Afghanistan remained the world's largest cultivator of opium poppy in 2009. However, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opium poppy cultivation decreased from 160,000 hectares (ha) in 2008 to 120,000 ha in 2009, a 22 percent decline. This reduction in the area planted with poppy followed a 19 percent decline in 2008. Because improved weather conditions led to increased yields, however, production of opium gum declined by only 10 percent; UNODC estimates that Afghanistan produced 6,900 metric tons of raw opium in 2009, down from 7,700 metric tons in 2008. A combination of economic factors, including decreased opium prices relative to abnormally high wheat prices, and improved governance and security in key provinces were the primary reasons for the decline in cultivation. In Helmand Province alone, poppy cultivation declined by 34,000 ha, in part because of the high-profile law enforcement and incentives campaign implemented by the provincial governor.
The connection between poppy cultivation, the narcotics trade, and insurgency groups became more evident in 2009; nearly all significant poppy cultivation now occurs in areas with active insurgent elements. Cultivation was largely confined to six provinces in the south and west of the country. Narcotics traffickers provide revenue and material support, such as vehicles, weapons, and shelter, to the insurgents, who, in exchange, provide protection to growers and traffickers and promise to prevent the Afghan government from interfering with their activities. The UN estimates that insurgents extract approximately $125 million per year (on average over the past four years) from taxing opium farmers and traders. Although Afghan law enforcement and justice institutions have significantly improved their capacities to interdict large quantities of narcotics and arrest and try high value targets, Afghanistan's narcotics industry continues to threaten efforts to establish security, governance, and a licit economy throughout the country.
II. Status of Country
UNODC estimates that Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world's opium. Afghanistan is involved in the full narcotics production cycle, from cultivation to finished heroin. Drug traffickers trade in all forms of opiates, including unrefined opium, semi-refined morphine base, and refined heroin. Improvements to Afghanistan's infrastructure since 2002 have created more viable economic alternatives to poppy cultivation and enhanced the Afghan government's ability to combat drug trafficking in some parts of the country. These improvements, such as roads and modern communications, can also be exploited by narcotics traffickers and insurgents. Growing insecurity in Afghanistan's south, where most poppy was grown, impeded the extension of governance and law enforcement. Narcotics traffickers also exploited government weakness and corruption.
For the most part, farmers choose to plant opium poppy because it is a profitable, hardy, and low-risk crop. Advance credit is available from narcotics traffickers to financially support the farmer while the crop is planted and matures, and when the opium is harvested, it is easy to sell, even in isolated areas where selling other crops might be a problem. Traffickers will frequently buy opium at near-by markets and accept the risk of moving opium to consumers in Afghanistan and other downstream markets. Economic and development assistance alone is not sufficient to defeat the narcotics trade in Afghanistan; more comprehensive approaches are needed. Alternative development opportunities can and do yield reasonable incomes to potential poppy planters, but must also be backed by measures to increase risk to those who plant poppy, traffic in narcotics, and support cultivation and trafficking. An increasing number of provincial governors have shown success in significantly reducing or completely eliminating poppy cultivation in their provinces through determined campaigns of public information, law enforcement, and alternative development.
Opium poppy cultivation is currently almost entirely limited to six provinces in the south and west: Helmand, Farah, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Day Kundi and Badghis, which re-emerged as a major opium cultivating province in 2009. Together, these six provinces account for over 97 percent of Afghanistan's poppy cultivation. At the same time, poppy cultivation continues to decline in many of Afghanistan's northern, central, and eastern provinces. In 2009, 20 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces were declared poppy-free by UNODC, up from 18 in 2008 and 13 in 2007. According to UN estimates, seven other provinces cultivated less than 1,000 ha, and could reach poppy-free status in 2010 or 2011. Nationwide, UNODC estimates that 6.4 percent of Afghans were involved in poppy cultivation in 2009, down from 9.8 percent in 2008.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) generally relies on the international community for assistance in implementing its national counternarcotics strategy. However, more political will, greater institutional capacity, and more robust efforts at the central and provincial levels are required to decrease cultivation in the south and west, maintain cultivation reductions in the rest of the country, and combat trafficking in coming years. Afghanistan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The Afghan government continued to use its National Drug Control Strategy (NDCS) as a basis for its counternarcotics activities. The NDCS, passed in 2006, outlines a coordinated nationwide strategy in the areas of public awareness, alternative livelihoods, law enforcement, criminal justice, eradication, institutional development, regional cooperation, and demand reduction. The Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) has direct responsibility for implementing the NDCS. While the NDCS is generally regarded as being based on sound principles, the MCN has limited political influence and few resources, and it depends heavily on the support of other government agencies, such as the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG), as well as the international community via support from the United States, United Kingdom, and UNODC, to execute the policy.
The MCN continued to implement the Good Performers Initiative (GPI), a U.S.-UK-funded initiative launched in 2007 to reward provinces for successful counternarcotics performance. GPI rewards provinces that are poppy free as declared by UNODC, or in which poppy cultivation has declined significantly, by funding development projects that have been vetted by Provincial Development Councils and Governor's offices. In 2009, 27 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces qualified for a share of $38.7 million in GPI development assistance projects. The MCN has used GPI funding to provide agricultural equipment to farmers' associations, repair or construct irrigation systems, and build or renovate schools. In Nangahar Province, thirteen micro-hydro projects that generate electricity for rural villages have been completed in areas where poppy used to be cultivated. Another thirty-nine are scheduled to be built in the next year.
During the pre-planting season, MCN officials traveled to key provinces to speak to governors and other local officials about the GIRoA's counternarcotics policies, and to review provincial plans to reduce or eliminate poppy cultivation. Security concerns before and after August 2009 elections prevented the MCN from holding a pre-planting workshop for provincial governors in Kabul. The MCN's U.S.-funded Counter Narcotics Advisory Teams (CNATs) convened tribal councils, or "shuras," across 7 provinces, including the southern provinces of Helmand, Farah, Kandahar and Uruzgan to discourage poppy cultivation.
Several governors were unwilling or unable to implement successful poppy reduction programs due to the lack of security and high levels of insurgent activity in their provinces. However, the Governor of Helmand, Gulab Mangal, presented a compelling example of the progress a provincial governor can achieve through a combination of public information, agricultural assistance and robust law enforcement. The Helmand Food Zone program, launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, the MCN, USAID and the UK Department for International Development, provided agricultural inputs such as wheat seed and fertilizer to farmers in exchange for their pledges not to cultivate poppy. Over 30,000 farmers received wheat seed in this campaign (although some farmers did not receive the seed in time to plant it for the 2009 season). Coupled with credible law enforcement and security forces from the MOI, the Food Zone program reduced Helmand's poppy cultivation by a third (34,000 ha). This reduction in Helmand alone equaled the net reduction of poppy cultivation nationwide. As a result of this substantial reduction in cultivation, Helmand province earned $10 million in Good Performers' Initiative funding to be used for approved development projects.
Justice Reform/Criminal Justice Task Force. The Afghan government's Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) is a vetted, self-contained unit, which consists of 30 Afghan prosecutors, 35 Afghan criminal investigators, seven primary court and seven appellate court judges, who are all mentored by U.S. DOJ Senior Legal Advisors. Under Afghanistan's Counter Narcotics Law, enacted in 2005, all drug cases from across Afghanistan which reach certain thresholds must be prosecuted by the CJTF before the Counter Narcotics Tribunal (CNT). These thresholds are possession of two kilograms of heroin, ten kilograms of opium and 50 kilograms of hashish or precursor chemicals. The CJTF uses modern techniques to investigate and prosecute narcotics traffickers; corruption and surveillance provisions in the Counter Narcotics Law have enabled the CJTF to increasingly target medium and high value narcotics traffickers.
To provide a secure facility for the CNT and CJTF, the United States funded the construction of the Counter Narcotics Justice Center (CNJC) in Kabul, which opened in 2009. It includes a 56-bed detention facility, courtrooms, and office space for investigators, prosecutors and judges. A 116 bed detention annex is planned but not yet funded. There are also plans for a DOD-funded CNPA forensic drug lab to be located adjacent to the CNJC. Starting in 2009, the United States, through INL, will fund all operation and maintenance costs for two years, after which the GIRoA will assume all operation and maintenance expenses.
From March 2008 to March 2009, the CJTF handled 397 cases involving 442 suspects. The Primary court convicted 259 suspects on drug trafficking offences, and acquitted 134. The Appeals Court affirmed 355 suspects, and reversed 66 (the Appeals Court heard cases that were initially decided by the Primary Court in previous years as well as those from 2008-2009). The figures for the first six months of 2009 (April to September) are roughly similar to the prior year: 194 cases involving 230 suspects; 177 convictions, 27 acquittals at the Primary Court; 260 affirmations and 32 reversals at the Appeals Court. While the number of cases has remained steady, the importance of the traffickers prosecuted is improving. The recent introduction of surveillance capability has allowed the CJTF to prosecute higher value targets.
One of these high value targets is Haji Khostel, who is charged with masterminding one of the largest heroin production and trafficking operations in Nimroz Province. Investigators obtained evidence linking Khostel to the trafficking of more than 1,700 kilograms of heroin, 4,100 kilograms of opium and 2,700 liters of precursor chemicals. The case is significant because it was the first case in which evidence was obtained from a court ordered surveillance operation; it resulted in a conviction, and Khostel was sentenced to 18 years in prison in March 2009.
The CJTF convicted another major trafficker, Haji Abdullah, in late July 2009 of drug offenses based on electronic evidence. Abdullah, the reported head of a major drug organization in Nimroz Province, was directly linked by this evidence to 1.7 tons of heroin, 4.1 tons of raw opium and 2.7 tons of heroin processing chemicals, as well as police corruption. Abdullah is regarded as a high value target because of the quantities of narcotics involved, and because of his prominent role in the drug organization.
The CJTF convicted eight former enemy military combatants of drug offenses in August. The combatants had originally been captured by coalition forces in possession of threshold amounts of narcotics as well as weapons. The eight were convicted on both weapons and narcotics charges and received 16 year sentences. While these cases involved small amounts of narcotics, they are the results of an initiative started by DOJ Kabul to encourage coalition military forces to turn over to CJTF for prosecution enemy combatants found on the battlefield with threshold amounts of drugs.
In April 2009, President Karzai pardoned five border police officers convicted in 2007 for trafficking in 124 kilograms of heroin. The five officers had been given sentences of between sixteen to eighteen years of imprisonment, but served only fourteen months. Observers criticized the pardons as being politically motivated, and characterized them as a setback for Afghan drug control efforts.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Afghan authorities made some progress in developing the capacity to interdict large quantities of narcotics, and arrest and prosecute narcotics traffickers. However, counternarcotics law enforcement efforts were hampered by corruption within law enforcement and justice institutions, the absence of effective governance in many provinces and districts of the country, and a generally deteriorating security situation.
The Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA), established under the MOI in 2003, is responsible for investigating narcotics cases, and maintains regional offices throughout the country. By mid-2009, the CNPA had approximately 2,200 officers out of an authorized strength of 3,200.
During 2009, the CNPA, with DEA training, mentoring and support, continued to make significant progress in developing its three specially vetted units: the National Interdiction Unit (NIU), the Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU), and the Technical Investigative Unit (TIU), to investigate high-value targets. Personnel are recruited from a wide variety of Afghan law enforcement agencies and have to pass rigorous examinations, including background checks and polygraph screenings. The SIU and TIU develop cases based on judicially gathered evidence, culminating in the issuance of arrest and search warrants executed by the NIU. During 2009, evidence gathered by the TIU through court-ordered surveillance operations increased the number of large-scale drug trafficking and related corruption cases that were brought to the CJTF.
Afghan law enforcement units, assisted by international partners, conducted major interdiction operations throughout the year. In May 2009, Afghan National Army commandos, assisted by the CNPA and coalition forces, seized and destroyed the largest opium cache in Afghanistan, to date, in the town of Marjeh in Nad-e Ali district, Helmand Province. Marjeh is not only an insurgent stronghold, but also a major narcotics trading center where opium from nearby cultivation areas is refined into heroin in numerous labs. The operation resulted in seizure and destruction of 18,164 kilograms of brown opium, 200 kilograms heroin, 1,000 kilograms hashish, 72,727 kilograms poppy seed, 20,175 kilograms ammonium chloride, 90 kilograms morphine, 395 gallons of acetic anhydride, 17,600 kilograms soda ash, and 1,050 kilograms activated charcoal. In addition to narcotics and precursor chemicals, Afghan and coalition forces found large amounts of bomb-making materials in various buildings within the Marjeh bazaar, reinforcing the connection between drug trafficking and the insurgency.
In August and September, CNPA specialized units, supported by DEA, moved against major drug markets in Southern Afghanistan. In mid-August, Afghan forces raided a bazaar in the Now Zad District of Helmand, and seized 890 kilograms of opium, 56,000 kilograms of poppy seed, and over 7,000 liters of precursor chemicals. During a September raid on the Malmand bazaar in Kandahar, NIU officers seized 1,347 kilograms of opium and found an improvised explosive device (IED) manufacturing lab. In late September, SIU and NIU officers raided the Lakari bazaar in Helmand, seizing 1,500 kilograms of hashish, large quantities of precursor chemicals, and explosive materials.
The CNPA does not yet have a consolidated system in place to comprehensively track narcotics related arrests and seizures. Records for CNPA provincial units and DEA-mentored specialized units are maintained separately, and comparisons to previous years are possible but, because of changes in strength of units etc., comparisons are not valid. In 2009, the DEA reported the following seizure statistics in operations involving the specialized units: 593 kilograms of heroin, 25,000 kilograms of opium, and 53,133 kilograms of hashish. During the same period, the CNPA/NIU also destroyed 25 drug labs. The specialized units seized 180,955 kilograms of solid precursor chemicals and 30,765 liters of liquid precursors. The CNPA/NIU also reported 54 arrests for narcotics trafficking.
In addition to interdictions, Afghan law enforcement units continued to conduct limited eradication operations. The number of hectares eradicated nationwide declined slightly from 5,480 ha in 2008 to 5,351 ha in 2009. This represents just 4.4 percent of the area planted to poppy in 2009. In 2009, governor-led eradication (GLE) accounted for 2,687 ha, and the Poppy Eradication Force (PEF), a centrally-led Afghan National Police unit that was demobilized in 2009, eradicated another 2,663 ha. The decreased level of nationwide eradication can be attributed to insufficient resources (including lack of tractors and poor vehicle maintenance), poor security, and the success of pre-planting programs that compelled farmers to self-eradicate or choose alternate crops to poppy. Additionally, the high degree of insecurity in Afghanistan's southern provinces hindered eradication operations in the areas of highest poppy cultivation. But, on balance, eradication remained a minor factor in controlling Afghanistan's poppy cultivation.
Corruption. As a matter of policy, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan 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. However, many Afghan government officials are believed to profit from the drug trade, particularly at the provincial and district levels of government. Corrupt practices range from facilitating drug activities to benefiting from revenue streams that the drug trade produces.
In 2008, President Karzai and the Afghan Government took a step toward fighting corruption by implementing the recommendations set forth by the interagency anticorruption commission chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi. To this end, two new anticorruption entities were established: the High Office of Monitoring (renamed the High Office of Oversight), which oversees implementation of the Azimi Commission strategy; and the Attorney General's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), a group of specially selected Afghan prosecutors dedicated to the prosecution of high level corruption cases. While the ACU is still relatively new, it has 38 active cases and obtained its first conviction in January 2010. Several investigations are underway and are expected to lead to prosecutions.
