforts between the countries. The U.S. has ratified all of these protocols, including the protocol with Finland, and they will enter into force on February 1, 2010. Also, Finland is a member of the Major Donors’ Group within the Commission 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 Prüm, 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. Authorities see the main reason for the increase is the ease of obtaining the specialized equipment over the internet.
Seizures by weight of cannabis plants have fluctuated over the past several years with 2008 seeing seizures of 41 kilograms, a 47 percent decrease from 2007. The other side of this statistic is that the number of plants seized increased dramatically, from 7600 plants in 2007 to 14000 plants in 2008. The majority of cultivation cases were very small, with an average of 1 to 20 plants per seizure. The distribution of 22 precursor chemicals listed by international agreement is tightly controlled.
Drug Flow/Transit. Medical opiates (including Subutex), amphetamine and methamphetamine represent the majority of police seizures in Finland. Finland is not a major transit country for narcotics. Most drugs trafficked into Finland originate or pass through Estonia, though Subutex is often trafficked by car or truck over the Swedish border in the north of Finland. 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 substitute treatment 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. anticipates continued close cooperation with Finland in the fight against narcotics. Finnish law enforcement is expected to maintain its willingness to work with relevant U.S. law enforcement agencies, and is well positioned to exchange law enforcement information and collaboratively pursue narcotics traffickers and international organized criminal entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of narcotics.
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 island “Departments” 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. In descending order of importance, cannabis/hashish originating in Morocco, cocaine from South America, heroin originating in Afghanistan and transiting through Turkey, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and Ecstasy (MDMA) originating in the Netherlands and Germany, all find their way to France. Almost all drugs known in the United States are also present in France, with the exception of methamphetamines, which are almost completely unknown in France. Spain is believed to be the main entry point for cannabis and cocaine, although the Netherlands is certainly important for cocaine entry as well. 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 only 5 percent and 3 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 in France has declined dramatically from 564 reported deaths in 1994 to 55 deaths during 2007 Possession of drugs for personal use and possession of drugs for distribution both constitute crimes under French law and both laws are vigorously 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). They have noted that many individual criminals who engage in drug trafficking are equally willing to engage in smuggling other contraband (i.e., untaxed cigarettes) as well as other crimes of opportunity which promise easy profits. However, unlike individuals, organized rings of smugglers tend to restrict themselves to drug trafficking. When these organized rings do engage in other criminal activity, it is usually an activity which involves the use of the same maritime shipping containers, trucking companies, or other transportation resources as the business of drug smuggling.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
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 the harm caused by the use and trafficking of narcotics.
The 2004 program’s successes include launching a 38 million Euro (approx. $50.5 million) national information campaign on cannabis use in 2005. The program developed and offered increased options in France’s national medical treatment system for cannabis and heroin users/addicts. The program also provided 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. In 2009, France joined the EU Drug Action Plan for the period 2009-2012.
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.
The Paris DEA office has noted that the French do appear to be conducting more police training in West Africa in response to the cocaine trade through the North and West Africa to Europe. However, France has always been involved in providing some regular level of training in the region due to their past colonial ties and their common language.
Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2009 authorities seized a number of large shipments of drugs transiting France which were destined for other European countries. There were two multi-hundred kilogram seizures of heroin in truck cargo crossing through France en route from Turkey to the United Kingdom. Several large shipments of cocaine were also seized from cargo crossing France, headed north from Spain destined for other EU nations. In total, the number of operations against the illegal trafficking of drugs by France’s law enforcement increased by 38 percent during 2009 to a total of 194 proceedings. In 2008, 75 tons of cannabis, 8 tons of cocaine and one ton of heroin were confiscated in France
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 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. The U.S. has a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with France. 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 addition, All 27 EU member states, including France, have signed and ratified bilateral protocols with the U.S. that implement the 2003 U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements, which will streamline the mutual legal assistance and extradition efforts between the countries. The U.S. has ratified all of these protocols, including the protocol with France, and they will enter into force on February 1, 2010.
Two persons wanted in the United States for drug trafficking were arrested in France in 2009, at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. Both extraditions are pending.
Cultivation/Production. Most of the illicit drugs being shipped to France are produced in other areas of the world. The vast majority of cannabis products in France originate in Morocco, and cocaine available in France is usually produced in South American countries. The majority of the heroin entering France is produced in Afghanistan.
Drug Flow/Transit. Moroccan cannabis and South American cocaine both occasionally enter France directly, but the drugs primarily enter the EU through ports in Spain and, to a lesser extent, the Netherlands before being brought to France for distribution. Heroin originating in Afghanistan enters the country via land routes through the Balkans in cargo, although some transits the North and West African co countries before being brought into France by body couriers.
Couriers, using both internal (“swallowers”) and luggage transportation, are frequently arrested bringing drugs into France from many West African countries such as Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Senegal, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. This method is used to transport small quantities of drugs, but quite frequently.
In the past two years the amount of cocaine transiting the African continent before entering France has increased. According to the DEA ,the vast majority of this West African transit cocaine is believed to be intended for transshipment to Western Europe, although the actual percentage arriving in France from West Africa remains unclear as do the routes by which most of this cocaine makes its way to Europe following its transit of West Africa.
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, Etienne Apaire, the President of MIDLT (since September 2007) announced a new government policy aimed at cannabis users. Since 2008, the state has required 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.
On June 26, 2009 the Federation Nationale de Prevention Toxiconomique signed the EU resolution “European Action on Drugs.” This resolution, which was signed by 120 stakeholders from across the EU, committed its signers to playing an active role in the fight against drugs by reaching out to Europeans in their everyday lives and providing European citizens with new means of expression their views on drugs and encouraging thereby a commitment to action. This resolution is a key policy initiative of the new “EU Drugs Action Plan (2009-2012).”
French rehabilitation facilities use similar treatment methods to those used in the U.S. for treating addictions. Subutex (buprenorphine) and methadone have both been used for many years to treat heroin addiction.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. and French counternarcotics law enforcement cooperation remains good. During 2009, the DEA’s Paris Country Office and OCRTIS, continued to routinely share operational intelligence and support one another’s investigations. One source for the DEA and the OCRTIS shared intelligence was a program which identifies orders for precursor chemicals placed with French companies for exportation outside of France.
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 Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, the French side of Saint Martin, and St. Barthelemy are all overseas departments of France and therefore subject to French law. They are also subject to all international conventions signed by France, including the 1988 UN Convention. 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. The French islands are known to be mainly transshipment points for drugs carried by air and sea vessels from elsewhere in South and Central America to Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States.
II. Status of Country
The governments of these territories are able to apply to the resources of France in their fight against illegal drug smuggling. However, the geography of the Caribbean Sea and the proximity of French Caribbean departments to other nations with relatively lax law enforcement and endemic corruption all act to facilitate the trafficking of illicit substances through the area Martinique and Guadeloupe are both known to be transshipment points for drugs moving through the region, primarily internationally-produced cocaine, cannabis and Ecstasy .
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
French officials participated in the First Caribbean Drug Policy Forum held in Kingston, Jamaica on 2-3 November 2009. It was led by the Caribbean Drug & Alcohol Research Institute, and supported by The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition and the Caribbean Harm Reduction Coalition. This forum brought together academics, policy makers, law enforcement and activists debate the current status of Caribbean drug policy and future policy prescriptions.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The French Caribbean departments participated in the Martinique Task Force that addressed the increase in cocaine trafficking to France from the French Caribbean. This multilateral cooperative effort brought together French, Spanish, Colombian, U.S. and British law enforcement officials to promote coordinated operations against trafficking. French Customs took an active part in the undertakings of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC), which was established in the early 1970s to improve the level of cooperation and exchange of information between its members in the Caribbean. In 2009, the CCLEC provided 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.
French law enforcement worked closely with the U.S. Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) in the Caribbean. The FOLs two locations in Curacao and Aruba provided U.S., Dutch, United Kingdom, Canadian and French aircraft quick access to Caribbean drug smuggling corridors, where U.S., U.K., French, and Dutch surface vessels are positioned to help interdict air and maritime drug trafficking targets. By assigning a high priority to counternarcotics smuggling measures and focusing on multi-lateral assistance, the French played an integral role in the fight against drug traffic in the region.
Corruption. Officials in the area are drawn from and trained by the French Civil Service. There have been no accusations of corruption within the French government or of high ranking senior officials within the past year.
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. Although this treaty has not yet received the five ratifications needed for it to enter into force, it is nevertheless a widely accepted policy in the region. 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.
Cultivation/Production. There does not appear to be a large amount of drug production in the French Caribbean. Some cannabis is grown locally in areas like Martinique and Guadeloupe mainly for local or individual consumption and does not have a significant impact on the availability of drugs in the area.
Drug Flow/Transit. Cocaine from Colombia and Central America as well as cannabis from a variety of nearby countries is transshipped through islands in the French Caribbean en route to Europe and, less frequently, to the United States. French law enforcement worked closely with British, Dutch and American law enforcement and military officials to monitor and prevent the flow of drugs transiting the area by air and by sea.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. As departments of France, the French Caribbean is an active participant in all French policies and programs regarding the treatment of drug addiction and lessening of domestic demand.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation. U.S. policy objectives within the region focused primarily on working with French and international authorities to close down the flow of drugs within the region and prevent illicit drugs from entering the U.S. The Drug Enforcement Administration Country Office in Bridgetown, Barbados and French law enforcement officials in Martinique conduct quarterly liaison visits and cooperation is outstanding. The French Inter-ministerial Drug Control Training Center (CIFAD) in Fort-de-France, Martinique offered 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 coordinated 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 provided training at the CIFAD. French Customs also co-funded with the Organization of American States (OAS) training seminars aimed at Customs and Coast Guard Officers from OAS member states. The French Navy hosted “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 coordinated their assistance programs closely in the region through bilateral and multilateral discussions. The GOF participated actively in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) as a Cooperating and Support Nation (COSUN).
The Road Ahead. The French Caribbean is encouraged to increase the frequency of its outstanding participation in multilateral interdiction operations in the region.
Georgia is not considered a drug production country; however it has the potential to be a major transit route for narcotics flowing from Afghanistan to Western Europe. In 2009 there were no significant seizures of narcotics. In part this may be due to adjusted law enforcement priorities, following the August 2008 conflict with Russia, as well as limited interdiction capacity at the borders and within Georgia. Of particular concern are the separatist territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia which are beyond the control of Georgian law enforcement authorities and have been occupied by Russia since August 2008. These areas provide additional routes for drug flow and other contraband. There is speculation that drug flow through these areas is high, however this is not verified as 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).
Anecdotal evidence indicates that there is a domestic drug-use problem in Georgia, including marijuana use and intravenous drug use, such as heroin, Subutex, and methadone. Subutex is a trade name for buprenorphine, a pharmaceutical produced throughout Europe and used for the treatment of opiate addiction. This substance is not a registered medication in Georgia and thus not legally available. Street prices for these intravenous drugs, although initially low, increased in 2009. Domestic production and use of methamphetamines, pseudo-ephedrine derived drugs and abuse of other pharmaceutical drugs, especially in urban areas, is also on the rise.
