International Narcotics Control Strategy Report -2006-

Europe and Central Asia

Albania

I. Summary

Albania is used by organized crime groups as a transit country for heroin from Central Asia destined for Western Europe. Seizures of heroin by Albanian, Greek, and Italian authorities declined significantly in 2005, suggesting a possible change in trafficking patterns. Cannabis is also produced in Albania for markets in Europe. The Government of Albania (GoA), largely in response to international pressure and with international assistance, is confronting criminal elements more aggressively but is hampered by a lack of resources and endemic corruption. The new government led by Prime Minister Sali Berisha, in power since September 2005, has stated that fighting corruption, organized crime, and trafficking of persons and drugs is its highest priority. Albania is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Although Albania is not a major transit country for drugs coming into the United States, it remains a country of concern to the U.S., as Albania’s ports on the Adriatic and porous land borders, together with poorly financed and under-equipped border and customs controls, make Albania an attractive stop on the smuggling route for traffickers moving shipments into Western Europe. In addition, marijuana is produced domestically for markets in Europe, the largest being Italy and Greece.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. In 2005, the asset forfeiture law, a key tool in the fight against organized crime, began to be successfully implemented, with the filing of eight asset forfeiture cases and the creation of the Agency for the Administration of Sequestered and Confiscated Assets. In 2005, a witness protection working group was set up at the Directorate of the Fight against Organized Crime and Witness Protection. Albania works with its neighbors bilaterally and in regional initiatives to combat organized crime and trafficking, and it is a participant in the Stability Pact and the Southeastern Europe Cooperative Initiative (SECI).

Law Enforcement Efforts and Accomplishments. Albanian police continue their counternarcotics operations, including large drug seizures in Fier, Tirana, and the ports of Vlora and Durres, and have made successful raids in cooperation with Italian authorities. Albanian authorities report that through November 2005, police arrested 229 persons for drug trafficking and 30 for cannabis cultivation. An additional 37 persons are wanted. The police seized 40.8 kilograms of heroin, 5,052.3 kilograms of marijuana, and 1.2 kilograms of cocaine. Police also destroyed 332,018 cannabis plants, and confiscated 7 liters of hashish oil. The quantities of contraband seized by Albanian authorities are just a fraction of the total transiting Albania; the quantities are also quite low compared to quantities of drugs transiting or originating from Albania seized by Italian and Greek authorities. Greek authorities report that from January through September 2005, they confiscated 51.8 kilograms of heroin, 0.8 kilogram of hashish, 4,133.5 kilograms of marijuana, and approximately 0.7 kilograms of cocaine. For the period January through October 2005, Italian authorities report seizing 418.6 kilograms of heroin, and 808.3 kilograms of marijuana.

Corruption. Corruption remains a deeply entrenched problem. Low salaries, social acceptance of graft, and Albania’s tightly-knit social networks make it difficult to combat corruption among police, magistrates, and customs officials. The Office of Internal Control (OIC, created with ICITAP assistance and tasked with investigating police corruption) has been instrumental in bringing about the arrests of several corrupt officers. The OIC reports that it filed 172 criminal reports with the Prosecutor’s Office involving 232 police officers in 2005 (through early December). Of these cases, only one involved drug trafficking. The GoA does not, as a matter of policy, encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Albania has signed, but has not yet ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. Albania is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. An extradition treaty is in force between the United States and Albania. Under this treaty two individuals were extradited to Albania in 2005. Albania is a party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons.

Cultivation and Production, With the exception of cannabis, Albania is not known as a significant producer of illicit drugs. According to authorities of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Narcotics Unit, cannabis is currently the only drug grown and produced in Albania and is typically sold regionally. Metric-ton quantities of Albanian marijuana have been seized in Greece and Italy. Cultivation of cannabis persists despite the authorities’ eradication efforts. As noted, the Anti-Narcotics Unit destroyed 332,018 cannabis plants in 2005. No labs for the production of synthetic drugs were discovered in 2005. Albania is not a producer of significant quantities of precursor chemicals. The Law on the Control of Chemicals Used for the Illegal Manufacturing of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances was passed in 2002 and regulates precursor chemicals. Police and customs officials are not trained to recognize likely diversion of dual-use precursor chemicals.

Drug Flow and Transit. Organized crime groups use Albania as a transit point for drug and other types of smuggling, due to the country’s strategic location, weak law enforcement and judicial systems, and porous borders. Albania is a transit point for heroin from Central Asia, which is smuggled via the “Balkan Route” of Turkey-Bulgaria-Macedonia-Albania to Italy, Greece, and the rest of Western Europe. A limited amount of cocaine is smuggled from South America to Albania, via the United States, Italy, Spain, or the Netherlands, for internal and external distribution. In 2005, seizures of heroin transiting Albania by the Albanian State Police (ASP), as well as by Italian and Greek authorities, declined significantly, suggesting that patterns of drug trafficking may be changing.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). The Ministry of Health believes that drug use is on the rise, though no reliable data exists on this subject. Local and national authorities collect little data and do not believe the problem is particularly widespread (owing both to the traditional cultural norms and low levels of discretionary income). Nevertheless, the GoA has taken steps to address the problem with its National Drug Demand Reduction Strategy. However, the woefully inadequate public health infrastructure is ill-equipped to treat drug abuse, and public awareness of the problems associated with drug abuse remains low. The Toxicology Center of the Military Hospital, the only facility in Albania equipped to handle overdose cases, reported that it handled about 1,800 patients seeking drug abuse-related treatment in 2005.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation. The GoA continues to welcome assistance from the United States and Western Europe. The U.S. is intensifying its activities in the areas of law enforcement and legal reform through technical assistance, equipment donations, and training, including an October 2005 course in “Basic Narcotics Investigation Course” that was conducted by the DEA. The U.S. ICITAP and OPDAT programs played a key role in the establishment of the Office of Internal Control at the Ministry of the Interior, the Organized Crime Task Force, and the Serious Crimes Court and Serious Crimes Prosecution Office, all with the goal of professionalizing the police force, combating corruption, and strengthening the GoA’s ability to prosecute cases involving organized crime and illicit trafficking. A key part of the ICITAP program has been improving the security of Albania’s borders, including placing advisors at key ports, providing specialized equipment, and the installation of the Total Information Management System (TIMS) for at border crossing points. Other U.S., EU, and international programs include support for customs reform, judicial training and reform, improving cooperation between police and prosecutors, and anticorruption programs. Albanian law enforcement has a good bilateral relationship with Italian Interforza and has cooperated with Italian law enforcement to carry out narcotics raids in Albania.

