International Narcotics Control Strategy Report -2006-


I. Summary

Greece is a “gateway” country in the transit of illicit drugs. Although not a major transit country for drugs headed for the United States, Greece is part of the traditional “Balkan Route” for drugs flowing from drug producing countries in the east to drug consuming countries in Western Europe. Greek authorities report that drug abuse and addiction continue to climb in Greece as the age for first-time drug use drops. Drug trafficking remains a significant issue for Greece in its battle against organized crime. Investigations initiated by the DEA and its Hellenic counterparts suggest that a dramatic rise has occurred in the number and size of drug trafficking organizations operating in Greece. The DEA and Hellenic Authorities conducted numerous counternarcotics investigations during the year, which resulted in significant arrests, narcotics seizures, and the dismantling of major drug trafficking organizations. A number of judges were charged and at least nine were dismissed for allegedly taking bribes in exchange for favorable judgments or early prison release of defendants, including accused drug traffickers. Greece is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

With an extensive coastline border, numerous islands, and land borders with other countries through which drugs are transported, Greece’s geography has established it as a favored drug transshipment country on the route to Western Europe. Greece is also home to the world’s largest merchant marine fleet. 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 source country for illicit drug production, although marijuana cultivation operations have increased slightly. The marijuana that is produced in Greece is usually destined for the domestic market. Hellenic Authorities recently arrested an individual who was mailing anabolic steroids, which were later found to have originated in Russia, from Greece to the United States. (Use of anabolic steroids is legal in Greece. However, it is illegal to ship them to countries where they are categorized as a controlled substance.)

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

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

Law Enforcement Efforts. Several notable joint U.S./Hellenic counternarcotics investigations occurred during 2005 with significant arrests and seizures. Following a two-year investigation, the DEA, in cooperation with Hellenic and Macedonian authorities, seized 6,500 kilograms of hashish and 1,088 kilograms of ephedrine in January 2005. The hashish and ephedrine were co-mingled in a containerized shipment of rice, which originated in Pakistan. The hashish was destined for North America, while the ephedrine was destined for Southeast Asia. In October 2005, the DEA and Hellenic Authorities dismantled a marijuana trafficking organization that was responsible for distributing metric ton quantities of marijuana throughout Greece for over a decade and was growing marijuana in greenhouses in Central Greece. Hellenic Authorities executed search warrants on the greenhouses and several residences used by the organization, resulting in the arrest of six individuals and the seizure of 840 marijuana plants, 105 kilograms of processed marijuana, 21 kilograms of marijuana seeds, scales and packaging materials. According to Hellenic Authorities, this was the largest marijuana cultivation operation ever seized in Greece. The Hellenic National Police reported that through November 2005, 10,204 kilograms of hashish, 278 kilograms of heroin, and 39 kilograms of cocaine were seized by authorities, and 11,411 individuals were arrested in connection with the above seizures.

Narcotics seizures increased considerably in 2005. In November, authorities in the Western Macedonia region reported seizing three times the hashish seized in 2004. National seizures of heroine and cocaine were also reported to have increased over 2004 seizures. Police and customs authorities report a decline in drug trafficking on the Greece-Turkey border, attributed to more stringent enforcement, including vehicle X-rays on the Turkish side of the border. Nigerian drug organizations smuggle heroin and cocaine through the Athens airport, and increasingly through the Aegean islands from Turkey. A small portion of these drugs is smuggled into the United States.

Corruption. Officers and representatives of Greece’s law enforcement agencies are generally under-trained, underpaid, under-appreciated, and overworked. Although this atmosphere has the potential to breed corruption, the level of corruption in the law enforcement agencies is relatively low with regard to narcotics and narcotics-related money laundering. Regarding the judiciary, at least nine judges were dismissed and as many as 50 judges are being prosecuted for allegedly taking bribes in exchange for favorable judgments or early prison release for a variety of defendants, including accused drug traffickers. As a matter of government policy, Greece neither encourages nor facilitates illicit production or distribution of narcotics, psychotropic drugs, or other controlled substances or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. No known senior official of the GOG engages in, encourages, or facilitates the illicit production or distribution of such drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.

Agreements and Treaties. Greece is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol. An agreement between Greece and the United States to exchange information on narcotics trafficking has been in force since 1928, and an extradition treaty has been in force since 1932. A mutual legal assistance treaty and an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Greece are in force. 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 has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption.

Cultivation/Production. Cannabis, cultivated in small amounts for local consumption, is the only illicit drug produced in Greece.

Drug Flow/Transit. Greece is part of the “Balkan Route” and as such is a transshipment country for heroin refined in Turkey, hashish from the Middle East, and heroin and marijuana from Southwest Asia. Metric ton quantities of marijuana and smaller quantities of other drugs are smuggled across the borders from Albania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Macedonia. Hashish is off-loaded 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 Trans-International Route trucks, in automobiles, on trains, and in buses. A small portion of these drugs is smuggled into the United States, including Turkish-refined heroin that is traded for Latin American cocaine, but there is no evidence that significant amounts of narcotics are entering the United States from Greece.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Drug addiction continues to climb in Greece. According to the National Documentation Center for Narcotics and Addiction run by the Mental Health Research Institute of the Medical School of the University of Athens, 8.6 percent of the Greek population between 12 and 64 years of age report that they have used an illegal substance one or more times in their life. The most commonly used substances are chemical solvents, and marijuana and heroin. There has been a surge in the illegal use of tranquilizers and, to a lesser extent, ecstasy pills, that reflects developments in the growing European synthetic drug market. The GOG estimates that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 addicts in Greece of whom about 19,000 are addicted to heroin, with the addict population growing.

The Organization Against Narcotics (OKANA) is the state agency that coordinates all national treatment policy in Greece. It has the capacity to treat 3,923 persons in 40 therapeutic rehabilitation centers, of which 25 offer “drug free” programs, seven offer methadone substitution programs, and 8 offer buprenophine substitution programs. The average number of addicts treated in 2004 was 2,783, and the total number of those who received therapeutic treatment was 5,160. OKANA has 64 prevention centers in 47 of the 52 regions in Greece, and treated 1,824 addicts in “drug free” therapeutic programs in 2004, down from 1,967 in 2003. About 3,000 persons have been registered in waiting lists for substitution programs. OKANA plans to extend its program to other regions and to open it to more addicts, but its plans are threatened by strong local reactions against the establishment of such treatment centers. In June 2005, the Mayor of Athens, in collaboration with the national broadcasting organization and the drug rehabilitation organization KETHEA, presented plans for a new rehabilitation/detoxification center to be opened in Athens.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. In 2005, an American Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Criminality & Addiction Research, Training & Application at UC San Diego was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to develop curricula and direct workforce development trainings for treatment of addiction.

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

I. Summary

Hungary continues to be a primary narcotics transit country between Southwest Asia and Western Europe, due to its unique combination of geographic location, a modern transportation system, and the unsettled political and social climate in the former Yugoslavia. Since the collapse of communism, Hungary has transformed into a significant consumer of narcotics as well. Drug abuse, particularly among persons under 40 years of age, rose dramatically during the 1990s and continues to increase. The illicit drugs of choice in Hungary are heroin, marijuana, amphetamines, and ecstasy (MDMA). In addition, the abuse of opium poppy straw, barbiturates and prescription drugs containing benzodiazepine is growing. In the lead-up to its accession to the European Union in May 2004, Hungary adopted and amended much of its narcotics-related legislation to ensure harmonization with relevant EU narcotics law. Since 2004, the Ministry of Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity has held primacy over all matters related to narcotics issues. Hungary continues to expand efforts to collect narcotics data. The center to collect data was established in February 2004 to report valid, comparable and reliable data on drug abuse trends to the European Monitoring Center For Drugs And Drug Addiction. Hungary is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Throughout 2005, Hungary continued to be a major transit route for illegal narcotics smuggling from Southwest Asia and the Balkans into Western Europe. Traditional routes in the Balkans that had been disrupted due to instability in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia are again being utilized to transport narcotics. Hungarian Ministry of Interior and Border Guard officials reported narcotics smuggling to be especially active across the Ukrainian, Romanian and Serbian borders. Foreign organized crime, particularly those from Albania, Turkey, and Nigeria, control the transit and sale of narcotics in Hungary. Concurrently, Hungarian drug suppliers and criminal networks are getting stronger as well and involve an increasing number of immigrants and ethnic minorities. Officials report the increasing seriousness of Hungary’s domestic drug problem, particularly among teens and those in their twenties, who have benefited from the country’s strong, if unequal, economic performance.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. The National Drug Prevention Institute (NDPI) was set up in 2000 to provide technical and financial support for drug action teams in cities with populations over 20,000. The NDPI encourages the creation of local fora composed of officials of local government institutions, law enforcement agencies, schools and nongovernmental organizations. The objective is to create local drug strategies, customized for local needs. As of December 2005, there were 96 counternarcotics fora throughout Hungary. The GOH has employed programs for combating drug use at schools since 1992, however, given the shortage of police trainers and funding, there is a continuing increase in drug dealing at schools. Research findings from the National Drug Data Collection Center and the Ministry of Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity indicate that the share of those experimenting and using drugs is on a steady increase. One in five youths (1/3 who are under age 14) have tried marijuana. The drugs of choice are marijuana, ecstasy, and to a lesser extent LSD.

Accomplishments. Expanded investigative authorities and cooperation between the Hungarian Border Guards and the Hungarian National Police, coupled with investigative agreements with neighboring countries, have also played a significant role in increasing Hungary’s ability to interdict shipments of narcotics. Despite these successes, Hungary continues to be a significant transshipment point for narcotics destined for, and sent from, Western Europe.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Close cooperation continued in 2005 between the Hungarian Border Guards and the Hungarian National Police. Subsequent to the accession of Hungary to the European Union, the Hungarian Ministry of Interior had prepared a unified drug interdiction strategy for the Hungarian National Police and Border Guards for the period 2005-2012 in line with the requirements of the EU drug strategy. The stated goals of this strategy are to (1) guarantee the security of the society, (2) combat the illegal production and smuggling of drugs and precursors, (3) facilitate joint actions with the EU member countries, and (4) to combat production, trading and consumption of synthetic drugs. Nevertheless, the number of criminal drug cases has continued to increase dramatically. Much of the increase is attributed to the transition from penalty-based court and social systems to treatment-based court and social systems that are alleged to have eliminated negative individual consequences for drug use. Seizures of ecstasy and cocaine continued to increase between 2004 and 2005.

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Hungary neither encourages nor facilitates the illicit production or distribution of drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The Hungarian government enforces its laws against corruption aggressively, and takes administrative steps (e.g., re-assignment of border guards) to reduce the temptation for corruption whenever it can. A challenge to determining the scope and success of Hungarian efforts to combat corruption is the treatment of corruption-related information and prosecution as classified national security information.

Agreements and Treaties. Hungary 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. Hungary is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, and has signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. An extradition treaty and MLAT are in force between the U.S. and Hungary. Ratification of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is expected in 2006.

Cultivation/Production. GOH authorities report that marijuana is cultivated in Western Hungary. Ecstasy (MDMA) and LSD may also be manufactured locally. However, to date no production laboratories have been discovered. All other illegal narcotics are smuggled into Hungary.

Drug Flow/Transit. Albanians, Turks and Nigerians, who have been resident in Hungary for many years, are involved in drug trafficking in Hungary. Budapest’s Ferihegy international airport continues to be an important stop for cocaine transit from South America to Europe. Synthetic drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA) are transported into Hungary, frequently via car, from the Netherlands and other Western European countries.