In early November 2009, President Saakashvili submitted a Drug Amnesty Bill to Parliament. Passing of a national counternarcotics strategy and action plan remain a priority for policy makers in Georgia, however limited legislative action has taken place since 2007. As of January 1, 2009 significant changes in border security have taken place. Patrol Police are now, along with Customs, the primary law enforcement entity at all ports of entry, while border police maintain jurisdiction along the green border. The GOG continues to work with the United States, European Union (EU) and other donors to improve security operations at borders.
Although statistics on seizures, arrests, and prosecutions for narcotics-related crime are kept by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA), official data on the number of drug abusers in the country is inconsistent and varies widely by source. In late 2008 six additional GOG treatment centers were opened, and treatment programs in the penitentiary system have been expanded. However, treatment facilities remain inadequate to meet demand. Georgia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Georgia’s location between Europe and Asia make it a potential narcotics trafficking route. Narcotics destined for Europe may enter Georgia from Azerbaijan via the Caspian and exit through the northern separatist Abkhaz region or southwestern land and water borders with Turkey. TIR trucks (long-haul trucks carrying nominally inspected goods under Customs seal) are the main means for westward-bound narcotics trafficking in the region. These truck routes are an attractive means of transit due to legislation that requires the Customs official to open such trucks only in the presence of the Georgian owner or his representative. Due to time constraints and unavailability of most owners, many trucks go through unchallenged. Additionally, only airline flights deemed “high risk” are subject to passenger baggage screening by x-ray, while cargo is searched under the same restrictions as trucks. Based on MOIA statistics, there were no significant seizures of narcotics moving west in 2009. While staffing and equipment have improved at the border in 2009, training, information sharing, and risk management are in need of further improvement. Legal limitations that unnecessarily hinder appropriate inspection of cargo need to be revised.
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, abused as an intravenous drug in Georgia, is popular due to a lower price and longer high in comparison to heroin, and a large profit margin for dealers. Seizure statistics and anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of Subutex has been decreasing in favor of cheaper drugs, such as methamphetamines. In mid-2009, at the point of entry between Azerbaijan and Georgia, Customs officials reported the seizure of 13,500 pills of the antidepressant drug Coaxil (Tianeptine), which is a registered psychotropic medicine in Georgia. Coaxil is reportedly abused in several major cities in Georgia (Kutaisi, Rustavi, Zugdidi).
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. New drug policy initiatives in 2009 were limited. In early November 2009, President Saakashvili submitted a Drug Amnesty Bill to Parliament. This draft law would offer one-time amnesty to prisoners serving time for drug related convictions in order to help reduce overcrowding in prisons. If passed, the Amnesty Bill could halve the sentences of 600-1,000 inmates. Passage of a national counternarcotics strategy and action plan remain a priority for policy makers in Georgia, however limited legislative action has taken place since 2007. In 2007, the GOG adopted a law on the Main Directions of Georgia’s National Anti-Narcotics Strategy, increased penalties for drug offenses and passed new counternarcotics legislation. In February 2008 an additional legislative package was introduced, and in November 2008 a network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) submitted a second legislative package to the parliament for consideration. Ad-hoc meetings and limited discussion followed throughout 2009. These legislative packages introduce minimum possession rules and decriminalization of some drug use, while at the same time impose stricter administrative penalties. The legislative packages also stipulate that fines paid by offenders may be applied to the cost of eventual treatment. Also in 2009 the MOIA announced that seized narcotics would be destroyed publicly in events covered by local media outlets every three to four months.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The Special Operatives Department (SOD) of the MOIA is the lead agency for fighting narcotics trafficking in Georgia. Customs officials also play a role at ports of entry in terms of routine searches, and seize and report any narcotics detected to the SOD. In 2009 increased cooperation between Patrol Police and Customs officials, as well as new administrative and search processes, led to more efficient processing of persons and vehicles at ports of entry. Border officials noted that routine processing for individuals has been reduced from 6-7 minutes to 2-3 minutes, which may leave more time for targeting, risk reduction and concentrating on suspicious persons and vehicles. The Patrol Police and Customs officials cooperate, share information, and receive some intelligence from the Special Operatives Department.
Most arrests for cultivation are believed to be for small plots of marijuana intended for personal use. In the first half of 2009, according to statistics provided by the Supreme Court of Georgia, 937 individuals were convicted for the illegal production, manufacturing, acquisition, storage, transportation and sale of drugs. By comparison, in all of 2008, 2,095 individuals were convicted of such crimes, and in 2007 1,919 were convicted. The total number of probationers with drug related crimes was 4,710 individuals, which is approximately 18 per cent of the total probation population. Out of approximately 20,000 prisoners in the penitentiary system, 3,000 have been charged with drug related and/or mixed article crimes with some drug-related charge, according to the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Aid of Georgia.
In the first nine months of 2009, drug seizure statistics continued to fall from the previous year. The August 2008 conflict with Russia may have contributed to fewer seizures in 2009, as GOG priorities were diverted to post-conflict security issues along the administrative boundaries with the separatist territories. Law enforcement officials continue to cite the need for improved detection equipment, such as scanners and canine detection, as well as improved information sharing within Georgia and with regional partners. Drug prices have remained high in 2009, after a price spike in 2008, likely reflecting an unstable market with many shifting suppliers. Additionally, narcotics abuse in Georgia is characterized by combination drug use and by lower doses. For example 1mg to 2mg of Subutex is the average street dose because the 8mg tablet is divided into four doses, giving the seller a higher profit margin.
The estimated price of heroin in Georgia, for example is approximately $600-$700 per gram, up from $350-$400pergram two years ago. In Georgia one gram of heroin is reported to be used for five doses. The estimated price for an 8mg tablet of Subutex is 500 lari (equivalent to $300). Low-cost, small doses can be explained by largely poor customers. There are also regional trends in use, local treatment experts report that in Batumi there is a preference for heroin, in Gori methamphetamine, in Tbilisi Subutex, and in Kutaisi Coaxil.
Perhaps due to high prices, there has been a shift in last several years to methamphetamine abuse. Methamphetamine is home-prepared from pseudo-ephedrine containing anticough pharmaceuticals. In Georgia this is called “Vint.” Another home-prepared stimulant in Georgia is methcathinone, known as “Jeff.” It is reported to be less powerful and easier to prepare. Methamphetamines cost approximately $10-$15 per dose to prepare. Statistics on methamphetamine seizures are not yet available, but law enforcement officials have reported several small scale methamphetamine seizures in homes in 2009.
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. The GOG made the elimination of official corruption one of the priorities of the 2003 Rose Revolution and maintains that it is committed to this effort. In 2009 there was one case of a Customs official convicted of corruption; however this was unrelated to narcotics. The level of corruption across the Georgian government has continued to decrease, according to Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perception index. The GOG is continuing civil service, tax and law enforcement reforms (including increased salaries) 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. In September 2006, Georgia ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. Georgia is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. In addition, the GOG has signed counternarcotics agreements with the Black Sea basin countries, the GUAM organization (Georgia-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova), Iran, and Austria.
Cultivation and Production. Narcotics cultivation within Georgia is extremely limited. Low-grade cannabis is grown for domestic use, and the street price is very low, suggesting small time cultivation. There are no other known narcotics crops or major synthetic drug production in Georgia, apart from some small scale production of methamphetamines. Methamphetamines can be made by combining legal and available over-the-counter medications. Law enforcement authorities report that small quantities of methamphetamines are produced in homes for personal use, rather than for sale. Although Georgia has the technical potential to produce precursor chemicals, it has no known capacity for presently producing them in significant quantities. 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 report that there have been no significant seizures of illegal narcotics in recent years within Georgia. Law enforcement officials believe that drugs are transiting Georgia to Western markets as a secondary or a tertiary route. Inadequate policing at points of entry, elsewhere along the border, and within Georgia 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. Counternarcotics police also cite the need for increased cooperation with counterparts across the borders, especially in Turkey and Azerbaijan.
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. Some researchers and drug treatment providers estimate the intravenous drug abuser population in Georgia as approximately 40,000. Using UN methodology, researchers estimate that about 3 percent of the population may be using drugs at a given point in time. That figure totals approximately 138,000, although local drug treatment experts continue to cite figures of upwards of 200,000 including one-time users. The 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.
In 2008, the GOG, for the third year in a row, increased the 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). The figures for 2009 were not available.
Even with these funding increases however, demand for detoxification and substitution therapy far outstrips supply. In addition to current NGO supported methadone substitution treatment centers, which treat approximately 450 patients, the GOG opened six new treatment centers, in Tbilisi and in five regions. These treatment centers co-finance methadone substitution therapy with clients and serve approximately 1,200 patients. A pilot methadone substitution therapy program began in the penitentiary system in November 2008, and thus far approximately 500 prisoners have been treated. This program and another expanding detoxification program address long-standing issues of drug addiction in the penitentiary system.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Programs. In 2009, the USG began to provide direct counternarcotics assistance on demand reduction and treatment, and enhancing law enforcement’s capacity to detect and interdict illegal narcotics, through support for a criminal database for the MOIA and an improved communications network for the police. Additionally, the USG continues to work on related issues of procuracy (prosecutor) reform, better prosecution of narcotics crimes, money laundering, writing a new criminal procedure code, provision of training and equipment for Georgia’s forensics laboratories, building new facilities for law enforcement units and providing training at the police academy, and providing training in fighting human trafficking, all of which will strengthen institutions and measures needed to reduce the transit and use of narcotics. Training and equipment donation programs for 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. The U.S. Coast Guard provided training to Georgian officials in maritime law enforcement, use of the Incident Command System, and professional military education.
The Road Ahead. The effect of the August 2008 conflict with Russia on the drug situation in Georgia is not fully known due to a lack of information about smuggling and drug flow in and out of the separatist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Increased funding for demand reduction and treatment activities three years in a row demonstrates the GOG commitment to fighting the domestic effects of drug addiction. The USG will use new funding to bolster GOG interdiction efforts, through training and equipment, and will also support efforts to expand local capacity for drug treatment.
Germany is a consumer and transit country for narcotics. The German government actively combats drug-related crimes and places particular emphasis on prevention programs and assistance to victims of drug abuse. 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. Ecstasy moves from the Netherlands to and through Germany to Eastern and Southern Europe. 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. The vast majority of amphetamines and methamphetamines seized in Germany originated in 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. The most recent complete German figures available for narcotics issues cover calendar year 2008. German government cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies continues to be exemplary. 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, but the number of seizures of small scale methamphetamine-kitchen-laboratories increased in 2008. Germany’s location at the center of Europe and its well-developed infrastructure make it a major transit hub. In 2008, organized criminal groups (mostly Turkish and German groups) continued to expand their involvement in narcotics trafficking compared to 2007. Germany is a major manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, making it a potential source of precursor chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics, although current precursor chemical control in Germany is excellent.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. Germany continues to implement its “Action Plan on Drugs and Addiction” adopted by the Federal 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 Strategy 2005-2012 and its Action Plans. 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 on implementing measures against drugs and addiction. The government continued its demand reduction efforts, particularly focusing on cannabis consumption and offering a variety of treatment prevention programs. Germany is actively involved in a large variety of bilateral cooperative arrangements, European, and international counternarcotics fora. Germany is an active participant in the European “Horizontal Group on Drugs,” the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, and narcotics-related units within the Council of Europe and the United Nations. Germany also sponsors counternarcotics development programs in numerous countries.