The Road Ahead. The new government, in power since September 2005, has made a commitment to making the fight against organized crime and trafficking one of its highest priorities. The U.S., together with the EU, will continue to push the GoA to make progress on fighting illegal drug trafficking, to use law enforcement assistance effectively, and to support legal reform.
Armenia

I. Summary

Armenia is not a major drug-producing country and its domestic abuse of drugs is relatively small. The Government of Armenia (GOAM), recognizing its potential as a transit route for international drug trafficking, is attempting to improve its interdiction ability. Together with Georgia and Azerbaijan, Armenia is engaged in an ongoing UN-sponsored Southern Caucasus Anti-Drug Program (SCAD), which was launched in 2001. Armenia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Country Status

As a crossroads between Europe and Asia, Armenia has the potential to become a transit point for international drug trafficking. At present, limited transport traffic between the country and its neighboring states makes Armenia a secondary traffic route for drugs. Armenia Police Service’s Department to Combat Illegal Drug Trafficking has accumulated a significant database on drug trafficking sources, routes and the people engaged in trafficking. Scarce financial and human resources, however, limit the Police Service’s ability to combat drug trafficking. Drug abuse does not constitute a serious problem in Armenia itself, and the local market for narcotics, according to the police, is not large. The principal drugs of abuse are opium and cannabis. Heroin and cocaine first appeared in the Armenian drug market in 1996 and, since then, there has been a small upward trend in heroin sales, while cocaine abuse has remained flat. The Interdepartmental Committee on Combating Drug Addiction and Drug Trafficking is headed by the Chief of Police of Armenia’s Police Services Department.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. There have been no new policy initiatives since the enactment on May 10, 2003 of the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Implementation of the law; however, has been effective and has led to a number of successes in the battle against narcotics.

Accomplishments. Preventive measures to identify and eradicate both wild and illicitly cultivated cannabis and poppy continued in 2005. A total of 112 tons of hemp and poppy were eradicated (551 kilograms of hemp and 335 kilograms of poppy) during the annual eradication campaign.

Armenian Police participated in “Channel 2005,” an annual joint operation that involved 6 countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Armenia. All Armenian law enforcement agencies (Police, National Security Service, Customs, Border Guards, Internal Forces, Ministry of Defense) participate in this six-day operation. During “Channel 2005,” 14 drug-related criminal cases were initiated against 16 individuals and 100 grams of different types of drugs, 5 liters of precursors and 69 psychotropic tablets (subutex) were seized in Armenia.

Law Enforcement Efforts. In the first 9 months of 2005, the Armenian Police uncovered 458 criminal drug trafficking cases and 15 cases of criminal drug abuse. In this period more than 14 kilograms of drugs were seized, compared to 12 kilograms for the first 9 months of 2004. The Interagency Unit of Drug Profiling (IUDP) was formed at Zvartnots International Airport and began operations in February 2005.

Corruption. Corruption remains a problem in Armenia. Although the GOAM has taken some steps to develop an anticorruption program, political will and concrete steps toward implementation have not been adequate. In April 2004 a new Anti-Corruption unit consisting of eight prosecutors was created under the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Armenia. The work of this unit is directly overseen by the Prosecutor General. As a matter of policy, the GOAM does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions and no government officials have been found to engage in these activities. Armenia has signed, but has not ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. Armenia is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Lastly, Armenia is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons.

Cultivation and Production. Hemp and opium poppy grow wild in Armenia. Hemp grows mostly in the Ararat Valley in the south-western part of Armenia; poppy grows in the northern part of Armenia, particularly in the Lake Sevan basin and some mountainous areas. From September 5 to October 5, 2005, Armenian Police carried out “Hemp and Poppy 2005” an annual measure to find and eradicate cultivated and wild hemp and poppy.

Drug Flow/Transit. The principal transit countries through which drugs pass before they arrive in Armenia include Iran (opiates, heroin) and Georgia (opiates, cannabis, hashish). According to the police, drugs are no longer transiting through the Russian Federation to Armenia. Armenia’s borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan remain closed due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict but opiates and heroin are smuggled to Armenia from Turkey via Georgia. When all of Armenia’s borders reopen, the police predict drug transit will increase significantly. It is not clear when border difficulties will be resolved, permitting more open frontiers.

Demand Reduction. The majority of Armenian addicts are believed to be using hashish, followed by heroin and ephedrine. Armenia has adopted a policy of focusing on prevention of drug abuse through awareness campaigns and treatment of drug abusers. These awareness campaigns are implemented and manuals published under the framework of the South Caucasus Anti-Drug (SCAD) Program, funded by the UN Development Program.

A Drug Detoxification Center, which is being funded by the Armenian Ministry of Health and SCAD is scheduled to open in December 2005.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The USG continues to work with the Government of Armenia to increase the capacity of Armenian law enforcement. Joint activities include development of an independent forensic laboratory, improvement of the law enforcement training infrastructure and establishment of a computer network that will link law enforcement offices within Armenia and between Armenia and the rest of the world.

The Road Ahead. The USG will continue aiding Armenia in its counternarcotics efforts through capacity building of Armenian law enforcement and will continue to engage the government on operational trafficking issues.
Austria

I. Summary

Austria primarily serves as a transit country for drug trafficking along major trans-European routes. Foreign criminal groups from former East Bloc countries, Turkey, West Africa, and Central and South America dominate the organized drug trafficking scene. Drug consumption in Austria is well below west European levels and authorities do not consider it to be a severe problem. Production, cultivation and trafficking by Austrian nationals remain insignificant. The number of drug users is estimated at between 15,000 to 20,000—equaling fewer than 2 addicts per 1,000 inhabitants. According to a 2005 study, there is a lifetime prevalence of drug abuse, primarily cannabis, of approximately 25 percent.

Cooperation with U.S. authorities continued to be outstanding during 2005, leading to significant seizures, frequently involving multiple countries. The March 2005 visit of U.S. ONDCP Chief John Walters to Austria, the autumn 2005 visits of Interior Minister Prokop and Justice Minster Gastinger to Washington, and Chancellor Schuessel’s December 2005 meeting with President Bush underscore the close bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and Austria. Austria is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Austria’s drug situation did not see any significant change during 2005. The number of drug-related deaths has fluctuated between 100 and 150 over the past 5 years, but a surge in Vienna’s drug deaths earlier this year points to a higher-than-normal overall figure for 2005. The number of drug deaths from mixed intoxication continues to rise. The latest available statistics for 2004 show a 12.6 percent increase in drug-related offenses over 2003, for a total of 24,528 offenses. Of these, 535 involved psychotropic substances and 357 involved precursor materials.

Experts estimate the number of conventional, illicit drug abusers at around 20,000 (0.25 percent of total population). The number of users of MDMA (ecstasy) remained largely stable in 2005, while usage of amphetamines rose during the same period as these substances became increasingly available in nonurban areas. According to a 2005 study, which the Health Ministry commissioned, approximately one fifth of respondents admitted to consumption of an illegal substance. The respondents cited using mostly cannabis with ecstasy and amphetamines in second and third place. Among young adults (ages 19-29), about 25 percent admitted “some experience” with cannabis at least once in their lifetime. According to the study, 2-4 percent of this age group had already used cocaine, amphetamines, and ecstasy, while three percent have had experience with synthetic drugs.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. Throughout 2005 the Austrian government retained its “no tolerance” policy regarding drug traffickers, while continuing a policy of “therapy before punishment” for nondealing drug offenders. In a 2005 amendment, lawmakers expanded a 2004 law that permits police to mount surveillance cameras in high-crime public spaces. This law also provides for the establishment of a “protection zone” around schools, pre-schools, and retirement communities. The law entitles police to ban any person suspected of drug dealing within a protection zone from that area for up to 30 days. In reaction to intense public discomfort over an increase in the number of asylum seekers engaged in criminal activity, including drug dealing, the federal government in 2005 enacted tighter asylum legislation and stricter citizenship laws. Following intense public debate in 2005, the government decided to improve quality controls and take a more restrictive approach regarding morphine-maintenance therapy. Austria included the substance “zolpidem” in the control regime of the National Narcotics Act.