Domestic Programs. Hungarian ministry officials report the domestic drug problem continues to be significantly higher among youth between the ages of 12-25. As a result, drug prevention programs are taught to teachers as part of their normal educational training within the educational system. The life skills program is the largest of the counternarcotics programs and was developed in the early nineties with USIA assistance. Through 2005, the fifteen year program has trained nearly 12,000 teachers and educators. Community-based prevention efforts are primarily focused on the teen/twenties age group and provide information about the dangers of substance abuse, while emphasizing active and productive lifestyles as a way of limiting exposure to drugs. Within Hungary there are approximately 230 healthcare institutions that care for drug patients. The Ministry of Health continues to establish and fund drug outpatient clinics in regions where such institutes are not yet available. By 2005, only one region (out of nineteen) in Hungary still did not have a drug outpatient clinic. An amendment to Hungarian counternarcotics legislation, which went into effect in March 2003, was designed to shift the focus of criminal investigations from consumers to dealers. Before this amendment was enacted, Hungarian civil rights leaders claimed that the Hungarian narcotics law, among the toughest on users in Europe, subjected even casual users to stiff criminal penalties while traffickers often escaped prosecution. The amendment allows police, prosecutors, and judges to place drug users in a 6-month government-funded treatment or counseling program instead of prison. Drug addicts are encouraged to attend treatment centers while casual users are directed to the prevention and education programs. The amendment also provides judges with more alternatives and flexibility when sentencing drug users. Due to the continuing increase in the rate of drug use, as well as drug-related crime in Hungary, the GOH has become dissatisfied with the results of the treatment-focused system and is currently considering a return to the punishment-based deterrence system. As a result, beginning in December 2004, the constitutional court began to scale back treatment programs and focus again on prison sentences. However, the State Secretary for Drug Affairs has reconfirmed her commitment to alternative treatment programs. In 2005, the GOH continued to provide access to several needle exchange dispensers in Budapest to guarantee inexpensive, sterile needles for drug users.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The primary USG focus in support of the GOH counternarcotics efforts is through training and cooperative education at the ILEA. In addition, DEA maintains a regional office in Vienna that is accredited to Hungary and works with local and national Hungarian authorities.

The Road Ahead. The USG continues to support and encourage Hungarian legislative efforts to stiffen criminal penalties for drug trafficking offenses, and will continue to support the GOH law enforcement efforts through training programs and seminars at ILEA, as well as through specialized in-country programs. The DEA office in Vienna continues its cooperative efforts with the Hungarian National Police to streamline the flow of actionable investigative information.

I. Summary

Icelandic authorities do not have to confront significant levels of drug production or transit. There is some production of marijuana plants for local consumption, but that is pretty much all. Their focus is thus on stopping importation and punishing distribution and sale, with a lesser emphasis on prosecuting for possession and use. Along with the government, secular and faith-based charities organize abuse prevention projects and run respected detoxification and treatment centers. Iceland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Illegal drugs and precursor chemicals are not produced in significant quantities in Iceland. The harsh climate and lack of arable soil make the outdoor cultivation of drug crops almost impossible. Icelandic authorities believe that the production of drugs, to the extent it exists, is limited to marijuana plants—now grown in quantities adequate to satisfy virtually all domestic demand, and the occasional small-time amphetamine laboratory. In late December 2005 police confirmed that they had heard of Icelandic marijuana on the market in Copenhagen, but no further information was available regarding this apparently new phenomenon. Most illegal drugs in Iceland are smuggled in through the mail, inside commercial containers, or by airline passengers. The chief illicit drugs entering Iceland, mainly from Denmark, are cannabis and amphetamines, with the latter becoming increasingly common during the past two years as part of a trend of stimulant drug use that also involved heightened levels of cocaine in circulation. According to authorities there were 87 cases of importation of drugs and precursors in 2005 (latest available National Commissioner of Police figures).

Results of the third European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs, conducted in 2004, showed that controlled substance use among Icelandic adolescents has decreased significantly in recent years, and that students currently completing secondary school have used drugs less during their school years than did earlier cohorts. Appraisals of Reykjavik in 2004 and 2005 by the Icelandic Center for Social Research and Analysis, a nonprofit research center that specializes in youth research, supported a conclusion that drug use in Iceland has declined.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. The Public Health Institute of Iceland, established in 2003, is responsible for alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs on behalf of the government. The institute is part of the Nordic Council for Alcohol and Drug Research, which promotes and encourages a joint Nordic research effort on drug and alcohol abuse.

Programs are funded through an alcohol tax, with allocations overseen by the independent national Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Council (ADAPC). The institute collects data; disseminates information on use of intoxicants; supports health improvement projects; and funds and advises local governments and nongovernmental organizations working primarily in prevention. During the year the institute made grants worth $485,000 to a total of 52 groups and projects across the country.

Reykjavik Customs continued with a national drug education program developed in 1999 and formalized in an agreement with the state (Lutheran) church in 2003. As part of the program, an officer accompanied by a narcotics sniffing dog informs students participating in confirmation classes about the harmful effects of drugs and Iceland’s fight against drug smuggling. Parents are invited to the meetings in order to encourage a joint parent-child effort against drug abuse. Customs officials also use the meetings to distribute an educational multimedia CD dealing with drug awareness.

In spring 2005, European Cities against Drugs launched a new Europe-wide drug prevention program geared toward teenagers that is based on the conclusions of an Icelandic research program on drug prevention. The Icelandic program, Drug Free Iceland 1997-2002, was launched by the City of Reykjavik and resulted in a substantial reduction in teen drug use between 1998 and 2004. The European program, Youth in Europe, will be based on key results from the Icelandic project and emphasize the importance of organized leisure activities, as well as time spent with parents, as the Icelandic study showed that these reduced the likelihood of drug use. The program will study drug use in 10 European cities, compare different prevention methods, and attempt to motivate institutions, authorities, schools and the urban public to confront the drug menace. The program is sponsored by the pharmaceutical company Actavis Group, headquartered in Iceland, and is administered and coordinated by the City of Reykjavik, the University of Iceland, and Reykjavik University. A Reykjavik city council member and a medical doctor head the program’s steering committee, and the President of Iceland, Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, is the honorary “patron” of the project.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Through November 2005, Keflavik Airport (KEF) authorities made 33 seizures of controlled narcotics compared to 60 for the same period in 2004. Authorities have documented a substantial upward trend in narcotics apprehensions in Iceland over the past several years (from 1,385 in 2003, to 1,671 in 2004, and 1,754 as of December 13, 2005). While one explanation may be escalating drug use, that runs counter to survey results, reported above. Another explanation is increased enforcement against possession. Police nationwide have intensified surveillance in public places and initiated searches of suspicious individuals. Nationwide drug seizure enforcement highlights include:

In January, KEF Customs arrested two men after finding 4 kilograms of amphetamines concealed in a hidden compartment in a suitcase. This is the largest amount of amphetamines ever confiscated at one time at KEF.
In January and May, a Norwegian Customs expert in training drug-sniffing dogs conducted courses for Icelandic police and customs officials. Authorities contend that the dogs’ success rate in finding narcotics has significantly improved since the adoption of Norwegian methods. Customs and police deployed drug-sniffing dogs to popular outdoor festivals on a holiday weekend in early August to deal with drug distribution among attending youths. Police credit their stricter law enforcement and the deployment of the drug-sniffing dogs for approximately 100 arrests made at the festival, a large increase from previous years.
In March, KEF police seized 800 grams of cocaine from a woman in her sixties who had hidden it in a wig.
In May and June, Reykjavik District Court convicted nine people in connection with one of the most wide-ranging narcotics cases in the history of Iceland, involving the smuggling of approximately 7.7 kilograms of amphetamines and 2,000 doses of LSD on a cargo ship. The defendants received punishments ranging from a fine to six-and-a-half years in prison (later reduced by the Supreme Court to four years in return for the defendants’ cooperation with the investigation). Icelandic police discovered an additional 4,000 doses of LSD in a suitcase. The suitcase belonged to one of the defendants in the cargo ship smuggling incident. It had been seized by Dutch authorities from the defendant’s apartment in the Netherlands. Dutch authorities simply overlooked the secreted drugs. This surprising find resulted in the single largest confiscation of LSD ever in Iceland.
In June, an Icelandic court sentenced two Lithuanians to three years in prison for smuggling 4 kilograms of amphetamines to Iceland on a passenger ferry arriving in Seydisfjordur (East Iceland) from Denmark via the Faeroe Islands. The men had hidden the drug in a specially outfitted storage space inside a beam under their vehicle.
Also in June, five men and a woman were sentenced to one to two years in prison for attempting to smuggle 1,000 ecstasy pills and 130 grams of cocaine, which they had concealed in hollow candles, in through KEF.
In December, KEF security arrested a man with 3 kilograms of hashish in his suitcase, the largest amount seized at the airport this year.
In December, police arrested a man in southern Iceland on charges of possessing 165 cannabis plants and about 5 kilograms of marijuana.
Despite the increased number of violations, law enforcement expects the total amount of narcotics seized to be lower overall. The amount of amphetamines authorities expect to have seized at year’s end will be almost the same as in 2004 or about 16 kilograms. During the year, police seized at least 1,200 ecstasy pills, down from around 7,500 seized in 2004; and confiscated approximately 3,200 cannabis plants, almost as many as in the previous four years combined (latest available National Commissioner of Police figures). Through November, KEF authorities seized a total of 2.7 kilograms of hashish, 800 grams of cocaine, and 3.9 kilograms of amphetamines

The National Police Commissioner has expressed concern about attempts at infiltration by Eastern European gangs and criminals from the Baltic States. In the past, police have cooperated with Nordic officials to prevent the entry of biker gang members supposedly attempting to import their criminal operations into Iceland; there were no new biker gang incidents this year.

Corruption. The country does not, as a matter of government policy, 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 senior official of the government is known to engage in, encourage, or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of such drugs or substances, or to be involved in the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.

Agreements and Treaties. Iceland 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 its 1972 Protocol. Iceland has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption. An extradition treaty is in force between the U.S. and Iceland.

Drug Flow/Transit. Authorities consider Iceland a destination country for narcotics smuggling rather than a transit point. There have been no major seizures of transit shipments during the year and only rare seizures of such shipments in previous years.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Heroin abuse is virtually unknown in Iceland. Cannabis is the prevalent drug among persons under 20, while older addicts are partial to injecting morphine. Ecstasy, cocaine (but not crack cocaine), and particularly amphetamines are popular on the capital region’s weekend club scene. Most alcohol and drug abuse treatment is taken on by the National Center of Addiction Medicine (SAA). Founded in 1977 by a group of recovered addicts who wished to replicate the rehabilitation services they had received at the Freeport Hospital in New York, SAA now receives roughly two thirds of its annual budget from the government. It makes detoxification and inpatient treatments available free to Icelandic citizens. While there can be waiting lists for long-term addicts, especially men, there are none for teenagers. SAA’s main treatment center estimate for the number of admitted patients in 2005 is around 2,100, which is down by several hundred from previous years. SAA has had to reduce some services due to rising costs in excess of government funding. Its emergency reception center closed at the beginning of 2005 due to lack of funding but reopened in early December 2005 after receiving a promise of private funding from seven Icelandic corporations. Some 300 drug addicts annually (often those with complicating psychiatric illnesses) go to the National-University Hospital. In addition, individuals with less acute problems may turn to Samhjalp or Byrgid, two Christian charities that use faith-based approaches to treating addiction.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The DEA office in Copenhagen and the Regional Security Office in Reykjavik have a good working relationship with Icelandic law enforcement personnel for the purpose of cooperating on narcotics investigations and interdiction of shipments. In the past year the Embassy’s Regional Security Office has worked closely with the Icelandic Border Police on implementing advanced screening techniques, scrutinizing identity documents, and developing intelligence on traffickers. The USG’s goal is to maintain the good bilateral law enforcement relationship that has facilitated the exchange of intelligence and cooperation in narcotics cases.