In January 2009 fast-track legislation entered into force, banning the unregulated sale, production, and possession of the synthetic marijuana-like drug known as “Spice” and comparable products containing the potentially-harmful chemicals CP-47, 497 and JWH-018 , which have very similar effects to THC, the natural psychoactive substance in cannabis, but are stronger. Spice had enjoyed increasing popularity among young people in Germany, where it was sold as a natural herbal mixture.
In a break with prior precedent, the Federal Court of Justice in December 2008 lowered the methamphetamine threshold for a “not insignificant amount,” which triggers a higher statutory minimum sentence in the Narcotics Act for methamphetamine possession, trade, and import from 30 mg to 5 mg (methamphetamine base).
Law Enforcement Efforts. Counternarcotics law enforcement remains a high priority for the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) and the Federal Office of Customs Investigation (ZKA). German federal and state law enforcement agencies scored numerous successes in seizing illicit narcotics and arresting suspected drug dealers.
German, French, and Swiss police and customs authorities conducted a combined counternarcotics operation from October 12-25. Authorities conducted intensified checks and screened 7,310 individuals on 467 trains and 50 vehicles in the tri-border area. In the course of the investigations, narcotics, weapons, and quantities of ammunition were seized and 576,290 Euros in undeclared cash were recorded. Fourteen individuals were arrested on outstanding arrest warrants and investigations of 40 individuals were opened.
In January 2009, after months of investigation, Hamburg police (LKA) arrested six men, including two from the Netherlands, and seized 205 kilograms of cannabis and 620,000 Euros in cash.
Bavarian police seized 205 kilograms of marijuana in September 2009, valued at 1.5 million Euros.
Two significant seizures of cocaine were made at German inland destinations in 2009 after the drugs were delivered in error to non-complicit/host consignees in containers that transited the Port of Antwerp.
In the first instance in March, a clerk at a supermarket in Illertissen/Memmingen (Bavaria) contacted police regarding the discovery of yellow packages commingled within boxes of fresh bananas. Investigation revealed that 26 packages carrying over 28 kilograms of cocaine were hidden within two boxes of the legitimate consignment. The boxes were part of a shipment from three pallets of bananas that were delivered to numerous stores of the supermarket chain in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg. The investigation revealed that the banana shipment originated in Colombia and transited the Port of Antwerp.
In the second case in June, a consignee located in Altenkirchen/Westerwald (Rhineland-Palatinate) alerted police to the discovery of eight sport bags carrying a total of 200 kilograms cocaine. The contraband was found in a container of legitimate merchandise that arrived from Honduras via the Port of Antwerp before moving overland by truck to Germany. This seizure constitutes the largest isolated interdiction of cocaine ever by authorities in Rhineland-Palatinate.
In 2008, the latest year for which statistics are available, the number of heroin seizures remained approximately the same compared to 2007, but the amount seized decreased by 53 percent (to 503 kilograms). The number of cocaine seizures decreased in 2008 by 6 percent compared to 2007, and seized amounts decreased by 43 percent. Amphetamine and methamphetamine seizures increased by 10 percent, with 56 percent higher quantities in 2008. The amounts of Ecstasy seized continued to decrease in 2008. The amount of seized cannabis increased by 122 percent in 2008, compared to 2007. The largest single seizures of both hashish and marijuana in eight years occurred in 2008, with a single seizure of 4,000 kilograms of hashish and a single seizure of marijuana of 5,470 kilograms. Overall in 2008, 29.5 tons of the drug khat were seized, compared to 13.5 in 2007. 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. However, the German ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven seem to have 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.
In March, German customs investigators in Hamburg issued a press release reporting the seizure of 5.5 metric tons of marijuana at the Port of Hamburg in December 2008 and its subsequent controlled delivery to the United Kingdom. The marijuana, along with 18 kilograms of hashish oil, was concealed in a container of fresh pineapples arriving from Ghana. The drugs, with an estimated street value of 28 million Euros, were consigned to an Indian-national in Darmstadt, who was arrested following the conclusion of enforcement actions in the U.K. This is the largest seizure of marijuana in Hamburg in 15 years and constitutes a significant anomaly from traditional smuggling attempts to or transiting Northern Germany involving African-origin marijuana, which primarily transits the Morocco/Spain corridor or via the Netherlands.
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. A bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters (MLAT) entered into force on October 18, 2009. All 27 EU member states, including Germany, have signed and ratified bilateral protocols with the United States that implement the 2003 U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements, which will streamline the mutual legal assistance and extradition efforts between the countries. The United States has ratified all of these protocols, including the protocols with Germany. The mutual legal assistance protocol with Germany entered into force, along with the MLAT, on October 18, 2009. The extradition protocol will enter into force on February 1, 2010. 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 ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on June 14, 2006. 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 both outdoor and so-called indoor hydroponic plantations increased in 2008. The BKA statistics reported seizure of 25 synthetic drug labs in Germany in 2008. All of these laboratories had production capacities sufficient to satisfy the operators’ personal requirements or to supply a limited local circle of buyers.
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 (in particular over Brazil, Peru, and Argentina) frequently via the Netherlands to Germany for domestic use, as well as through Germany to other European countries such as Spain and the U.K Heroin is smuggled frequently from the Netherlands to Germany, but the larger seizures of heroin in Germany originated from Turkey and moved to Germany via the Balkan Route. Cannabis is trafficked to Germany mainly from the Netherlands, but smaller amounts were trafficked through Belgium and France. Smaller amounts of cannabis (but with a higher frequency) were also smuggled from Switzerland and Austria to Germany. Amphetamines are trafficked mainly from the Netherlands, but also in lesser quantities from Poland and Belgium.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Federal Ministry of Health continues to be the lead agency in developing, coordinating, and implementing Germany’s drug 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. 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 72,200 patients undergo substitution therapy in Germany, the most widely used medication being methadone, with an increased use of buprenorphine and levomethadone in recent years.
On July 21, 2009 the law on diamorphine-based substitution treatment entered into force, which sets the legal requirements for prescribing diamorphine. The Narcotics Act, Narcotics Prescription Ordinance and the Pharmaceuticals Act were amended accordingly. They now lay out strict requirements on diamorphine use for a small group of the most seriously-addicted persons. Diamorphine may only be used as a replacement drug during therapy if the patient has been an addict for at least five years, and has unsuccessfully completed two therapies, and is at least 23 years old. Diamorphine (heroin replacement) therapy may only be carried out in institutions that fulfill special requirements and have the permission of a competent state authority. The diamorphine substances may only be delivered directly from the pharmaceutical supplier to the respective treatment facility. Diamorphine treatment is expected to begin in 2010. The government’s goal remains to reduce drug-related deaths.
In 2008, there were approximately 26 medically-controlled “drug consumption rooms” in 16 cities 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 2008 they increased to 1,449 deaths—a 3.9 percent increase compared to 2007. 19,203 hard drug users who came to police notice for the first-time were registered in 2008, an increase by 3.0 percent compared to 2007. First-time use of methamphetamines (-22 percent), crack (-30 percent) and heroin (- 6 percent) decreased significantly in 2008, while the first-time use of amphetamines (+ 9 percent), LSD (+9 percent) and Ecstasy (+7 percent) increased.
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, DHS ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), DHS CBP (Customs and Border Protection) 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 was 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. law enforcement agencies. The BKA and DEA also participate in exchange programs to compare samples of cocaine and MDMA (Ecstasy) pills DHS CBP in cooperation with German authorities have implemented two Container Security Initiative (CSI) ports in Hamburg and Bremerhaven where DHS officials work with local German authorities to identify maritime cargo containers destined for shipment to the U.S. that may pose a threat to national security. The CSI locations are supported by a fulltime ICE Agent. The CSI expansive targeting activities can also identify and track containers used in transnational shipping of high risk cargo in support of global maritime security. Members of the German Navy received maritime law enforcement training from the U. S. Coast Guard.
The Road Ahead. The U.S. will continue its close cooperation with Germany on all bilateral and international counternarcotics fronts, including the Dublin Group, a group of countries that coordinates the provision of counternarcotics assistance and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
President John Atta Mills stated during his first year in office that he is resolved to stop people from using Ghana as a narcotics transit corridor and will vigorously fight for the total eradication of hard drugs in the country. In coordination with the U.S. and foreign law enforcement counterparts, Ghanaian law enforcement increased its seizures of cocaine and heroin transiting the country during 2009. In the first six months of 2009, the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) seized 22 per cent more cannabis and 89 per cent more cocaine than in all of 2008, and over two kilograms of heroin during the same period compared to no heroin seizures in 2008.
However, corruption and a lack of resources continue to seriously impede interdiction efforts. While law enforcement authorities arrested low level narcotics traffickers, Ghana has had less success pursuing the so-called drug barons. Ghana-U.S. law enforcement cooperation was strong in 2009, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) opened an office in Accra in January. Interagency coordination among Ghanaian law enforcement entities remains a challenge. Ghana is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Ghana is 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 limit their personal involvement in Ghana by relying on local partners, thus insulating themselves from possible arrest by local authorities.
NACOB has responsibility for leading counternarcotics activities in Ghana, and a new NACOB executive secretary, who served as a minister in a previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, was appointed in July, 2009.
Trafficking has also fueled increasing domestic drug consumption. Cannabis use is increasing as is 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. Diversion of precursor chemicals is not a major problem.
As of late October, Police and NACOB report that one kilogram of cocaine had an estimated cost in Ghana of approximately $25,000, and crack cocaine sold for $30 per gram. Heroin sold for about $15,000 per kilogram. One kilogram of cannabis sold for about $5,000, and a single joint of cannabis sold for about 30 cents.
III. Country Action Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. There are two primary agencies in Ghana with counternarcotics law enforcement roles: the NACOB and the Organized Crime Units within the Ghana Police Service’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID). The Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) and Defense Intelligence are also involved, both with a focus on intelligence and investigations. The Customs, Excise and Prevention Service (CEPS), located in the Finance Ministry, also has a role in interdiction, as do (in varying degrees) the Immigration Service and the Ghana Navy. Representatives of the various agencies meet regularly, but the overall level of coordination and intelligence sharing between them remains limited.
NACOB coordinates government counternarcotics efforts. These activities include enforcement and control, education, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and social reintegration. In 2007, NACOB initiated a three-year plan, which focuses on strengthening operational capacity, promoting awareness, and decentralizing NACOB’s operations. Through the decentralization plan, NACOB has stationed officers in major cities and border posts. NACOB officers are assigned to the cities of Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale. NACOB has also created an office at the border post in Aflao (Togo-Ghana border), and posted one officer in the Eastern Region capitol of Koforidua. Currently, NACOB has 173 staff plus an additional 13 regular police officers on temporary appointment. Twelve staff are located in the five regional offices.
Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2009, Ghanaian law enforcement agencies conducted joint police-NACOB operations against narcotics cultivators, traffickers and abusers. With a change in government in January 2009, the old NACOB governing board dissolved and a new board was put in place. It was inaugurated in August 2009. The Executive Secretary was named in July. He replaced an acting secretary who had served as head of NACOB for the preceding eight years.
NACOB works with DHL, UPS, Ghana Post and Federal Express to intercept parcels containing narcotics. The NACOB also works with a team from the United Kingdom’s Revenue and Customs Service, which is based in Accra, and Ghana Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (C.E.P.S.). The team assists NACOB with interdiction work at Kotoka International Airport and has had some success in arresting mostly small time smugglers and deterring some—but not all—narcotics shipments through the airport. A program in cooperation with the United Nations now searches cargo containers at the Port of Tema for contraband, including narcotics. NACOB also has officials at the cargo facility at Kotoka International Airport for profiling import and export shipments.
British Government narcotics officers oversee “Operation Westbridge”, a program deploying experienced U.K. customs officers, and making use of USG supplied ion scan detection equipment at the Accra airport. The program trained Ghanaian customs officers on the use of the equipment, profiling, targeting, and intelligence-gathering and other security techniques.
NACOB reported that from January to June 2009, 30 passengers were arrested at the Accra airport and 62 kilograms of cocaine and two kilograms of heroin were seized compared to almost 33 kilograms of cocaine and no heroin seized in 2008. Over 1.7 kilograms of cannabis was seized in the first nine months of 2009 compared to 1.4 kilograms of cannabis in all of 2008.
In January, Togolese law enforcement apprehended a suspected South American member of the Cali Cartel who had been indicted in the U.S. With the assistance of Ghanaian border officials, this individual was transported to Ghana, transferred to U.S. custody in Accra, and extradited to the United States to face charges.
In March, Ghana deported a suspected South American drugs trafficker to the U.S. to stand trial on narcotics charges.
On March 13, a passenger was arrested at the Accra airport with 3.5 kilograms of heroin.
On March 28, the Ghanaian Customs and Excise Preventive Service (CEPS) at the Accra airport randomly selected a passenger for a secondary search and found $1 million in his baggage.
On May 19, the Joint Port Control Unit comprised of Agents from the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) and personnel from the Ghana Ports Authority and Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), seized 71.4 kilograms of cocaine from a container at the Port of Tema manifested to contain chewing gum from Ecuador. Six suspects were subsequently arrested, including the importer and clearing agent, and they have been remanded into custody.
From May 29 through June 16, five couriers were arrested trying to board the same airline and cocaine was seized from each. Four Nigerian couriers originated in Lima, Peru, transited Sao Paulo, Dubai, and Accra, destined for Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. The fifth courier, a Malian, originated in Quito, followed the same route, and was allowed to continue to Cote D’Ivoire where he was arrested.
The alleged cell head of a Colombian based drug trafficking organization responsible for shipping multi ton loads of cocaine from Venezuela into West Africa for distribution into Europe and the United States was arrested in Togo in September of 2008. The organization utilized corrupt government officials to assist in their operation. With the assistance of Ghanaian border officials, the suspect was transported on June 19 from the Ghana-Togo boarder to the airport in Accra where he was taken into custody by U.S. agents and returned to the United States.
On July 6, NACOB agents interviewed a passenger at the Accra airport while he was waiting to board a flight to Europe. The passenger exhibited behavior suggestive of a “swallower” of drugs, and NACOB agents asked him to take a urinalysis test, which resulted in a positive indication for drugs. The passenger admitted swallowing 70 pellets of heroin and was arrested.
On September 1, the M/V St. Efrem arrived at the Port of Tema and was met by port authorities who seized 154 kilograms of cocaine. The crew of the vessel and shipping agent for the cargo were arrested.
On September 7, NACOB agents detained a suspect who exhibited behavior suggestive of a drug trafficker while he was waiting to board a flight to Frankfurt, Germany. A search of his luggage revealed approximately five kilograms of a white powdery substance, which was concealed within four tube-like containers originally used for transporting yams. The substance field tested positive for cocaine.
On September 9, NACOB agents apprehended one male and two female couriers who were scheduled to board a flight to New York. Two couriers were wearing shoes with the soles altered and that contained a substance, which tested positive for heroin. The male suspect also concealed heroin in the form of pellets inside his underwear, and the two women were found to have secreted quantities of heroin internally.
On September 27, a heroin courier was arrested at the Accra airport before boarding a flight to New York. His shoes were modified to secret a quantity of heroin in the soles. An additional 70 capsules of heroin were found around the courier’s waist, and he had swallowed an additional 30 capsules.
On December 16, 2009 three alleged members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), were expelled from Ghana and put into custody of DEA agents in Accra, who transported the suspects to the United States. The three are being charged with narcotics terrorism conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
- CID reported an additional 27 cases involving 42 persons arrested with about 25 kilograms of cannabis.
Several parcels containing suspected cannabis were seized in various post offices; however, no suspects were arrested since the addresses were fictitious, and the parcels were often not delivered to the service counter, but rather placed in a drop box.
Courts convicted 13 individuals in 2009 based on arrests made in 2008, and one person was convicted in 2009. One person was acquitted and discharged, and one person died. Twenty-three narcotics-related cases are pending before the courts.
The apparent lack of a centralized system for collecting statistics makes it difficult to ensure accurate numbers or to prevent double counting.
The Ghana Police Service, NACOB, Navy, and other Government of Ghana law enforcement organizations are under resourced, both in terms of staff and equipment. Officials in all of the agencies state a need for additional staff training. NACOB 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.
NACOB and other law enforcement agencies cooperate with U.S. and other foreign law enforcement agencies. Several diplomatic missions in Ghana have law enforcement or related staff, including the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
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 NACOB. Despite the regular arrests of suspected narcotics traffickers, Ghana has a low rate of conviction, which many officials believe 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 investigative competency.
Petty corruption in the police force is widespread. A 2005 study by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative found that over 90 percent 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 2008, approximately twelve kilograms of narcotics were replaced with cornstarch while the narcotics were stored in the police evidence room. The officer in charge of the storage facility was arrested. The former president of Ghana appointed a commission to investigate the theft, which reported its findings in April 2008. The President left office in January 2009 without making public the commission’s findings, and the new administration appointed a new head of CID in early 2009. As of late 2009, CID officials said they had not been given any information on the theft, which remains unsolved.
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 2009, there was great cooperation. Ghana extradited a drug trafficker to the U.S. and the U.S. extradited a fugitive to Ghana. In addition, Ghana allowed the transit of a fugitive who was deported from Togo to the United States. 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. A pilot scheme begun in 2003 to provide cannabis farmers with alternative cash crops was discontinued in 2008. NACOB officials said that the scheme was not sustainable and that some farmers were continuing to grow cannabis despite receiving the incentives not to. In 2009, Ghanaian police arrested over two dozen people for possession of cannabis. Most of those arrested were in possession of only a few ounces of the drug. Reported seizures of cannabis in Ghana are much less than in other African countries where illicit cannabis is cultivated.
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 2009 revealed a variety of creative concealment methods for drugs, including inside specially designed male and female underwear, the soles of sneakers, hollowed out yams, a consignment of sugar and handcrafted drums 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.
Police officials report that crime groups move into drug trafficking from other crimes, such as internet crime or financial fraud. The police report that Nigerians living in Ghana are behind some of these groups. Consequently, individuals entering Ghana for business and who apply for a visa upon arrival are kept at the airport until the Ghanaian business partner can go to the airport and vouch for the applicant to the satisfaction of the Ghanaian immigration authorities. This procedure is specifically aimed at deterring Nigerians from entering the country for illegal purposes.
Air links from Accra to the U.S. are a factor in the transshipment of relatively small amounts of narcotics to the United States. Multiple carriers provide connecting flights to the U.S. via Europe, but only one American flag carrier offers non-stop service between Ghana and the United States.
Currently nine U.S. citizens are incarcerated in Ghana on narcotics trafficking charges. Four are serving a sentence; five are awaiting trial. All are incarcerated at the Nsawam medium security prison. Four were arrested during 2009, all at the Accra airport.
Despite the attention given to the use of air travel for drug transshipment, a primary problem remains Ghana’s long, generally unpatrolled coastline where a very high share of the drugs in transit enter Ghana. The Ghana Navy has responsibility for maritime security—the NACOB 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, if it anticipates the possibility of arrests.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. NACOB works with schools, professional training institutions, churches, local governments, and the general public to reduce local drug consumption and heighten citizens’ awareness of the fight against narcotics and traffickers. 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, encourage newspaper articles on the dangers of drug abuse and trafficking, and broadcast TV programs to explain narcotics’ effects on the human body, individual users and society. These programs are broadcast on state television in local languages.
The Government of Ghana, with UK assistance, launched Operation Hibiscus in late 2008 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. Large billboards alerting passengers to the consequences of smuggling drugs line the major road leading to the Accra airport.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. The USG’s counternarcotics and anticrime goals in Ghana are to strengthen Ghanaian law enforcement capacity generally, to improve interdiction capacities, to enhance NACOB’s capacity, and to reduce Ghana’s role as a transit point for narcotics. In 2009 the U.S. supported Ghana’s counternarcotics efforts and made plans for additional support in future years. AFRICOM has provided approximately $500,000 toward construction of an evidence storage and training facility at CID headquarters in Accra, which is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2009. The facility has been designed specifically to store drugs collected as evidence in pending court cases.
AFRICOM has contracted to construct a security room at the airport to house a State Department funded body scanner to detect drugs ingested by passengers and other contraband concealed on or in a person’s body.
State Department narcotics assistance and other funds have been used in Ghana to support training and equipment for law enforcement agencies. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) has provided over $333,000 to fund an embedded prosecutor in the Ghanaian Ministry of Justice. The prosecutor will work with local prosecutors to improve Ghana’s capacity to investigate and prosecute organized criminal activity and to enforce its laws against narcotics trafficking.
In January 2009, DEA opened an office in Accra. A DEA presence in Accra allows for regular liaison with Ghanaian law enforcement officials. The office also provides support for counternarcotics efforts in West Africa. INL also provided almost $500,000 in FY2009 for funding additional counternarcotics projects. The funding is to support the U.S. embedded legal advisor, as well as investigation and interdiction training for police. The funding is to support the U.S. embedded legal advisor, as training for police. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues to provide technical assistance to Ghana Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (C.E.P.S.) to further the implementation of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Framework of Standards. As part of this assistance, in October 2009, CBP presented a Narcotic Drug Test Kit Course for C.E.P.S. and Narcotic Control Board Officers with the assistance of the U.S. Embassy-Accra Regional Security Office. The course demonstrated correct handling of suspect drugs and testing procedures.