Law Enforcement Efforts and Accomplishments. Comprehensive seizure statistics for 2005 are not yet available. Statistics for 2004 show a marked increase in cannabis and cocaine seizures, and a minor surge in heroin and amphetamine seizures. Ecstasy and LSD confiscations remained stable at 2003 levels. In spring 2005, for the first time, police confiscated ecstasy pills containing certain other chemical substances, in addition to MDMA. Experts stress that the degree of purity and concentration of “ecstasy,” “speed,” and other illegal substances has become increasingly volatile, representing a growing risk factor. Street prices of illicit drugs remained basically unchanged during 2004-2005. One gram of cannabis sold for EUR 7.00 ($8.20); one gram of heroin for EUR 60.00 to 95.00 ($70.20-$111.10); and one gram of cocaine cost EUR 90.00 ($105.30). Amphetamines sold for EUR 20.00 ($23.40) per gram, and LSD for EUR 30.00 ($35.10) per gram. The number of criminal cases involving precursor materials rose by 38 percent, from 93 in 2003 to 128 in 2004. For 2005, officials expect higher seizure figures for heroin and cocaine, and a significant reduction in seizures of ecstasy.

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GOA does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The GOA’s public corruption laws recognize and punish the abuse of power by a public official. There are no corruption cases pending, however; the government has not yet prosecuted any cases, which would test the degree of the current law’s enforcement. Austria has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. An extradition treaty and mutual legal assistance treaty are in force between Austria and the U.S. In 2004, Austria enacted legislation to implement the EU council framework decision on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedure between member states. On July 20, 2005, the U.S. and Austria signed a protocol implementing the U.S.-EU Extradition Agreement. Austria is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Vienna is the seat of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Austria is also a “major donor” to the UNODC, with an annual pledge of approximately $440,000. Austria is a party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol against trafficking in persons.

Cultivation. Production of illicit drugs in Austria continued to be marginal in 2005. Experts note a minor rise in private, indoor-grown, high-quality cannabis.

Drug Flow/Transit. Foreign criminal groups (e.g. Kurdish clans from Turkey, Albanians, nationals from the former Yugoslavia, West African gangs, and Central and South American gangs) carry out organized drug trafficking in Austria. Counternarcotics officials note a slight decrease in body-packing drug smuggling in favor of other conventional means of transportation. The illicit trade increasingly relies on Central and East European airports, including those in Austria. Trafficking of ecstasy products (originating in the Netherlands) decreased slightly in 2005 from 2004. Illicit trade in amphetamines and trading in cocaine increased. Criminal groups from Poland and Hungary were primarily responsible for amphetamine trafficking while South American and African drug organizations traffic cocaine into Austria.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Austrian authorities and the public generally view drug addiction as a disease rather than a crime. This is reflected in rather liberal drug abuse legislation and in court decisions. The center-right government made the fight against drug trafficking a major policy goal. At the same time, the government remains committed to measures to prevent the social marginalization of drug addicts. Federal guidelines ensure minimum quality standards for drug treatment facilities. The use of heroin for therapeutic purposes is generally not allowed. Demand reduction puts emphasis on primary prevention, drug treatment, counseling, and so-called “harm reduction” measures, such as needle exchange programs. Ongoing challenges in demand reduction are the need for psychological care for drug victims and greater attention to older victims and to immigrants. Primary prevention starts at the pre-school level and continues through secondary school, apprenticeship institutions, and out-of-school youth programs. The government and local authorities routinely sponsor educational campaigns both within and outside of educational fora. Overall, youths in danger of addiction are primary targets of new treatment and care policies. Austria has syringe exchange programs in place for HIV prevention. HIV prevalence rate among drug-related deaths slightly increased to 8 percent in 2004, while hepatitis prevalence rates declined. Policies toward greater diversification in substitution treatment (methadone, prolonged-action morphine, and buprenorphine) continued.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. Cooperation between Austrian and U.S. authorities continued to be excellent in 2005. Several bilateral efforts exemplified this cooperation. These include joint DEA and BKA (Criminal Intelligence Service) training at the International Law Enforcement Academy; the drafting of a criminal asset sharing agreement between the U.S. and Austria; and DEA support of a BKA plan to initiate Joint Investigative Teams with Balkan countries to combat the flow of Afghan heroin. Austrian Interior Ministry officials continued to consult the FBI, DEA, and Department of Homeland Security on know-how to update criminal investigation structures. The U.S. Embassy also regularly sponsors speaking tours of U.S. counternarcotics experts in Austria. In March 2005, ONDCP Chief John Walters spoke at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and held bilateral meetings with Austrian National Drug Coordinator Franz Pietsch and other drug policy and treatment experts in Vienna. Walters highlighted the excellent, ongoing cooperation between U.S. and Austrian law enforcement authorities, and he exchanged views with his counterparts on “harm reduction” as a basis for policy. The October 2005 visits to Washington by Interior Minister Prokop and Justice Minister Gastinger, and Chancellor Schuessel’s meeting with President Bush in December 2005, solidified the close U.S.-Austrian law enforcement connection.

Throughout 2005, Austria maintained its lead role within the Central Asian Border Security Initiative (CABSI) and the VICA (Vienna Initiative on Central Asia) project. At the same time, Austria intensified efforts to cooperate with countries in the Balkans. Austria hosted events such as the November 25, 2005 “Western Balkans Summit.” Furthermore, Austria continued to address drug trafficking and related security issues through the “Salzburg Forum”—a recurring ministerial-level security policy meeting which includes representatives from Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Italy. Also in 2005, Austria, together with Italy, continued work on a project within the UNODC for reform of the justice system in Afghanistan.