The Road Ahead. The U.S. will continue efforts to strengthen exchange and training programs to further improve law enforcement with Iceland.

I. Summary

The Republic of Ireland is not a transshipment point for narcotics to the United States, nor is it a hub for international drug trafficking. According to Government of Ireland (GOI) officials, overall drug use in Ireland continues to remain steady, with the exception of cocaine use, which continued its upward trend. Seizures have also increased as traffickers attempt to import drugs in larger quantities. The GOI’s National Drug Strategy aims to significantly reduce drug consumption through a concerted focus on supply reduction, prevention, treatment, and research. In 2004, the GOI signed the European Arrests Warrant Act 2003, allowing Irish police to have suspects detained by foreign police and extradited to Ireland for trial, and the Criminal Justice Act, enabling Irish authorities to investigate international criminality in close cooperation with EU member states. Ireland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Ireland is not a transit point for drugs to the United States, but it is occasionally used as a transit point for narcotics trafficking to other parts of Europe, including across its land border to Northern Ireland. Ireland is not a significant source of illicit narcotics, though in a single raid in 2004, officials found a quantity of precursors intended to manufacture around Euro 500 million worth of ecstasy and amphetamines.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. The GOI continued to implement drug abuse strategies it established in its National Drug Strategy for 2001-2008. Its goal is to “to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concerted focus on supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research.” By 2003, substance abuse programs were a part of every school curriculum in the country and the GOI launched the National Awareness Campaign on Drugs. The campaign featured television and radio advertising, and lectures by police, supported by an information brochure and website, all designed to promote greater awareness and communication about the drug issue in Ireland. Regional Drug Task Forces (RDTF), set up to examine drug issues in local areas, were fully operational throughout the country. The GOI established a review procedure to measure how effectively each department in the government is internally implementing the National Drug Strategy. The GOI released the results and recommendations of this review in June 2005. It found that 49 of the 100 actions set out in the strategy published in 2001 are completed or almost so, progress has been made in 45 of them, and six need considerably more progress. The review made rehabilitation of drug users a fifth pillar of the strategy, and recommended greater availability of needle exchanges and increased resources for community policing. A Working Group was set up to develop a strategy for the provision of integrated drug rehabilitation services. The GOI announced a National Drug-Related Deaths Index on September 27. The index will provide an accurate estimate of people who die directly from drugs and an accurate estimate of people who die as a result of the consequences of drug use.

Accomplishments. Seizures in 2003 had reached Euro 121 million, three times the goal set in the National Drug Strategy for that year. (Figures for 2004 and 2005 are not yet available). The Justice Minister attributed this both to the increase in usage and improvements in law enforcement. The Irish Police continued to cooperate closely with other national police forces, which in one such case resulted in the arrest in Spain of 11 people and the seizure of over four tons of cocaine, worth an estimated Euro 330 million. Authorities believe the cocaine was intended for distribution to other European countries, including Ireland.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Although official statistics are not yet available for 2005, the Irish Police confirmed that drug-related arrests remained constant over the previous three years. There are normally 7,000-8,000 arrests annually, including the approximately 450 arrests made by the National Drug Unit (NDU) each year. The NDU’s arrests tend to include most of the large seizures, but local police also have had success. For example, in 2005 the local police in Limerick seized various narcotics totaling over Euro five million, including a May 13 seizure of 150 kilograms of cannabis resin with an estimated market value of over Euro one million. Each year, 60-65 percent of arrests for drug-related offenses nationwide tend to be for simple possession, 20-25 percent are for possession with the intention to sell, and the remainder of arrests are related to obstructing drug arrests or forging prescriptions.

During 2005, arrests and prosecutions included the seizure on March 22, of 200 kilograms of cannabis with an estimated street value of Euro 1.5 million during a search of a house in the Malahide area of Dublin. A man jailed in April 2004 for possession of nearly Euro 16 million worth of cocaine and cannabis had his prison sentence increased from five to seven years by the Court of Criminal Appeal in March. A man who was caught by police with Euro 108,000 worth of heroin and cocaine in 2004 was jailed for six years by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. In July 2005, three men were arrested following the seizure of 20 kilograms of cocaine, worth Euro 1.5 million, in Portlaoise. In August 2005, a truck driver, found in possession of cannabis and cocaine with a combined value of over Euro 15 million was jailed for 10 years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. In August 2005, the NDU recovered cocaine worth Euro 4.5 million in a raid on a house in Dublin. Police believe that a major drug gang used the house as a base to prepare, mix and package an average of eight kilograms of uncut cocaine every two weeks for the past year for distribution across south Dublin. The cocaine recovered had a purity of almost 80 percent, compared to the average street-level purity of between 25 percent and 30 percent. In August 2005, as part of the result of an ongoing investigation, police and customs officials seized 1.2 tons of cannabis resin in Kildare valued at Euro 10 million. This resulted in the arrest and detention of three Irish men and a Spaniard under Section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act. In Dublin, on the same day, police seized some 20 kilograms of cocaine, worth Euro 1.5 million. In October 2005, during a planned raid on a crack manufacturing operation in Dublin, police seized 900g of cocaine, 300g of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. The drugs had an estimated street value of Euro 150,000. On the same day, police and customs service officers seized 15 kilograms of cocaine, worth Euro 1.2 million, from baggage at Dublin airport, and arrested two women in a follow-up operation.

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Ireland 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. Senior officials of the government do not engage in, encourage, or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of such drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.

Agreements and Treaties. An MLAT between the United States and Ireland, signed in January 2001, is now in force. An extradition treaty between Ireland and the United States is also in force. Ireland is a party to the 1998 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Ireland has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption.

Cultivation/Production. Only small amounts of cannabis are cultivated in Ireland. There is no evidence that synthetic drugs were produced domestically this year.

Drug Flow/Transit. Among drug abusers in Ireland, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy (MDMA), and heroin are the drugs of choice. A Council of Europe report on organized crime, published in January, said Ireland had the highest rate of ecstasy and amphetamine use in Europe and the second highest rate of cocaine abuse. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report 2005, published in June, placed Ireland in joint third place (out of 30 European countries) for cocaine use and in joint sixth place for ecstasy use. Cocaine comes primarily from Colombia and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and cannabis are often packed into cars in either Spain or the Netherlands and then brought into Ireland for distribution around the country. This distribution network is controlled by 6 to 12 Irish criminal gangs based in Spain and the Netherlands. Herbal cannabis is primarily imported from South Africa.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). There are 7,100 treatment sites for opiate addiction, exceeding the GOI’s National Drug Strategy target of 6,500 treatment sites. The Strategy also mandates that each area Health Board have in place a number of treatment and rehabilitation options. For heroin addicts, there are 65 methadone treatment locations. Most clients of treatment centers are Ireland’s approximately 14,500 heroin addicts, 12,400 of which live in Dublin. In 2004, the GOI undertook an evaluation of drug treatment centers’ ability to cope with the leveling off of heroin use and the increase of other drugs. Four pilot projects to tackle cocaine use were announced in January 2005, following a number of reports which indicate that abuse of the drug has increased substantially in recent years. The four projects are aimed at different types of drug users in Dublin’s inner city and Tallaght and will differ in their approaches to dealing with cocaine abuse. The projects will include diversionary therapies aimed at mainly intravenous users, group drug counseling, individual drug counseling, and cognitive behavior therapy.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

U.S. Policy Initiatives. In 2005, the United States continued legal and policy cooperation with the GOI, and benefited from Irish cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies such as the DEA. Information sharing between U.S. and Irish officials continued to strengthen ties between the countries.

The Road Ahead. U.S. support for Ireland’s counternarcotics program, along with U.S. and Irish cooperative efforts, continues to work to prevent Ireland from becoming a transit point for narcotics trafficking to the United States.

I. Summary

The Government of Italy (GOI) is firmly committed to the fight against drug trafficking domestically and internationally. The Berlusconi government continues its strong counternarcotics stand with capable Italian law enforcement agencies. Italy is a consumer country and a major transit point for heroin coming from the Near East and southwest Asia through the Balkans as well as for cocaine originating from South America enroute to western/central Europe. Domestic and Italy-based foreign organized crime groups are heavily involved in international drug trafficking. GOI cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies continues to be exemplary. Italy is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Italy is mainly a narcotics transit and consumption country. Law enforcement officials focus their efforts on heroin, cocaine, and hashish. Possession of small amounts of illegal drugs is an administrative, not a criminal, offense, but drug traffickers are subject to stringent penalties. Although Italy produces some precursor chemicals, they are well controlled in accordance with international norms, and not known to have been diverted to any significant extent. Law enforcement agencies with a counternarcotics mandate are effective.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. Italy continues to combat narcotics aggressively and effectively. The Berlusconi government has made combating drug abuse a high priority, although its focus is more on prevention, improved treatment, and rehabilitation than criminalization of abusers. A draft law submitted to Parliament in late 2003 would change this approach, eliminating the legal distinction between hard and soft drug use as well as decreasing the tolerance for possession of a “moderate quantity” of drugs, making possession and personal use of drugs illegal. At a minimum, drug users would be compelled to enter treatment or face administrative penalties such as suspension of driving licenses or passports. Above certain prescribed levels, violators would face criminal charges, including 6-20 years in prison, and fines ranging from $22,000 to over $220,000. Deliberations on this law began in 2004 and continued through 2005 in the Senate Justice Committee. At the multilateral level, Italy contributed $12 million to the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODC), making it one of the largest donors to the UNODC budget. Italy also supported U.S. key objectives at the UN commission on narcotic drugs.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Comparing data from January to October 2005, seizures of cocaine and hashish have increased, while those of heroin and marijuana have decreased. As of October 2005, the Italian police apprehended 18,000 people on narcotics-related offenses and seized approximately 27,000 kilograms of narcotics (1,168.4 kilograms of heroin; 3,714.4 kilograms of cocaine; 19.947.5 kilograms of hashish; and 2,024.1 kilograms of marijuana) and 284,310 MDMA tablets. The major nationalities of those arrested were Moroccan, Tunisian, Albanian, Algerian, Nigerian, Spanish, Senegalese, and Colombian.

In October 2005, the Italian police led an international drug bust involving five countries (Italy, Spain, Argentina, France, and the Netherlands) that netted about 1.5 tons of cocaine and over 120,000 ecstasy tablets; at least 60 people were arrested. Also in October, the Italian Carabinieri (military police) busted an organized crime-led international drug trafficking network based in southern Italy. Over 40 individuals were arrested and about 100 others were put under investigation. The fight against drugs is a major priority of the National Police, Carabinieri, and financial police counternarcotics units. The counternarcotics units of the three national police services are coordinated by the Central Directorate for Drug Control Prevention (DCSA). Working with the liaison offices of the U.S. and western European countries, DCSA has 19 drug liaison officers in 18 countries that focus on major traffickers and their organizations. Additional drug liaison positions were created in Tehran, Iran and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Investigations of international narcotics organizations often overlap with the investigations of Italy’s traditional organized crime groups (e.g. the Sicilian Mafia, the Calabrian N,drangheta, the Naples-based Camorra and the Puglia-based Sacra Corona Unita). During a two-year investigation leading to a major drug bust in early 2005, Italian officials confirmed working links on drug trafficking between the Mafia, N,dragheta, and Camorra.