The Road Ahead. Ghana’s own funding for NACOB and law enforcement agencies remains insufficient. Unless the government remedies this situation and provides adequate resources to combat narcotics trafficking, little progress will be made quickly, and none sustained over the long term. Progress requires strong and sustained political will and continued international assistance for Ghana to confront these difficult issues.
NACOB officers and law enforcement in general are frequently poorly trained. Ghana is a regular participant in International Law Enforcement Agency (ILEA) courses in Gaborone. Additional narcotics training courses are planned for CY 2010.
The U.S. government will press Ghana to increase the resources and capabilities of those fighting illegal narcotics, money laundering and other international crimes.
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 Greek counterparts suggest that a dramatic rise has occurred in the number and size of drug trafficking organizations operating in Greece.
During 2009, 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 countries, 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 convenience, 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, Greek 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. Greek authorities estimate that annual production of the drug, most of which is exported, appears to be well over 80 tons. 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 2009
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./Greek counternarcotics investigations occurred during 2009 which resulted in 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 and larger cocaine seizures made by Greek authorities. In recent years Greek counternarcotics authorities have had increasing success tackling leadership elements in major drug trafficking organizations.
In October 2009, after domestic elections and a change of government, Greek authorities reorganized their law enforcement ministries, creating the new Ministry of Citizen’s Protection (MCP). The MCP gained oversight over the Hellenic Police and Hellenic Coast Guard and all related counternarcotics divisions. While the narcotics police do not have dedicated seaborne units, the Hellenic Coast Guard has its own drug unit for maritime interdiction. Specialized financial units work with customs authorities for interdiction at ports.
In late December 2008, the DEA Athens Country Office received intelligence regarding a container scheduled to arrive in Greece from Colombia carrying a large quantity of cocaine concealed in a shipment of lumber. The intelligence received indicated that this method was highly sophisticated and the cocaine would be undetectable to both trained canines and scanning equipment. This information was passed to the Greek authorities and in early January 2009 they identified the container and found inside eight pallets of plywood totaling six hundred pieces. Greek authorities scanned the plywood, using five trained drug odor-detecting canines, but none of the canines detected the presence of cocaine. After conducting a more detailed search, Greek authorities discovered four pieces of wood containing 70 kilograms of cocaine divided into 285 packages.
On January 29, 2009, Hellenic police in Athens raided a cocaine lab and arrested one person of Uzbek nationality and one Greek. Greek authorities seized 2.95 kilograms of cocaine, 0.7 kilograms of unprocessed marijuana, and 9.5 kilograms of white powder used to “cut” the cocaine.
In early February 2009, Greek authorities made two separate heroin seizures at the Greece-Turkey border crossing at Kipoi. In the first case, authorities arrested two Bulgarian nationals and seized 57.8 kilograms of heroin. In the other case, authorities arrested an Italian national and seized 38 kilograms of heroin. In both cases the heroin was hidden in a vehicle attempting to enter Greece from Turkey.
In February 2009, Greek authorities completed a two-month investigation resulting in the dismantling of a family-operated hashish trafficking organization operating in Greece. The organization imported hashish from Albania. At the conclusion of the investigation, authorities arrested eight individuals and seized 160.5 kilograms of hashish and 437455 Euro ($656,000) in cash.
On July 6, 2009, the Hellenic Police announced that they had dismantled two drug trafficking rings and arrested eight foreign nationals. During its initial raid on this DTO, police seized 5.635 kilograms of heroin and 140 grams of cocaine. Police also raided a heroin laboratory and discovered an arms cache with multiple rifles and 5 kilograms of explosives.
In July 2009, DEA Athens provided intelligence to the Hellenic Special Control Services (YPEE) on five containers loaded with scrap metal and shipped from Bolivia. YPEE x-rayed the containers, revealing suspect metal boxes inside. Greek authorities discovered a total of eight boxes, constructed of heavy seal and with all openings welded shut. These boxes contained 457 kilograms of cocaine, divided into 400 packages.
In August 2009, Greek authorities arrested five individuals transporting marijuana in the eastern outskirts of Athens. The marijuana came from Albania and was brought into Greece via the island of Corfu.
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 hindered the ability of law enforcement authorities to manage and complete complex, long-term investigations in narcotics trafficking.
Corruption. 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. However, 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.
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, pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements, protocols to the bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties, which will. enter into force on February 1, 2010.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, Greek authorities dismantled a large-scale, international drug trafficking organization that was producing marijuana on the island of Crete. Documents found by Greek authorities indicate that the organization had been supplying ton quantities of marijuana to countries in Western Europe for many years.
Greek authorities continued to discover marijuana cultivation areas throughout 2009. In March, police arrested a marijuana grower in Iraklion, Crete. In July, police destroyed 39 cannabis plants in Messenia, in southern Greece. During the same month, police in Athens destroyed 885 plants fed by an automatic spring irrigation system. Police in Chania, Crete announced in July that they had confiscated 1,493 cannabis plants and 11 kilograms of unprocessed marijuana since the beginning of 2009.
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 Thessaloniki—only 10 percent 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.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Drug addiction problems continued to increase in Greece. According to 2006 statistics (Latest available) 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.
Media reported in March 2009 that the Ministry of Justice and universities in Thessaloniki faced serious problems testing the urine and blood samples of detainees claiming to be drug addicts, leading to delays in trials. According to the reports, Thessaloniki police also experienced trouble storing samples.
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 71 prevention centers, 57 therapeutic rehabilitation centers (33 of which offer “drug free” programs), and 24 drug addiction substitution centers, offering methadone and buprenorphine. In 2006, 4,847 drug addicts were treated (a 14 percent 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 90 centers throughout Greece offering prevention, support, and drug awareness programs, as well as social rehabilitation, therapeutic communities in jails, street work programs, training, and a hot line. KETHEA reported offering its services to approximately 3,000 drugs users and family members each day. 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.
Narcotics Anonymous runs over 27 drug abstinence and anti-addiction programs throughout Greece.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. DEA agents 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 throughout the country with counterparts from the Hellenic 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 February 2009, agents from DEA Athens organized a narcotics cooperation seminar for Greek police, Customs, and Coast Guard officers in Thessaloniki. In May 2009, a DEA international training team traveled to Athens and conducted a week-long regional drug enforcement seminar for Greek, Bulgarian, and Cypriot authorities. The Department of Defense, through the U.S. European Command, has supported the DEA’s law enforcement exchange program in Greece.
Due to Greece’s unique geographic significance as a border state for the European Union (EU) with over 9,900 miles of coastline to monitor, the DEA conducted an assessment of drug trafficking through Greek islands over several months in 2009. The assessment confirmed that drugs regularly enter Greece (and the EU) through islands near to Turkey and Albania.
Prior to the DEA assessment, law enforcement authorities believed that human smuggling and drug trafficking organizations may have used the same routes, but operated independently. However, the Greek islands study identified an emerging trend—illegal immigrants are increasingly being used as drug couriers. The assessment also found that Greek authorities assigned to Greek islands are understaffed, under-trained, and have limited resources to combat the threats they face.
The Road Ahead. The United States continues to encourage the government of Greece to participate actively in international organizations focused on narcotics assistance coordination efforts, such as the Dublin Group of narcotics assistance donor countries. U.S. agencies in Greece seek to enhance the ability of Greek law enforcement authorities to share and disseminate information, disrupt drug trafficking, and build expertise in complex investigations. 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.
Drug trafficking throughout the region continues to challenge Central American governments. Guatemala is at the epicenter of the drug threat. In 2009, Guatemala took a number of positive steps to address illicit narcotics trafficking including increased seizures of drugs and assets, better coordination between government entities on promulgation or reform of laws and tactical operations, larger areas eradicated without incidents, and effective use of more sophisticated law enforcement techniques. In addition, the selection of new Supreme Court and Appellate Court judges in October was a major step forward in broader rule of law issues. On the negative side, corruption and intimidation of law enforcement continue to be major challenges. Combined with multiple changes in senior positions (with the concurrent changes in lower levels that accompany these power shifts) and the government’s focus on other issues at the expense of security, there was no perceptible improvement to institutionally strengthen law enforcement or give law enforcement agencies the capacity to more effectively address the grave narcotics situation in Guatemala. Drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have taken advantage of this situation and moved some operations into Guatemala. Entire regions of Guatemala are now essentially under the control of DTOs, the most visible of which is the Mexican group known as the ¨Zetas.¨ While some specialized units and the Attorney General’s Office (MP) demonstrated ability and resolve to address these severe problems, they lack the required resources. Guatemala is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
The weak criminal justice system in Guatemala, coupled with pervasive corruption, made it difficult for the government to address the country’s deteriorating security situation. Tax revenues remain low, and the under-funded state struggles to meet the basic needs of its people. The budgets assigned to the ministries responsible for security, law enforcement and justice were cut in 2009 in favor of expansion of the government’s social programs. Given the prevailing environment of impunity, Mexican cartels consolidated their control of trafficking routes in the northern and eastern rural areas of Guatemala. The government had limited success countering gang activity in urban areas. During January–September 2009, there were 10,399 violent acts (5,050 of which were homicides), compared to 9,802 during the whole of 2008 (of which 4,506 were homicides). As of November 2009, 29 National Civil Police (PNC) officers and nine prison guards were killed while on duty.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The government developed a National Security Plan with input from civil society. The reform of the Organized Crime Law and passage of legislation providing for high impact courts to provide a secure environment for judges, prosecutors, and witnesses who participate in narcotics trafficking and other dangerous cases were significant achievements, as was the election of a new Supreme Court. That said, strong political support through the provision of resources for implementation of these measures was lacking. Congress did not pass an asset seizure law and an important reform of the Injunctions Law in 2009. There was a significant increase in drug seizures in 2009 and improved coordination between the Public Ministry, Ministry of Government, and Ministry of Defense, especially in units developed with USG support. However, very few of the seizures resulted in suspects being captured or cases being developed that targeted DTOs.
Under international pressure, the GOG approved the use of special investigative methods (including wire intercepts) that greatly improved criminal investigations, and passed a law that allows judges to reduce a criminal witness’ sentence or suspend prosecution entirely in exchange for witness cooperation. The UN-led International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) opened a number of investigations into narcotics trafficking-related crimes and, in cooperation with the USG, successfully advocated for a transparent process to appoint Supreme Court justices.
Precursors: In February, the President’s office passed a decree banning the manufacture, import, distribution, sale, and possession of pseudoephedrine in response to an increase over the past two years of imports and distribution of products, such as medicine, containing high doses of pseudoephedrine, a precursor used to manufacture designer drugs. As a result, more than 11.8 metric tons of pseudoephedrine were seized during 2009.
Asset Seizure Bill: The Guatemalan Congress, with advice from the USG, the Government of Colombia and OAS experts, is currently drafting a bill containing procedures to expedite the transfer of property to different GOG agencies of assets seized in narcotics, money laundering, and other organized crime cases. The passage of this law would be an aggressive step forward in the fight against drug trafficking. Currently, criminals and traffickers are able to keep possession of profits from illegal and criminal activity.