Additionally, under Article 21 of the Counter Narcotics Law (CNL), which criminalizes drug trafficking-related corruption, the CJTF actively and successfully pursues public officials who facilitate drug trafficking. As a result, high ranking members of the CNPA and other government officials have been successfully investigated and prosecuted by the CJTF. From March 2008 to March 2009, the CJTF convicted 24 Afghan government officials for narcotics related corruption. In May 2009, Mohammad Saleb, the CNPA provincial Chief in Nimroz was convicted of tampering with evidence in the previously mentioned Khostel case. He was sentenced to five years in prison. The Afghan National Police (ANP) police commander for the Arghistan District of Kandahar province, Shar Shahin, was arrested in July, after Afghan Special Narcotics Force (ASNF) and U.S. DEA agents seized large quantities of weapons, hashish and opium in the Arghistan and Spin Boldak districts. Shahin and five others were taken into custody and transferred to the CJTF.
Agreements and Treaties. Afghanistan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention, and the 1961 UN Single Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Afghanistan is also a party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. Afghanistan ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption on August 25, 2008. The Afghan government has no formal extradition or mutual legal assistance arrangements with the United States. The 2005 Afghan Counter Narcotics law, however, allows the extradition of drug offenders under the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The GIRoA has drafted an extradition law that has been submitted to the Parliament. The text contains a number of provisions that, if enacted, will be counter-productive to United States efforts to obtain extradition of persons charged with narcotics and other offenses.
In June 2009, Haji Baghcho Gul was transferred to the United States under the extradition provisions of the 1988 UN Drug Convention to stand trial for conspiracy to distribute heroin. Gul had been identified as one of the largest heroin traffickers in Afghanistan and had been the target of investigation for several years by numerous law enforcement agencies. Afghan authorities, with Pakistani police cooperation, arrested Gul at the Torkham Gate crossing at the border with Pakistan on May 14, 2009.
Illicit Cultivation/Production. Based on UNODC data, the number of hectares under poppy cultivation in Afghanistan decreased 22 percent, from 160,000 in 2008 to 120,000 hectares in 2009. Opium production decreased by less than cultivation rates, however, because yields increased. Nevertheless, according to UNODC estimates, opium production decreased 800 metric tons from 7,700 metric tons in 2008 to 6,900 metric tons in 2009. Consistent with the decline in cultivation, the number of people involved in poppy cultivation decreased 33 percent from 2.4 million in 2008 to 1.8 million in 2009--or 6.4 percent of the total population. The portion of narcotics proceeds actually received by farmers fell by 40 percent: opium poppy sold to traffickers brought in an estimated $440 million at the "farm-gate," the equivalent of only four percent of total GDP. In 2008, the farm-gate value of opium production was $730 million, or seven percent of total GDP.
According to the UNODC, the number of poppy free provinces grew from 18 to 20 in 2009. Poppy cultivation continued to consolidate in the southern and western regions. Poppy cultivation is most significant in areas where the insurgency is strong and government authority is weak, particularly in the south and southwest. A symbiotic relationship exists between the insurgency and narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan. The Taliban taxes poppy farmers to fund the insurgency. Traffickers provide weapons, funding, and other material support to the insurgency in exchange for the protection of drug trade routes, poppy fields, laboratories, and members of their organizations. For their part, narcotics traffickers thrive in areas with weak or absent governance and where the Taliban and other insurgent groups are active.
The southern province of Helmand continued to be Afghanistan's leading grower of opium poppy. However, in 2009, Helmand reduced cultivation by a third, from 100,000 hectares to 70,000 hectares. Combined with economic factors, this reduction was a direct result of the leadership of Helmand's Governor, Gulabuddin Mangal, who instituted a "food zone" program that included public awareness campaigns, law enforcement activities, and distributing wheat seed and fertilizer. Poppy cultivation declined by 37 percent in the food zone, but increased 8 percent in the rest of the province.
In addition to poppy cultivation, there is evidence of significant and growing cultivation of cannabis in Afghanistan. In past years, there had been no comprehensive effort to measure the extent of cannabis cultivation in the country; however, last year UNODC conducted the first ever cannabis survey in Afghanistan(with the assistance of funding from the USG). Unfortunately, this study was not published at the time of the publication of the INCSR.
Drug Flow/Transit. UNODC estimates that the equivalent of 3,500 tons of opiates (either raw opium or heroin) is trafficked out of Afghanistan each year. Primary trafficking routes are through Iran to Turkey and Western Europe; through Pakistan to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Iran; and through Central Asia to the Russian Federation.
Drug traffickers and financiers lend money to Afghan farmers in order to promote poppy cultivation in the country. Traffickers buy the farmers' crops at previously set prices or accept repayment of loans with deliveries of raw opium. Often, traffickers come to the farmers' homes to buy the raw opium directly, eliminating the danger and expense of transporting it to market, as would be necessary with licit crops. In many provinces, opium markets exist under the control of local and regional warlords who also control the illicit arms trade and other criminal activities, including trafficking in persons. Traders sell to the highest bidder in these markets with little fear of legal consequences, and corrupt officials and insurgent groups tax the trade.
Drug laboratories operating within Afghanistan process a large portion of the country's raw opium into heroin and morphine base, which reduces the bulk of raw opium by about one-tenth and facilitates its movement outside of the country. Large quantities of precursor chemicals used in heroin production are illicitly imported into Afghanistan. According to UNODC, markets and processing facilities are clustered in areas that border Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan. UNODC has reported that trafficking routes for opiates (which are exported) and precursor chemicals (which are imported) are largely similar.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Afghan government acknowledges a growing domestic drug abuse problem, particularly opium and increasingly heroin. In 2005, Afghanistan's first nationwide survey on drug use was conducted in cooperation with UNODC. This survey estimated that Afghanistan had 920,000 drug users, including 150,000 users of opium and 50,000 heroin addicts, with 7,000 intravenous users. An updated report is due to be released in early 2010. UNODC anticipates that the new report will reflect a much higher rate of drug use and addiction than previously thought, both because of an expected increase in drug use and an improved methodology in conducting the survey.
Substance abuse is not limited to opiates in Afghanistan. Consumption of cannabis/hashish is significant in Afghanistan. In UNODC's 2005 Drug Use Survey, 2.2 percent of the population 520,000 were reported as hashish users. This figure has increased since 2005 and affects all sectors of Afghan society. For example, Afghan National Police recruits who tested positive for drug use were found to consume hashish above other drugs.
Drug demand reduction programs, including treatment for drug abusers and prevention, are elements of the NDCS. However, the government has devoted limited resources to such programs, and has relied almost exclusively on funding from the international community.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. In 2009, the United States continued to support the Government of Afghanistan's National Drug Control Strategy, which calls for decisive action in the near term and identifies an extensive array of tactics in all sectors:
* Interdictions: The DEA has increased its presence in Afghanistan and will continue to train and mentor specialized CNPA units, to improve their capacity to interdict significant quantities of narcotics and precursor chemicals, investigate and arrest mid- and high-value targets, and destroy drug labs and stockpiles. The DEA utilizes permanently assigned personnel at the Kabul Country Office (KCO) and Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Teams (FAST) in Afghanistan. The FAST teams, which consist of eight special agents, one intelligence analyst, and one supervisor, operate in Afghanistan on 120-day rotations and deploy around the country with the Afghan National Interdiction Unit (NIU).
* Criminal Justice: A team of DOJ attorneys mentors the CJTF. The goal of the DOJ/ CJTF mentoring effort is to develop the capacity of Afghan institutions to prosecute and try mid -to high-level drug traffickers. Through the Corrections System Support Program (CSSP), the United States is helping to improve the Afghan corrections system with training, capacity-building, and infrastructure. The CSSP works closely with the U.S.-funded Justice Sector Support Program (JSSP), which has over 60 U.S. and Afghan justice advisors who provide training, mentoring, and capacity-building for Afghanistan's criminal justice system.
* Alternative Livelihoods: USAID will continue its comprehensive agricultural programs, which in FY 2009 provided approximately $210 million for projects throughout the country. USAID agricultural programs in the major opium cultivation areas provided incentives for farmers to permanently move away from planting poppy crops by promoting orchards or vine crops, as opposed to wheat. In Helmand and Kandahar, USAID's AVIPA Plus program is providing agriculture-related cash-for-work programs (irrigation canal cleaning, market and irrigation rehabilitation) as well as in-kind grants to farmers' associations and others (for farm machinery) and cost-share vouchers to farmers to foster crops that will help permanently break the annual cycle of farmers deciding whether to plant poppy or not.
* Political Incentives: The U.S. will continue to fund the Good Performers Initiative (GPI), which rewards provinces in which poppy cultivation has been significantly reduced or eliminated. The MCN administers GPI, which funds development projects that are vetted by provincial authorities. Since 2007, the U.S. has committed over $80 million to fund projects that have included repairing irrigation systems, building schools, and providing agricultural equipment to farmers' associations. GPI enables Provincial Governors to demonstrate to their constituent populations that there is direct, immediate and tangible positive benefit for accomplishing the difficult job of eliminating or significantly-reducing poppy cultivation.
* Public Information: A U.S. funded counternarcotics public information campaign, implemented in conjunction with the MCN, focuses on discouraging poppy cultivation, preventing drug use, and encouraging alternative crop production. The campaign targets various segments of the population, specifically women and children, with media, community, and face-to-face interactions. In addition, public information campaigns during the poppy-planting season are conducted through the U.S.-funded Counter Narcotics Advisory Teams, and involve farmers, district and provincial leaders, and religious officials.
* Demand Reduction: The U.S. is the largest donor for treatment programs in Afghanistan, funding 16 treatment centers in 2009, including three treatment facilities for women and their children. Treatment programs are managed by local NGOs with training and program administration provided by the Colombo Plan, an international organization with expertise in drug treatment training. The treatment centers, located in Kabul, Wardak, Khost, Takhar, Balkh, Bamiyan, Daikundi, Herat, Helmand, Kandahar, and Paktia provinces, provide residential, outpatient, and home-based treatment for up to 4,000 addicts per year. Treatment capacity building is supported with U.S.-sponsored training of drug treatment professionals. A three-year outcome evaluation is also underway to assess the long-term impact of U.S.-funded drug treatment services. In addition, the U.S. continued its support in 2009 for a second-year of a study to conduct special testing of children exposed to second-hand opium smoke. Initial results from this study suggest significant damage to the health of children exposed to second-hand opium smoke. The U.S. also supports 15 mosque-based outreach and aftercare centers that provide a myriad of community-based services: shelter and crisis intervention for destitute drug addicts, individual and group counseling, aftercare services for recovering addicts (Narcotics Anonymous), peer/family support group meeting facilities for recovering persons, relapse prevention services, and basic drug information to schools and community members.
Afghanistan Statistics (2003-2009) 2003 2004 2005 2006 Drugs Seized (kilograms) Opium 2,171 17,689 50,048 40,052 Heroin 977 14,006 5,592 1,927 Morphine Base 111 210 118 105 Hashish 10,269 74,002 40,052 17,675 Precursor Chemicals Solid (kilograms) 14,003 3,787 24,719 30,856 Liquid (liters) 0 4,725 40,067 12,681 Arrests (for trafficking) Arrests 203 248 275 548 Drug Labs Destroyed Labs Destroyed 31 78 26 248 2007 2008 2009 Drugs Seized (kilograms) Opium 39,304 37,530 25,000 Heroin 4,249 4,936 593 Morphine Base 617 3,232 Hashish 71,078 629,952 53,133 Precursor Chemicals Solid (kilograms) 37,509 65,969 180,955 Liquid (liters) 33,008 2,577 30,765 Arrests (for trafficking) Arrests 760 703 54 Drug Labs Destroyed Labs Destroyed 50 94 25
Albania is a transit country for narcotics traffickers moving primarily Afghan heroin from Central Asia to destinations around Western Europe. In 2009, seizures of heroin increased but seizures of marijuana declined. Cannabis continues to be produced in the remote mountain regions of Albania for markets in Europe. In response to continued international pressure, the Government of Albania (GOA), is aggressively confronting criminal elements but continues to be hampered by a lack of resources, expertise and endemic corruption. Albania is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Albania's ports on the Adriatic and porous land borders make it an attractive stop on the smuggling route for traffickers moving shipments into Western Europe, due in part to counternarcotics measures that are under-financed, and poorly supervised corrupt law enforcement officials. Marijuana is produced domestically for markets in Europe, the largest being Italy and Greece. While the majority of drugs have historically been smuggled across the Adriatic Sea, the Albanian Government's recent more aggressive policies and enhanced policing of its coast have redirected some trafficking over land borders with Kosovo and Montenegro for transit into Serbia and Bosnia.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. A 2005 Moratorium outlawing speedboats and several other varieties of water vessels on all of Albania's territorial coastal waters was scheduled to expire in early 2009, but the Ministry of Interior has commanded its forces to continue to enforce the ban until Parliament specifically repeals it. The moratorium has slowed the movement of drugs and trafficking in persons by smaller waterborne vessels, particularly to Italy. In January 2009, Lockheed Martin completed installation of a seven-radar sea-surveillance system which provides the Albanian Ministries of Defense and Interior a complete real-time picture of their entire sea border. In 2009 the Albanian Coast Guard/Navy received a 143-foot Damen patrol vessel from the Netherlands and will receive four more for the purpose of combating smuggling off of Albania's coasts. As a result of these measures, the preferred route by traffickers now appears to be through Serbia and Bosnia and then on to Italy. 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). Albania signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Commission in June 2006, which has since been ratified by twelve European Union member countries. The EU noted in its ratification that Albania "...is still facing serious challenges in tackling corruption and organized crime, achieving full implementation of adopted legislation, improving public administration and fighting trafficking in human beings and drugs." The EC echoed many of these findings in its Annual Progress Report on Albania in October.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The Albanian State Police (ASP) continues to seize more heroin each successive year. Italian statistics continue to show that the amount of Afghan heroin seized in Italy, having transited directly from Albania, remains minimal. According to the Ministry of Interior, in the first 9 months of 2009 the ASP seized 73.95 kilograms of heroin compared with 59 kilograms seized in the same period of 2008. Since January 2009, the ASP has arrested 320 persons for drug trafficking and is seeking to arrest 24 others. The ASP has also seized 2030 kilograms of marijuana and destroyed 123,681 marijuana plants. This is down slightly from 2008 but this can be attributed to the intense eradication efforts by the government and the more remote regions that the growers must use in order to evade detection. The ASP also seized 3.85 kilograms of cocaine, and in the process arrested 27 suspects--the seizures were mostly dealers and not traffickers. There have been several reported attempts to transport
heroin from Italy back across the Adriatic to Albania, but these have been the exception rather than the rule.
Corruption. Corruption remains a deeply entrenched problem in Albania. Low salaries, social acceptance of graft and Albania's tightly knit social networks make it difficult to combat corruption among police, judges, and customs officials. Corruption aids and abets organized crime and drug trafficking. Albania ratified the UN Convention against Corruption in 2006. In 2008 and the first half of 2009, the police and judiciary have been more active in investigating government officials and law enforcement personnel for corruption. During 2008, the prosecutorial system registered 683 cases for corruption-related offenses against 295 defendants, or 47 percent more cases registered against 16 percent more defendants compared to 2007. Prosecutors have referred to court 154 cases against 300 defendants, or 39 percent more cases referred to court against 66 percent more defendants compared to 2007. During 2008, the courts rendered 155 guilty verdicts, or 70 percent more convictions compared to 2007.
Although these numbers are a significant improvement over previous years, Albania continues to lack the judicial independence for unbiased, transparent proceedings and many cases are never resolved. High-ranking government officials, including judges and members of parliament enjoy immunity from prosecution, which hinders corruption investigations. However, the creation of a Joint Investigative Unit to Fight Economic Crime and Corruption (JIU) has had a tangible impact on the fight against corruption in Albania's capital. (See Section IV for a complete description of this unit and its work.)
To date, in 2009, 80 criminal complaints have been sent to the prosecution office involving 97 police officers including one officer of mid-level management, 26 officers of first line supervision level and 70 operational level officers. 43 complaints involving 52 police officers involved corruption related offences.