The Road Ahead. The U.S. will continue to support Austrian efforts to create more effective tools for law enforcement. The U.S. will work closely with Austria during its EU Presidency and within other U.S.-EU initiatives, the UN, and the OSCE. A priority remains promoting a better understanding of U.S. drug policy among Austrian officials.
Azerbaijan

I. Summary

Azerbaijan is located along a drug transit route running from Afghanistan and Central Asia to Western Europe, and from Iran to Russia and Western Europe. Domestic consumption and cultivation of narcotics are low, but levels of use are increasing. The United States has funded counternarcotics assistance to Azerbaijan through the FREEDOM Support Act since 2002. Azerbaijan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Azerbaijan’s main narcotics problem is the transit of drugs through its territory. Azerbaijan emerged as a narcotics transit route several years ago because of the disruption of the “Balkan Route” due to the wars in and among the countries of the former Yugoslavia. According to the Government of Azerbaijan (GOAJ), the majority of narcotics transiting Azerbaijan originates in Afghanistan and follows one of four primary routes:

 Afghanistan-Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia-western Europe;
Afghanistan-Iran-Nagorno Karabakh and occupied territories of Azerbaijan-Armenia-Georgia-Western Europe;
Afghanistan-Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia; or
Afghanistan-Central Asia-the Caspian Sea-Azerbaijan-Georgia-western Europe.
Azerbaijan shares a 611-km frontier with Iran, and its border control forces are insufficiently trained and equipped to patrol it effectively. Iranian and other traffickers are exploiting this situation. The most widely abused drugs in Azerbaijan are opiates—especially heroin—licit medicines, hemp, ecstasy, hashish, cocaine and LSD. Domestic consumption continues to grow with the official GOAJ estimate of drug addicts reaching 18,000 persons. Unofficial figures are estimated at approximately 200,000 to 300,000, 75 percent of which are heroin addicts. Students make up a large share of total drug abusers at 30-35 percent. The majority of heroin use is in the Lankaran District (64.6 percent), which borders Iran. Drug use among young women has been rising.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. The GOAJ has taken the lead on counternarcotics coordination within the GUAM group of countries (Georgia-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova). As part of this initiative, the GOAJ established the Virtual Law Enforcement Center (VLEC) in Baku and conducted joint narcotics interdiction projects with the other GUAM-member countries. In theory, the center will be organized around an encrypted system of information exchange among the law-enforcement agencies in member countries, with the goal of coordinating efforts against terrorism, narcotics trafficking, small arms, and trafficking in persons. While training for the integrated computer system of the Virtual Law Enforcement Center took place in 2005, the GOAJ has not yet integrated the system into an encrypted system with other GUAM-member states.

Law Enforcement Efforts. During 2005, the Ministry of Internal Affairs registered approximately 1660 cases of drug-related offenses. During the first seven months of 2005, authorities confiscated 205.2 kilograms of narcotics, not including psychotropic substances and drug precursors. The confiscated narcotics included 12 kilograms of heroin, 716 grams of the poppy straw, 19 kilograms of hashish, 139 kilograms of marijuana, 10 ampoules and 11,073 pills of psychotropic drugs. Between January to June of 2005, the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee investigated 33 drug-related offenses, confiscated 15,722 kilograms of narcotics, including 4,872 kilograms of marijuana, 5 kilograms of hashish, 284 grams of heroin, and 110 psychotropic substances (in the form of ampoules, capsules and tablets). The police lack basic equipment and have little experience in modern counternarcotics methods. Border control capabilities on the border with Iran and Azerbaijan’s maritime border units are inadequate to prevent narcotics smuggling.

Corruption. Corruption remains a significant problem. In 2005, the GOAJ adopted a charter for an anticorruption commission and staffed that commission. However, active judges sit as members on the Commission, and according to Azerbaijan’s Constitution, only retired judges should sit on the Commission. The Department for Fighting against Corruption (DEFAC) in the Prosecutor General’s Office is extremely limited in its powers, is understaffed, and manages its own internal vetting process, which is contrary to international standards. As a matter of government policy, Azerbaijan does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Similarly, no senior government official is alleged to have participated in such activities.

Agreements and Treaties. Azerbaijan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, to the 1971 UN Convention Against Psychotropic Substances, and to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol. Azerbaijan also 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.

Cultivation and Production. Cannabis and poppy are cultivated illegally, mostly in southern Azerbaijan. In at least one instance in the first half of 2005, the Ministry of Internal Affairs raided a marijuana plantation in western Azerbaijan and confiscated approximately 2 million plants. Seven hundred and eighty kilograms of semi-processed hashish were also found and seized.

Drug Flow/Transit. Opium and poppy straw originating in Afghanistan transit to Azerbaijan from Iran, or from Central Asia across the Caspian Sea. Drugs are also smuggled through Azerbaijan to Russia, then on to Central and Western Europe. Azerbaijan cooperates with Black Sea and Caspian Sea littoral states in tracking and interdicting narcotics shipments, especially morphine base and heroin. Caspian Sea cooperation includes efforts to interdict narcotics transported across the Caspian Sea by ferry. Law enforcement officials report that they have received good cooperation from Russia.

Domestic Programs. In November 2005, a conference entitled “Youth Say No to Drugs” was held at Baku Technical College. The event focused on preventing drug addiction among teenagers. The government runs other information programs targeted on the dangers of drug abuse.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs.

Bilateral Cooperation. In 2005 the U.S. Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program continued to provide assistance to the Azerbaijan State Border Service (SBS) and Customs Service. EXBS training and assistance efforts, while aimed at nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, directly enhance Azerbaijan’s ability to interdict all contraband, including narcotics. During 2005, EXBS sponsored numerous courses for the Border Guard Maritime Brigade and Customs. These courses included: Commodity Identification Training Search and Secure Export Control Enforcement Investigative Analysis Training. This training introduced participants to real-time, hands-on inspections and Border Patrol tactics in the field. EXBS and the SBS hosted the Black Sea/Caspian Maritime Conference on Non-Proliferation and Maritime Domain Awareness. This conference facilitated discussion and sharing of methods in identifying and interdicting vessels suspected of carrying contraband. In August 2005, the U.S. government provided training programs for the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The programs provided training on highway interdiction to identify vehicles containing narcotics and explosives.

The Road Ahead. The U.S. and Azerbaijan will continue to expand their efforts to conduct law enforcement assistance programs in Azerbaijan. Such programs would include helping the Government of Azerbaijan modernize its criminal records system, training and exchanges for Azerbaijan’s law enforcement officials and police officers, and forensic lab development, in addition to counternarcotics/drug enforcement programs. Cooperation between DEA and the GOAJ continues, and the DEA plans to help Azerbaijan increase its counternarcotics capabilities.
Belarus