National Civil Police: The USG supported GOG efforts to reorganize the National Civil Police that so that all counternarcotics units will work under one Sub-Department and report directly to the Director General of the police. This unification should improve communication, coordination, and effectiveness as well as assist in anticorruption efforts.
Accomplishments. Guatemala seized more than a 100 percent more illegal drugs in 2009 than in 2008, including 11.8 metric tons of pseudoephedrine, 7.1 metric tons of cocaine (not including the 4.9 metric tons seized from a semi-submersible by the U.S. Coast Guard inside Guatemala’s Economic Exclusion Zone), and 950 grams of heroin. This increase was in part the result of a better trained and equipped counternarcotics police (DAIA), improved Guatemalan interagency cooperation, the support of the Aviation Support Program (ASP) to the Guatemalan Air Interdiction Joint Task Force (FIAAT), and, especially, the implementation of the wire intercept program run by the Attorney General’s Office (MP) and the police. Four poppy eradication operations were carried out by DAIA, the Guatemalan military and the Public Ministry (with the USG providing material, logistics and intelligence support). A total of 1,344 hectares of poppy and 25.9 hectares of marijuana were eradicated—a 300 percent increase compared to 2008.
The Villa Nueva Model Police Precinct (MPP) successfully reduced gang activity by 100 percent in 78 schools and achieved convictions in all gang-related cases that went to trial. The Government of Guatemala (GOG) replicated the model in Mixco (an adjacent city to Guatemala City). It is anticipated that the replication process in Mixco will take less than 6 months and that two more model precincts will be developed in the near future. The antigang unit (PANDA) was formed and, together with the Organized Crime Prosecutor’s office and the special investigation unit in charge of wire intercepts (UME), dismantled two gang ¨clicas.¨ Currently, 22 gang members are facing trial for an array of crimes ranging from extortion to murder. The Police Collection, Analysis and Dissemination Center (CRADIC) is a vital tool in the investigative process and their analysis of cases is in high demand by the Public Ministry (Attorney General’s Office). There is an increasing backlog of cases due to the high demand for case support and development from CRADIC, which will have to expand significantly in the near future to meet these needs.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Four factors have negatively affected law enforcement during the past year. First, there was continuous change of decision-making personnel both at the Ministry of Interior and within the National Civil Police. This lack of leadership continuity delayed implementation of plans and new initiatives as well as hamstrung daily operations. Second, the GOG had to readjust its budget due to a drop in tax revenues and collection. This resulted in budget cuts in the Ministry of Interior and the National Civil Police. These budget cuts led to vehicles without fuel, the inability to repair equipment and a reduction in the quality of procured items. Third, corruption and intimidation of law enforcement officials, as well as other government officers, has led to minimal effectiveness of many units. While corruption has a high visibility, intimidation of law enforcement officials is also a significant factor (over forty police officers died, including some who were off duty during the first ten months of 2009). Finally, law enforcement has not concentrated on major drug trafficking organizations and their leaders. During the only major case of the past year, arrests were not made because the subjects fled the scene before the search warrants were executed. In addition, there is widespread corruption in the Guatemalan prison system that allows prisoners to conduct and direct criminal activities during their incarceration.
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. That said one of the main problems in Guatemala is the high incidence of corruption at all levels. In many cases where corruption does not work, intimidation does. Corruption affects how the government runs at the local/national level and encompasses a broad array of practices that overlap with issues such as money laundering, transparency, organized crime, and narcotics. Implementation of the Organized Crime Law, specifically for the use of wire intercepts, by the Public Ministry led to the arrest of a former Police Director and another high level police officer on corruption and narcotics charges.
The USG only worked with units composed of vetted (polygraphed, drug tested and background-checked) police officers and prosecutors in an attempt to provide a core of reliable law enforcement professionals who can take on narcotics cases. While the vetting process does not prevent corruption, the process reduced its overall effect. The Attorney General made fighting internal corruption and organized crime one of his highest priorities and USG programs supported his efforts to root out corruption in the Public Ministry. The USG provided assistance and technical advice for the approval of the Public Ministry’s Code of Ethics and supported the process for a renewed supervisory unit, which receives and follows up complaints of questionable behavior within the prosecutor’s office.
Agreements and Treaties. Guatemala is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention 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. A maritime counternarcotics agreement with the U.S. is now fully implemented. 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. As a result of laws passed in 2008, all U.S. requests for extradition in drug cases are consolidated and expedited in specialized courts located in Guatemala City.
Cultivation and Production. Guatemala continued to be a minor producer of poppy and opium derivatives for export, as well as a grower of low-quality marijuana that is sold on the domestic market. There was strong evidence that Mexican cartels are managing Guatemalan poppy production, providing seed and guaranteeing purchase of opium latex and morphine base from Guatemalan smallholders.
During 2009, four poppy eradication operations were carried out by DAIA, the Guatemalan military, and the Public Ministry, with the USG providing provisions, logistics and intelligence support. A total of 1,345 hectares of poppy were eradicated as well as 25.9 hectares of marijuana. The Department of States’ Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) Aviation Support Program (ASP) provided flexibility in support of eradication operations in the area of intelligence gathering and operations.
Drug Flow/Transit. Guatemala is bordered by the Caribbean Sea in the north and the Pacific Coast in the south. Its geographic location makes it ideal for the transit of large quantities of drugs through its coastal waters. Significant amounts of cocaine passed through Guatemala (approximately250 metric tons—which does not include cocaine that transited Honduras before arriving in Guatemala, as indicated in last year’s report). Go-Fast boats used the littorals of Guatemala to introduce large amounts of drugs into the coastal areas; and manned semi-submersibles transported drugs in large volumes. The GOG law enforcement and military agencies lacked the resources and capacity to combat this onslaught of trafficking by sea. During the first part of 2009, the Special Naval Unit (FEN), based in the Pacific coast, responded well to counternarcotics (CN) notifications according to USG agencies involved in CN activities. However, due to a change in leadership that led to technical and maintenance setbacks, the latter half of 2009 saw a significant decrease in capacity and ability to respond.
The PNC ports and airport police (DIPA) interdicted large quantities of pseudoephedrine entering Guatemala and caught many money couriers transiting through the airports/seaports. USG agencies trained all DAIA/DIPA personnel in drug investigation and detection techniques. However, the failure of the GOG to adopt effective CN procedures, particularly at the ports, combined with the archaic bureaucracy and high levels of corruption, impeded efforts to modernize the CN units in Guatemala and hampered efforts to stem the flow of drugs through Guatemala.
The GOG´s strong support for the USG´s Aviation Support Program, which assisted FIAAT, is significant both for the demonstration of political will and the success of the unit. The FIAAT and ASP worked together to disrupt air movements of illicit trafficking in Guatemala and caused a shift in air movements to Honduras.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Even though it lacks a significant budget, the Guatemalan demand reduction agency (SECCATID) was able to sustain a high level of implementation by concentrating its efforts in five provinces and by working with other agencies. With USG support, SECCATID reached an estimated two million people with a prevention message using the following programs: DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), Do Sports and Live Free of Drugs, Youth at Risk, the Comprehensive National Prevention Program, Second Steps, Border Communities, Community Coalitions, and the Labor Program. These programs were designed to educate, inform, and build life skills for violence- and drug-free lives. The USG and SECCATID also collaborated with other GOG institutions on the implementation of the Summer School Program and the Police Athletic League. These programs allowed the youth in high risk areas to occupy their spare time in productive activities under a supervised environment. SECCATID, NAS, USAID and CADCA (Community Anti-Drugs Coalitions of America) also worked in three municipalities to build healthier, drug free communities. Although not yet complete, the National Drug Observatory, part of the Organization of American States’ counternarcotics office (OAS/CICAD) network of national drug information centers, made progress toward completing its data base.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
USG goals in Guatemala are to build the investigative and operational capacity of Guatemalan law enforcement agencies to effectively disrupt drug trafficking, trans-border crime, and illicit crop production. Corruption is a key focus. USG efforts support successful, professional and trusted units such as the UME, FEN, FIAAT, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), the Financial Investigation Unit (FIU) and the CRADIC. We envision future fully-vetted units that will work at the border posts and seaports, with special attention given to the Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office demonstrated remarkable dedication to law enforcement, despite death threats and at least one attempted assassination.
Bilateral Cooperation. In many areas, bilateral cooperation is excellent. Guatemala routinely gives permission for USG CN assets to enter its territorial waters and airspace in a timely manner. However, with exception of strong support by the FIAAT for the ASP, the GOG provided few resources to their CN units that work closely with the USG. This lack of resources prevented USG CN units and GOG CN units from reaching the full potential of bilateral cooperation that is needed.
The U.S. supported the Guatemalan Government’s efforts to improve interdiction by providing technical assistance and training to its special police units as well as assistance with various border programs. In 2009, the USG (NAS and the Drug Enforcement Administration) assisted the Attorney General’s Office with the implementation of the Special Investigative Methods Unit (UME), in accordance with the Organized Crime Bill. A central part of UME is the application of wire intercepts to enhance the investigative process. Forty-one wire intercepts were conducted over the past year.
The Road Ahead. The USG enjoys productive relations with the Colom Administration and worked with the GOG to improve its technical and organizational ability to increase interdictions and seizures of illicit trafficked items by improving the capacity of CRADIC to collect information. Although progress has been made on the interdiction and eradication front, the numbers were still disappointing compared to the amount of drugs that move through the country. The Colom Administration made significant budgetary cuts to the Ministry of Government and the National Civil Police in 2009, which had a negative effect on the already limited capacity of current units. The USG endorses the full implementation of the agreement between the Minister of Government and Attorney General for the development of an investigative support group. We encourage the GOG to delegate appropriate authorities to the port police to enable it to strengthen ports and border interdiction capabilities. The USG noted that trafficking in precursor chemicals was increasing in the region and recommends steps be taken to combat this growing threat by increasing the number of inspections designed to detect and seize precursors and applying sanctions against them.
The USG also encourages the GOG to continue the steps it initiated against corruption, such as fully implementing the planned reforms of the PNC and the reorganization of the Inspector General (IG) and the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). It is crucial that the GOG complete the full implementation of the Organized Crime Law, specifically in establishing and training Operational Units in the law and using the new tools authorized to detect, arrest and prosecute known major traffickers. The USG encourages the GOG to use its asset seizure laws to deprive criminals of their profits and channel resources to counternarcotics efforts, including drug money laundering.
Guinea-Bissau, a tiny impoverished country in West Africa, is 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. The 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 1.82 million persons. The country is also one of the poorest in the world, placing 173 out of 182 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 characterized by political instability, civil war and continuous unrest. The U.S. embassy in Bissau closed in June 1998 due to civil unrest; but relations and cooperation between the Government of Guinea Bissau (GOGB) and the United States, conducted from the U.S. embassy in Dakar Senegal, have remained robust.
After the double assassination on March 1, 2009 of President Joao Bernardo Vieira and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Tagme Na Waie Presidential elections were held in July 2009 which were deemed free and fair by the international community. Malam Bacai Sanha of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) became President defeating former President Kumba Yala in a second round run-off.