Additional narcotics trafficking groups are Nigerian, Albanian, and other Balkan organized crime groups responsible for smuggling heroin into Italy, while Colombian, Dominican and other South American trafficking groups are involved in the importation of cocaine. Italian law enforcement officials employ the same narcotics investigation techniques used by other western countries: informants, extensive court-ordered wire-tapping of phones and e-mail accounts, undercover operations and controlled deliveries under certain circumstances. Adequate financial resources, money laundering laws, and asset seizure/forfeiture laws help ensure the effectiveness of these efforts.

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Italy does not encourage or facilitate the illicit distribution of narcotics or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. No senior official of the government of Italy engages in, encourages, or facilitates the illicit production or distribution of such drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Corruption exists in Italy although it rarely rises to the national level and it does not compromise investigations. When a corrupt law enforcement officer is discovered, authorities take appropriate action. Penalties range from 6 months to 5 years in prison, depending on the charge.

Agreements and Treaties. Italy is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol, as well as the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Italy has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which is still being examined by the Justice Ministry. Italy has signed, but has not yet ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption. Italy has bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties with the U.S., which will be affected by the new U.S.-EU mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties agreed to in 2003. Italy and the U.S. have concluded negotiations on the instruments to implement the U.S.-EU treaties, and it is expected that they will be signed in early 2006.

Cultivation/Production. There is no known cultivation of narcotics plants in Italy, although small-scale marijuana production in remote areas does exist, but is mainly for domestic consumption. No heroin laboratories or processing sites have been discovered in Italy since 1992. However, opium poppy grows naturally in the southern part of Italy, including Sicily. It is not commercially viable due to the low alkaloid content. No MDMA-ecstasy laboratories have been found in Italy.

Drug Flow/Transit. Italy is a consumer country and a major transit point for heroin coming from southwest Asia through the Balkans en route to western and central Europe. A large percentage of all heroin seized in Italy comes via Albania. Albanian heroin traffickers work with Italian criminal organizations as transporters and suppliers of drugs. Heroin is smuggled into Italy via automobiles, ferryboats and commercial cargo. Albania is a source country for marijuana destined for Italy. During 2002-2004, Italian law enforcement agencies seized 15, 907 kilograms of marijuana originating in Albania. Italian seizures of Albanian marijuana in 2004 (801 kilograms) were significantly lower than 2003 levels (9,258 kilograms).

Almost all cocaine found in Italy originates with Colombian and other South American criminal groups and is managed in Italy mainly by Calabrian-based organized crime groups. Multi-hundred kilogram shipments enter Italy via several seaports concealed in commercial cargo. Although the traditional Atlantic trafficking route is still in use, stepped-up international scrutiny and cooperation are forcing traffickers to use alternative avenues. Italian officials have detected traffickers using transit ports in Nigeria, Togo, and Ghana where drugs are off-loaded to smaller fishing vessels that ultimately reach Spain and other Mediterranean approaches. Cocaine shipments off-loaded in Spain and the Netherlands are eventually transported to Italy and other European countries by means of vehicles. Smaller amounts of cocaine consisting of grams to multi-kilogram (usually concealed in luggage) enter Italy via express parcels or airline couriers traveling from South America.

Ecstasy found in Italy primarily originates in the Netherlands and is usually smuggled into the country by means of couriers utilizing commercial airlines, trains or vehicles. Italy is also used as a transit point for couriers smuggling ecstasy destined for the United States. A method used by trafficking groups in the past has been to provide thousands of ecstasy tablets to couriers in Amsterdam concealed in luggage. The couriers then travel by train or airline to Italy facilitated by the EU’s open borders. Once in Italy, the couriers are provided an originating airline ticket from Italy to the U.S. disguising the couriers, recent travel from a source country, thereby reducing the chance of scrutiny by law enforcement authorities in the U.S.

Hashish comes predominantly from Morocco through Spain, entering the Iberian Peninsula (and the rest of Europe) via sea access points using fast boats. Hashish also is smuggled into Italy on fishing and pleasure boats from Lebanon. As with cocaine, larger hashish shipments are smuggled into Spain and eventually transported to Italy by vehicle.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The GOI promotes drug prevention programs using abstinence messages and treatment aimed at the full rehabilitation of drug addicts. The Italian Ministry of Health funds 557 public health offices operated at the regional level while private nonprofit NGOs operate another 1,430 social communities for drug rehabilitation. Of the 500,000 estimated drug addicts in Italy, 159,000 receive services at public agencies and approximately 15,000 are served by smaller private centers. Others either are not receiving treatment or arrange for treatment privately. The Berlusconi government continues to promote more responsible use of methadone at the public treatment facilities. For 2005, the Italian Government budgeted $141 million for counternarcotics programs run by the health, education, and labor ministries. Seventy-five percent of this amount is dedicated to the different regions and the remaining 25 percent is for national programs.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S. and Italy continue to enjoy exemplary counternarcotics cooperation. The DEA Administrator visited Italy in April 2004 to discuss counternarcotics issues with both Italian law enforcement and ministry level officials. During 2005, the DEA continued the Drug Sample Program with the GOI, which consists of the analysis of seized narcotics to determine purity, cutting agents and source countries. From January-November 2005, the DEA received approximately 140 samples of heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. DEA recently expanded this program to the countries of Slovenia, Croatia and Albania. The sample collection from these countries and others in the Balkan region is essential in determining production methods and trafficking trends that ultimately impact Italy. The DEA independently conducted drug awareness programs at international schools in Rome and Milan. The DEA also provided training to Italian counterparts in the areas of asset forfeiture, undercover operations, and forensic chemistry.

The Road Ahead. The USG will continue to work closely with Italian officials to break up trafficking networks into and through Italy as well as to enhance both countries’ abilities to apply effective demand dampening policies. The Italian authorities are considering an invitation by the Government of Afghanistan’s “Drug Czar” to assign a drug liaison officer in Kabul, Afghanistan. Italy also maintains a large liaison office in Albania made up of Carabinieri, Finance Police, and National Police to assist Albanians interdicting narcotics originating there and destined for either Italy or other parts of Europe.

I. Summary

Kazakhstan continues to be an important narcotics transit country, especially for drugs coming out of Afghanistan. The Ministry of the Interior’s Committee on Combating and Controlling Narcotics estimates that approximately 1,400 tons of Afghanistan’s opium will move through Kazakhstan this year via the northern Afghan route (Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan). It is also estimated that approximately 10 percent of these drugs will be sold in Kazakhstan. According to data provided by the Committee, more than 19 tons of narcotics, including 130 kilograms of heroin, have been seized since the beginning of this year. Kazakhstan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

While there is some cultivation of narcotic crops and production of narcotics in Kazakhstan, it is primarily a transit country. Although Kazakhstan’s existing small-scale cultivation of marijuana and opium suggest that it could become a major producer of narcotics in the future, evidence continues to suggest that local production is minimal at present. The Committee on Combating and Controlling Narcotics’ statistics for the first nine months of 2005 show that the annual “Operation Poppy” campaign only eradicated approximately 15,271 square meters of illicit poppy and marijuana cultivation. There were no discoveries of laboratories for the production of narcotics.

The Committee for National Security (KNB) has uncovered two new routes of movement for opiates and heroin transiting the country: Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan-China-Australia and Afghanistan-Tajikistan-Kazakhstan-Russia-Japan. In addition, the KNB continues to monitor the long established route through Kazakhstan-Russia to western Europe. During the KNB’s operation “Trap” this year, more than 1,250 kilograms of opium and more than 200 kilograms of heroin were seized from an internationally operated narcotics ring led by a Kazakhstani citizen of Tajik decent. The ring laundered the proceeds received from the sale of narcotics by creating fictitious contracts supposedly related to the sale of wheat and flour. The KNB traced this laundered money to bank accounts in Germany and the Baltic countries. In an August 2005 article published in a Izvestiya-Kazakhstan newspaper, a KNB official was quoted as saying that the investigation of only one of these bank accounts turned up more than $1.6 million from the sale of narcotics, which had been transferred abroad. The KNB continues to investigate the international narcotics and money laundering ring.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. Presently, Kazakhstan is in the fifth year of its five-year plan to fight drug trafficking. On March 3, 2004, the President signed a decree that established the Committee on Combating and Controlling Narcotics within the Ministry of the Interior. This DEA-like office coordinates efforts among law enforcement entities, analyzes developing trends in the trafficking and consumption of narcotics, initiates legal reform and drafts statutes pertaining to the narcotics problem in Kazakhstan, interacts with the mass media and the press to inform the public on counternarcotics efforts taken by the Committee and other governmental agencies, and engages with international counterparts through the local branch of Interpol. The Committee’s staff is comprised of 580 officers. The Committee has been operational for more than a year, and it is already responsible for more than its present staff can handle. According to the Head of the Committee, Vice Minister Vyborov, only 13 officers are engaged in significant investigative work related to the elimination of major narcotics trafficking. Vice Minister Vyborov also noted that the work of the Committee over the last year has increased five times and that the Committee’s staff must tackle a variety of tasks ranging from submitting tenders for narcotics search equipment to conducting undercover work. The MIA requested $16.5 million for its new three-year counternarcotics program including over $5 million for first-year operations in 2006.

According to Vice Minister Vyborov, Kazakhstan needs stricter legal punishments for those involved in drug trafficking and the sale of narcotics, especially to minors. During a Governmental meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior announced that 2,626 people had been convicted of narcotics-related charges in 2004, but one in every four was given a suspended sentence. He also stressed the prevalence of repeat offenders, noting that every fifth offence was committed by a previously-convicted criminal. Furthermore, he noted that only one of the 316 criminals convicted in 2004 for serious narcotics offenses received the maximum sentence of 15 years of imprisonment. On average, narcotics dealers only receive a sentence of three years imprisonment. Moreover, a majority of convicted criminals are paroled and released early without serving a complete sentence. In order to address these shortcomings, the MIA initiated changes to the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on “Narcotics, psychotropic substances, precursors, and countermeasures to illegal consumption” in 2005. More specifically, the Committee’s recommendations include stricter sentences for narcotics barons and narcotics dealers, as well as more regulated procedures for the destruction of seized narcotics to eliminate its leakage back into the market. The Prime Minister supported these proposed changes and promised the MIA that the GOK will expedite the amendments to the legislation. This legislative initiative is part of the first stage of the Government’s counternarcotics program for 2006-2014.

Another major policy initiative taken by the Committee is the creation of an internal narcotics checkpoint system entitled “Narcotics Boundaries.” The Committee plans to establish six checkpoints to search vehicles on six major highway intersections and three checkpoints at railroad stations. Construction of the structures at these checkpoints will be directly funded by INL or via an INL grant to UNODC. The GOK has allocated more than $700,000 for the “Narcotics Boundaries” program. According to Vyborov, each of the nine “Boundary” posts will be manned by a Committee officer, a road patrol officer, a migration police officer, and a dog handler.

On July 8, 2005, the GOK signed the “Additional Protocol to the Memorandum of Understanding on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan” (ALOA). This agreement established a framework for the implementation of projects designated to improve the capacity of Kazakhstani law enforcement agencies to combat narcotics trafficking and organized crime. The agreement includes the provision of technical assistance aimed at improving the ability of the Ministry of the Interior’s counternarcotics forces to apprehend narcotics and other contraband transiting through Kazakhstan and to improve the collection and reporting of crime statistics with an emphasis on those statistics and regions germane to the evaluation of GOK progress in the fight against narcotics trafficking.