In the beginning of November 2008, a new law on the Internal Control Service (ICS) entered into force, determining that the ICS Directorate in the Ministry of Interior would establish an Inspections Directorate in addition to utilizing the Integrity Test as a tool to fight corruption within police ranks. While the new structure of the ICS which includes the Inspections Directorate was approved on 3 September 2009, the directorate itself has yet to be established due to lack of funding.
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. Albania is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) and its protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons, and since February 2008, to the protocol against illicit trafficking in firearms. The TOC Convention enhances the bilateral extradition treaty by expanding the list of offenses for which extradition may be granted. The U.S. has applied the TOC most recently in a few extradition requests to Albania.
Cultivation and Production. With the exception of cannabis, Albania is not 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. The cultivation of marijuana is decreasing slightly due to enforcement action by the ASP and poppy production remains insignificant with the seizure of only 4.5 kilograms of opium plants. No labs for the manufacture of synthetic drugs were discovered in 2009, and the trade in synthetic drugs remains virtually non-existent. 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. Trafficking in narcotics in Albania continues as one of the most lucrative illicit occupations available. Organized crime groups use Albania as a transit point for drugs and other types of smuggling, due to the country's strategic location, porous borders, weak law enforcement, and unreformed judicial systems. Albania remains a transit country for Afghan heroin and a source country for marijuana, especially to Italy and Greece. While the majority of drugs has historically been smuggled across the Adriatic Sea, Albania's more aggressive policies and policing of its coast have redirected some trafficking over land borders with Serbia and Bosnia. Albanian nationals appear to be taking a greater role in the financing and distribution of heroin outside of Albania, especially in the Northern Balkans and Western Europe, especially Germany.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Ministry of Health has stated that drug use is on the rise. While the Ministry has declared repeatedly that there are 30,000 drug users in Albania, it has no reliable data about drug abuse to substantiate these claims. Neither does it have statistics on the number of estimated addicts as opposed to users. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana use is increasing in school-aged children.
The GOA has taken steps to address the problem with a National Drug Demand Reduction Strategy but is hampered by the inadequate public health infrastructure that is ill-equipped to treat drug abuse. Public awareness of the problems associated with drug abuse remains low. The Toxicology Center of the Military Hospital is the only facility in Albania equipped to handle overdose cases and is staffed by only three clinical toxicologists. This clinic has seen an average of 2000 patients per year over the past five years, thus the number of cases has remained constant over this period. The clinic estimates that around 80 percent of the cases result from addiction to opiates, primarily heroin, and most were intravenous drug users. There were two NGO's operating in Albania during 2009, which dealt with drug related cases. Albania has few regulations on the sale of benzodiazepines, which are sold over the counter at local pharmacies, and the domestic abuse of these medications is believed to be rising, though no data is available.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiative. The GOA continues to welcome assistance from the United States and Western Europe. The U.S. is involved in judicial sector assistance programs in the areas of law enforcement and legal reform through technical assistance, equipment donations, and training. One of the problems in training continues to be deep political polarization at all levels of government resulting in the absence of a strong civil service class and thus many trainees are subject to reassignment during times of political transition.
The State Department-supported U.S. Department of Justice ICITAP and OPDAT programs continued their programs at the Ministry of the Interior, the General Prosecutor's Office, the Serious Crimes Court and Serious Crimes Prosecution Office, all with the goal of professionalizing the administration of justice, combating corruption, and strengthening the GOA's ability to prosecute cases involving organized crime and illicit trafficking. ICITAP continued to offer the Anti-Narcotics and Special Operations Sectors fulltime advisory support, an advanced level of training (in cooperation with the FBI) to assist in combating illicit trafficking in people and drugs. ICITAP funded by State/INL assistance continued to provide support for the GOA's counternarcotics strategy and efforts through its activities within the International Consortium and the Mini-Dublin Group.
In 2009, OPDAT and ICITAP continued to work with the Albanian Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance, General Prosecutor's Office, and State Intelligence Service in forming additional Economic Crime and Corruption Joint Investigative Units (JIU) to improve the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes, especially money laundering and corruption. The JIU formally began operations in September of 2007 and has shown promising initial success, opening 222 cases in the first year of operation and successfully convicting the Deputy Minister of Transportation and the General Secretary of the Ministry of Labor on corruption charges. OPDAT has supported the JIU throughout 2009 with an imbedded OPDAT anticorruption legal advisor and an intensive program of training, along with equipment donation. During 2009, the JIU has started investigation in 124 new criminal cases.
OPDAT continues to have a direct and visible impact on the JIU's work. The presence of an American prosecutor at the JIU has increased the public's trust in their work and also provided political cover for the prosecution of highly-placed public officials. Procurement fraud and property issues continue to lead the types of cases being prosecuted, with the number of money laundering investigations steadily increasing.
On May 6, 2009, the Prosecutor General, Minister of Interior, Minister of Finance, Director of State Intelligence Service (SHISH), the head of High State Audit, and the head of the High Inspectorate for the Declaration of Assets (HIDAA) publicly signed a Memorandum of Cooperation formally establishing six regional anticorruption and financial crime units in the cities of Durres, Fier, Korea, Shkoder, Vlora, and Gjirokaster. OPDAT will support these regional units through a USG-funded MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation Grant)-program of training, mentoring, and equipment.
The Witness Protection (WP) Directorate in the Ministry of Interior continues to work with the U.S. and other members of the international community to strengthen the existing witness protection legislation. The WP Directorate has helped to protect a number of witnesses, and witness families, in trafficking and drug related homicide cases. Witness Protection Law reform is being accomplished through the IC working group, with prosecutors and police working with international advisors to revise the law written in 2004. The new law is now being considered by the Albanian Parliament.
The United States, through State/INL, continues to provide assistance for integrated border management, a key part of improving the security of Albania's borders, providing specialized equipment, and the installation of the Total Information Management System (TIMS) at border crossing points. TIMS is now operational in all 21 major border crossing points and by October 31, 2009 will have been installed at the last 5 remaining remote border crossing points. Part of the integrated border management initiative, formally approved by the Albanian Council of Ministers on 29 September 2007, included the establishment of an autonomous Border and Migration Department with direct command and control of all border policing resources answerable to one central authority. The Department of Defense also assisted by contracting, through the U.S. European Command, for the renovation of SHISH field stations at Vlore and Lezhe. Other U.S., EU, and international assistance programs include support for customs reform, judicial training and reform, improving cooperation between police and prosecutors, and anticorruption programs. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) provided maritime law enforcement training to Albanian officers through two visits of a mobile training team, and has one uniformed maritime advisor attached to the U.S. Embassy under the EXBS program. Albanian law enforcement authorities have provided the Italian police with intelligence that has led to the arrest of drug dealers and organized crime members, as well as the confiscation of heroin in Italy. Cooperation also continues with Italian law enforcement officials to carry out narcotics raids inside Albania.
ICITAP has teamed up with the New Jersey National Guard under the Partners for Peace Program to introduce a Drug Awareness-Demand Reduction Program in the Tirana Public Elementary Schools. ASP Community Policing specialists will be trained both in Albania and the United States to deliver essential information to children ages 9 thru 14. This program is part of a broader based community policing strategy that includes international police assistance programs, educators and NGO's as well as the police and local citizens.
The Road Ahead. The Albanian government has made the fight against organized crime and trafficking one of its highest priorities. The police are taking an increasingly active role in counternarcotics operations. Albania's desire to enter into the European Union and its entry in 2009 into NATO continues to push the GOA to implement and enforce reforms, but the fractional nature of Albanian politics and the slow development of Albanian civil society have hampered progress. The U.S., together with the EU and other international partners, will continue to work with the GOA to make progress on fighting illegal drug trafficking, to use law enforcement assistance effectively, and to support legal reform.
Algeria is primarily a transit country for drugs, but both domestic production and consumption are rising. Drug seizures increased substantially in 2008 and the first half of 2009. The Government of Algeria (GOA) is committed to addressing the problem and has begun several domestic programs to combat drug use and production, but Algeria faces significant difficulties in securing its borders against cross-border trafficking. Algeria is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country:
Algeria currently is not a major center of drug production, money laundering, or production of precursor chemicals. However, it remains a significant transit point for drug trafficking into Europe and is evolving from merely a transit point into a destination and producer of drugs as well. There is a small but growing domestic market for harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine, but cannabis remains the most widely-used illicit drug in the country.
The government takes the drug problem seriously, and efforts are underway to combat both distribution and use. The GOA has introduced a public awareness program and has established treatment facilities to educate and treat those affected by drug use, and law enforcement and border security agencies are actively engaged in stopping the production and flow of drugs through Algeria. Trafficking arrests and drug seizures are frequently reported in the Algerian press.
According to Algeria's National Office for the Fight Against Drugs and Addiction (ONLCDT), Algeria is a transit point for drugs smuggled from Morocco to Europe. Algerian officials assert that Morocco is the principal source of drugs such as cannabis entering Algeria. The GOA at times also blames an increase in illegal immigration through Algeria for the increase in drug usage by Algerian youth. Algeria faces serious problems with cross-border trafficking, particularly in the southern areas of the country, where the vast desert along Algeria's southern border is almost impossible to secure completely. There was a significant increase in drug trafficking attempts in 2008 due to the proliferation of drug networks throughout the country and the refinement of their methods, drawn from their collaboration with international drug networks and their use of improved communications equipment. The National Gendarmerie reports that the bulk of drugs seized in Algeria is intended for export, while there is likely a large increase in domestic drug consumption as well. Public statements by the National Gendarmerie indicate that the GOA is committed to combating drug trafficking, which it sees as a national threat.
In addition to smuggling activities, Algeria in recent years has seen an increase in domestic drug production, particularly cannabis being cultivated in the southeast and in the area of the capital, Algiers. In 2008, there also were several front-page press reports of domestic poppy production, noting that areas of Algeria's southern Sahel region were being used for poppy cultivation. Algeria's judicial police division indicated that drug seizures increased markedly from 2007 to 2008, and the amount of cannabis seized in the first half of 2009 exceeds that of the entire year of 2008.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs:
Policy Initiatives. Algeria's official national drug policy consists of five stated goals: (1) revision of laws related to drugs and addiction; (2) education and information campaigns; (3) improved national coordination mechanisms; (4) improved law enforcement capacity; and (5) reinforcement of bilateral, regional, and international efforts on counternarcotics and border control.
The Government's internal counternarcotics legislative policies strive to adapt Algerian drug and trafficking laws to address the increased trafficking and consumption levels, and to bring Algerian legislation into conformity with international conventions, particularly the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Other plans include drafting regulations governing incineration of seized narcotics and reviewing control mechanisms for the legal production, marketing, and storage of drugs containing opiates and psychotropic substances.
The ONLCDT is charged with developing national policies in the realms of drug prevention, treatment, and suppression, and with coordinating and ensuring follow-through. The office is the government's center for the collection and analysis of data on trafficking, use, and treatment in the country. ONLCDT in 2008 held four regional seminars on the creation, enactment, and evaluation of counternarcotics programs and participated in several conferences hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and European counternarcotics organizations.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The following table is a summary of Algeria's drug seizures since 2007, based on statistics provided by the ONLCDT.
2009 (January-June) 2008 Cannabis 44,600 Kg; 38,041 Kg; 1618 plants 10,712 plants Cocaine 537 gr 784 gr (including crack) Heroin and Opium 372 gr; 977 plants 110 gr; 77,612 plants Other psychotropic 42,164 tablets; 924,398 tablets; substances 990 Ml solutions 2,050 Ml solutions 2007 Cannabis 16,641 Kg,; 20,987 plants Cocaine 22,055 gr (including crack) Heroin and Opium 382 gr; 74,817 plants Other psychotropic 233,950 tablets; substances 5,960 Ml solutions
Algerian security agencies are expanding their capabilities to respond to crime by adding personnel and attempting to engage in more training. Increased interagency intelligence sharing and interdiction efforts improved the effectiveness of government responses, increasing seizures in 2008; seizures of cannabis and heroin to date in 2009 are far exceeding those of 2008.
In the first half of 2009, Algeria arrested 6,163 individuals on drug-related offenses, comprising 2,021 arrested for drug trafficking, 4,128 arrested for drug use, and 14 arrested for cultivating cannabis and opium. Of those arrested, 46 were foreigners, including 8 Nigerians, 5 Malians, 5 Nigerians, 3 Moroccans, 3 Liberians, 2 French, 1 Spanish, 1 Tunisian, and 18 of unspecified nationality. In 2008, Algeria arrested 10,954 individuals on drug-related offenses, comprising 3,520 arrested for drug trafficking, 7,365 arrested for drug use, and 69 arrested for cultivating cannabis or opium. Of those arrested, 118 were foreigners, including 23 Nigerians, 15 Malians, 12 Nigerians, 11 Moroccans, 9 Gambians, 5 Cameroonians, 5 French, 3 Spanish, 3 Ghanaians, 2 Ugandans, 1 Congolese, 1 Ivorian, 1 Liberian, 1 Sierra Leonean, 1 Chadian, 1 Tunisian, 1 Turk, and 23 of unspecified nationality.
Algerian law provides for a prison sentence of 2 months to 2 years and a fine of roughly $70 to 750 for personal consumption of narcotics or psychotropic substances and a term of 10 to 20 years and a fine of roughly $70,000 to $700,000 for production or distribution.
Corruption. The Algerian government does not as a matter of government policy encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. However, some cases of narcotics-related corruption among governmental, judicial, military, or law enforcement officials almost certainly occur; the Algerian press periodically includes reports of arrests of low-level police or military officers for drug offenses. Algerian law provides a maximum prison sentence of ten years and fines ranging from $2,500 to $150,000 for public officials convicted of any form of corruption.
Agreements and Treaties. Algeria is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the UN Convention against Corruption. Algeria also is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols.
Cultivation/Production. The GOA has stated its commitment to the total eradication of domestic cannabis and opium poppy production. In the cannabis-producing southern and western regions of the country, the government is implementing an eradication program linked to a development strategy involving reform of local government and a highly subsidized crop substitution program. Nevertheless, Algerian drug officials have indicated that crop substitution programs have made little headway in providing economic alternatives to cannabis production. The government in 2008 reported that as a result of intensified law enforcement and interdiction measures it eradicated illicitly cultivated opium poppy in small areas in the north of the country. Over 74,000 poppy seedlings were eradicated in 2007, and almost 80,000 were eradicated in the first nine months of 2008.
Drug Flow/Transit. Algeria is a source of hashish for Europe. Shipments include hashish produced domestically and in Morocco. Spain, Italy, and France are all transfer points for Europe-bound Algerian drug flows. Most large shipments of illicit drugs bound for Europe reportedly travel via fishing vessels or private yachts.
Algeria's vast desert and ocean borders make smuggling of all kinds a significant challenge for the country's police, border security, customs, and immigration forces. Algeria's long and often poorly demarcated borders with Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, and Morocco lend themselves to cross-border trafficking. The large expanse of desert along Algeria's southern border is almost impossible to secure in its entirety, but public statements by the National Gendarmerie indicate that the government is keen to combat drug traffickers and is doing what it can.
Algerian officials frequently comment on the large amounts of illegal drugs that enter Algeria from Morocco, and the GOA recognizes the need for better regional cooperation on border security and drug trafficking. Security force sources say that more than 13 tons of drugs were seized near the Algerian/Moroccan border during 2008. Algerian officials also have suggested that drug smuggling networks in the south are coordinating with terrorist groups, which engage in extortion and money laundering.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). To address prevention and treatment, the GOA's national drug policy includes the introduction of lessons on the dangers of drugs into mosque sermons, the expansion of education programs to increase public awareness, and efforts to coordinate better actions taken by different ministerial departments, particularly Health, Education, and Justice. The ONLCDT also conducts counternarcotics use campaigns in schools and local communities.