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 narcotics state. Guinea-Bissau is certainly a country through which drugs from Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Guinea-Conakry and Nigeria transit to Europe; generally to Portugal and Spain. However, the country itself has no significant roll in the actual cultivation and production of drugs nor in the provision of precursor chemicals to further process drugs. The only illicit cultivation discovered by the Guinea-Bissau Judicial Police in 2009 was of a minor cannabis growing operation in Bafatá in the east and another in the Reno Gambeafada in the center of the country.
In July, 2008, GOGB law enforcement authorities attempted to investigate a grounded Gulfstream 2 jet, which had taken off from Venezuela and was 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. Eventually, the pilots were arrested, set free on bail and subsequently escaped. GOGB is now trying to auction off the plane, which they seized during this incident. No drugs were officially seized during the incident. 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 transshipment points 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 2009
Policy Initiatives. The GOGB works closely with 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.
Law Enforcement Efforts. According to the Judicial Police no narcotics-related arrests were made during 2009. This is in great part due to the major upheavals that the country experienced following the assassinations of former President Vieira and CHOD Tagme na Waie. According to the Judicial Police drug cartels are only now in the process of trying to find “barons” or senior government officials that will offer them the protection they need in order to be able to reactivate their networks.
With support from UNODC, the judicial police headquarters was renovated. Four judicial police officers were sent to take three courses in Cape Verde.
In December 2009, former Navy Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto returned to Guinea-Bissau from exile in The Gambia where he took refuge after allegedly being the mastermind of a failed coup against former President Vieira. Na Tchuto, long suspected of being a major facilitator of narcotics trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, was at year’s end holed up in the United Nations campus in Bissau where he went to claim political asylum.
Given limitations on funding, training, and policy, there is only limited current ability to guard against the transit of drugs through Guinea-Bissau. Due to weak enforcement efforts and inadequate record keeping, it is difficult even 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 not even any 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 reports of corruption at the highest levels of government are common. Observers note 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 for their detention. As of December 31, 2009, the government had no arrears in paying civil servant salaries, but salaries remain low causing a constant temptation to enforcement personnel and others in a position to influence the outcome of narcotics-related enforcement and judicial processes.
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.
Cultivation/Production. The extent of cannabis cultivation in the country is unknown, though there is evidence that at least some cannabis is cultivated illicitly for local consumption. Cannabis cultivation is quite common in Senegal’s southern Casamance region and is linked to a 28-year-old separatist movement, called 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 in Guinea-Bissau. There are no known efforts to determine the scope of the cultivation or eradicate it.
Drug Flow/Transit. Cocaine transits through Guinea-Bissau moving from South America on either air or maritime traffic and continues on to Europe by means of other maritime traffic, drug “mules” 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 significant destination point for drugs transiting Guinea-Bissau.
Domestic Programs. According to the UN and Chief of the Armed Forces, Admiral Jose Zamora Induta, 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 to Guinea-Bissau and one U.S. officer assigned to the Embassy in Dakar monitors events. The U.S. Embassy liaison office opened in Bissau in 2008 and is staffed by three Local Employed Staff. During 2009, DEA and FBI representatives visited Bissau to assist in the investigation surrounding the July seizure of the plane from Venezuela. Representatives from INL, AFRICOM and the FBI made frequent visits to Bissau in 2009 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 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. Cooperation among law enforcement bodies is gradually improving, albeit through personal relationships as much as official mechanisms. In 2009, domestic seizures of cocaine and cannabis eradication increased compared with modest levels in 2008, although total quantities seized or eradicated remain small when considered against the overall trade. Weak border controls and limited resources for law enforcement continue to allow drug traffickers to move shipments via river, air, and land with minimal resistance.
The United Kingdom terminated a major security sector reform program in 2009 over lack of progress by the GOG on key requirements of the plan. 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 hindered 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.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs
Policy Initiatives. Guyana’s 2005-2009 National Drug Strategy Master Plan (NDSMP) came to a close, but the Government of Guyana (GOG) achieved few of the plan’s original goals. Elaborate plans spelled out in the 2005 document envisioned a comprehensive, country-wide counternarcotics program yet little action was taken toward these ends. However, the GOG’s 2008 overhaul of its chief counternarcotics body appears to be paying dividends in 2009 through greater intelligence sharing and more drug seizures. The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit’s (CANU) new Director is delivering on promises of regularization of its operations, improved efficiency, and enhanced collaboration among law enforcement bodies. Guyana remains notably absent, however, from key regional counternarcotics meetings.
The United Kingdom-funded $5 million, multi-year Security Sector Reform plan was terminated prior to completion. The GOG had made little progress on the plan’s key provisions after two years of talks; key sticking points were lack of agreement on government transparency and measuring success. Implementation of key legislation, including robust laws authorizing wire tapping and plea bargaining, passed in 2008 continues slowly. The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (AMLCFTA) was passed in 2009; law enforcement agencies await regulations from the Finance Ministry before the law can be fully utilized.
Accomplishments. In 2009, Guyanese law enforcement agencies seized over 137 kilograms of cocaine, compared to 48 kilograms in 2008 and 167 kilograms in 2007. 183 kilograms of marijuana and 2 kilograms of heroin were seized in 2009 (no prior year results were reported). There were 648 criminal charges filed against individuals for activities related to the trafficking or distribution of illicit drugs compared to 473 in 2008. However, Guyanese drug interdiction efforts remain inadequate.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Guyana’s counternarcotics activities have long been hampered by a British colonial-era legal system that does not reflect the needs of modern-day law enforcement. The GOG has neither identified nor confronted major drug traffickers and their organizations. Law enforcement agencies are also 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. The AMLCFTA, in conjunction with the wiretapping and plea bargaining legislation, once implemented, will 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. New surveillance cameras installed at Guyana’s international airport have positively impacted drug interdiction efforts there, but efforts by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) Narcotics Branch and CANU have been limited to arresting low level drug couriers at the airport, who carry only small amounts of marijuana, crack cocaine or powder cocaine. U.S. and Canadian authorities have recently made major seizures of cocaine known to originate in Guyana; these seizures routinely dwarf efforts by Guyanese law enforcement.
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. Guyana is also party to the UN Convention Against Corruption.
Agreements and Treaties. Guyana is party to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, 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 three Protocols 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 rulings in extradition hearings, however, have severely challenged the Treaty. In 2008, a Guyanese court first made provisional arrests of fugitives very difficult and a second court held that the Treaty was invalid essentially because it lacked a re-extradition clause. The latter issue has been addressed by a proposed amendment to Guyanese Fugitive Offenders Act, which is currently before the Guyanese President for approval. In the mean time, there has been an exchange of diplomatic notes on the topic aimed at addressing the court’s concern.
Guyana recently acceded to, and has filed information requests under. the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, to which the United States is also a party. 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). Guyana signed a bilateral agreement with the U.S. on maritime counternarcotics cooperation in January, 2001; however, it has not yet taken the necessary domestic actions to bring the agreement into force.
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 continues to be the most common drug used by Guyanese. Crack cocaine is becoming more popular, however, and is quite affordable at as little as fifty cents per dose. Reports indicate that drug potency is rising, leading to a rise in psychosis among addicts.
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 residential facilities that treat substance abuse: the Salvation Army and the Phoenix Recovery Center which are both partially funded by the government. Since 2007, the Ministry of Health has run several modest demand reduction programs in the media, schools and prisons, as well as outpatient talk-therapy treatment. There is little by way of Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) support in demand reduction.
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. The USG continued to encourage Guyanese participation in bilateral and multilateral counternarcotics initiatives. 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 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Trinidad office continued to collaborate with Guyana’s law enforcement agencies in counternarcotics-related activities, and reported a generally favorable and improving working relationship. The U.S. Coast Guard provided seven resident and on-the-job training courses to the Guyana Defense Force Coast Guard in maritime law enforcement, leadership and management, and engineering and maintenance procedures.
The Road Ahead. The U.S. encourages the GOG to effectively follow up on recent legislation supporting counternarcotics efforts. The U.S. also encourages the GOG to implement the new plea bargaining and wiretapping laws. We look forward to collaborating with Guyanese law enforcement to test the amended extradition law and emphasize the need for vigorous exploitation of the new money laundering legislation.
Despite modest improvements in Haiti’s ability to address drug trafficking and drug-related financial crimes, the country remains a major transit country for cocaine from South America and marijuana from elsewhere in the Caribbean en route to the United States, the Bahamas and other countries in the Caribbean. While this report focuses on counternarcotics issues pertaining to calendar year 2009, the devastating earthquake that occurred January 12, 2010, will greatly affect the way forward as the Government of Haiti rebuilds and continues its efforts to improve the capacity of its law enforcement, corrections, and judicial organizations.
Haiti is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. It continued to meet its obligations under that convention, surrendering three fugitives to U.S. law enforcement agencies in 2009 to face prosecution and sentencing in the United States for drug-related crimes.
II. Status of Country
Located due north of Colombia and Venezuela, and with 1,125 miles of poorly patrolled coastline and numerous clandestine airstrips, Haiti is a geographically attractive transshipment point for trafficking organizations moving cocaine and marijuana through the country for distribution in the United States and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
In late October 2009, the Haitian Senate forced the resignations of Prime Minister Michelle Pierre-Louis and Justice Minister Joseph Exumé, with a vote of no confidence. Prime Minister Pierre-Louis was ostensibly blamed for the mismanagement of $197 million in hurricane-relief funds. President René Preval quickly nominated Jean-Max Bellerive, who is supportive of counternarcotics initiatives, as the new Prime Minister. Once confirmed, Prime Minister Bellerive announced his new cabinet and named Paul Denis as Justice Minister.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. During 2009, the United States, the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH), and other international donors in Haiti continued to provide funding and other assistance to the Haitian National Police (HNP) for the training and capacity development of police officers. The Government of Haiti (GOH) and MINUSTAH agreed on a target of having at least 14,000 Haitian National Police trained and operational by 2011, as part of the HNP Reform Plan adopted in 2006. The twenty-first “promotion” graduated from the Police Academy in August 2009, with a total of 469 officers —including 123 women—completing the training course. Total officer strength, however, remains under 9,000 in a country of some nine million inhabitants, and the HNP seems unlikely to meet its 2011 target. Police recruiting drives continued to be successful at attracting applicants.
UN surveys show very positive public attitudes toward the HNP with most respondents across the country reporting an improvement in the work of the HNP in 2009. Port-au-Prince is the exception to this trend, but even with the slight decline—from 76 percent of respondents having seen a positive change in 2008 to only 74 percent in 2009, the surveys indicate that nearly three quarters of the capital’s population still has a favorable opinion of the police. Similarly, about 83 percent of respondents in departments outside of Port-au-Prince think the security situation is better in 2009 than it was a year ago, compared with 80 percent in Port-au-Prince.
Morale among police officers remains generally good, despite problems at the end of 2009 with shortfalls in the police operating budget that delayed meal allowance payments to officers. A longer-term issue which threatens to erode morale is the failure of the HNP to complete and adopt the Police Career Plan, which would standardize performance evaluations, promotional procedures, health care, retirement, and—most importantly—classify officers as civil servants with employee protections.