Accomplishments. The Committee on Combating Narcotics, whose sole responsibility is fighting narcotics, is in the final stages of adopting a “Master Plan for the Control of Illicit Drugs and Organized Crime.” The Central Asia Regional Information Coordination Center (CARICC) is a $6.5 million, four-year, UNODC project. The Center’s main objective is to develop and promote regional cooperation in counternarcotics efforts between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The Center, which will be based in Almaty, will house a shared database of regional intelligence and will produce operational intelligence and strategic assessments concerning narcotics trafficking and related crimes.

Law Enforcement Efforts. The GOK claims to have seized more than 19 tons of various narcotics (raw marijuana, etc.), including 130 kilograms of heroin. Seizures are for the first nine months of 2005. Since the beginning of 2005, more than 15 undercover operations were led by the Committee. Seven major organized criminal groups and four smuggling rings with ties to other organized crime groups in the Southern-Kazakhstan region, the Eastern-Kazakhstan region, and the city of Almaty were apprehended and charged with illicit narcotics activities. More than 64 kilograms of heroin were seized from one of these groups in April 2005. After a six-month covert operation, Committee officers seized a substantial load of heroin, its largest seizure of 2005, hidden in a truck transporting tomatoes. In August 2005, the Committee also seized four loads of marijuana, each weighing more than a ton. The annual project “Operation Poppy,” which combines intelligence collection, interdiction of smugglers, eradication of cultivation, and demand reduction was conducted from May 20 until October 20, 2005. More than 1,800 officers from the Ministry of the Interior, 141 officers from Customs, and 99 officers from the Committee for National Security combined their efforts in undertaking the operation. As a result, 3,803 individuals, including 88 CIS citizens from outside Kazakhstan, were detained for the production, processing, and trafficking of narcotics. “Operation Poppy” also concentrated on the control and seizure of psychotropic substances and precursors. Overall, this operation led to 83 criminal convictions related to the abuse of psychotropic and controlled substances, which represents almost a 25 percent increase over 2004. In addition to these arrests, more than 15,271 square meters of illicit poppy and marijuana were eradicated, and 4,607 other drug related arrests were made, which is more than a 100 percent increase over last year (2,134 cases in 2004).

In an April 2, 2005, interview with the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspaper, the Head of the KNB stated that there are no heroin-producing laboratories operating on the territory of Kazakhstan. He also noted that southern Kazakhstan has become a new hub for narcotics trafficking and one of the most critical regions in the country’s counternarcotics efforts. In March 2005, after two years of cooperation with Tajik and Russian colleagues, the KNB dismantled an international narcotics trafficking ring based in the southern Kazakhstan city of Shymkent. As a result, 268 kilograms of raw opium and 66 kilograms of heroin were seized. The KNB Head added that the group had utilized a warehouse in Shymkent to store heroin entering Kazakhstan from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. After being re-packaged in the warehouse, the heroin was transported in hidden car compartments to Russia. The KNB also raided several auto shops in Shymkent that had begun specializing in the construction of hidden compartments for vehicles. During the first three months of 2005, law enforcement officials in southern Kazakhstan seized 238 kilograms of opium, and 37 kilograms of heroin. During the same time period in 2004, officials in the region only apprehended 31 kilograms of opium and 45 kilograms of heroin. Similarly, the number of narcotics addicts in the southern region increased by 100 percent in the last year. Most of these drug addicts are young, with the average age of addicts being 14-15 years old. The youngest drug addict presently going through a rehabilitation program in the region is eight years old.

Law enforcement circles in Kazakhstan are also seriously concerned about the expansion of synthetic drugs. In 2005, the KNB seized more than 36,000 ecstasy pills. All synthetic drugs seized in the country were produced outside of Kazakhstan. Despite this increase in nonopiate narcotics, heroin still remains the drug of choice in Kazakhstan.

Corruption. The significant corruption in Kazakhstan inevitably is a factor hampering the country’s war on drugs. Nonetheless, there appears to be an increasing effort to apprehend law enforcement officials involved in corruption. Corruption charges were brought against 15 individuals from the Ministry of the Interior for illegal actions involving their operations with narcotics. Police officers are required to destroy all narcotics after their use as court evidence, but it is likely that much of these seized narcotics return to circulation via corrupt law enforcement officials. During the first eight months of 2005, 29 out of 39 state officials accused of corruption were convicted based on evidence provided by KNB. Among the accused are a district mayor, three judges, 23 police officers, and two Financial Police officers. In all cases, the perpetrators were sentenced to jail terms and were immediately terminated from their government positions. One of these cases involved a former police officer from the western region of Kazakhstan who was arrested for selling heroin and sentenced to ten years imprisonment in a maximum-security prison. While these efforts demonstrate that the GOK is at least beginning to address corruption among law enforcement officials combating narcotics, given the money involved in drug trafficking, it is likely that corruption will continue to be an issue of grave concern. Kazakhstan is not a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. Kazakhstan is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Kazakhstan also is a party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. Kazakhstan has signed the Central Asian counternarcotics Memorandum of Understanding with UNODC. The Kazakhstan national counternarcotics law, passed in 1998, specifically gives the provisions of international counternarcotics agreements precedent over national law (Article 3.2).

Cultivation/Production. Marijuana grows wild on about 1.2 million hectares of southern Kazakhstan, with the largest single location being in the Chu Valley. It is estimated that 97 percent of the marijuana sold in Central Asia originates in Kazakhstan. The production of opium and heroin remains minimal. In the first nine months of 2005, the Committee on Combating Narcotics identified 164 cases of the illicit cultivation of opium poppies and marijuana. In August 2005 operatives from the Committee on Combating Narcotics apprehended a 40 year old resident of the Chu Valley who had harvested more than one ton of marijuana for sale, and seized another ton of marijuana from a separate Chu Valley resident. These cases were the biggest marijuana seizures this year.

Drug Flow/Transit. Kazakhstan continues to be an important transit country, especially for drugs coming out of Afghanistan. The law enforcement officials of Kazakhstan estimate that one-third of Afghanistan’s 4,200 tons of heroin will pass through Kazakhstan this year and that 10 percent of this heroin will remain in Kazakhstan to be consumed by local addicts. The main routes for narcotics coming into Kazakhstan continue to run through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Domestic Programs. Kazakhstan’s increasing prosperity has also created a new market for artificial drugs, particularly ecstasy and amphetamines. These drugs are particularly popular among the patrons of the country’s 700 night clubs. Nonetheless, the growing popularity of these drugs poses much less a threat to Kazakhstan than does the country’s ever-expanding heroin problem. Opiate addiction continues to increase in the country, likely due to the large amount of heroin and opium transiting Kazakhstan,. During the first nine months of 2005, it was estimated that there were approximately 52,137 drug addicts in Kazakhstan (47,000 in 2004). The GOK has sponsored several drug awareness programs since the beginning of this year. These programs were initiated as part of a pilot project on combating narcotics among the underage and teenage population.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Despite its continued problems of drug trafficking and drug abuse, Kazakhstan has made considerable progress. Given Kazakhstan’s great potential as a partner in the fight against narcotics, the overall goal of the United States is to develop a long-term cooperative relationship between the police and investigative services of the United States and those of Kazakhstan. This relationship will enhance the professional skills of officers and improve the organization and management of GOK law enforcement services thereby increasing their effectiveness in the fight against illegal narcotics. All assistance provided by the U.S. in 2005 was intended to further this larger long-term goal. To allow for the more efficient inspection of trucks and vehicles, State Department Counternarcotics assistance (INL) provided an inspection hangar at the Ulken counternarcotics checkpoint this year. The Ulken checkpoint is approximately 400 km northeast of Almaty. The construction was completed in October 2005 and is located on a major highway with a constant flow of trucks and vehicles from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Ulken will serve as a model for two internal MIA checkpoints in Kyzyltu and Beineu that INL will equip, and for the remaining five checkpoints which UNODC will construct with INL funds. INL continued to cooperate with the Border Guard Service. As part of a larger project aimed at combating narcotics trafficking in Kazakhstan, INL provided search equipment for the Aul and Zheshkent Border Guard posts on the Russian-Kazakhstani border. During joint discussions of funds and projects for 2006, the Border Guards requested that we change our focus from working on the Russian-Kazakhstani border to working on the Kyrgyz-Kazakhstani border. The Border Guards felt that it made more sense to concentrate on controlling the traffic of incoming narcotics from Kyrgyzstan as opposed to controlling the outflow of narcotics from Kazakhstan to Russia.

The Road Ahead. Kazakhstan is making serious efforts to end its status as a narcotics transit country. The GOK is working to refine its laws related to narcotics, to develop its police services and to cooperate with the international community and regional partners. Furthermore, it is better targeting its approach to counternarcotics work, is trying to curb corrupt law enforcement officials, and is establishing stricter punishments for drug-related crimes. Corruption, failure to devote sufficient resources to training and equipment, and a weak infrastructure remain serious problems, but trends are encouraging.
Kyrgyz Republic

I. Summary

The Kyrgyz Republic is a significant transit country for drugs originating in Afghanistan and destined for Russian, western European and American markets, with several of the main drug trafficking routes out of Afghanistan running directly through the Kyrgyz Republic. Particularly in the city of Osh and its surrounding regions, drug trafficking has become an ever-increasing source of income and employment.

However, there is minimal domestic production of illicit narcotics or precursor chemicals in the Kyrgyz Republic. During the calendar year 2005, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic (GOKG) attempted, with limited resources, to combat drug trafficking and locate and prosecute offenders. The GOKG recognizes that the drug trade is a serious threat to its own stability and is continuing efforts to focus on secondary and tertiary drug-related issues such as money laundering, drug-related street crime, and corruption within its own government ranks. The Drug Control Agency (“DCA”) has introduced legislation that would make first time offenders eligible for treatment instead of incarceration. The legislation will go before the Kyrgyz Parliament in January 2006. Although there are no official statistics for 2005, the Ministry of Health reports that approximately 90 percent of known HIV and AIDS cases are related to intravenous drug use. The Kyrgz Republic is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In August 2005, a new director was appointed to the DCA, and he has taken an innovative approach to the reorganization of the agency.

II. Status of Country

The Kyrgyz Republic is one of the poorest successor states of the former Soviet Union, relying on a crumbling infrastructure and suffering from a lack of natural resources or significant industry. Unlike some of its Central Asian neighbors, the Kyrgyz Republic does not have a productive oil industry or significant energy reserves. The south and southwest regions, the Osh and Batken districts, are primary trafficking routes used for drug shipments from Afghanistan. The city of Osh, in particular, is the main crossroads for road and air traffic and a primary transfer point for narcotics into Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and on to markets in Russia, Western Europe, and to a minor extent, the United States. The Kyrgyz Republic is not a major producer of narcotics; however, cannabis, ephedra and poppy grow wild in many areas.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. Despite the GOKG’s best efforts, public confidence is very low with regard to the GOKG’s ability to address important concerns of its citizens such as unemployment, unpaid salaries, inadequate health care, corruption, and rising crime. The result has been public apathy towards government initiatives such as counternarcotics programs, cynicism about government corruption, and a growing dependency on a shadow economy that includes drug trafficking, street sales, and usage. While the GOKG has been a supporter of counternarcotics programs, it is still struggling to deliver a clear and consistent counternarcotics strategy to either the Kyrgyz people or the international community. The former State Commission for Drug Control and the established Kyrgyz Drug Control Agency (DCA) (funded by the USG, and implemented by UNODC), along with the Ministry of Interior initiatives have been fighting a losing battle against drug trafficking. There have been some positive indications that perhaps the tide is beginning to turn.