Algerian officials have increasingly voiced their concern about signs of growing domestic heroin and cocaine use. In 2008, the GOA launched a public campaign to reduce domestic demand for those drugs as well as for cannabis. The Ministry of Health has established a program to train the staffs of psychiatric hospitals in the treatment of drug addiction and launched a program to establish drug centers countrywide. Algeria's national drug policy also includes the support and expansion of drug treatment facilities and the creation of post-rehabilitation centers to provide extended treatment and to help reintroduce drug addicts into society in an effort to prevent recidivism.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives:
Bilateral Relations. The USG supports Algeria's efforts to improve its counternarcotics capabilities and plans to begin training Algerian police and customs officials in FY 2010, particularly in regard to trafficking.
The Road Ahead. The U.S. will cooperate with Algeria to improve drug law enforcement and will endeavor to be responsive to any Algerian request for assistance on drug treatment or prevention.
Argentina continued to be an important transshipment route for Andean-produced cocaine during 2009, with most of the traffic going to Europe, as well as ephedrine bound for illicit trafficking in Mexico and the United States. Marijuana also entered the country in significant quantities, much of it for domestic consumption. Argentina is a source country for some precursor chemicals sent to neighboring countries for the production of cocaine. Argentina is not a narcotics producing country, though there is evidence of small labs that transform cocaine "base" into cocaine hydrochloride (HCl). An Argentine Supreme Court decision in September 2009 acquitted a group of defendants for possessing small quantities of marijuana; the decision suggests decriminalization of possession of small amounts of drugs, but does not alter criminal penalties for selling or trafficking drugs. Argentina is a party to the 1988 United Nations (UN) Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Argentina is a transshipment route for cocaine from Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia intended for Europe and other destinations. The counternarcotics efforts in Mexico and Colombia are having a balloon effect on Argentina that is pushing traffickers into the country, according to Argentine officials. Large seizures of cocaine in Europe have been linked to Argentina, and individual carriers of small quantities from Argentina to Europe are regularly discovered. There is evidence of increasing use by traffickers of light aircraft to bring drugs into the country across the long northern borders with Bolivia and Paraguay. Most of the cocaine leaving the country is thought to be smuggled by sea. A cheap, readily available, and mentally debilitating drug, "paco" (a derivative of cocaine production), is consumed in Argentina's poorer neighborhoods. Significant seizures of illicit ephedrine continued in 2009.
Argentina cooperated effectively with the United States, European and other South American partners in narcotics investigations, and regularly participated in U.S.-sponsored training in 2009. Although Argentine law enforcement agencies search for and temporarily hold unregistered precursor chemicals, the country does not have criminal penalties for the transport of unregistered chemicals nor can the chemicals be permanently seized. This lack of deterrence contributes to Argentina's status as a regional source country for precursor chemicals.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. In September 2009, Argentina's Supreme Court issued a ruling acquitting a group of young men convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Statements by members of the Court made it apparent the ruling was intended to decriminalize personal possession and use of small amounts of marijuana and that it may be applied to other drugs as well. Convictions of the drug dealers in the same marijuana case were upheld. Government of Argentina (GOA) officials have also advocated legislation to decriminalize personal possession of small quantities, arguing that such a measure would permit shifting of scarce police and judicial resources away from individual users and toward drug trafficking organizations, as well as free up funds for substance abuse treatment. Congress has not acted on this proposal.
In September 2009, the GOA established, under the authority of the Chief of Cabinet, a National Coordinating Commission for Public Policy Regarding Prevention and Control of Illicit Drug Trafficking, International Organized Crime, and Corruption. The Commission is composed of leading jurists, social scientists, and scientists who had participated in a 2008-2009 Scientific Assessment Committee focused on the same issues. The new Commission is to have a leading role in implementing a National Counter Drug Plan. Many elements of the plan focus on efforts to deal with prevention and treatment of addictions. It also envisions a role in enhancing coordination among national and provincial law enforcement agencies, as well as addressing cooperation with international partners. The commission has proposed tighter controls over certain medicines as well as mechanisms to detect suspicious patterns in the trade of precursor chemicals. The National Plan envisions redefining the role of SEDRONAR, the Secretariat of Planning for the Prevention of Drug Addiction and Drug Trafficking.
Separately in 2009, GOA law enforcement agencies worked to apply additional resources to what many viewed as an increasing push by drug traffickers across the country's northern borders by both land and air. One effort focused on increasing the current minimal radar coverage in the north.
Accomplishments. Argentine security forces actively seized cocaine during 2009, including several seizures during the first half of the year of over 200 kilograms of cocaine. Almost 92 percent of total Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-assisted cocaine seizures of 2,373 kilograms from January through September 2009 were made in the northwest border region by the Northern Border Task Force (NBTF), the Gendarmeria (Frontier Guard), or the Salta and Jujuy provincial police forces. Over 14 metric tons of marijuana was seized in Argentina during this time frame, principally on the eastern border region where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet or along the western border with Chile. Argentine authorities seized over 8,750 kilograms of ephedrine during 2009 in the greater Buenos Aires area, as well as 80,000 units of MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or Ecstasy) seized by provincial law enforcement authorities. In addition, Gendarmeria forces in northern Argentina seized 85 liters of sulfuric acid and 200 liters of hydrochloric acid.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The Government of Argentina is seeking to shift resources from the arrest and prosecution of individual users toward the disruption and prosecution of drug traffickers and other organized crime. It has achieved the greatest success targeting in-bound cocaine shipments across its northern border. It utilizes routine and targeted inspections of outbound maritime traffic, including fish, commodities, and containerized cargos, to disrupt outbound illicit traffic, but limited inspection resources and the high volume of legitimate trade means that much of the traffic escapes detection. The shift will require further refinement of investigative capacities among law enforcement agencies and the judicial system and additional refinements to eliminate case backlogs and other delays in the legal system. There is less-than-optimum sharing of case information among federal law enforcement agencies and between federal and provincial law enforcement agencies, which has hampered Argentina's effectiveness in combating the illegal drug trade. Though most of the state judiciaries have moved to an accusatory legal system, other systems remain a combination between the inquisitorial and accusatorial models. Inefficiencies in these legal systems are an impediment to effective drug prosecutions in some cases.
Corruption. The GOA is publicly committed to fighting corruption and prosecuting those implicated in corruption investigations. It is not government policy, nor are any senior GOA officials known to engage in, 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. Independent judges and an active investigative press are known to explore allegations of corrupt practices by individual law enforcement or judicial authorities.
Agreements and Treaties. Argentina is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances; the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three Protocols; and the UN Convention against Corruption. The United States and Argentina are parties to an extradition treaty that entered into force on June 15, 2000, and a bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) that entered into force on December 4, 1990. Both of these agreements are actively used by the United States and the GOA. Argentina has bilateral narcotics cooperation agreements with many neighboring countries. In addition, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, Italy and the Netherlands provide limited counternarcotics training and equipment. In 1990, U.S. Customs and Border Protection signed a Customs
Mutual Assistance Agreement with the Government of Argentina. Argentina is also a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, Inter-American Convention of Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Inter-American Convention against Trafficking in Illegal Firearms, and the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism.
Cultivation/Production. Some marijuana is grown in Argentina, but most marijuana consumed appears to enter from neighboring countries. There are occasional discoveries of small labs converting cocaine base to HCl in the country, utilizing imported cocaine paste. The discovery of one lab preparing to transform ephedrine in 2008 raised concerns about the emergence of synthetic drug production in the country.
Drug Flow/Transit. Colombian cocaine HCl entering Argentina is largely destined for international cocaine markets, primarily Europe but also Asia and the United States. Federal law enforcement agencies reported nearly 4 metric tons seized during the first nine months of 2009. There is an indigenous population along the northern border with Bolivia that traditionally consumes coca leaf. Maceration pits were discovered there in 2009, though the scale of cocaine production is thought to be limited. Proceeds from drug smuggling ventures organized in Argentina are often brought back to the country by couriers in bulk cash shipments and then wired to the United States for investment or smuggled directly into the United States. Most of the marijuana consumed in Argentina originates in Paraguay and is smuggled across the border into the provinces of Misiones and Corrientes, from where it is then transported overland to urban centers or onward to Chile. Argentina received significant legal ephedrine imports in 2007 and the first half of 2008, but changed its regulations on ephedrine imports in September 2008. Subsequent investigations and seizures indicated that much of the legally imported chemical had been bound for illicit commerce to Mexico or the United States. The regulatory change seems to have had the desired effect as legal ephedrine imports in 2009 were reduced to a very small amount. However, the new law does not regulate pseudoephedrine and legitimate chemical preparations are often diverted to be used in the manufacture of illicit drugs. The GOA should reform its chemical control regulations to include the control and monitoring of finished preparations containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine such as cold and allergy medications. Though there is evidence of continued smuggling, Argentina has enhanced the effectiveness of its port and border controls and related criminal investigations. Argentine and U.S. law enforcement officials continue to collaborate against attempts by drug traffickers to illicitly import or transship the chemical.
Demand Reduction Programs. Drug use by Argentine youth has been steadily climbing over the past decade, with marijuana prevalence among high school students recorded at 8.1 percent in 2007 while cocaine use among the population aged 15-64 was 2.67 percent, according to the United Nations Office of Drug Control. SEDRONAR has played a lead role in coordinating GOA demand reduction efforts, but that role may be evolving with the establishment of the National Coordinating Commission for Public Policy Regarding Prevention and Control of Illicit Drug Trafficking, International Organized Crime, and Corruption. The GOA, in collaboration with private sector entities, sponsors a variety of print and broadcast information campaigns which have a nationwide reach.
IV. U.S. Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. U.S. efforts in Argentina focus on four core areas: reducing Argentina's role as a transit point for drug trafficking by disrupting and dismantling the major drug trafficking organizations in the region; promoting regional counternarcotics cooperation among Andean and Southern Cone nations; maximizing host nation drug enforcement capabilities; and fortifying bilateral cooperation with host nation law enforcement agencies.
Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. Government agencies work closely with host nation counterparts, including the Argentine Federal Police (PFA), the Gendarmeria (Frontier Guard), Prefectura (Coast Guard), Special Airport Police (PSA), Customs, and judicial authorities to pursue specific investigations and to provide training and equipment to enhance host nation capacity. Key U.S. Government agencies operating in Argentina with counterparts include the DEA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Legal Attache (FBI). The State Department and U.S. Military Group, responsive to the U.S. Southern Command, provide support for training that contributes to the counternarcotics mission. The U.S. Coast Guard provided a Maritime Law Enforcement Mobile Training Team to Prefectura members in 2009. Argentine authorities are receptive to training, cooperation on investigations, and equipment donations.
A key element of U.S.-Argentine cooperation, supported with State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and DEA resources, is the Northern Border Task Force (NBTF), a joint law enforcement group comprising federal and provincial elements operating in Argentina's northwestern provinces of Jujuy and Salta to interdict the drug flow from Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. The U.S. Government also supports an Eastern Border Task Force (EBTF), located in Misiones Province that acts against illicit drug smuggling activities in the tri-border area with Paraguay and Brazil.
Argentine authorities actively coordinate counternarcotics activities with neighboring countries. U.S. Government support has helped facilitate this cooperation by supporting joint training and seminars in the region and providing software and equipment for the sharing of real-time drug investigation leads.
The Road Ahead. The GOA has made progress in enhancing its interdiction capabilities and its controls over precursor chemicals. It seeks to apply new resources to prevention of use and the treatment and rehabilitation of addiction. Such efforts are crucial given the rapidly changing nature of the drug trade and the potentially damaging impact of increasingly potent drugs available through international traffic.
Embassy Buenos Aires has offered additional technical assistance and training related to precursor chemicals, investigative techniques, interdiction, and legal assistance. Some steps that could be usefully taken by Argentina include improving judicial case processing efficiency; enhancing the regulatory authority of law enforcement agencies to permanently seize unregistered precursor chemicals and to levy fines for their transport; regulating pseudoephedrine; outlawing money laundering-type transactions without the necessity of proving an illicit origin for the money; improving judicial procedures for the confiscation and administrative sale of seized criminal properties; and enhancing vigilance of the national borders and air space, particularly in the north-central part of the country.
Armenia is not a major drug-producing country and domestic abuse of drugs is relatively small. Drug-related arrests and interdictions of illegal drugs increased sharply in the first six months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, reversing a decrease from 2007 to 2008. This increase probably reflects a combination of improved law enforcement efforts, some increase in domestic consumption, and rising use of Armenia as a transit country as other routes have become more difficult for traffickers. Also, because the number of cases and the volume of illegal drugs seized remain small, even modest fluctuations in these figures can appear as large percentage changes.
The Government of Armenia recognizes Armenia's actual and potential role as a transit route for international drug trafficking. In an attempt to improve its interdiction ability, Armenia, together with Georgia and Azerbaijan, is engaged in an ongoing, European Union-funded and UN-implemented Southern Caucasus Anti-Drug (SCAD) Program, launched in 2001. This program provided legislative assistance to promote the use of European standards for drug prosecutions, collection of drug-related statistics, rehabilitation services to addicts, and drug-awareness education. The SCAD program in Armenia ended in 2009, but may receive renewed funding in 2010. Armenia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Sitting at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Armenia has the potential to become a transit point for international drug trafficking. However, Armenia's two longest borders, those with Turkey and Azerbaijan, are currently closed. The resulting limited transport options between Armenia and its neighboring states have kept the country a secondary traffic route for drugs. As Turkish interdiction efforts lead smugglers to seek new routes into Europe, and because the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia closed smuggling routes into Georgia from Russia, more traffickers have turned to Armenia. The Armenian Police Service's Department to Combat Illegal Drug Trafficking has accumulated a significant database on drug trafficking sources, including routes and the people engaged in trafficking. Scarce financial and human resources, however, limit the Police Service's effectiveness. Drug abuse is not widespread in Armenia, and according to the police the local market for illicit narcotics is relatively small. The majority of Armenian drug users use hashish or other forms of cannabis. Opiates, especially opium, are the second most abused drug group. Over the last decade there has been a general increasing trend in the abuse of heroin, but the overall demand for both heroin and cocaine remains fairly low. Illegal drug use in Armenia is not particularly the province of the young. Police statistics show that over 65 percent of convicted traffickers are male Armenian citizens between the ages of 30 and 49. Of those registered for drug treatment, 95 percent are over age 25 and 64 percent are over 35.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. In 2009 the Armenian government implemented new policies under legislation enacted in June 2008, designed to bring Armenian drug laws closer into line with EU standards and to focus law enforcement efforts on drug trafficking while emphasizing prevention and treatment in dealing with drug users. Specifically, these changes decriminalized the use of illegal drugs and the transfer of small amounts of drugs without purpose of sale (e.g., sharing of small quantities among users). Previously, a person convicted of using drugs could be jailed for up to two months for a first offense, a threat which the UN SCAD Program's experts found discouraged drug addicts from seeking treatment. Under the new system, a first-offense user is subject to a fine up to 200,000 Armenian drams, or roughly $600, but that fine is waived for a user who voluntarily seeks drug treatment.
The Ministry of Justice also enlisted SCAD support in developing a new National Drug Strategy for 2009 to 2014. A project to expand Armenia's own Border Management Information System (BMIS) to all border crossing points, partly funded by the USG, was completed in late 2008 and centralizes immigration data, giving law enforcement agencies access to information on drug interdiction efforts at Armenia's borders.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Police statistics for the first six months of 2009 show drastic increases in total number of drug-related offenses, total number of traffickers, and total amount of drugs seized compared to the first six months of 2008: 228 to 539 offenses (not counting offenses decriminalized in mid-2008), 246 to 475 individuals, and 4.4 kilograms to 21.7 kilograms respectively. Notably, most of the increase in drugs seized came from opium, rather than bulkier drugs such as cannabis. The amount of opium seized more than quadrupled from 3.6 kilograms to 17.0 kilograms, after having more than doubled from the first six months of 2007 to the first six months of 2008. As noted above, given the small scale of the drug problem in Armenia, fairly minor changes in absolute figures can generate large percentage variations, especially when comparing relatively short periods of time. Nevertheless, the large and continuing increase in opium seizures suggests that this trend is not merely a statistical aberration.