I. Summary

Belarus continues to grow in importance as a drug-transit country. Local drug use and drug-related crime rates continue to increase. Belarus does not produce drugs for export, though it may be a source of precursor chemicals. With the help of other nations and organizations, Belarus is improving its efforts to combat drug abuse and trafficking, but corruption, and lack of organization, funding and equipment continue to hinder progress. Belarus receives counternarcotics assistance from the EU UNDP program BUMAD (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova Anti-Drug Program), which seeks to reduce trafficking of drugs into the European Union. The program, which just launched phase two of its three part project, seeks to develop systems of prevention and monitoring, improve the legal framework, and provide training and equipment. It is the most significant counternarcotics program in Belarus at this time. Belarus is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Drugs increasingly transit Belarus on their way to points east, west and north due to Belarus’ porous borders and good railway and road system. This trade is facilitated by Belarus’ customs union with Russia, and the resultant lack of border controls between Belarus and Russia. The formation of the Eurasian Economic Community (Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan) has the potential to create a broader border-free area, which would further facilitate all types of trafficking. There is no evidence of large-scale drug production in Belarus. The potential exists for Belarus to have a problem with illicit synthetic drug production because of its ample production facilities and the current lack of oversight controls. The completely government-owned chemical industry is allowed to police itself. According to law enforcement officials in neighboring countries, Belarus is a source of precursor chemicals, but officials in Belarus deny this.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. Belarus’ counternarcotics strategy initiative (The State Program of Complex Measures Against Drug and Psychotropic Substances Abuse and Their Illicit Trafficking for 2001-2005) expired last year. This program aimed to launch preventative and rehabilitation strategies and to suppress illegal trafficking. Government officials confess, however, that the program lacked details of implementation, timeframes, as well as sufficient financial support. The Ministry of Interior had primary responsibility for its implementation, which was never entirely completed. Other institutions involved in reducing drug demand include the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Committee on State Security (BKGB), and the State Customs Committee. The State Program will not be renewed. Instead, drug abuse prevention will be incorporated into the Belarusian government’s overall national program against crime. While interdepartmental rivalry profoundly inhibits cooperation, Belarus has made some strides in restructuring government agencies to enhance information gathering on drugs. Under the Ministry of Health, the government of Belarus created the legal framework for a National Observatory on Drugs, which aims to link 19 government agencies in order to collect and analyze illicit drug abuse statistics in an effort to combat drug trafficking on a regional level. The Collective Security Treaty Organization launched the first stage of the international anticrime operation “Channel 2005” in Belarus. This cooperative effort between CIS law enforcement officials resulted in the seizure of more than 80 kilograms of narcotics in Belarus in October.

Accomplishments. While Belarus does not face production or cultivation problems, drug use and transit issues must be addressed before Belarus will be in full compliance with the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Government agencies have proposed a set of amendments on drug control to the Belarusian Criminal Code to be included in the national law drafting annual plan for 2006. If the amendments are accepted without change, the legislation will bring Belarus fully in line with the convention.

Law Enforcement Efforts. From January 1 to November 1, 2005, 2,735 people committed 4,707 drug-related crimes. Authorities seized 907 kilograms of drugs during that same time period, but experts, including government officials, agree that this quantity fails to reflect the real quantity of drugs transiting or used in Belarus. Official seizure figures do not reflect the reality of the problem, as it is assumed most drugs transit Belarus undetected. Neighboring countries reported an increase in drugs that came from or passed through Belarus. Enforcement efforts suffer from lack of communication and coordination among agencies. For example, State Security Services refused to allow law enforcement agencies to use a BUMAD-sponsored software program to enhance information sharing. It is the same program that other BUMAD recipients have already adopted and implemented. Belarusian border guards lack the training, and in many cases, the equipment to conduct effective searches. International assistance programs have tried to alleviate this problem, but insufficient supplies and training still plague law enforcement officials’ work. Despite these resource problems, the majority of government officials take seriously their efforts to combat drug smuggling. By all accounts officials involved in combating drug trafficking cooperate well with their colleagues in neighboring countries. For example, the lack of a border control between Belarus and Russia creates an easy drug smuggling route. In recognition of this problem, police officials from both countries met in October to discuss ways to more effectively stop drug trafficking across the shared border.

The total amount of drug seizures has declined since last year. Drugs seized from January 1-November 1, 2005 (in kilograms) are as follows: Poppy Straw (608); Marijuana (167); Raw Opium (74.8); Heroin (26.7); Amphetamine/Methamphetamine (18.9); Acetylated Opium (liquid heroin) (6.0); Hashish (4.4); Cocaine (2.0); Hallucinogens (1.2); Methadone (1.1); Depressants (1.0); All Other Drugs (under one kilogram). Belarus continues to have problems with abuse of the extract from poppy straw, which is very popular in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. Poppy straw was again the drug seized in greatest quantity in 2005—608 kilograms. There is, however, no evidence of large-scale production of poppies for export. Heroin seizures have skyrocketed after three years of steady decline; this year police seized 26.7kgs. Despite their higher prices, synthetic drugs are growing in popularity due to their longer lasting effects. In 2005, authorities seized 1.1 kilograms of methadone, compared to 682 grams in 2004.

Corruption. Corruption is a problem among border and customs officials, which makes interdiction of narcotics difficult. An anticorruption bill was voted down twice last year was removed from the legislative agenda in 2005. The government did not accept any of the 60 proposals in the bill, which included prosecuting presidential candidates and public servants for corruption. In an effort to curb corruption, however, Belarus is in the process of ratifying the 1999 Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption. This bill would guarantee compensation to those who suffer damages as a result of corruption. Moreover, if a public official commits corruption, this legislation mandates that the government is liable for providing compensation.

Agreements and Treaties. Belarus is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Belarus is a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption, and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons and manufacturing and trafficking in illegal firearms.

The international donor community has had repeated difficulties in getting assistance programs registered by the government. In September, a presidential edict greatly restricted all foreign technical assistance, making it nearly impossible to introduce and utilize international aid in Belarus. There have also been attempts by the Belarusian government to tax foreign aid, despite international agreements. These problems have slowed the implementation of international assistance programs. For example, it took several months to register the second part of BUMAD, which resulted in an interruption in program activities and a delayed launch of the second phase.

Cultivation/Production. There is no confirmed drug cultivation or production in Belarus. Belarus, however, does possess the resources necessary to produce precursor chemicals. Neighboring countries allege that Belarus is a source of precursor chemicals, but Belarusian authorities deny this accusation.

Drug Flow/Transit. Most serious illicit drugs, especially heroin, enter Belarus from Russia. Drugs also enter Belarus from Ukraine (semi-refined opium); the Baltic states, the Netherlands, Poland (amphetamines); Afghanistan, Caucasian republics, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine (heroin); Caucasian republics, Ukraine (marijuana); Russia (methadone); Ukraine (poppy straw). Drugs transit Belarus to Poland, Russia (amphetamines); Russia, Western Europe (heroin); Lithuania, Russia (marijuana, poppy straw); Poland, Russia (precursors); Baltic states, Russia (Rohypnol).

The Government of Belarus does not have any significant programs aimed at combating trafficking. Belarusian border guards lack the training, and in many cases the equipment, to conduct effective searches. The BUMAD program is attempting to improve Belarus’ border checkpoints and the training of law enforcement personnel. Resource shortages plague the government’s efforts in this area.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Belarus still lacks an effective system of counternarcotics education, though such programs occur at the local level with varying degrees of success. Police officers who work with juvenile crime run drug prevention programs in schools, but lack sufficient training, resources, and nation-wide coordination of curriculum. The BUMAD program aims to formulate a national curriculum and provide training. This year, BUMAD and the GOB launched a counternarcotics information campaign—You and Me against Drugs—targeted at youth in Minsk and in the regions. The information campaign for this program included pamphlet distribution, lectures at organized sporting events and the creation of an informational counternarcotics video with famous Belarusian athletes. In addition, the BUMAD-sponsored NGO Mothers Against Drugs (MAD) won the 2005 UN Civil Society Award for its work on developing and implementing drug prevention programs among Belarusian youth, including counseling services, HIV awareness programs, and self-help groups for addicts and their family members.