Law Enforcement Efforts. President Preval urged strong action against drug trafficking, to support U.S. efforts to arrest traffickers wanted in the U.S. justice system, and called for an augmentation of the U.S. counternarcotics presence in Haiti. Despite this political commitment, however, the GOH has not been able to implement the President’s vision for a Haitian counternarcotics police unit capable of conducting its own investigations and making arrests.
Haiti’s national police force is slowly growing both in numbers and capability. HNP has a 50-person counternarcotics unit (French acronym BLTS), a 107-person maritime police unit (French acronym GC), a 20-person financial crimes investigative unit (French acronym BAFE) and a 30-person antikidnapping unit (French acronym CCE). The specialized units bear responsibility for investigating organized criminal networks that directly or indirectly engage in narcotics trafficking or benefit from illicit trade. Nonetheless, the units are poorly-resourced; police officers have no guarantee of employee rights, such as getting paid on time; and they often have difficulty conducting operations on their own initiative without substantial oversight and mentoring.
Haiti did not alter the structure of its counternarcotics agencies during 2009, continuing to use a single unvetted unit of 50 officers for all narcotics investigations. Nonetheless, the Haitian National Police recorded significant counternarcotics accomplishments in 2009—making arrests, seizing assets, and seizing and destroying drugs. The HNP made 83 arrests for drug trafficking, money laundering, or theft of trafficking proceeds on investigations worked jointly with DEA. During 2009, the BAFE unit of the HNP began operating as a Financial Investigations Task Force, which to date has seized over $23 million in commercial and residential real estate assets of convicted traffickers. With assistance from MINUSTAH, the HNP seized over 600 kilograms of Jamaican marijuana and arrested three Jamaicans and a Haitian national who were smuggling the marijuana from Jamaica. Several days later, a HNP roadblock in Leogane yielded an additional 200 kilograms of marijuana. Also of note this year was the seizure and destruction of over 12,000 marijuana plants under cultivation in the Artibonite Valley.
HNP’s counternarcotics unit (BLTS) arrested three traffickers under indictment in the U.S. The traffickers were subsequently transferred to U.S. custody and removed to the United States for prosecution in federal court. One such arrest, of a significant Colombian trafficker with longstanding Haitian ties, also yielded $84,000 in cash, two vehicles, and documentary evidence that produced useful information on trafficking activities. A fourth defendant escaped arrest, but that operation also yielded valuable law enforcement information regarding large-scale air smuggling into Haiti.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in Port-au-Prince arranged for 12 members of the BLTS to participate in “Operation Lost Horizon,” a 30-day joint counternarcotics effort with the Dominican Republic. The operation denied drug traffickers access to the southern shore, included U.S. military and civilian agencies under the auspices of the Joint Interagency Task Force, South. Otherwise, the GOH made minimal progress toward regional law enforcement cooperation with the Dominican Republic.
The majority of officers assigned to the GC have attended some form of technical training, most of it provided by the U.S. Coast Guard. However, the GOH does not have the capability to control many of its seaports, nor to provide a robust patrol presence in its coastal and territorial waters, particularly along the southern shores of the country. The majority of the 107-person GC functions as a maritime police unit of the Haitian National Police. Most personnel are assigned to the Killick Main Station in the Port-au-Prince area, and they rotate to Cap-Haitien on the north shore. The GC currently has the ability to patrol the waters surrounding Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, within 50 nautical miles of these two locations. The Haitian government has seven operable patrol boats which the GC uses for daily migrant interdiction and repatriation operations, counternarcotics patrols, and border security patrols with MINUSTAH military officers on board. Over the past year, the GC conducted 14 repatriation operations with the U.S. Coast Guard, and interdicted four suspicious vessels without U.S. assistance. Although the GC found only small amounts of drugs on the four interdicted vessels, these operations offer evidence of greater initiative and improving maritime capability.
Corruption. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and corruption is endemic. It is not officially condoned as a matter of government policy and President Preval has spoken out strongly against corruption. Haiti’s government does not encourage nor facilitate the production or distribution of illicit drugs, nor does it engage in laundering the proceeds from such activities. The GOH is working closely with U.S. agencies in joint efforts to investigate and to prosecute drug trafficking and money laundering activities. It also cooperates with expulsions of suspects indicted in U.S. courts. Although the executive branch of the Haitian government has attempted to bring action against corrupt businesses, such efforts have been stymied by the Haitian judiciary. The GOH has appointed a commission to reform and rewrite the criminal code in order to improve the legal framework for prosecuting organized crime.
Some HNP officers continue to be implicated in serious criminal activity, especially in drug trafficking or protecting traffickers. Current or former police officers routinely surface as primary suspects in significant trafficking investigations, either as providing the security for landing strips, drug movements, and stash houses, or as exercising a managerial role in the trafficking organizations. Problems of corruption with respect to reported payroll fraud have surfaced in the HNP. The Financial Crimes unit (BAFE) has strengthened its capability over the past two years, becoming increasingly effective in identifying cases and developing leads and evidence needed to make solid anticorruption cases. The HNP Director General cooperated with BAFE investigators and encouraged the arrests of several senior officers and Administrative Division staff for theft and payroll fraud.
Agreements and Treaties. Haiti is a party to the 1961 Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and the Inter-American Convention against Trafficking in Illegal Arms. Haiti remains the only member of the Organization of American States (OAS) not a party to the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. On September 14, 2009 Haiti ratified the UN Convention against Corruption, and has signed, but not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols on Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling. A U.S.-Haiti bilateral letter of agreement signed in October 1997 concerning Cooperation to Suppress Illicit Maritime Drug Traffic allows U.S. law enforcement agencies to enter Haitian territorial waters and airspace when in pursuit of suspect vessels or aircraft, to board and search suspect vessels, and to carry members of the Haitian Garde-Cotes as ship riders. Although there is no Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between Haiti and the United States, the Haitian government has cooperated on many cases within the limits of Haitian law.
Extraditions. The bilateral extradition treaty entered into force in 1905 and, although the Haitian Constitution prohibits extradition of Haitian nationals, the GOH has willingly surrendered Haitian nationals under indictment in the United States to U.S. law enforcement agencies. During 2009, the Haitian Government arrested three defendants wanted on federal drug trafficking charges, and transferred custody to the DEA for their removal to the United States. In early December 2009, the BAFE arrested two former high officials of the Haitian telecommunications company indicted for non-drug related money laundering charges in the United States, and turned them over to U.S. law enforcement agencies for prosecution in the United States. Since July 2007, a total of 20 fugitives have been arrested in Haiti and removed to the United States for criminal prosecution.
Cultivation/Production. There appears to be increasing cultivation of marijuana in Haiti, mostly intended for the domestic market. In 2008, the BLTS eradicated over 30,000 plants under cultivation in the Artibonite Valley; in 2009, the BLTS eradicated over 12,000 plants in the same region. Cocaine seizures in Haiti fell markedly, from 68 kilos in 2008 to 18 in 2009.
Drug Flow/Transit. Clandestine flights from Venezuela remain the primary narcotics threat, with traffickers continuing to use small aircraft to make some offshore air drops and many more land deliveries at clandestine airstrips throughout Haiti. From January to September, there were a total of 17 suspect drug flights to Haiti, as compared to 2008 when 25 suspect drug flights were recorded. As in previous years, go-fast boats also transport cocaine to locations on Haiti’s southern coast for shipment to the United States or to the Bahamas and other Caribbean markets.
A shift seems to be occurring in the nature of Haiti’s trafficking market. Rather than using Haitians as facilitators, Colombian and Venezuelan traffickers are now selling directly to Haitians and Haitian-Bahamians. These “locals” use their networks to control the secondary markets for cocaine and marijuana. This arrangement minimizes risk for South American producers and maximizes profits and control of distribution for the Haitian and Haitian-Bahamian networks.
Domestic Programs and Demand Reduction. The GOH does not collect data on drug abuse and does not support formal demand reduction programs.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. USG policy is focused on improving security in Haiti, which is critical to strengthening democracy, providing stability, establishing an environment for economic growth and investment, improving respect for human rights, and reducing drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and other transnational crime. The USG supports programs to help the GOH develop an honest, professional and effective police and corrections force; create institutions to fight both drug trafficking and related money laundering; and improve the infrastructure and management of the prison system.
In 2009, the Department of State conducted assessments of all foreign assistance programs in Haiti, including an assessment of counternarcotics, civilian policing and rule of law programs. As a result of that assessment and in response to on-going discussions with the highest levels of the Haitian government, the USG is intensifying its focus on security-related assistance to the Haitian police and corrections institutions, and to communities that are potential sources for gang or drug-related crime.
Bilateral Cooperation. On April 30, 2009, the Ambassador and President Preval signed an agreement for $2.5 million to be allocated for Haitian law enforcement capacity-building under the Merida Initiative. The funds will be used in four key areas to continue reforms and advances towards a more effective counternarcotics capability in the HNP: joint Haitian-Dominican border security training, aimed at improving collaboration and cooperation; an improved police communications system to allow controlled data-sharing between law enforcement units, investigating judges, prosecutors, and corrections and detention managers; expanded operating stations in Port-de-Paix in the northwest of Haiti for the GC and BLTS; and continued training of police, judges, and prosecutors on their roles in case preparation and prosecution of drug traffickers.
An interagency effort under the auspices of the Department of State’s Office of Stability and Reconstruction, the Haiti Stabilization Initiative is completing a successful two-year rehabilitation of Cité Soleil, a notorious gang-ridden neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) contributed to the construction of the main police station in Cité Soleil as well as a sub-station in the Wharf Soleil area, and maintains contract staff to mentor and coach HNP staff on community policing.
The Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince actively funds projects to reinforce Haitian police, corrections, land and maritime border security—including constructing a maritime main base on the south shore in Les Cayes and donating five new medium-sized vessels to the GC. A part of the Canadian Global Peace and Security Fund, these are quick start, high-impact projects similar to the Haiti Stabilization Initiative of the U.S. Embassy. U.S. Embassy officers including the NAS staff maintain excellent and regular contacts with the Canadians in order to avoid duplication of our assistance to Haiti.
The Road Ahead. The catastrophic earthquake that occurred January 12, 2010, will have a tremendous affect on the way forward as the GOH rebuilds and continues its efforts to improve the capacity of its law enforcement, corrections, and judicial organizations. The USG will work with the GOH to identify the resources and guidance it needs to reestablish the security sector in and around Port au Prince. Once this is accomplished, maintaining momentum and consolidating advances made in 2009 in Haiti’s law enforcement and counternarcotics capability will require continued engagement from the U.S. agencies providing security assistance. Political will by the GOH to address serious concerns will also be required. The GOH needs to fight corruption within state institutions and provide sufficient resources for the HNP in order to overcome impediments to sustained progress. Equally important is the restoration of rule of law, including reforms to the judicial system, such as reform and adoption of new procedural and criminal codes.