Measures to identify and eradicate both wild and illicitly cultivated cannabis and opium poppy continued in 2009. The Armenian Police, along with elements of the Ministry of Defense and local governments, conducted an annual search for hemp and opium poppy fields in the countryside, as well as distribution networks in the cities. In September 2009, Armenian law enforcement agencies again participated in "Channel," an annual joint operation among the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) dedicated to identifying and stopping the cross-border flow of illegal drugs and other contraband and disrupting the travel of criminals. During this exercise, the Armenian authorities scrutinized vehicles and cargo crossing the border with increased focus on possible concealed drugs. All Armenian law enforcement agencies (Police, National Security Service, Customs, Border Guards, Police Internal Troops, Ministry of Defense, and the Prosecutor General's Office) participate in this operation.
Corruption. Corruption remains a serious problem throughout Armenia, but there appears to be little high-level corruption related to drug trafficking. The new administration that took office in April 2008 has made limited efforts to crack down on corruption in some government agencies, including the customs service. However, the corruption targeted in these agencies generally was not drug-related. The Government of Armenia does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, nor does it encourage or facilitate the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. No senior government officials have been reported to engage in these activities.
The main form of drug-related corruption occurs when individual drug users found with drugs in their possession bribe police to avoid arrest. The decriminalization of drug use could reduce this tendency, but many drug users may be unaware of the legislative changes or may still resort to bribes to avoid the administrative fines under the new law.
Agreements and Treaties. Armenia 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. Armenia is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on migrant smuggling and trafficking in women and children. Armenia ratified the UN Convention against Corruption in March 2007.
Cultivation and Production. Hemp and opium poppy grow wild in Armenia. Hemp grows mostly in the Ararat Valley, the south-western part of Armenia; poppy grows in the northern part, particularly in the Lake Sevan basin and some mountainous areas. There is also some small-scale illegal cultivation of both of these crops.
Drug Flow/Transit. Transit of illegal drugs through Armenia to other countries is relatively small in absolute terms, but appears to have risen sharply in the last several years. In a few cases, some of these drugs have been found to reach the U.S. The principal production and transit countries from which drugs are smuggled into Armenia are Iran (heroin and opiates) and Georgia (opiates, cannabis and hashish). Armenia's borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan remain closed, but small amounts of opiates and heroin are smuggled to Armenia from Turkey via Georgia. There have also been cases of small-scale importation from other countries, mostly by mail or by airline passengers arriving in Yerevan with illegal narcotics concealed on their persons or in their baggage. Should Armenia's closed borders reopen, police predict drug transit will increase significantly.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Armenia has adopted a policy of focusing on prevention of drug abuse through awareness campaigns and treatment of drug abusers. These awareness campaigns were implemented under the now completed SCAD program. The Drug Detoxification Center, part of the Armenian Narcological Clinic and funded by the Ministry of Health, provides short-term drug treatment. Two new drug treatment facilities opened in 2009, one of which is part of the prison hospital system. These new facilities should help alleviate the lack of long-term treatment and counseling that previously limited the success of treatment efforts. In 2009 the Narcological Clinic began offering methadone substitution treatment.
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. Recent and on-going joint activities include the development of an independent forensics laboratory, the improvement of the law enforcement infrastructure and the establishment of a computer network enabling Armenian law enforcement offices to access all law enforcement databases. In 2009, the Department of State also continued to assist the Armenian government through the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program. EXBS training and assistance efforts, while aimed at the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, directly enhance Armenia's ability to control its borders and to interdict all contraband, including narcotics.
The Road Ahead. The USG will continue aiding Armenia in its counternarcotics efforts through the capacity building of Armenian law enforcement and will continue to engage the government on operational drug trafficking issues. The USG promotes reconciliation between Armenia and its neighbors, and seeks a future of open borders in the region. Continued USG assistance should help Armenia secure reopened borders against narcotics trafficking as well as other forms of transnational crime.
Australia is a leader in the international effort to combat illicit drugs, cooperating with the United States and the international community on law enforcement activities. Australia is not a major exporter or transit point for narcotics, but continues to fight relatively widespread domestic availability and abuse of illicit substances. The government views narcotics control as a priority and has combined aggressive prosecution of drug related cases with efforts to control demand. Australia is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Cannabis is still the most abused drug in Australia followed by MDMA Ecstasy, methamphetamine, and cocaine. The availability of heroin in Australia remains constant and according to some local reporting, heroin use is on the rise. Australian officials continue to seize substantial quantities of their main drugs of abuse, particularly methamphetamine, MDMA, and most recently, cocaine. According to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the 2007-08 Drug Harm Index, (the AFP's measurement of the estimated damage seized drugs may have caused society, had they not been seized), totaled approximately US$704 million domestically and an additional US$24 million internationally. The 2008-09 figures (July-December) are already at $687 million with an additional $40 million through the AFP's contribution to international seizures. These figures have increased substantially from 2006/2007 when $563 million was reported and 2005/2006 when $150 million was reported.
Marijuana and hashish (cannabis resin) are readily available throughout most areas of Australia. Marijuana is Australia's most highly abused illicit substance. The drug continues to be used by a cross section of the society and is not necessarily restricted to particular groups or regions. The market is dominated by domestic production. Price and quality vary significantly between each state. Significant indoor and hydroponic cultivation seizures of marijuana and disruption of cultivation continue to be reported by law enforcement in all states and territories.
Amphetamine/methamphetamine continues to be readily available within Australia. Although marijuana is the most abused drug in Australia, crystal methamphetamine and methamphetamine abuse rates continue to be an area of concern. The demand for methamphetamine is met by both domestic production and importation. In 2008 authorities seized approximately 434 clandestine laboratories of which 398 were methamphetamine. This number is a slight increase over 2007 and 2006. Australian officials estimate clandestine laboratories seizures may exceed 550 in 2009. As clandestine laboratory seizures continue to climb and Asian groups continue to facilitate the importation of methamphetamine, officials believe this drug will remain available and readily abused by Australians.
The availability of South East Asian heroin in Australia is steady throughout the nation and exists in all of Australia's states and territories. Although officials believe heroin use will remain steady at levels significantly below the usage rates of the late 1990s/early 2000s, the Australian 2007 Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) report showed an increase of heroin use among users who inject drugs in Australia's capital cities. Some local reporting indicates heroin trafficking and use is on the rise. The Victoria Police have noted an increase in the purity of heroin and a decrease in the price. Officials also note an increase in SWA heroin availability.
Cocaine availability and seizures in Australia have increased. Enhanced associations between Australia and South America/Mexico criminal networks have led to an increase in the flow of cocaine into Australia. Multi-ounce and kilogram quantities of cocaine are readily available in the Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne regions. Recent seizures indicate an increased involvement of Asian, Colombian and
Mexican organized crime groups in the distribution of large-scale amounts of cocaine into Australia. The cocaine user population continues to grow and the price and purity of cocaine remains high. There is little presence of "crack" cocaine, which is reportedly unpopular among the user population. Cocaine remains expensive by U.S. standards and its use is limited to up-market users who obtain the cocaine from a variety of distributors operating in popular nightclubs. Currently, a gram of cocaine ranges from $181 to $408 and one kilogram of cocaine costs between $122,000 and $163,000.
Illicit dangerous drugs remain popular in Australia. Australia has one of the highest per capita usage levels of MDMA in the world and MDMA is the second most abused drug in Australia. A capsule of MDMA ranges from $27 to $54. Recent seizures of domestic MDMA laboratories and substantial quantities of precursor chemicals in Australia have law enforcement concerned about the extent of MDMA abuse and production.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. In 2009 Australia announced that the AFP would play a greater role in combating narcotics production in Afghanistan. The 2009 budget included a $43 million program to deploy additional AFP personnel to Afghanistan. The officers provide high-level advice to the National Police of Afghanistan and support various capacity building and narcotics control programs.
Parliament is currently considering several pieces of legislation aimed at least in part at combating narcotics. The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious and Organized Crime) Bill is aimed at enhancing the ability of the police forces to prosecute large criminal organizations. It includes provisions that would make it easier for police to pursue wiretaps, prosecute members of a group who conspire to commit a crime, and investigate people with wealth shown to be in excess of their legal income. The government has also proposed a bill banning the importation of tablet presses to help combat the domestic production of illicit pills.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Federal, state, and territorial police agencies share responsibility for drug law enforcement. Each police force is an independent organization with jurisdiction over the laws of its state or territory. The exception is the Australian Capital Territory, which is administered by the Australian Federal Police. At the federal level, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) are engaged in drug law enforcement and interdiction. The AFP is the primary law enforcement agency in Australia, and it is the lead agency in narcotics enforcement investigations involving importation and/or international trafficking activities. The Australian Government has mandated the AFP give priority to drug trafficking investigations targeting major organizations and drug importations.
In 2009, Australian law enforcement authorities vigorously targeted and dismantled significant drug trafficking organizations. Asian, European, South American and Mexican drug trafficking organizations target Australia to facilitate the distribution of large quantities of heroin, cocaine, amphetamine type stimulants (ATS), including MDMA, and precursor chemicals. Australian authorities have seized substantial quantities of cocaine from Mexican trafficking organizations including the seizure of approximately 194 kilograms of cocaine in January 2009. The trafficking of bulk quantities of cocaine into Australia by Mexican organizations is a relatively new threat which has been aggressively attacked by authorities with positive outcomes. However, the seizure of bulk cocaine shipments to Australia is not a new phenomenon. In 2008, authorities seized approximately 173 kilograms of cocaine shipped from Canada. This shipment was controlled by one Vietnamese group. The bulk shipments not withstanding, most shipments of cocaine seized in Australia are from couriers, parcel post and international mail deliveries smuggling one kilogram or less. West African trafficking organizations continue to be involved in the shipment of smaller amounts of cocaine into Australia. According to local reporting, cocaine seizures at the border increased by 71 percent in 2007-2008, the vast weighted majority (80 percent) occurred in sea cargo shipments, and the number of national cocaine seizures is the largest ever recorded.
Australia continues to receive notable quantities of heroin from South East Asia (SEA) and South West Asia (SWA). The smuggling of SEA heroin into Australia is predominantly controlled by Asian trafficking groups, West Africans, and Australian criminal organizations. SEA heroin is smuggled in smaller quantities in a variety of methods including couriers, parcel post, international mail and cargo shipments. Heroin distribution networks throughout the country are usually controlled by Asian organized crime groups. In contrast, the smuggling of SWA heroin into Australia is largely controlled by Pakistani, Indian, and Australian criminal groups. SWA heroin is also smuggled via couriers, parcel post, international mail and cargo shipments. In 2007-2008, authorities report the cumulative weight of heroin seizures increased by 22 percent at the border. This trend continued as seen in February 2009 when authorities seized approximately 20 kilograms of heroin in Melbourne shipped from Pakistan.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report, Australia continues to maintain one of the highest Amphetamine Type Stimulant (ATS) and MDMA abuse rates in the world. MDMA is smuggled into Australia by a variety of groups with ties to sources in Western Europe. In 2008, authorities seized substantial bulk quantities of MDMA including the seizure of 9 kilograms in March of 2008, 44 kilograms shipped from Eastern Europe in May of 2008 and 121 kilograms shipped from Canada in June of 2008. In 2007-2008, the total weight of MDMA seizures decreased significantly as compared to 2006-2007. This was due to a 4.1 ton MDMA seizure in June 2007. In 2009, MDMA seizure rates have continued to decline; although, the drug is still readily available.
Asian organized crime groups dominate the distribution and trafficking of methamphetamine, and Canada remains a significant source of methamphetamine for Australia. In 2008, authorities seized approximately 260 kilograms of methamphetamine, most of which was controlled by Asian crime groups. Seizures have declined overall in 2009; however, methamphetamine is widely available throughout Australia. In January 2009, authorities seized approximately 5 kilograms of methamphetamine shipped from Canada.
The illicit domestic production of methamphetamine in Australia continues to be a major concern for authorities and likely accounts for the majority of methamphetamine in the country. Methamphetamine laboratories have been seized in every state and territory, but the state of Queensland (Brisbane) seizes the most. The number of clandestine laboratories seized in Australia in 2009 is expected to exceed 550. In 2008, Australian authorities seized approximately 434 clandestine laboratories. The majority of laboratories seized in Australia were small capacity methamphetamine operations; however, authorities have also seized sophisticated methamphetamine "superlabs." In Western Australia (WA), methamphetamine laboratory seizures have risen dramatically since 2008. As of June 2009, authorities have seized 38 laboratories and officials expect to seize approximately 144 laboratories in 2009.
Domestically produced marijuana is readily available throughout Australia. Australia produces enough domestic marijuana to satisfy demand. Law enforcement officials in all states have reported the seizure of cannabis fields of various sizes but the states of Queensland and New South Wales are still the primary areas for outdoor cultivation due to favorable climate. Law enforcement officials advise many of these outdoor cultivation sites have a high degree of sophistication such as the use of solar powered irrigation systems. Authorities in New South Wales continued to seize significant marijuana plots ranging from hundreds to thousands of plants. Queensland law enforcement officials have reported that they suspect significant quantities of marijuana is likely grown in Queensland; however, officials lack appropriate resources to eradicate outdoor cultivation sites.
Law enforcement officials throughout the country continued to report the seizure of significant hydroponic (indoor) grow operations. Some intelligence reporting indicates hydroponic marijuana production may equal or even exceed outdoor grow operations. The marijuana produced in Australia is almost exclusively for domestic use. According to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, there have been no instances of large-scale Australian-produced marijuana seized on the international market.
Corruption. Historically, corruption is not a problem in Australia. Corruption in the law enforcement community occasionally occurs at State Police agencies, but is the exception. The most recent corruption case at the state level occurred in June 2008 when the Assistant Director of Investigations with the New South Wales Crime Commission was arrested by the Australian Federal Police after an 18 month investigation. The subject was charged with attempting to facilitate the importation of pseudoephedrine into Australia. The arrest was widely reported by the local media and this case is still pending before the local courts.
The ACC, AFP, the internal affairs investigative sections of State Police departments and legislative-established commissions actively investigate and pursue corruption or misconduct. Generally, investigations involving public corruption are adequately reported by the media. Australia does not, as a matter of official government policy, encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.
Agreements and Treaties. The U.S. and Australia cooperate extensively in law enforcement matters, including drug prevention and prosecution, under a bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty and an extradition treaty. In addition, Australia is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, and the UN Convention against Corruption. Australia is actively involved in many international organizations that investigate drug trafficking. Australia acts as co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Group on money laundering, is a member of the Financial Action Task Force, INTERPOL, the Heads of Narcotics Law Enforcement Association (HONLEA), the International Narcotics Control Board, the South Pacific Chiefs of Police, the International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) and the Customs Cooperation Council among others. Australia and the U.S. also have a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA).
Cultivation/Production. The licit cultivation and processing of opium poppies in Australia is strictly confined to the Australian state of Tasmania. Tasmania is considered one of the world's most efficient producers of poppies with the highest yield per hectare of any opiate producing country. Tasmania supplies approximately one half of the world's legal medicinal opiate market. The Australian poppy industry utilizes the Concentrated Poppy Straw process, which processes the dry poppy plant material 'poppy straw' for use in the production of codeine and thebaine. The Australian Federal Government and the Tasmanian
State Government share responsibility for control of the poppy industry. During the growing and harvesting season, crops are regularly monitored by the Poppy Advisory and Control Board field officers and any illegal activity is investigated by the Tasmania Police Poppy Task Force. The export to the U.S. of Australia's narcotic raw material (NRM) is regulated by the '80/20 rule' which reserves 80 percent of the NRM market to traditional suppliers (India and Turkey) while the remaining 20 percent is shared by non-traditional suppliers (Australia, France, Hungary, Poland and currently, Former Yugoslavia). There were approximately 1000 poppy growing licenses granted in Australia for the 2006/2007 growing season in which 13,000 hectares were under poppy cultivation.