According to official data, there are approximately 6,100 registered drug addicts in Belarus and 1,250 registered drug abusers. Belarusian experts, however, estimate the real number at 55,000. The many unregistered addicts fear consequences at work, school, and in society if their addiction becomes known. Drug use is heavily criminalized and highly stigmatized by government and in society. The exception is among youth, who have ready access to narcotics at dance clubs, university dormitories and educational facilities. Treatment of drug addicts is generally done in psychiatric hospitals, either as a result of court remand or self-enrollment, or in prisons. The emphasis of all programs is only detoxification and stabilization. NGOs run six rehabilitation centers, which attempt to provide long-term care, including psychological assistance and job training. Financial limitations constrain the breadth of these programs. BUMAD has successfully launched several “Your Choice” one-stop counseling centers in Belarus this year. These centers help injection drug users find medical care, information, and counseling at no cost.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The USG has not provided narcotics/justice sector assistance to the GOB since February 1997.

The Road Ahead. The USG will continue to encourage Belarus authorities to enforce their counternarcotics laws.
Belgium

I. Summary

Belgium remains an important transit point for a variety of illegal drugs, most significantly ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin. Belgium is among the largest suppliers of ecstasy to the U.S. (much of which is shipped via Canada), and plays a significant role in the transshipment of cocaine from South America to Europe. Usage and trafficking of cocaine in Belgium appear to be on the rise. Belgium is also a transit point for a variety of chemical precursors used to make illegal drugs. Traffickers use Belgium’s busy seaports and two international airports to move drugs to their primary markets in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and elsewhere in Western Europe, as well as to the United States. Belgium takes a proactive approach to interdicting drug shipments and cooperates with the U.S. and other foreign countries to help uncover distribution rings abroad. Belgian authorities also continued to fight the production of illicit drugs within their borders, shutting down eleven synthetic drug labs in 2005. Belgium is party to the 1988 UN Convention, and is part of the Dublin Group of countries concerned with combating narcotics trafficking.

II. Status of Country

Belgium produces synthetic drugs and cannabis and remains a key transit point for illicit drugs bound for the UK, the Netherlands, and elsewhere in Western Europe, as well as the United States. By most accounts, its status as an important transit point for cocaine is largely due to the shared border with the Netherlands. In virtually all cases of significant cocaine shipping, the end destination for the cocaine is the Netherlands. Colombian trafficking groups continue to dominate in the cocaine exchange in Northern Europe. Increased seizures of cocaine may be an indication there may be a growing demand in Belgium. This common border shared by Belgium and the Netherlands is also responsible for the surge, both in size and number, of clandestine amphetamine and ecstasy laboratories in Belgium since 2000. Airline passenger couriers remained the principal means of transporting small quantities of ecstasy to the United States. Stricter controls have limited the mailing of pills via both express and regular mail from Belgium. Dutch groups control most of the ecstasy production and Belgian officials believe that sea freight is likely used for shipping larger amounts of ecstasy from Belgian ports via third countries to the United States and Canada. Israeli groups continue to be the largest identified distribution network operating globally and specifically in the United States. Several recent investigations have involved the use of containerized cargo. Belgian authorities continue to make a concerted effort to stem the tide of ecstasy headed for the U.S.

Turkish groups continue to control most of the heroin trafficked in Belgium, although the influence of Albanian groups continues to grow. This heroin is principally shipped through Belgium to the UK. Increased seizures of cocaine may be an indication there may be a growing demand in Belgium. Hashish and cannabis remain the most widely distributed and used illicit drugs in Belgium. Although the bulk of the cannabis consumed in Belgium is produced in Morocco, cultivation in Belgium continues to increase. Cannabis seizures have doubled—a trend that may be explained by increased enforcement and coordination efforts with neighboring countries.

Although Belgium is not a major producer of precursor chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs, it is an important transshipment point for these chemicals coming from China to Europe. Precursor chemicals that transit Belgium include: acetic anhydride (AA) used in the production of heroin; piperonymethylketon (PMK) and benzylmethylketon (BMK), chemical precursors used in the production of ecstasy; and potassium permanganate used in cocaine production.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. Belgium’s National Security Plan for 2004-2007 cites synthetic drugs and heroin as the top large-scale drug trafficking problems. Of particular concern to Belgium in the next three years will be the importation and transshipment of cocaine and the exportation of synthetic drugs. The National Security Plan calls for attention to be concentrated on shutting down clandestine laboratories for synthetic drugs, on breaking up criminal organizations active in the distribution of synthetic drugs and heroin, and on halting the rise of drug tourism in Belgium. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office, established in 2002, works to centralize and facilitate mutual legal assistance requests on drug trafficking investigations and prosecutions.

Accomplishments. Belgian authorities seized 11 laboratories in 2005: five producing ecstasy, five producing amphetamines, and one gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) production site. As in past years, all production sites were located along the northern border with the Netherlands. These seizures bring the number of laboratories seized in the past six years to 51. By comparison, only 12 laboratories were seized in the six-year period from 1992 to 1998.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Belgian law enforcement authorities actively investigate individuals and organizations involved with illegal narcotics trafficking. In keeping with Belgium’s drug control strategy, efforts are focused on combating synthetic drugs, heroin and cocaine. Belgian authorities continued to cooperate closely with DEA officials stationed in Brussels. During the year Belgium coordinated with the Netherlands to create joint laboratory intervention teams to dismantle drug laboratories safely. Belgium and the Netherlands cooperated on several counternarcotics sweeps during the year to include the raid and seizure of the largest MDMA production facility to date in Belgium. In 2005, Belgium authorities seized more than 8,000 kilograms of cocaine, 93 kilograms of heroin, 435 kilograms MDMA (amphetamines), and 550 kilograms of cannabis/hashish /marijuana. At Brussels’ Zaventem International airport in the Brussels region, nonuniformed personnel trained by the Federal Police to help detect drug couriers became increasingly proficient. Belgian authorities continued a proactive approach to searches and inspections of U.S.-bound flights at the airport with limited results. Belgian police attribute this to the additional DHS mandated security controls on these flights. The resources Belgium devotes to the inspection of sea freight, however, appears inadequate. In June of 2005, Belgium and the Netherlands agreed to jointly increase border controls in order to prevent ecstasy and cannabis production from shifting to Belgium. This expanded international cooperation on law enforcement investigations is particularly necessary given evidence that some ecstasy production is migrating from the Netherlands to Belgium and other neighboring states.

Corruption. The Belgian government does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Money laundering has been illegal in Belgium since 1993. The country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) (TIF-CIF) is active in efforts to investigate money laundering. No senior official of the Belgian government 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 is not judged a problem within the narcotics units of the law enforcement agencies. Legal measures exist to combat and punish corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. Belgium is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Belgium is a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, and illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms. The United States and Belgium have an extradition treaty and an MLAT. During FY-2005, eight MLAT requests for narcotics case information sharing were submitted between Belgium and the United States. As part of a joint U.S.-EU venture, in December 2004 the U.S. and Belgium signed bilateral instruments implementing the 2003 U.S.-EU Extradition Agreement. Under a bilateral agreement with the United States, as part of the U.S. Container Security Initiative, U.S. Customs officials are stationed at the Port of Antwerp to serve as observers and advisors to Belgian Customs inspectors on U.S.-bound sea-freight shipments.