Law Enforcement Efforts/Accomplishments. The DCA, established in 2003, coordinates all drug enforcement activities in the Kyrgyz Republic. The DCA estimates that through November, there were 4326 kilograms of illicit narcotics seized (569 kilograms more than during the first 11 months of last year—2004). The DCA also reports that they detected 151 crimes, including 138 drug crimes (83 crimes more than during the 11 months of last year—2004). To stop illegal activities of transnational organized drug crime, the DCA closely cooperates with relevant competent bodies of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. They conduct joint operations and “external controlled deliveries” of drugs.

One of the operations the Channel Operation had as its major goal to block the “northern route” and to improve mechanisms of cooperation of law enforcement, customs, border guard and security institutions. The “Channel” operation seized 28,577 kilograms of drugs, including 3,386 kilograms of heroin, 24,731 kilograms of marijuana, 25 kilograms of precursors. The “Zaslon 2” operation started in October 2004, and lasted for six months. It was financed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and supported by the Ministry of Interior of Uzbekistan. The DCA was in charge of the operation on the territory of Kyrgyzstan coordinating activities of the Customs Service, Border Guards, National Security Service, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. As a result of this operation, law enforcement bodies seized 174 kilograms of different drugs on the territory of Kyrgyzstan, including 45 kilograms of heroin and 129 kilograms of opium.

Corruption. The GOKG does not facilitate the production, processing, or shipment of narcotic and psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, and does not discourage the investigation or prosecution of such acts. The GOKG takes legal and law enforcement measures to prevent and punish public corruption. During the spring and summer months of 2005 a number of investigations were launched into corrupt activities within the DCA that resulted in the replacement of the director of the DCA and three of its command staff in August 2005. Corruption is one of the single most important deterrents to effective Kyrgz law enforcement efforts; reform efforts continued in the late fall of 2005.

Agreements and Treaties. The Kyrgyz Republic is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. It is also a party to the Central-Asian Counter Narcotics Protocol, a regional cooperation agreement encouraged by the UN. The Kyrgyz Republic is a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption Convention, the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol Against Trafficking in Persons, and the Protocol against Migrant Smuggling.

Drug Flow/Transit. The Kyrgyz Republic shares a common border with China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Mountainous terrain, poor road conditions, and an inhospitable climate for much of the year make detection and apprehension of drug traffickers more difficult. These isolated passes are some of the most heavily used routes for drug traffickers. Border stations located on mountain passes on the Chinese and Tajik borders are snow-covered and un-staffed for up to four months of the year. Government outpost and interdiction forces rarely have electricity, running water or modern amenities to support their counternarcotics efforts.

Afghanistan is the major source of opium and heroin, which pass through the Kyrgyz Republic through a so-called “Northern Route.” The GOKG and the State Commission for Drug Control (SCDC) had previously identified four separate routes for drug trafficking: the Kyzyl-Art route across the southernmost part of the Kyrgyz Republic and onward to Osh and the Ferghana Valley and Uzbekistan; the Batken Route stretching to the far western and most remote areas bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; the Altyn-Mazar route that follows a similar path into the Ferghana Valley; and a fourth route overlapping some of these routes and beginning in the city of Khojand on the Tajik border. All of these routes originate somewhere on the 1000-kilometer Tajik border and consist of footpaths, minor roads, and only a few major thoroughfares. The GOKG estimates that there may be over 100 different paths smugglers use to move narcotics and contraband across Kyrgyz borders.

International Organizations and Law Enforcement bodies of the Kyrgyz Republic estimate that 80 metric tons of heroin enter Russia and Europe by way of Central Asian countries. Every year up to 3-5 metric tons of heroin (or 30-50 metric tons of opium) transits Kyrgyzstan. Most of these drugs come to Russia and Western European countries along the “northern route.” The fact that 34 citizens of Kyrgyzstan were arrested in Russia for drug crimes is a solid indication of the nature of this traffic. Availability of local sources of cannabis and ephedra complicates the drug situation in Kyrgyzstan. According to UNODC data, the total area of wild cannabis is more that 6,000 hectares, which results in the production of 4,248 metric tons of marijuana (or 148 metric tons of high quality hashish). Opium acreage and production are negligible. Drug dealers use almost every transportation means for drug delivery. Drugs are hidden among goods, food, objects, personal items, body cavities, home appliances, vehicles, and containers.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

U.S. Policy Initiatives. The USG supports a Customs Post in the village of Kyzyl-Art on the Tajik border. This $250,000 “model” project, funded by State Department Narcotics assistance (INL), will be equipped with modern detection equipment and will be manned on a 24-hour basis. The construction phase of the project was finished in September 2005, and the training phase (final) should be completed in early 2006. State Department narcotics assistance (INL) also supported a project which purchased vehicles, office, laboratory and communications equipment for the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Customs Service and the Procurator’s office. This $465,000 project has assisted the GOKG to reduce the number of drug related crimes. The USG is also the only donor to a $6.3 million UNODC project that helped establish an overall Drug Control Agency in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The Road Ahead. The USG will continue to assist the GOKG in their counternarcotics efforts through prosecutorial, customs and law enforcement training and logistical support. The USG will continue working with the GOKG to provide direct support and training to their law enforcement and customs canine services. The development of a master plan for counternarcotics activity in Kyrgyzstan will continue, hopefully, to a successful conclusion in the near future.

I. Summary

Drug use in Latvia is characterized by continued prevalence of synthetics. The overall results from Latvian government attempts to combat narcotics distribution and use remains mixed. Ecstasy is the most common narcotics in Latvia, though amphetamines, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and LSD can also be found. Patterns of heroin use, in previous years Latvia’s most serious narcotics problem, are changing. Recreational drug use is shifting to ecstasy due to the latter’s low cost, as well as national information campaigns highlighting the dangers of intravenous drug use. Though Latvia experienced an increase in drug-related criminal cases and prosecutions this past year, a lack of law enforcement resources continues to hinder efforts to combat narcotics use. Latvia is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Two sophisticated marijuana production facilities were shut down by the Organized Crime Enforcement Department. The marijuana was destined for the Riga market and not for distribution abroad. Latvia itself is not a significant producer of precursor chemicals, but Customs officials believe that a significant quantity of diverted “pre-precursors” originate in Belarus and transit Latvia en route to other countries. Heroin is sold at “retail” in public places such as parks, in the city center, or more discreetly, in private apartments; selling tactics and methods constantly change. Amphetamines are distributed in venues that attract youth, such as nightclubs, discotheques, gambling centers and raves. Recent seizures and arrests indicate that Latvians themselves are becoming more involved—not just in the trading of cannabis—but also in its production for local distribution. Organized crime groups also engage in both wholesale and retail trade in narcotics. Through the first nine months of 2005, Latvian police seized 28.64 grams of heroin, compared to 494.38 grams the previous year. Recreational drug use has increased with Latvia’s growing affluence, with amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, and ecstasy all reflecting an increase in usage.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. On August 17, 2005, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the State Program for the Restriction and Control of Addiction and the Spread of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances (SPRCASNPS) for the years 2005 to 2008. This national strategy lists as its priorities: reducing the spread of drug abuse, especially among young people; increasing the possibilities for rehabilitation and re-socializing for drug addicts; reducing crime related to drug abuse and distribution, as well as drug trafficking; eliminating and preventing the harm caused to the general development of the Latvian state by drug addiction and drug related crime. Latvia’s passage of the SPRCASNPS was in response to criticisms that it lacked a clear division of authority between municipalities and the state regarding budget and competencies.

Law Enforcement Efforts. The total number of drug-related crimes increased from 814 in the first nine months of 2004 to 877 in the same period of 2005. The 2005 drug-related crime statistics include 852 crimes related to sales, purchasing, possession, and repeated illegal use of narcotics; as well as ten crimes related to large-scale drug contraband. In the first nine months of 2005, the amount of seized marijuana, hash, ecstasy pills, and LSD increased compared to 2004 figures. Poppy straw, heroin, and cocaine seizures dropped in the first nine months, while amphetamines and methamphetamines seizures remained approximately the same. The total number of persons arrested for driving while under the influence of narcotics has steadily increased, with 2005 showing the highest number of arrests to date (283 for 2005 as compared to 255 for 2004). This is due in part to the recent government crack down on intoxicated and impaired drivers. Prosecutions of drug-related cases have steadily increased over the past several years. In the first six months of 2005, the General Prosecutor’s office opened 573 narcotics-related criminal offense cases, as compared to the 523 for the entire year of 2004. Of the cases opened by the Prosecutor General’s Office, 355 have been completed and sent up for trial. In December of 2005, the police seized the largest amount of methamphetamines in Latvia to date. Latvian customs officers, in cooperation with the police, detained a courier on the Lithuanian border, whose arrest led to the discovery of 2.98 kilograms of methamphetamines in the courier’s home. The police believe the courier to be associated with organized criminal elements in Latvia. Ecstasy seizures increased five times from 4,385 tablets in 2004 to 20,945 tablets in 2005. Marijuana seizures also increased five-times from 5.8 kilograms in 2004 to 25.38kg in 2005. Hashish seizures increased almost ten-times from 139.62g in 2004 to 1331.32g in 2005, and LSD increased quite sharply from 79.5 units in 2004 to 2190 units in 2005. Ephedrine seizures dropped from 658.05g in 2004 to 18.46g in 2005; heroin seizures dropped from 494.38g in 2004 to 28.64g in 2005; and poppy straw seizures dropped from 103.13kg in 2004 to 58.68kg in 2005.

The Latvian government acknowledges that Latvian law enforcement needs to show better results for its counternarcotics efforts, even with resource and funding difficulties. The new national strategy to address drugs takes this into account and has stated the government’s intent to increase funding, personnel, and education for law enforcement. Currently, however, the police are not able to fully investigate all narcotics reports, especially routine reports of individual usage or abuse in private or club settings.

Corruption. Latvia’s Anti Corruption Bureau (KNAB) was established in 2003 to help combat and prevent public corruption and has grown in its effectiveness and scope. In 2005 the KNAB uncovered and investigated potential abuses in Latvia’s sworn Bailiff System. In 2005 the KNAB opened 34 new criminal cases, and 24 have been passed to the General Prosecutor’s office, slightly more than 2004. Although there are allegations that Customs Officers and Border Guards sometimes conspire with smuggling rings, the USG has no evidence of drug-related corruption at senior levels of the Latvian government.

Agreements and Treaties. Latvia 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. A 1923 extradition and a 1934 supplementary extradition treaty currently are in force between the U.S. and Latvia. On December 7, 2005, Latvia and the United States signed a new extradition treaty and Mutual Legal Assistance protocol, which will require ratification. Latvia is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, and to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling and illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms.

Drug Flow/Transit. Narcotic substances are frequently smuggled into Latvia from Lithuania, principally by ground transport. Seaports are used mainly to transship drugs destined for sale elsewhere. Latvia is not a primary transit route for drugs destined for the United States. Most drugs transiting Latvia are destined for the Nordic countries or Western Europe. Latvian police report that seventy percent of drugs entering the Nordic countries move through Latvia, Estonia and then on to the Nordic countries, often taking advantage of frequent ferry service along the Baltic and Scandinavian coasts. Heroin is primarily trafficked via Russia from Central Asia.