Drug Flow/Transit. There has been no evidence that Australia is a flow/transit point for illegal narcotics.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The use and abuse of illicit narcotic drugs is regarded by the Government of Australia (GOA) as a major problem. Concerted efforts to address this problem are continuing in the areas of law enforcement, education, and demand reduction. The GOA has established a national campaign to minimize the effects of both illicit and licit drug abuse and improve the quality and quantity of drug use services. The availability of treatment services for drug users remains an integral part of Australia's National Drug Strategy. There is a wide range of treatment options available throughout the country.
Safe injection rooms continue to be a controversial subject in federal government. The government of the State of New South Wales continues to report operations of the first "heroin injection room" (a.k.a. "safe injection room"), is "successful" since there were no fatal overdose cases in the locations. Supporters of these rooms hail the statistics as a success. Business and community leaders in the area around the "safe injecting rooms" have complained about the detrimental impact (i.e. increased crime, street dealing) these sites have had on their businesses. Nevertheless, the state governments have extended the "trial" program until 2010.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation. The United States undertakes a broad and vigorous program of counternarcotics activities in Australia, enjoying close working relationships with Australian counterparts at the policy making and working levels. There is active collaboration in investigating, disrupting, and dismantling international illicit drug trafficking organizations. The United States and Australia cooperate under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines these objectives. U.S. and Australian law enforcement agencies also have agreements in place concerning the conduct of bilateral investigations and the exchange of intelligence information on narcotics traffickers. Both countries continue to pursue closer relations, primarily in the area of information sharing.
The Road Ahead. Australia continues to be a world leader in the fight against narcotics. The United States welcomes Australia's continued cooperation and coordination in our efforts to control the production and use of narcotics both domestically and around the world, especially the unique contribution the Australian Federal Police are making in Afghanistan.
Austria is primarily a transit country for illicit drugs; it is not a drug-producing country. Experts see no change in the usual pattern of illegal traffic in narcotic substances in 2009, except for certain precursor chemicals, where since 2007 Austria has served as a depot country for interim storage of precursor chemicals transiting elsewhere. Foreign criminal groups from former Soviet-bloc countries, Turkey, West Africa, and Central and South America, dominate the organized drug trafficking scene in Austria. Austria's geographic location along major trans-European drug routes makes it easier for criminal groups to bring drugs into the country. Production, cultivation, and trafficking by Austrian nationals remain insignificant. Drug consumption in Austria is well below average west European levels, and authorities do not consider it to be a severe problem. However, they see a trend toward abuse of more high-risk drugs. The number of drug users is currently estimated at between 22,000 and 33,000, and the number of drug-related deaths remained essentially stabile (169 for 2008, compared to 175 in 2007). The Austrian government continued efforts to stiffen antidoping legislation with a view to eradicating a doping network active in moving products like steroids during the past few years. Measures include draft legislation to criminalize doping athletes. International cooperation led to significant seizures, frequently involving cooperation among multiple countries, including the U.S.
In 2009, Austria continued its efforts to intensify regional police cooperation, particularly in the Balkans. Austria also continued its focus on providing police training to countries in Central Asia. Austria is the seat of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and has been a major donor for several years. Austria has been a party to the 1971 and 1988 UN drug conventions since 1997.
II. Status of Country
There was no significant increase in the number of drug users in Austria during the period of January-October 2009. However, the past decade saw a rise in the use of cannabis from 5 percent in 1993 to 15 percent of total illicit drug abusers in 2008, and of Ecstasy and amphetamines, now at 4 percent. A 2007 estimate put the number of individuals using problematic drugs (mostly poly-toxic substances plus opiates) between 22,000 and 33,000. Austria counted 169 drug-related deaths in 2008, compared to 175 in the previous year. Some critics argue the downward trend could be a result of the reduced number of autopsies performed. However, the number of deaths from mixed intoxication continues to rise as drug users consume more high-risk substances. According to police records, total violations of the Austrian Narcotics Act decreased in 2008 and 2009. The latest prosecution statistics (for 2008) show 20,043 charges, a drop of 17 percent from the previous year's total. Of these charges, 961 involved psychotropic substances and 19,082 involved narcotic drugs. Two offenses involved precursors. Ninety percent of the charges were misdemeanors. Amphetamines and derivatives ("Ecstasy" pills) are predominantly smuggled in from the Netherlands via Germany, and Austria increasingly serves as a transit country for onward smuggling to Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
According to a survey commissioned by the Health Ministry, approximately one-fifth of respondents admitted to the consumption of an illegal substance at some time during their lives. Most respondents cited cannabis, with "Ecstasy" and amphetamines in second and third place respectively. Among young adults between ages of 19 to 29, about 34 percent admit to "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 3 percent had experience with biogenetic drugs.
III. Country Action against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. Following a series of high-profile doping cases among Austrian athletes--particularly the admission of doping by Austrian cyclist Bernhard Kohl shortly after winning third place in the 2008 Tour de France, the Austrian government moved to tighten antidoping legislation. The law also made manipulation of blood plasma for athletes, allegedly conducted by a Vienna company until 2006, a criminal offense. A proposed amendment to take effect on January 1, 2010 would punish athletes caught doping with prison terms of up to 10 years.
Statistical data suggest that Austrians' attitudes toward drug use have become less liberal since 2000. Public opinion has turned against the call to legalize hashish. One exception to this trend is the approval of distribution of sterile syringes to addicts. Rising crime figures in 2009, and a public perception that foreigners commit most drug-related crime, are cited as possible explanations for this change in public attitude.
Against this background, the Austrian government reinforced and expanded its no- tolerance policy regarding drug traffickers, while upholding its traditional "therapy before punishment" policy for non-dealing offenders through adjustments of its legal code.
In an effort to implement the European Framework Decision, Austria amended its Narcotics Substances Act (SMG) in 2008. An amendment regulating provisions regarding trafficking and dealing in narcotic substances and precursor substances, as well as the narcotic drugs data registry, went into effect on January 1, 2009. A 2005 amendment allows certain types of surveillance of illegal drug behavior, by permitting the installation of cameras in high-crime public areas. However, critics argue that this only moves the drug scene to other areas. Another law provides for the establishment of a "protection zone" around schools and retirement centers, in which police may ban suspected drug dealers for up to thirty days. Austrian authorities continue to demand stricter EU-wide regulations regarding the internet trade of illegal substances such as "spice."
Vienna is the seat of the UN's drug assistance agency, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime
(UNODC). Austria contributed 550,000 Euros ($825,000) to this organization in 2009. Additionally,
Austria pledged 300,000 Euros ($450,000) for drug interdiction in the West African region, specifically for capacity building in Mali. Overall, Austria spent about 1 million Euros ($1.5 million) for drug-related projects. In Afghanistan, Austria engaged in capacity building with regard to criminal law and criminal justice. Austria has been working with the UNODC and the EU to establish more effective border control checkpoints along the Afghan-Iranian border to prevent drug trafficking, particularly in opiates. Within the UNODC, Austria also participates in crop monitoring and alternative development plans in Peru, Bolivia, and Columbia. Austria values the "vital role" played by foreign liaison drug enforcement officers accredited in Austria, as well as by the network of Austrian liaison personnel stationed in critical countries abroad.
During its last EU presidency (January-July 2006), Austria initiated the EU's "Partnership for Security," with over fifty countries and organizations, including the U.S. and Russia, as participants. The Partnership reflected Austria's strong, year-long focus on the Balkans during its Presidency. One element of this strategy is the "Police Cooperation Convention for Southeastern Europe," which Austria co-signed.
In 2009, Austria maintained its lead role among EU countries within the Central Asian Border Security Initiative (CABSI). Austria participated in the 8th meeting in Tashkent October 1-3, 2009 where members discussed border security and cross-border cooperation in the region.
Law Enforcement Efforts. According to seizure statistics for 2008 (the latest figures available), a total black market value of 24.8 million Euros ($37.2 million) of illicit drugs was seized. Seizure amounts dropped in almost all categories (e.g. -31 percent for cannabis, -11 for heroin). The amount of LSD seized was 78 percent lower than the previous year. The Interior Ministry's 2008 drug report states that Austria's
Precursor Monitoring Unit dealt with 247 cases in relation to precursors and clandestine drug laboratories--a noticeable increase of 19.9 percent from the 206 cases in the previous year. In 2008, three illegal drug laboratories were raided in Austria, producing a relatively small seizure of synthetic methamphetamines. The estimated street value of illicit drugs remained largely stable throughout 2008 and 2009. One gram of cannabis sold for 10 Euros ($14); one gram of heroin for 85 Euros ($120); and one gram of cocaine for 80 Euros ($112). Amphetamines sold for 25 Euros ($35) per gram and one LSD trip for 35 Euros ($49).
Corruption. Austria has been a party to the OECD antibribery convention since 1999 and to the UN Corruption Convention since January 2006. The GOA's public corruption laws recognize and punish the abuse of power by a public official. An amendment which went into effect on January 1, 2008 substantially increased penalties for bribery and abuse of office. As of fall 2009, there were no pending corruption cases involving bribery of foreign public officials. As a matter of government policy, the GOA 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.
Agreements and Treaties. Austria is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Austria is a party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol against Trafficking in Persons. An extradition treaty and mutual legal assistance treaty are in force between the U.S. and Austria. In addition, In addition, all 27 EU member states, including Austria, have signed and ratified bilateral protocols with the U.S. that implement the 2003 U.S.-EU Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements, which will streamline the mutual legal assistance and extradition efforts between the countries. The U.S. has ratified all of these protocols, including the protocols with Austria, and they will enter into force on February 1, 2010. Furthermore, in fall 2009 Austria and the U.S. were in the final stages of signing an asset-sharing agreement regulating the allocation of confiscated assets between the two countries.
Cultivation/Production. Production of illicit drugs in Austria continued to be marginal in 2008 and 2009. The Interior Ministry's annual report on drug-related crime noted a rise in private, indoor-grown, high-THC-content cannabis. Austria recorded no domestic cultivation of coca or opium in the period January-October 2009.
Drug Flow/Transit. The Interior Ministry's drug report stresses that Austria is not a source country for illicit drugs, but remains a transit country. According to the DEA's quarterly trafficking report, illicit drug trade by Austrian nationals is negligible. Foreign criminal groups (e.g. Turks, Serbs, Bosnians, Russians, Albanians, and Bulgarians) carry out organized drug trafficking in Austria. The Balkan route into the country is a particularly difficult one to control. In addition to opiates, 90 percent of cocaine enters Austria by the Balkan Route. The illicit trade increasingly relies on Central and East European airports, including Vienna's Schwechat International Airport. A continuing trend in Austria is West African narcotics smugglers using women from former Soviet-bloc countries to smuggle drugs into Austria. The GOA reports a noticeable increase in Austria's growing role as a transit country for "Ecstasy" coming from the Netherlands to the Balkans.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Austrian authorities and the public generally view drug addiction as a disease rather than a crime. This is reflected in its relatively liberal drug legislation and court decisions. Conversely, there is growing public pressure on legislators to move more rigorously against (mostly foreign) drug traffickers. 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 GOA's demand reduction program emphasizes primary prevention, drug treatment, counseling, and "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 immigrants.
Primary intervention 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 the classroom. Overall, youths in danger of addiction are primary targets of new treatment and care policies. Austria has syringe exchange programs in place for HIV and hepatitis prevention. Hepatitis B and C are commonplace among intravenous drug users at 59 percent. Policies toward greater diversification in substitution treatment (methadone, prolonged-action morphine, and buprenorphine) continued in 2009. Austria is one of the few countries allowing use of retarding morphine for substitution treatments. Austria currently has approximately 10,000 people in rehabilitation programs.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. Cooperation between Austrian and U.S. authorities continued to be excellent in 2009. Several bilateral efforts exemplified this cooperation, including DEA/Austrian BKA counternarcotics operations, the ongoing DEA support of Austria's Drug Policing Balkans initiative, and the government's ongoing antidoping strategies. Throughout 2009 Austrian Interior Ministry officials continued to consult the FBI, DEA, and DHS on criminal investigations of mutual concern. DEA has also continued cooperation with Airport Police at Austria's Schwechat airport in an effort to intercept drug couriers. Drugs seized in golf balls during 2009 provided valuable insights into new methodologies used by international drug rings. As in 2008, leads passed from the Bangkok DEA office to Airport Police at Schwechat airport throughout 2009 proved valuable with respect to drug seizures, arrests and intelligence sharing between agencies. In addition, the U.S. Embassy regularly sponsors speaking tours for U.S. counternarcotics experts in Austria.
The Road Ahead. The U.S. will continue to support Austrian efforts to combat drug trafficking, including the creation of more effective tools for law enforcement. As in past years, the U.S. will work closely with Austria within the framework of U.S.-EU initiatives, the UN, and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). Promotion of a better understanding of U.S. drug policy among Austrian officials will remain a U.S. priority.
Azerbaijan is located along drug transit routes running from Afghanistan and Central Asia or Iran to Russia and Europe, and transshipments of illegal substances from East to West via its territory remain Azerbaijan's primary narcotics issue. Domestic consumption and cultivation of narcotics as well as seizures have continued to increase. The United States has funded counternarcotics assistance to Azerbaijan through the FREEDOM Support Act since 2002. Azerbaijan is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Azerbaijan's main narcotics problem is the transit of drugs through its territory, but domestic consumption is growing. Azerbaijan emerged as a narcotics transit route in the 1990s because of the disruption of the "Balkan Route" during the wars among the countries of the former Yugoslavia. According to the Government of Azerbaijan (GOAJ), most of the narcotics transiting Azerbaijan originate in Afghanistan and follow any of four primary routes to Russia and Europe. Azerbaijan shares a 380 mile (611 km) frontier with Iran, and its security forces need additional material resources and training to combat increasingly sophisticated trafficking groups. Iranian and other traffickers are exploiting this situation.
The most widely abused drugs in Azerbaijan are opiates--especially heroin. Also, illicit medicines, cannabis, Ecstasy, hashish, cocaine and LSD are widely abused. The GOAJ has registered 23,254 persons as drug addicts. Unofficial figures are estimated at approximately 300,000, the majority of which are heroin addicts. Students are thought to be a large share of total drug abusers at 30-35 percent. The majority of heroin users are concentrated in the region of Absheron, which includes the capital Baku, while the rest are primarily in the Lankaran District near Iran. Drug use and drug dealing among women has been rising, and illegal drug use among unemployed young men in rural areas is a chronic problem.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The GOAJ continued to refine its strategy to combat drug transit and usage in Azerbaijan. The GOAJ bolstered its ability to collect and analyze drug-related intelligence, resulting in more productive investigations against narcotics traffickers. The GOAJ held the chairmanship of the GUAM group of countries (Georgia-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova) from July 2007-July 2008 and had pushed for sharing counternarcotics information through the GUAM countries' Virtual Law Enforcement Center (VLEC) in Baku.
The VLEC was established with USG assistance. The center provides an encrypted information system that allows member states' law-enforcement agencies to share information and coordinate their efforts against terrorism, narcotics trafficking, small arms, and trafficking in persons. In December 2008 members of GUAM signed a protocol that would increase the level of information shared through VLEC; however, the extent to which the information is shared appears to remain limited. Azerbaijan is also party to the European Commission-funded South Caucasus Anti-Drug Program, which aims to reduce supply and demand for drugs by improving governments' capacity to address drug issues. The 2007-2009 program promoted drug policies and legislation that are in harmony with EU standards, refurbished a rehabilitation and treatment center for the Ministry of Justice, sponsored an awareness campaign and training courses, gathered information about drug addicts in the penitentiary system, and improved coordination between EU and Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies.