Cultivation/Production. Belgium’s role as a transit point for major drug shipments, particularly ecstasy, is more significant than its own production of illegal drugs. Nevertheless, Belgian authorities believe ecstasy and cannabis production is on the rise. Belgium is surely among the largest exporters of ecstasy for use in the United States. Cultivation of marijuana is increasingly done at elaborate, large-scale operations in Belgium. Two farms, one with 1500 plants, were destroyed during the reporting period. The new police action plan 2004-2007 includes the fight against illegal commerce of cannabis due to the large-scale plantations discovered in the country. The production of amphetamines does not appear to have abated, as evidenced by the seizure of yet another five labs in 2005. Dutch traffickers are also linked to Belgium’s production of Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS). As Dutch law enforcement pressure mounts on producers of ecstasy and other ATS in the Netherlands, some Dutch producers either look to Belgian producers to meet their supply needs or to establish their own facilities in Belgium. Authorities report that when Belgian amphetamine production facilities are uncovered, there is often a connection to Dutch traffickers.

Drug Flow/Transit. Belgium remains an important transit point for drug traffickers because of its port facilities (Antwerp is Europe’s second-busiest port), its two international airports, highway links to cities throughout Europe, and proximity to the Netherlands. Illicit drugs from Belgium flow to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Western Europe, as well as to Canada and the United States. Despite the arrest of an Israeli courier with 10 kilograms of ecstasy in November, Israeli drug traffickers no longer figure so prominently in the export of ecstasy from Belgium and the Netherlands (see above), however, a new trend involves Chinese traffickers shipping precursor chemicals from China to Belgium and the Netherlands. Ultimately, the ecstasy is sent in bulk from Belgium to Chinese or Vietnamese gangs in Canada. These Chinese groups are believed to have largely displaced traditional ecstasy sources. Ecstasy production continues to be controlled by Dutch chemists on either side of the border between Belgium and the Netherlands.

The port of Antwerp continues to be the preferred destination for cocaine imported to Europe, with an official estimate of 20 tons entering the port each year; the actual number is believed to be considerably higher. The flow of cocaine to Belgium is controlled by Colombian organizations with representatives residing in the region. Antwerp port employees are also documented as being involved in the receipt and off-load facilitation of cocaine upon arrival at the port. The predominant cocaine trafficking groups in Belgium are Colombian, Dutch, Surinamese, Chilean, and Israeli. Though not as significant, Albanian and Moroccan traffickers have also been identified. As in many illicit trades, this concept of the cocaine trade is a thesis: other well-informed observers believe that most cocaine enters Europe through Spanish ports. Belgium remains a transit country for heroin destined for the British market. Seizures of the past three years and intelligence indicate that Belgium has also become a secondary distribution and packing center for heroin coming along the Balkan Route. Turkish groups continue to dominate the trafficking of heroin in Belgium and are also known to have become increasingly involved in the distribution of ecstasy and cocaine. The Belgian Federal Police have identified trucks from Turkey as the single largest transportation mechanism for westbound heroin entering Belgium. Moroccan and Algerian groups control most of the cannabis importation overland from France. Turkish criminal organizations involved in heroin trafficking seem to have diversified their activities by starting to export ecstasy. Trucks with ecstasy are sent to Turkey and return to Belgium with heroin. In addition combined consignments of heroin, cannabis with possibly amphetamines and black market cigarettes are exported to the United Kingdom.

Domestic Programs. Belgium has an active counternarcotics educational program that targets the country’s youth administered by the regional governments (Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels). The programs include education campaigns, drug hotlines, HIV and hepatitis prevention programs, detoxification programs, and a pilot program for “drug-free” prison sections. The Belgian approach directs its programs at individuals who influence young people versus young people themselves. In general, Belgian society think teachers, coaches, clergy, and the like are better suited to deliver the counternarcotics message to the target audience because they already are known and respected by young people.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The United States and Belgium regularly share counternarcotics information. Officials in the Federal Police, Federal Prosecutor’s Office, and Ministry of Justice who work on counternarcotics in the GOB are fully engaged with their U.S. counterparts.

The Road Ahead. The U.S. looks forward to continued close cooperation with Belgium in combating illicit drug trafficking and drug-related crime, with a growing emphasis on systematic consultation and collaboration on operational efforts. The U.S. also welcomes Belgium’s active participation in multilateral counternarcotics fora, such as the Dublin Group, of countries concerned with narcotics trafficking.
Bosnia and Herzegovina

I. Summary

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) remains a small but growing market for drugs, and has emerged as a regional hub for narcotics transshipment. Despite increasing law enforcement cooperation, gradual improvements in the oversight of the financial sector, and substantial legal reform, local authorities are politically divided and enforcement efforts are poorly coordinated. Narcotics trade remains an integral part of the influence wielded by foreign and domestic organized crime figures and ethnic extremists who operate with the tacit acceptance (and sometimes active collusion) of some corrupt public officials. Border controls have improved, but flaws in the regulatory structure and justice system, lack of coordination among police agencies, and a lack of attention by Bosnia’s political leadership mean that effective measures against narcotics trafficking and related crimes often do not exist. BiH is still considered primarily a transit country for drug trafficking due to its strategic location along the historic Balkan smuggling routes, weak state institutions, lack of personnel in counternarcotics units, and poor cooperation among the responsible authorities. In November 2005, BiH passed legislation mandating the development of a national counternarcotics strategy and the creation of a state-level body to coordinate the fight against drugs. In 2005, the BiH government launched a public information campaign to raise awareness about the dangers and effects of drugs. BiH is attempting to forge ties with regional and international law enforcement agencies. Bosnia is party to the 1988 UN Convention on Drugs and is attempting to meet the goals of the Convention.

II. Status of Country

Bosnia is not a significant narcotics producer, consumer, or producer of precursor chemicals. BiH does occupy a strategic position along the historic Balkan smuggling routes between drug production and processing centers in South Asia and markets in Western Europe. Bosnian authorities at the state, entity, cantonal and municipal levels have been unable to stem the continued transit of illegal aliens, black market commodities, and narcotics since the conclusion of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords. Traffickers have capitalized in particular on an ineffective justice system, public sector corruption, and the lack of specialized equipment and training in combating criminal networks that support the illicit drug trade. BiH is increasingly becoming a storehouse for drugs, mainly marijuana and heroin. One of the main routes for drug trafficking starts in Albania, continues through Montenegro, passes through BiH to Croatia and Slovenia and then on to Central Europe. Cocaine arrives mainly from the Netherlands through the postal system.