Domestic Programs. The new national strategy, announced in 2005, addresses demand reduction, education, and drug treatment programs. For the year 2005, the following have been achieved: a co-ordination mechanism for institutions involved in combating drug addiction (involving eight ministries); monitoring of the work program of the EMBDDA on the national level; a system for monitoring court directed treatment for addicted offenders; educational events for teachers and parents, as well as updated educational materials and informative booklets; inclusion of information on drug addiction into school curriculums; a pilot program for teaching prevention of drug addiction, alcohol abuse and smoking; pilot programs on drug addiction for local governments; education programs for members of the armed forces; mechanisms for information exchange amongst relevant institutions; an increase in the number of employees in the regional offices of the Organized Crime Enforcement Department under the State Police; and a course on “Problems of Narco-criminality” to be studied as part of the Master’s program at the Police Academy. In addition to the State Narcotics Center, Latvia has established four regional narcotics addiction treatment centers in Jelgavas, Daugavpils, Liepajas, and Straupes. There are rehabilitation centers in Riga and Rindzeles, and youth rehabilitation centers in Jaunpiebalga and Straupe respectively.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The United States maintains assistance on liaison programs in Latvia that focus on investigating and prosecuting drug offenses, corruption, and organized crime.
The Road Ahead. The United States will continue to pursue and deepen cooperation with Latvia, especially in the areas of law enforcement and prosecution. The United States will expand efforts to coordinate with the EU and other donors to ensure complementary and cooperative assistance and policies with the government of Latvia. The United States will also encourage Latvia to work with regional partners to advance the mutual fight against narcotics trafficking.

I. Summary

In 2005, Lithuania increased the efficiency of law enforcement counternarcotics efforts, improved drug-consumption research capabilities, and strengthened implementation of the National Drug Addiction Prevention and Drug Control Program at the federal and municipal levels. Lithuania remains a transit route for heroin and other illicit drugs from Asia and Russia to Western Europe. Lithuania produces synthetics for both domestic use and export. The most popular drugs for domestic consumption include synthetics, poppy straw extract, heroin, and cannabis. Lithuania’s domestic drug trade is estimated at LTL 500 million ($172 million) and growing. The number of registered drug addicts and drug-related crimes increased in 2005. Law enforcement cooperation between the U.S. Government and the Government of Lithuania is very good. Lithuania is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Synthetic narcotics, poppy straw extract, heroin, and cannabis are the most popular illicit drugs in Lithuania. Heroin is smuggled into Lithuania from Central Asia and the Balkans. Cocaine imports from South America transit Western Europe into Lithuania and then on to neighboring countries. Organized crime groups operating in central and western Lithuania smuggle illegal narcotics and psychotropics, especially ecstasy, into other Western European countries, including Norway, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The number of people seeking initial treatment for drug addiction increased from 10.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2003 to 12.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004. Nearly 73 percent of registered drug addicts are younger than 35 years old, 90 percent live in cities, and 20 percent are women. Lithuania had 943 registered cases of HIV in October 2005, an increase of 133 from October 2004. Approximately eighty percent of those registered with HIV contracted the disease through intravenous drug use.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. The national Narcotics Control Department (NCD), established in 2004, commissioned its first survey of drug use in Lithuania. The study found that 8.2 percent of Lithuania’s residents had used drugs at least once in their lifetime, with those 15-34 years old significantly more likely than those 35-64 years old to have tried drugs at least once (14.1 percent and 3.8 percent respectively.) The NCD, in cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers, also initiated a drug prevention and education project targeted at reducing the sale and use of illicit narcotics in bars and clubs. Lithuania approved a Drug Prevention Action Plan for 2006 under the overall National Drug Addiction Prevention and Drug Control Program adopted in 2004. In 2005, the parliament designated this program as critical to Lithuania’s long-term national security.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Lithuanian law enforcement registered 1,313 drug-related crimes as of November 2005, a slight increase over the 1,121 registered during the same period in 2004. In 2004, Lithuanian law enforcement detained 869 persons for criminal acts related to the possession or sale of narcotic and psychotropic substances. In the first ten months of 2005, law enforcement detained 845 persons. As of November 2005, police and customs had seized 545 kilograms of poppy straw, 76 liters of poppy straw extract, 59 kilograms of cannabis, 48 kilograms of hashish, and 5,500 ecstasy tablets. They also impounded small quantities (less than five kilograms each) of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, various psychotropic drugs, and precursors. In 2005, the police shut down a laboratory producing high-quality amphetamines. They confiscated 769 grams of amphetamine and three kilograms of BMK (1-phenyl-2-propanon), an amphetamine and methamphetamine pre-cursor, from the laboratory site. The Customs Service initiated fourteen pre-trial investigations related to narcotics smuggling in 2005.

In May 2005, law enforcement officials on the Latvian border seized 23 kilograms of hashish hidden in a passenger car. Swedish and Lithuanian law enforcement cooperated to stop a drug smuggling group that included five Lithuanians and had attempted to transport 130 kilograms of hashish and 3.5 kilograms of amphetamine from Lithuania to Sweden. Russian and Lithuanian law enforcement officials busted a criminal group that transported heroin and amphetamine to Russia, arresting three individuals and seizing 30 grams of heroin and one kilogram of amphetamine. In October 2005, Norwegian law enforcement detained three Lithuanians for transporting 56 kilograms of rohypnol tablets. In December 2005, Lithuanian police participated in a joint operation with Ireland and France to arrest a Lithuanian arriving in Ireland by car ferry with 113,000 ecstasy pills concealed in his car bumper. The Lithuanian court system heard 1,111 drug-related cases in 2005, with a 75 percent conviction rate. Those convicted of trafficking or distribution face prison terms of five to eight years.

Corruption. Lithuania does not encourage or facilitate illicit production of controlled substances or money laundering. Lithuania has established a broad legal and institutional anticorruption framework, but low-level corruption and bribery continue to be the basis of frequent political scandals. There were no reports involving Lithuanian government officials in drug production or sale or in the laundering of drug proceeds.

Treaties and Agreements. Lithuania is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention against Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol. Lithuania also is 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. An extradition treaty and mutual legal assistance treaty are in force between the U.S. and Lithuania. Lithuania has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Corruption.

Cultivation/Production. Illicit laboratories in Lithuania produce amphetamines for both local use and export. Lithuania is not a major cultivator of illicit narcotics, but law enforcement regularly finds and destroys small plots of cannabis and opium poppies used to produce opium straw extract for local consumption. In 2005, police, in cooperation with customs agents, eradicated 10,089 square meters of poppies and 286 square meters of cannabis.

Drug Flow/Transit. Poppy straw is transported through Lithuania to Kaliningrad and Latvia. Marijuana and hashish arrive in Lithuania from the east and the west, by land and sea (e.g., from Morocco). Heroin comes to Lithuania by the Silk Road (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus) or the Balkan road (via the Balkans and Central or Western Europe). From Lithuania, heroin leaves by ferry or car to Scandinavian countries, Poland, and Kaliningrad. Cocaine arrives in Lithuania from Central and South America via Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Amphetamines arrive from Poland and the Netherlands. Amphetamines from Lithuania are usually transported by truck to Sweden and Norway through Poland, Germany and Denmark. Most ecstasy tablets come by land or sea from the Netherlands. Iceland was a new destination for amphetamines and cocaine in 2005. The United States is occasionally a destination country for synthetic narcotics, primarily ecstasy, from Lithuania.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Lithuania operates five national drug dependence centers and ten regional public health centers, and attempts to reduce drug consumption through education programs and public outreach, especially in schools. In 2005, twenty rehabilitation centers and seventeen addict rehabilitation communities operated in Lithuania. The Prisons Department operates a rehabilitation center for incarcerated drug addicts, and allocated LTL 780,000 ($280,000) in 2005 to purchase equipment and fund activities to prevent drug trafficking, train officials, and educate prison. In 2005, Lithuania increased funding to the National Drug Prevention and Control Program by twenty percent, from LTL 10.2 million ($3.51 million) to LTL 12.2 million ($4.21 million) and allocated LTL 15.25 million ($5.25 million) to the 2006 Action Plan. The national police department strengthened prevention and control measures at public events including concerts and holiday celebrations, arresting several individuals for selling illicit drugs. In 2005, the police also organized a “Drug Prevention Week” for about 600 school children from around the country.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. Law enforcement cooperation between the United States and Lithuania is very good. In 2005, the United States continued to support Lithuania’s efforts to strengthen its law enforcement bodies and improve border security. The United States sponsored a conference in Lithuania on drug prevention and treatment with participation of speakers from the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Lithuanian Customs opened negotiations with a U.S.-based logistics company for assistance in narcotics detection and interdiction.

The Road Ahead. The United States looks forward to continuing its close cooperative relationship with Lithuania’s law enforcement agencies. In 2006, the United States will continue to promote increased Lithuanian attention to the drug problem and will support activities aimed at preventing the production and trafficking of illicit narcotics. A U.S. priority will be to encourage Lithuania to focus on the role of communities, parents and schools in drug abuse prevention and on strengthening counseling and other services as part of drug treatment programs.
I. Summary

Macedonia is neither a major producer nor a major regional transit point for illicit drugs. The government made some progress in combating drug trafficking in 2005; however, illicit drug transshipments through Macedonia increased, as did drug use. The quantity of drugs seized in 2005 decreased on average in some categories (heroin and marijuana) but increased in others (cocaine and psychotropic substances). The inter-ministerial counternarcotics commission completed its draft counternarcotics strategy and action plan, but the plan had not been approved by year’s end. The organized crime unit of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) began operating in early 2005, and Macedonian law enforcement authorities cooperated closely with regional counterparts in counternarcotics operations. However, counternarcotics operations often were hindered by ineffective inter-agency coordination and planning, as well as by inadequate criminal intelligence. Macedonia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Macedonia lies along one of several overland routes used to deliver Southwest Asian heroin (through Turkey) to Western Europe. This route also is used to deliver hashish and marijuana produced in Albania to Turkey, where it is exchanged for heroin that is then transported to Western European markets. Small amounts of marijuana are grown in Macedonia, mainly for personal use. Macedonia is not known to produce precursor chemicals. Police and Customs officers check on the possible diversion of precursors at the borders. Cocaine was not transported to or through Macedonia in significant quantities. Trafficking in synthetic drugs appeared to increase in 2005.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. By year’s end, the GOM’s inter-ministerial National Commission for Prevention of Illicit Drug Trafficking and Abuse had completed a draft national strategy and action plan for demand reduction and combating drug trafficking. The Commission expected the draft plan would be reviewed and approved by the government before June 2006. Unfortunately, the plan did not include any provision for adequate funding for implementation of the plan. In addition, the GOM revised and submitted for parliamentary approval draft laws to further strengthen control of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, and medical and chemical precursors. The government expected both laws would aid in implementing the 2004 Law for Control of Precursors. In May 2005, the Minister of Health established and chaired a working group to prepare a draft National Strategy and Action Plan for Prevention, Treatment and Harm Reduction related to drug abuse for 2006-2012. By year’s end, the strategy document was in the final phase of preparation.

Accomplishments. The Witness Protection Law was adopted in May 2005, nearly completing the legal framework for combating organized crime and drug trafficking. At year’s end, the parliament was reviewing the Law on Intercepting Communications, which would enhance the ability of prosecutors to use wiretaps as evidence in criminal proceedings.

The MOI’s Organized Crime Unit, which included a sector for combating illegal drug trafficking and a criminal intelligence cell, began operations in early 2005. However, inadequate MOI intelligence regarding narcotics trafficking hampered counternarcotics efforts.

The Customs Administration continued to strengthen its intelligence units and mobile teams. Anecdotal evidence suggests that rivalries between Customs and the Border Police hampered effective counternarcotics operations in some instances.