Law Enforcement Efforts. During the first nine months of 2009, Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies confiscated approximately 900 kilograms of narcotics. This represents a 60 percent increase compared to the same period in 2008. Of this amount, the majority was seized while being smuggled across the border with Iran. During the year 1956 drug traffickers were arrested. Of the 1956 people who were arrested for drug-related crimes in Azerbaijan, 1843 were described as able bodied, unemployed people who were not in school, 392 had a previous criminal record, 65 were women and 4 were underage children. In October 2009, the Central Department to Combat Law Violations in Customs seized 20 kilograms of heroin that was smuggled by an Azerbaijani/Iranian citizen through the southern border with Iran. This case is illustrative of numerous seizures that occurred throughout the year, in which large quantities of drugs were transported from Iran and through Azerbaijan by multinational criminal groups. While the majority of drugs enter Azerbaijan via land routes from Iran, some are transported by ships on the Caspian Sea.
Corruption. 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. However, corruption remains a significant problem in Azerbaijan and permeates much of society. Azerbaijani judges, prosecutors and investigators attended U.S. DOJ training courses on corruption investigation, prosecution techniques, investigating money laundering, and terrorism-financing. These broad-based skills may aid in the prosecution of drug-related cases and limit the scope of corruption. In October 2008, several police officers from a Baku counternarcotics trafficking unit were arrested on distribution charges. One kilogram of heroin was seized during the search of their offices.
Agreements and Treaties. Azerbaijan is 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. Azerbaijan also is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, and to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols.
Cultivation and Production. Azerbaijan's problem with narcotics largely stems from its role as a transit state, rather than as a significant drug cultivation site. Cannabis and poppy are cultivated illegally, mostly in southern Azerbaijan, but only to a modest extent. During 2009 448 tons of illegally cultivated and wild narcotic producing plants were destroyed.
Drug Flow/Transit. Afghan opiates transit to Azerbaijan by three primary routes: from Central Asia and across the Caspian Sea, or from Iran through the south of the country or through uncontrolled regions, which remain in conflict. The Iranian route accounts for 95 percent of this flow, with commercial trucks and horses serving as the mode of transportation across the border. Drugs are then smuggled through Azerbaijan to Russia, and finally on to Central and Western Europe. Efforts by Turkey to increase enforcement along its border with Iran may have contributed to increased transit through Azerbaijan. 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. In 2008, Azerbaijan created 50 new border guard outposts and coast guard bases and a canine training center. Smugglers are increasingly trafficking by air: during 2009 the number of seizures at airports increased. The Government of Azerbaijan is currently in the process of ratifying a new customs code, which has not been modernized since Soviet times. This modernization process should assist in interdicting illicit drugs at Azerbaijan's borders before they enter into transit through Azerbaijan. In April 2008, the Ministry of Internal Affairs signed an agreement with the Russian Federal Drug Control Service that facilitates joint operations, cooperative training and the sharing of interdiction techniques. This joint operation has led to the seizure of approximately 200 kilograms of narcotics.
Demand Reduction/Domestic Programs. In 2009, the GOAJ discontinued its counternarcotics public service announcement program that used kiosks and billboards in downtown Baku. In its place, the GOAJ has created a new counternarcotics campaign that primarily focuses on students. Lesson plans and
homework have been created for primary school children. On university campuses, the GOAJ funded NGOs to receive training on narcotics, create on campus counternarcotics advertisements, and have drug specialists meet with students. Azerbaijan is also focusing counternarcotics campaigns on prison inmates. Information is being disseminated to inmates about narcotics, and a database of prisoners that abuse narcotics is being created. Journalists also received guidelines on how to write reports that deal with narcotics.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. In 2009, the U.S. Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Office continued to assist the Azerbaijan State Border Service (SBS) and the State Customs Committee (SCC) and other GOAJ agencies involved in export control and related border security. EXBS training and assistance efforts, while aimed at the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, directly enhanced Azerbaijan's ability to control its borders and to interdict contraband, including narcotics. During the year, EXBS sponsored border control and management courses for SBS and SCC officers. The focus of these courses was advanced cargo inspection methods and border control tactics for ports of entry. Others efforts were aimed at improving the Border Guard's control of Azerbaijan's southern border. The U.S. donation of search tools and related equipment, such as all terrain vehicles, and watchtower construction materials, significantly enhanced the Border Guards' ability to interdict illegal smuggling through Azerbaijan's southern border. The donation of x-ray metal analyzers and x-ray machines improved State Customs Committee Contraband Teams' detection capabilities. Several SCC officers were trained on the use of x-ray machines for scanning vehicles at the main ports of entry into Azerbaijan. During the year EXBS continued negotiations for U.S. technical assistance for a National Targeting Center being constructed as SCC HQ in Baku, and in July officials from the State Customs Committee visited the U.S. national targeting centers. Additionally, the EXBS program continued increasing Azerbaijani Coast Guard (AJCG) capabilities with vessel and land-based radar systems, long term training of AJCG officers at U.S. Coast Guard facilities in the U.S., and mobile USCG training teams to Azerbaijan to cover leadership and management, small boat operations, and maritime law enforcement.. During 2006, EXBS helped equip a maritime base near Azerbaijan's southern border in Astara. The base now hosts two patrol boats and two fast response boats, and is also used for extended patrols by larger vessels from Baku. During 2009, INL-funded law enforcement assistance programs were canceled as the GOAJ failed to cooperate with the required Leahy vetting process and as a result, ICITAP was unable to conduct training program for law enforcement or military personnel.
The Road Ahead. The U.S. and GOAJ will continue to expand their efforts to conduct law enforcement assistance programs in Azerbaijan.
The Bahamas is a major transit point for cocaine from South America bound for both the U.S. and Europe, and for marijuana from Jamaica. The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (GCOB) cooperates closely with the U.S. Government, including participating in Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Island (OPBAT), to stop the flow of illegal drugs through its territory. The GCOB also cooperates to target Bahamian drug trafficking organizations, and to reduce the Bahamian domestic demand for drugs. The Bahamas is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs are transshipped through The Bahamas' 700 islands and cays spread over an area the size of California. Drug trafficking via maritime and aerial routes between South American source countries and the United States make detection difficult. While there is no official estimate of the number of hectares under cultivation, marijuana grown on remote islands and cays is of concern to Bahamian authorities. In 2009, The Bahamas continued to participate in OPBAT, a multi-agency international drug interdiction effort established in 1982 to stop the flow of cocaine and marijuana through The Bahamas to the U.S.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The GCOB upgraded its interdiction capabilities with the acquisition of two fixed wing surveillance aircraft for the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) and one fixed-wing transport aircraft for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF). Plans to upgrade the RBDF base on the island of Great Inagua continue to be moribund due to the damage inflicted by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and GCOB budget cuts in response to the downturn in the Bahamian tourism industry. The GCOB continued to enforce its ban on Haitian wooden hulled sloops in Bahamian waters. In addition to posing serious safety concerns, these vessels historically were a convenient method used for smuggling narcotics and illegal migrants through The Bahamas. According to media reports, during a July 2009 meeting Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and Haitian President Rene Preval agreed to expand cooperation against illicit smuggling, including joint exercises between the RBDF and the Haitian Coast Guard.
Accomplishments. In 2009, the RBPF Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) cooperated closely with U.S. and other foreign law enforcement agencies on drug investigations. Including OPBAT seizures, Bahamian authorities seized 1.823 metric tons of cocaine and nearly 11 metric tons of marijuana from January 2009 through October 2009. The DEU arrested over 1,000 persons on drug-related offenses and seized $4 million in cash.
Law Enforcement Efforts. The DEU and Bahamian Customs, in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), continued a program in Great Inagua to enforce GCOB requirements that vessels entering Bahamian territorial waters report to Bahamian Customs. During 2009, the RBDF assigned three ship-riders each month to U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) cutters. The ship-riders extend the law enforcement capability of the USCG into the territorial waters of The Bahamas. The RBPF participated actively in OPBAT, and officers of the DEU and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police also flew on OPBAT missions, making arrests and seizures. The RBDF and RBPF conducted maritime smuggling and security patrols through the use of a variety of small to medium-sized vessels based throughout The Bahamas. The RBDF fleet of 14 vessels and various small boats are operated out of bases on New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Great Inagua. RBDF assets include four interceptor "fast boats" donated under U.S. Southern Command's Enduring Friendship program, and two 60 meter vessels operated out of Nassau.
The RBPF operated 11 small, short range vessels based in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Bimini, Andros, and other small islands and cays. RBPF vessels include three fast boats donated under the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs' bilateral narcotics and law enforcement assistance program. The RBDF and RBPF vessels are generally well-maintained by properly trained crews; however the effectiveness of their maritime interdiction and security efforts is limited by the few resources they have to cover the large expanse of Bahamian territorial waters.
Corruption. As a matter of policy, the GCOB does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, nor the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. No senior official in the GCOB was investigated for drug-related offenses in 2009. The RBPF uses an internal committee to investigate allegations of corruption involving police officers instead of an independent entity.
Agreements and Treaties. The Bahamas is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol; the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances; the 1988 UN Drug Convention; the 1990 U.S.-Bahamas-Turks and Caicos Island Memorandum of Understanding concerning Cooperation in the Fight Against Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs; and the Inter American Convention against Trafficking in Illegal Firearms. The GCOB is also a party to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption; the UN Convention against Corruption; and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols.
The U.S. and The Bahamas cooperate in law enforcement matters under an extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT). The MLAT facilitates the bilateral exchange of information and evidence for use in criminal proceedings. There are currently 51 U.S. extraditions pending in The Bahamas. GCOB prosecutors pursue USG extradition requests vigorously, however, in the Bahamian justice system; defendants can appeal a magistrate's decision, first domestically, and ultimately, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. This process often adds years to an extradition procedure. The USG also has a Comprehensive Maritime Agreement (CMA) with The Bahamas, which went into effect in 2004 replacing a patchwork of disparate safety, security and law enforcement agreements. Among its provisions, the CMA permits cooperation in counternarcotics and migrant interdiction operations in and around Bahamian territorial waters, including the use of ship riders and expedited boarding approval and procedures.
Cultivation and Production. There are no official estimates of hectares of marijuana under cultivation in The Bahamas. USG and host country enforcement agencies believe Jamaican nationals are involved in the cultivation of marijuana on The Bahamas' remote islands and cays, however only a fraction of the marijuana seizures in 2009 were in plant form. Most marijuana loads were found concealed aboard smuggling vessels or stashed on sparsely populated islands. OPBAT and the RBPF cooperated in identifying, seizing, and destroying nearly 11 metric tons of marijuana during the period from January through October 2009.
Drug Flow/Transit. Cocaine transits The Bahamas via go-fast boats, small commercial freighters, or small aircraft from Jamaica, Hispaniola and Venezuela. DEA estimates that this accounts for approximately five percent of the cocaine flow to the U.S. According to USG law enforcement, sport fishing vessels and pleasure crafts then transport cocaine from The Bahamas to Florida, blending into the legitimate vessel traffic that moves daily between these locations. Larger go-fast and sport fishing vessels transport marijuana from Jamaica, through The Bahamas and into Florida in the same manner that cocaine is moved. From January through October 2009, USG and host country law enforcement assets interdicted seven vessels and disrupted numerous attempts to smuggle illicit drugs through The Bahamas. DEA/OPBAT estimates that there are 12 to 15 major Bahamian drug trafficking organizations operating in The Bahamas. Bahamian law enforcement officials also identified shipments of drugs in Haitian sloops and coastal freighters. Information acquired by host country law enforcement suggests drug trafficking organizations have utilized air drops and remote airfields to deliver large cocaine shipments to the Turks and Caicos Islands and The Bahamas from Venezuela and Colombia. Illegal drugs are also smuggled using commercial maritime means. Illegal drugs have been seized from cargo containers transiting the port container facility in Freeport. The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations into alien smuggling operations in the Bahamas often have revealed a connection to drug trafficking as well.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Bahamas National Anti-Drug Secretariat (NADS) coordinates the demand reduction programs of the various governmental entities such as Sandilands Rehabilitation Center and of NGO's such as the Drug Action Service and The Bahamas Association for Social Health. Although NADS received additional funding and support from the USG in 2009, it requires a significant increase in personnel and funding in order to coordinate, plan, and implement The Bahamas' 2004 Anti-Drug Plan. In 2009, GCOB and NGO drug prevention efforts focused primarily on schools and youth organizations on New Providence, Grand Bahama, and other population centers.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. The goals of USG assistance to The Bahamas are to: stem the flow of illegal drugs through The Bahamas and into the United States; dismantle drug trafficking organizations; and strengthen Bahamian law enforcement and judicial institutions to make them more effective and self-sufficient in combating drug trafficking and money laundering.
Bilateral Cooperation. During 2009, INL funded training, equipment, travel and technical assistance for GCOB law enforcement and drug demand reduction officials, procured computer and other equipment to improve Bahamian law enforcement capacity to target trafficking organizations through better intelligence collection and more efficient interdiction operations, repaired and upgraded RBPF interdiction boats based at Grand Bahama, and supported the GCOB's "Drug Free Schools" initiative with funding for teacher training, transportation, and course materials.
The USCG moved forward with plans to rebuild the OPBAT hangar on Great Inagua. Pending the successful conclusion of lease negotiations with the GCOB, construction will begin in 2010 with completion planned for 2012. The new hangar will allow USCG to base helicopters flying in support of OPBAT on Great Inagua. USCG's helicopters have been operating from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands since hurricane Ike destroyed the original Great Inagua hangar in 2008. The USCG provided resident, mobile and on-the-job training in maritime law enforcement, engineering and maintenance, professional development for the officer and enlisted corps, and medical practices to the RBDF. Before the end of 2009, the Department of Defense will deliver two additional 43-foot interceptor boats and communications equipment to the RBDF under the U.S. Southern Command's Enduring Friendship program.
The Road Ahead. Despite the Bahamian Government's strong commitment to joint counternarcotics efforts and to extradite drug traffickers to the U.S., the slow movement of extradition requests through the overburdened Bahamian judicial system is a source of concern. There have been credible reports of subjects of U.S. extradition requests continuing to participate in illegal drug smuggling activities while on bail awaiting resolution of their cases. We encourage GCOB efforts to decrease the time needed to resolve these and other criminal cases by increasing the resources and manpower available to prosecutors, judges, and magistrates. Prime Minister Ingraham's call for greater cooperation between The Bahamas and Haiti was also welcome. The GCOB could enhance its drug control efforts further by integrating Creole speakers into the DEU and encouraging information sharing between the RBPF, RBDF, and the Haitian National Police (HNP) to develop information on Haitian drug trafficking organizations operating in The Bahamas. The GCOB enhanced OPBAT's maritime interdiction capabilities by basing the four interceptor boats acquired under Operation Enduring Friendship in 2008 on New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Great Inagua. These capabilities could be developed further by stationing the two new boats received in 2009 on Grand Bahama and Great Inagua.