Information on domestic consumption is not systematically gathered, but authorities estimate BiH is home to 100,000 drug addicts. Anecdotal evidence and law enforcement officials indicate that demand is steadily increasing. No national drug information system focal point exists, and the collection, processing, and dissemination of drug-related data is neither regulated nor vetted by a state-level regulatory body.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005

Policy Initiatives. On November 8, 2005, the BiH House of Representatives passed legislation designed to address the problem of narcotics trafficking and abuse. This legislation calls on the state-level Ministry of Civil Affairs to develop a comprehensive counternarcotics strategy and requires the Ministry of Security (MoS) to develop a national counternarcotics action plan. It further mandates that the MoS will serve as a state-level counternarcotics coordination body and control confiscated narcotics. The new law also regulates the production and possession of chemical precursors for synthetic narcotics such as acetic anhydride (AA). This legislation clarifies the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies and places ultimate responsibility with the national government. Bosnia is a state with limited financial resources, but with USG and EU assistance it is attempting to build state-level law enforcement institutions to combat narcotics trafficking and organized crime and to achieve compliance with relevant UN conventions. The full deployment of the State Border Service (SBS) and the establishment of the State Investigative and Protection Agency (SIPA) have improved counternarcotics efforts. Telephone hotlines, local press coverage, and public relations efforts have focused public attention on smuggling and black-marketeering.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Counternarcotics efforts have improved but remain inadequate given suspected trafficking levels. Cooperation among law enforcement agencies and prosecutors is primarily informal and ad hoc, and serious legal and bureaucratic obstacles to the effective prosecution of criminals remain in place. Through September 2005 (latest available statistics), the SBS has filed 32 criminal reports against 40 persons and seized 68 kilograms of marijuana, 27 kilograms of heroin and 9.5 kilograms of cocaine. The Federation Ministry of Interior filed 877 criminal reports against 1,139 suspects. Federation counternarcotics operations have resulted in the seizure of 44 kilograms of marijuana, 41 kilograms of heroin and 220 ecstasy pills. Through November 2005, Republika Srpska (“RS”) police have filed 232 criminal reports and arrested 489 persons. RS police operations resulted in the seizure of 7.5 kilograms of marijuana, 1.6 kilograms of heroin, 0.4 kilograms of cocaine and 1,216 ecstasy pills. Through September 2005 (latest available statistics) Brcko District police have filed 14 criminal reports against 17 persons, seized 77 marijuana plants and miniscule quantities of heroine and cocaine.

The State Border Service, with 1,968 officers, is now operational and is responsible for controlling the country’s four international airports as well as Bosnia’s 55 international border crossings covering 1,551 kilometers. The SBS is considered one of the better border services in Southeast Europe and is one of the few truly multi-ethnic institutions in BiH. However, there are still a large number of illegal crossing points that the SBS does not control, including dirt paths and river fords. Moreover, many official checkpoints are minimally staffed and many crossings remain understaffed. The SIPA, once fully operational, will be a conduit for information and evidence among local and international law enforcement agencies, and will have a leading role in counternarcotics efforts. As of December 2005, SIPA had hired approximately 900 of its proposed 1,700 staff.

Cultivation/Production. BiH is not a major narcotics cultivator. Officials believe that domestic cultivation is limited to small-scale marijuana crops grown in southern and western Bosnia. BiH is also not a major synthetics narcotics producer and refinement and production are negligible. There are indications of increasing production of synthetic drugs, such as ecstasy, on a small, but increasing scale. Though BiH does not have the industrial infrastructure to support large-scale illicit manufacturing, a modest level of synthetic drug production in clandestine labs cannot be ruled out.

Corruption. BiH does not have laws that specifically target narcotics-related public sector corruption and has not pursued charges against public officials on narcotics-related offenses. Organized crime, a few corrupt government officials, and ethnic hard-liners all use the narcotics trade to generate personal revenue. There is no evidence linking senior government officials to the illicit narcotics trade. As a matter of government policy, however, BiH 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. BiH has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. BiH is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and is developing bilateral law enforcement ties with neighboring states to combat narcotics trafficking. A 1902 extradition treaty between the U.S. and The Kingdom of Serbia applies to BiH as a successor state. BiH is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons.

Drug Flow/Transit. While most drugs pass through BiH, indigenous organized crime groups are involved in local distribution to the estimated 100,000 drug users in the country. Major heroin and marijuana shipments are believed to travel through BiH by several well-established overland routes, often in commercial vehicles. Local officials believe that Western Europe is the destination for this traffic. Cocaine sales are also reputedly on the rise as the price has dropped. Officials believe that the market for designer drugs, especially ecstasy, in urban areas is rising rapidly. Law enforcement authorities posit that elements from each ethnic group and all major crime “families” are involved in the narcotics trade, often collaborating across ethnic lines. Sale of narcotics is also considered a significant source of revenue used by organized crime groups to finance both legitimate and illegitimate activities. There is mounting evidence of links between, and conflict among, Bosnian criminal elements and organized crime operations in Russia, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Austria, Germany, and Italy.

Domestic Programs. In BiH there are only two methadone therapy centers with a combined capacity to handle about 160 patients. The limited capacity of the country’s psychiatric clinics, also charged with treating drug addicts, is problematic, as the number of addicts and drug-related deaths in the country rises steadily. It is estimated that between 70 to 80 per cent of drug addicts who undergo basic medical treatment are recidivists. The Bosnian government currently pays for the basic medical treatment of drug addicts, but there are no known government programs for reintegrating former addicts into society. On November 8, the BiH House of Representative adopted a law on the prevention of the use of illegal narcotics. This law includes provisions for treatment, rehabilitation, and increasing public awareness. Canton Sarajevo Public Institute for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse started a public radio campaign discouraging drug usage aimed at youth population. A counternarcotics citizen’s association organized a fund raising concert under the title “NO DRUGS” Program with the participation of popular BiH music groups. nongovernmental organizations including the Parents’ Association Against Drug Abuse have helped send 65 addicts to various residential centers. The Citizen’s Association for Treatment, Support, and Re-Socialization of Drug Addicts (UG-PROI) provides advice and support to drug addicts and their families, and assists in the re-socialization of recovered addicts after treatment. In May 2005, the organization completed the construction of a therapeutic community for the rehabilitation of addicts near Sarajevo on a property donated by a local family. This is the first multidisciplinary center of this kind in the Federation.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives. USG policy objectives in BiH include reforming the criminal justice system, strengthening state-level law enforcement and judicial institutions, improving the rule of law, de-politicizing the police, improving local governance, and introducing free-market economic initiatives. The USG will continue to work closely with Bosnian authorities and the international community to combat narcotics trafficking and money laundering.

Bilateral Cooperation. The USG’s bilateral law enforcement assistance program continues to emphasize task force training and other measures against organized crime, including narcotics trafficking. The Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and U.S. Customs programs provided specific counternarcotics training to entity Interior Ministries and the SBS. The Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance Training (OPDAT) provides training to judges and prosecutors on organized crime-related matters.

The Road Ahead. Strengthening the rule of law, combating organized crime and terrorism, and reforming the judiciary and police remain top USG priorities. The USG will continue to focus its bilateral programs on related subjects such as public sector corruption and border controls. The USG will assist BiH with the full implementation of the new national counternarcotics strategy and with the implementation of police reform. The international community is also working to increase local capacity and to encourage interagency cooperation by mentoring and advising the local law enforcement community.

Source: USA Department of State
 

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