Law Enforcement Efforts. According to MOI statistics, criminal charges were brought against 283 persons involved in 228 cases of illicit drug trafficking. The ministry also reported that 428 misdemeanor charges were brought against 449 individuals for “using narcotic drugs.” Police seizures of heroin and marijuana in 2005 were on average lower than in the previous year. Seizures of other drugs such as cocaine and other psychotropic substances were much higher, although overall quantities seized were relatively low.

The MOI reported the following quantities of drugs and psychotropic substances seized: nearly 70 kilograms of heroin (10 percent of the quantity reported seized in 2004); 196 kilograms of marijuana (36 percent of the 2004 figure); just over 3 kilograms of hashish; 11 kilograms of cocaine (over 100 times higher than in 2004); 3,206 ecstasy tablets (nearly 300 times higher than in 2004); 107,000 diazepam tablets; nearly 2 kilograms of paracetamol and cocaine mixture; 93 morphine hydrochlorine ampules; 2,865 cannabis sativa plants (6 times higher than in 2004) 2,220 poppy plants; and 2.5 kilograms of dry poppy. Macedonian police disrupted one international distribution operation at the Blace border crossing with Kosovo, seizing 9 kilograms of Turkish heroin bound for Kosovo.

Corruption. Corruption is prevalent in Macedonia. Low salaries and high unemployment help to foster graft among law enforcement officials. The judiciary remains weak and is frequently accused of corruption. Macedonia’s Anti-Corruption Commission accused the Public Prosecutor of showing little interest in prosecuting high-profile corruption cases, although there was no concrete evidence of high-level corruption related to drug trafficking, it is probably reasonable to presume that some occurs. As a matter of policy and practice, the government of the Republic of Macedonia does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Macedonia has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. Macedonia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. A 1902 Extradition Treaty between the United States and Serbia, which applies to Macedonia as a successor state, governs extradition between Macedonia and the United States. Macedonia is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.

Cultivation/Production. Macedonia is not a major cultivator or producer of illicit narcotics. There are no reports of local illicit production or refining of heroin or illegal synthetic drugs. Only one pharmaceutical company in the country was authorized to cultivate and process poppy. Authorized poppy production is reported to the Ministry of Health, which shares that information regularly with the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board. Marijuana cultivation in southeast Macedonia continued to present a challenge to authorities.

Drug Flow/Transit. Macedonia is on the southern variant of the Balkan Route used to ship southwest Asian heroin to the western European consumer market. Drug gangs used heavy trucks, vans, buses and cars to transport the bulk of the drug shipments. The quantity of synthetic narcotics trafficked in Macedonia in 2005 appeared to increase, largely due to the low cost of such drugs. Most synthetic drugs aimed at the Macedonian market originated in Bulgaria and Serbia, and arrived in small amounts by vehicle.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Official Macedonian statistics regarding drug abuse and addiction are unreliable, but the government estimated there were between 6,000-8,000 drug users in the country, reflecting an increase in domestic drug use. The most frequently used drug was marijuana, followed by heroin and ecstasy.

Macedonia has one state-run outpatient medical clinic for drug users that dispenses methadone to registered heroin addicts. During 2005, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs opened three day care centers for drug addicts, and was seeking professional training assistance for the staff members of the centers. The Ministry of Health reported the opening of six new drug treatment centers, and anticipated opening an additional 10 centers in 2006. In-patient treatment in specialized facilities consisted of detoxification, accompanied by medicinal/vitamin therapy, as well as limited family therapy, counseling and social work. Follow-up services after detoxification, or social reintegration programs for treated drug abusers, were inadequate. Educators and NGOs continued to support programs to increase public awareness of the harmful consequences of drug abuse, targeting drug use among youth in particular. The Ministry of Science and Education continued its counternarcotics use information campaign at the primary and secondary school level.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. During the year, DEA officers worked closely with the Macedonian police to support coordination of regional counternarcotics efforts. In one case, Macedonian, Greek and U.S. DEA officers cooperated to disrupt a drug trafficking operation at the border crossing point between Macedonia and Greece in southern Macedonia. The successful operation resulted in the seizure of 10.5 kilograms of high-quality cocaine intended for the Greek market. MOI police, financial police, customs officers, prosecutors, and judges received State Department-funded training in anti-organized crime operations and techniques. U.S. Customs officials continued to provide technical advice and assistance to Macedonian Customs and the MOI’s Border Police.

The Road Ahead. Macedonia’s porous borders and the growing influence of regional narcotics trafficking groups suggest the country will continue to face increased transit rates of illegal drugs, which is likely to boost drug use domestically. DEA officials expect increased use by traffickers of Macedonia as a “warehousing” base during transshipments. The United States government, through law enforcement training programs, will continue to strengthen the ability of the police, prosecutors and judges to monitor, arrest, prosecute, and sanction narcotics traffickers. Working with our EU and other international community partners, we will press for implementation and funding of the national counternarcotics strategy and a permanent secretariat for the National Commission. We also will work with the GOM and our international partners to strengthen the criminal intelligence system, and to improve the government’s ability to provide reliable statistics on drug use and arrests, prosecutions and convictions of traffickers.

I. Summary

The Republic of Malta does not play a significant role in the shipment, processing or production of narcotics and psychotropic drugs and other controlled substances. Surveys indicate that illicit drug use is confined to a small segment of the population. The Maltese Government dedicated significant time and effort over the past several years updating Malta’s laws and criminal codes in preparation for accession to the European Union that occurred on May 1, 2004. As a result, Malta’s criminal code is in harmony with the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention, to which Malta is a party. The Malta Police Drug Unit and the National Drug Intelligence Unit (NDIU) continue to improve their capabilities. Success is perhaps best illustrated by the upward trend in seizures of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and cannabis resin over the last five years. This trend is the result of improved coordination and communications among all agencies involved in controlling drugs.

II. Status of Country

Malta, an island nation of 399,000 between Sicily and North Africa, is a minor player in global production, processing, and transshipment of narcotics and other controlled substances. There is no evidence to indicate that Malta’s role in the worldwide drug trade will change significantly in the near future. Because Malta’s population is small, unwanted trends are relatively easy to detect and deter. However, with daily flights, numerous cruise ship calls, a large commercial port, numerous illegal immigrants, and frequent international travel by a large percentage of Maltese, Malta is not isolated. The drug problem is generally limited to the sale and use of consumer quantities of illegal drugs. There has been a recent increase in the abuse of recreational drugs such as ecstasy and also an increased use and trafficking of illicit drugs by persons under eighteen. Cultivation activity is limited to the growing of less than a few hundred cannabis plants per year.

Malta does not produce or possess significant amounts of precursor or essential chemicals nor does it have chemical manufacturing or trading industries that conduct considerable trade with drug producing regions. There are a number of generic pharmaceutical firms operating in Malta, but no evidence of pilferage or diversion from the production side. There are stringent legislative controls of the pharmaceutical sector and the Maltese Health Department conducts inspections and review of company records.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Since the drug problem in Malta is not widespread, enforcement agencies are able to focus a large percentage of their resources on preventing the smuggling of drugs into Malta. Police and Customs personnel have had significant success through the profiling and targeting of suspected passengers transiting the airport. The Police and the Armed Forces work together to monitor, intercept and interrupt sea borne smuggling of illegal drugs. Maltese Custom officials have worked to become more adept at detecting and preventing the movement of drugs through the Malta Freeport, a daunting task given the volume of containers moving through the Freeport. Port authorities have shown the ability to respond quickly when notified by foreign law enforcement of intelligence related to transshipment attempts.

Law Enforcement Efforts. There was no significant seizure of property related to drug crimes in 2005. However, current Maltese law provides the necessary provisions for asset forfeiture of those accused of drug-related crimes. In 2005, the Malta Police Force Drug Squad seized several vehicles, boats, and cash property. In the first 101/2 months of 2005, Maltese authorities seized 6.4 kilograms of cocaine (.15 kilogram); 15.4 kilograms of heroin (.77 kilogram); 7 kilograms of cannabis products (36 kilograms), and 15,309 ecstasy pills (6071). (Figures in parenthesis represent 2004 full-year seizures.)

Corruption. The USG is not aware of any widespread corruption of public officials associated with illegal drug activities and does not have evidence that a serious corruption problem exists within the ranks of enforcement agencies. Maltese law contains the necessary provisions to deal effectively with official corruption. In 2002 the country’s Chief Justice and two fellow judges were arraigned on corruption charges for taking bribes from inmates convicted on drug charges. Investigative agencies used newly-granted wiretapping authority to identify the judges involved and gather evidence that they were planning to accept bribes in exchange for reducing the sentences of several individuals appealing the terms of their drug convictions. This case is an important example both of the Government’s willingness to properly apply anticorruption laws and as a signal to the Maltese people that the social elite are not “untouchable”. The final outcome in this case is pending appeals filed on behalf of the defendants.

Agreements and Treaties. Malta is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Malta is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. Malta has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Corruption. In June of 2004, the U.S. and Malta successfully negotiated a Maritime Counter-Narcotics Cooperation Agreement. This agreement concerns cooperation to suppress illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances by sea and is intended to assist the interdiction of the flow of drugs through Mediterranean shipping lanes. Malta and the U.S. are currently negotiating a Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Ship Boarding Agreement. If negotiations on the Ship Boarding Agreement are successful, then it and the Counter Narcotics Cooperation Agreement may be sent to the Maltese Parliament for ratification at the same time. Malta and the U.S. cooperate in extradition matters under the 1931 US-UK Extradition Treaty. In November 2005, Malta and the United States concluded bilateral negotiations for a new extradition treaty and for a mutual legal assistance treaty.

Drug Flow Transit. There is no indication that Malta is a major trafficking location. The Malta Freeport container port is a continuing source of concern due to the volume of containers that passes through its vast container terminal. The USG has provided equipment and training as part of nonproliferation and border security initiatives that also have enhanced Malta’s ability to monitor illicit trafficking through the Freeport. This should improve detection and act as a deterrent to narcotics traffickers seeking to use container-shipping activity at the Freeport as a platform for drug movements through the country. Malta serves as a transfer point for travelers between North Africa and Europe. There are cases of heroin being smuggled into Malta, hand-carried by visitors from North African countries (Libya, in particular). Traditionally, Malta’s drug problems involved the importation and distribution of small quantities of illegal drugs for individual use. In 2005, three significant seizures indicated a trend toward “distribution by organization.” Specifically, police determined that the products were intended for sale at street level by loosely affiliated individuals. Malta has the world’s eighth largest ship registry, which makes it a likely player in future ship interdiction scenarios.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. Customs has provided several training courses in Malta over the last two years. Under the Export Control and Border Security assistance program at Embassy Valletta, the U.S. continues to work closely with port officials to improve their ability to monitor and detect illegal shipments. In 2005, a Coast Guard Attachι was assigned to Embassy Valletta to improve coordination and training with the Maltese Maritime Enforcement Squadron. Training focuses on maritime search and seizure techniques as well as on the proper utilization and operation of two recently donated 87’ state-of the-art patrol boats. In May 2005, DEA conducted a four-day training seminar for Maltese law enforcement agencies. Topics included surveillance techniques, raid techniques, information sharing, and interdiction tactics. The joint effort to provide training, support and assistance to GOM law enforcement agencies has clearly improved the Maltese enforcement ability to profile individuals possibly involved with trafficking and/or in possession of dangerous drugs. The number of arrests and seizures for drug related offenses has steadily increased, indicating that Maltese authorities want to battle the drug problem within their own country and benefit from close USG cooperation.

The Road Ahead. The U.S. and Malta will continue to work on narcotics control issues, benefiting the performance and interests of both parties.
Source: USA Department of State

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