There was no evidence that Bangladesh is a significant cultivator or producer of narcotics. Government of Bangladesh (GOB) officials charged with controlling and preventing illegal substance trafficking continued to lack sufficient training, equipment, continuity of leadership, and other resources to detect and interdict the flow of drugs. Law enforcement agencies nevertheless continued to interdict narcotics, from the Golden Crescent in South Asia and the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia, smuggled into Bangladesh along its porous land border with India and Burma and by fishing trawlers, but not as efficiently as they could if training and equipment needs were met. Corruption also hampers the country's drug interdiction efforts. Bangladesh is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
The country's porous borders facilitated the illegal flow of narcotics from neighboring countries and made Bangladesh an attractive transfer point for drugs transiting the region. Assessments conducted by several U.S. agencies in 2008 confirmed numerous land, sea and air border security vulnerabilities in Bangladesh that could be easily exploited by narcotics traffickers. The Bangladesh Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) said it was unable to estimate the number of drug addicts in the country, and NGO sources also have no real idea, since their estimates range wildly between 100,000 to 1.7 million addicts, with 20,000-25,000 injecting drug users and 45,000 heroin smokers, as best guesses for these classes of drug abusers. Other drugs used in Bangladesh were methamphetamines, marijuana, and the codeine-based cough syrup phensidyl. Most of the "ya ba" (methamphetamine pills) circulating in Bangladesh is smuggled from neighboring countries such as Burma.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. Although government officials said in 2007 that they planned to introduce a new interagency drug abuse monitoring group, no such agency existed by late 2009, as this report was being prepared.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Law enforcement units engaged in operations to counternarcotics included the police, the DNC, the border defense forces known as the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), customs, the navy, the coast guard, local magistrates and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite group that played a leading role in fighting terrorism, corruption and narcotics abuse. Customs, the navy, the coast guard and the DNC all suffered from poor funding, inadequate equipment, understaffing and lack of training. For example, the DNC budget for 2008-2009 was 184 million taka (about $2.6 million), only slightly more than the actual expenditure for the previous fiscal year. Its work force of about 940 people also was 337 positions short of the number approved by the government. The DNC did not maintain a presence at the international airports in Chittagong and Sylhet and only two officials were posted at Dhaka airport. DNC officers throughout the country were not authorized to carry weapons. Although RAB had become perhaps the highest-profile counternarcotics force in the country, it did not have a special counternarcotics section. Its drug-fighting resources, which appeared stronger than other law-enforcement agencies, included a recently expanded canine corps of 51 dogs.
The smuggling, diversion and abuse of pharmaceuticals originating from India is considered one of the single largest drug problems in Bangladesh. The BDR seized 32,870 liters of phensidyl, a codeine-based, highly addictive cough syrup produced in India, in addition to the more traditional drugs of abuse, such as 14.7 kilograms of heroin, and 9,626.4 kilograms of marijuana from January through September 2009. The DNC keeps tabs primarily on seizures by its own officers. Drugs seized by the department from January through September 2009 (latest statistics) are as follows: 17.6 kilograms of heroin (compared to 29.0 kilograms in all of 2008 and 20.9 kilograms in 2007); 1,540 kilograms of marijuana (compared to 2,302 kilograms in 2008 and 1,768 kilograms in 2007); more than 46,187 bottles of phensidyl; 83 ampoules of pethedine, an injectable opiate with medical application as an anesthetic; and 3,179 tablets of ya ba tablets which consist of caffeine and methamphetamine. Meanwhile, RAB reported 516 drug related arrests as of September 2009.
Corruption. The drive against corruption launched by the Caretaker Government in January 2007 slowed following the December 2008 national elections. The Awami League formed the Government following elections, replacing the Caretaker Government. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) faced criticism from both ruling and opposition party leaders for what they described as "harassment" of politicians during the two years of the state of emergency. The ACC saw a change of leadership and a government review committee recommended withdrawal of 875 cases, mostly involving Awami League leaders, as of October, 2009. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed to continue the campaign against corruption. The GOB did not, as a matter of government policy, encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of drugs or controlled substances or launder proceeds from their transactions. No senior official had been identified as engaging in, encouraging, or facilitating the production or distribution of drugs or controlled substances.
Agreements and Treaties. Bangladesh 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. Bangladesh acceded to the UN Convention against Corruption in February 2007 but has neither ratified nor acceded to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. There is neither an extradition nor a mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and Bangladesh.
Cultivation/Production. The International Narcotics Control Board estimated small quantities of cannabis are cultivated in Bangladesh for local use. The DNC acknowledged that some small amount of cannabis is cultivated in the hill tracts near Chittagong, in the southern silt islands, and in the northeastern region, noting it is for local consumption. The DNC also reported that as soon as knowledge of a cannabis crop reached its officers, that crop was destroyed in concert with law enforcement agencies. The DNC said there were no significant crop destruction activities in the first 10 months of 2009.
Drug Flow/Transit. The most frequently abused drug traditional drug of abuse is heroin, thereafter, phensidyl (Codeine based cough syrup) illegally smuggled from India and the third highest is cannabis. Bangladesh has borders with India on its three sides except the south, which borders the Bay of Bengal. There were few media reports of major narcotics seizures in the first 10 months of 2009. The International Narcotics Control Board in its 2007 report cited evidence that "heroin consignments destined for Europe are increasingly passing through Bangladesh." It said heroin was smuggled into Bangladesh by courier from Pakistan, by commercial vehicle or trains from India, by truck or public transport from Burma and by sea via the Bay of Bengal. The Chittagong seaport appeared to be the main exit point for narcotics leaving Bangladesh, the report added. Bangladesh Navy officials said they suspected Bangladesh was a transit zone for heroin smuggled out of the Golden Crescent in South Asia and the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia. Smugglers used Bangladeshi, Burmese and Thai Fishing Trawlers for trafficking heroin into Bangladesh.
Several recent U.S. government assessments confirmed vulnerabilities along Bangladesh's land, sea and air borders. One report from the Department of Homeland Security described a chaotic situation at Benapole, the main land border crossing between India and Bangladesh, which could easily be exploited by narcotics traffickers. The report said examination of luggage items was said to be cursory at best. Opium-based pharmaceuticals and other drugs containing controlled substances are being smuggled into Bangladesh from India. White (injectable) heroin comes in from Burma.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Law enforcement officials believe that drug abuse, while previously a problem among the ultra-poor, is becoming a major problem among the wealthy and well-educated young as well. The Department of Narcotics Control ran treatment centers in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Jessore and Comilla. In the nine months through September 2008, 3,120 patients received treatment at the government facilities, the vast majority of them being male. A drug addicts' rehabilitation organization, APON, operates six long-term residential rehabilitation centers, including the first centers in Bangladesh for the rehabilitation of female addicts (opened in 2005 and a more permanent facility in 2009). APON says it is the only organization that includes street children in its drug rehabilitation program. The International Narcotics Control Board in its 2007 report said prescription controls in Bangladesh were not adequately enforced at the retail level. It said pharmaceutical preparations were stolen from both hospitals and pharmacies.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. The USG continued to support Bangladesh's counternarcotics efforts. For example, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka provided a grant of $52,000 to APON for a new rehabilitation center for female drug addicts, which opened in November 2009.
The Road Ahead. The USG will continue to provide law enforcement and forensic training for GOB officials, which the USG hopes will be useful to Bangladesh's counternarcotics efforts. New Delhi-based Drug Enforcement Administration officials visited Dhaka in November 2009 to liaise with Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies about future counternarcotics cooperation.
Belarus remains a transit route for illicit drugs and drug precursors. Drug use and drug-related crime increased in Belarus in 2009, although there is no evidence of large-scale drug production in the country. In October 2008 the government adopted a National Action Plan for 2009-2013 to coordinate government and NGO counternarcotics efforts. In early 2009 the General Prosecutor's office drafted a bill on measures to prevent drug abuse. The bill is expected to strengthen Belarusian laws against drug related crimes and will be submitted for parliamentary consideration in 2010.
The government has taken regulatory steps to tighten control over precursors, smoking mixes and chewing tobacco. In addition, the government facilitated UN technical assistance programs. Some significant drug seizures were made during 2009, but the quantities involved may only hint at the true scale of trafficking. Law enforcement efforts suffer from a lack of coordination as well as inadequate funding and equipment shortfalls. Some non-governmental organizations concerned with narcotics treatment and mitigation which were denied registration in previous years resumed their operations in 2008 and continued their work into 2009. In short, availability and quality of drug treatment services have improved somewhat, but a great deal of work still remains. Belarus is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Because of its geographical location, good transportation infrastructure, and the presence of corruption in its law enforcement system, Belarus is an attractive transit route for illicit drugs. The lack of border controls between Belarus and Russia makes drug transit easier. Belarus' law-enforcement officials expect this problem to become worse when members of the Eurasian Economic Community (Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan) create a customs union in 2010. There is no evidence of large-scale drug production in, or export from Belarus, although synthetic and plant-based narcotics production does seem to be growing. Indications are that although plant narcotics dominate the illicit drug market (approximately 75-85 percent plant-based to 15-25 percent synthetic) the ratio appears to be shifting toward synthetic drugs. According to the data of Belarus' Health Ministry, while five years ago about 93 percent of drug addicts in Belarus consumed opium and its derivatives, at present these drugs are consumed by approximately 70 percent. Most synthetic drugs found in Belarus are produced in Poland, with a lesser amount produced in the Baltic States. Amphetamine-type stimulants are the predominant synthetic drug available on the Belarusian market. Although law enforcement officials of neighboring countries maintain that Belarus is a source of precursor chemicals, senior officials of Belarus' Interior Ministry flatly deny this. It is more likely that Belarus is a transit country for precursor chemicals produced in Russia en route to production sites in Poland and the Baltic States. Whatever drug production and cultivation may exist in Belarus, they are not perceived in Belarus as the most pressing problem. Drug abuse prevention, treatment, and transit issues must be addressed first, Belarus officials believe, if the country is to reach full compliance with the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. In October 2008, the Belarusian government adopted the National Action Plan to counteract drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking and related crimes in Belarus. From 2009 through 2013, this Plan will consolidate the counternarcotics efforts of all government agencies and NGOs under Interior Ministry coordination. Drug trafficking is routinely addressed at the regular meetings of the Domestic Belarus National Security Council's Interagency Committee on crime, corruption and drugs.
The Belarus' Health Ministry passed a resolution in July 2009, which expanded the National List of Narcotics, Psychotropic Substances and Their Precursors Subject to Government Control in Belarus to include 3,4 metilendioxifenil-2 and red phosphorus as well as synthetic cannabinoids (JWH-018 and CP47, 497) "Spice". The resolution will come into effect on January 1, 2010. In an effort to prevent mailings of Cannabis seeds for their subsequent planting the government is contemplating introducing a ban on such mailings. No decision had been made as of late November 2009.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Local Belarusian media are reporting more instances of drug use and drug-related crimes in Belarus in 2009 than in 2008. Belarusian law enforcement authorities attribute this increase to improved detection, but acknowledge that the overall, non-drug-related crime rate is also higher than a year ago. Police discovered four synthetic drug labs in the country.
Between January 1 and October 1, 2009, authorities seized approximately 17.3 kilograms of psychotropic substances and 586 kilograms of other drugs. Drugs seized (in kilograms) are as follows: Poppy Straw (353.2);
Marijuana (213.4); Raw Opium (0.826); Heroin (3.144); Amphetamine (2.692); Methamphetamine (8.249); Ecstasy (MDMA) (0.069); Acetylated Opium (0.381); Hashish (4.420); Hashish oil (0.004); Cocaine (0.122); Raw opium (8.715); Methadone (1.481); Morphine (0.006); Tetrahydrocannabinol (1.458). In the first six months of 2009, 1,021 people were convicted for drug related crimes in Belarus. From June through August within the framework of "Poppy" program police discovered 3,635 illegal plantations, and destroyed 75.8 metric tons of poppy straw and other drugs containing plants from a total planting area which exceeded 390 square kilometers. Poppy straw is converted into acetylated opium, an injectable opiate that is cheaper and easier to produce than heroin and is widely abused throughout the region. The Interior and other government agencies conducted routine checks of legal manufacturers of narcotic and psychotropic substances within the framework of their "Doping" program to ensure their compliance with production, storage and sales regulations, and to avoid the leak of such substances to the illicit drug market.
According to official statistics, 3,533 drug-related crimes were recorded in the first nine months of 2009. These comprised: thefts of narcotics substances--27, instances of illicit trafficking in controlled substances--3,257, cultivation of narcotic plants--32, street drug sales--23, and the organizing of illicit drug consumption rooms--95. In September 2009, officers of Belarus' Interior Ministry, Customs Committee, KGB and Border Guard Committee actively participated in CANAL-2009, a joint operation with Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) members aimed at the prevention and interdiction of illicit drug deliveries from Afghanistan and precursor deliveries to Belarus. During this operation, 104 drug-related crimes were recorded, criminal charges were brought against 92 persons, and more than 118.5 kilograms of narcotics were seized. The Interior Ministry officials conceded that official seizure figures do not reflect the true scale of the problem. In June 2009 presidents of the CSTO member states decided to make CANAL operation a permanent project. This is expected to help intensify their counternarcotics efforts and improve results.
Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Belarus 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. No senior officials of the government are known to engage in, encourage, or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of such drugs, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. A few high-level personnel within the Interior Ministry were charged with corruption in 2009, but none of the charges were drug-related. Nevertheless, the perception that corruption remains a serious problem facilitating drug trafficking was supported by the General Prosecutor Grigory Vasilevich in his November 2009 remark that through-September corruption has grown 20 percent year-on-year.
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 also a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Belarus is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia and conducts joint counternarcotics operations with those countries. Russia and Belarus planned to complete before the end of 2008 a unified list of narcotics, psychotropic substances and their precursors subject to state control, in order to avoid criminal liability in one country for drugs which are legal in the other. According to Belarus' Interior Ministry, this job has not been completed as of mid-November 2009.
Cultivation/Production. Some drug crop cultivation and synthetic drug production exists, but the scale is hard to estimate. Official government figures are unreliable. Precursor chemicals continue to be imported in volume, but the current legal structure makes it difficult to prevent their diversion to illicit uses. In 2007, 1,990 entities had licenses for manufacturing and storage of precursors and 15,000 employees have access to the substances. No up-to-date data are available but there is no indication that these numbers have significantly changed. Reported increases in demand for poppy-seed, and subsequent tenfold increase in price, prompted a December 2007 ban on retail sale of poppy at grocery markets-poppy seed is used in certain cakes and breads. According to Belarus' Interior Ministry, domestic producers of illicit drugs sell them inside the country but also make every effort to sell them abroad, primarily in Russia, as prices on drugs there are generally higher than in Belarus. According to the Belarus' Health Ministry, such manufacturers work hard to invent new chemical substances, which possess drug effect and which as yet have not been put on the National List of Narcotics, Psychotropic Substances and Their Precursors Subject to Government Control, and are therefore completely legal.
Drug Flow/Transit. Heroin enters and transits Belarus from Afghanistan via Central Asia and Russia. Poppy straw, opium, and marijuana enter through Ukraine; Ecstasy, amphetamines, hashish and marijuana come from Poland and Lithuania; cocaine comes from Latin America and precursor chemicals for the preparation of drugs from Russia. Heroin and methadone from Russia transit Belarus en route to Lithuania and other European countries. East-bound marijuana, hashish and cocaine transit Belarus and Lithuania as well. Press reports and anecdotal evidence continue to indicate that the control infrastructure along the border with Ukraine is particularly weak. In accordance with their bilateral customs union agreement, Belarusian border guards are not deployed on the border with Russia, which is policed by Russian forces. Apparently, customs officers currently inspect only five percent of all inbound freight nationally, and border guards often lack the training and equipment to conduct effective searches.
The Interior Ministry conducted routine checks of businesses, which export, import and arrange for the transit of chemical substances via Belarus. Through September 2009 the Interior Ministry officers discovered 36 channels of drug delivery and transit and seized 27 kilograms of hashish, 5 kilograms of amphetamine-type stimulants, 4000 tablets of ephedrine, more than 1.4 kilograms of heroin, about 1 kilograms of cocaine and other psychotropic substances.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Belarusian authorities have begun to recognize the growing domestic demand problem, particularly among young people. Ministry of Health chief addiction officer, Vladimir Maksimchuk, announced that the number of registered drug users in the country has increased to nearly 12,000 registered drug abusers (as of October 2009), but acknowledged that the actual number of users was approximately seven times higher. According to the Health Ministry official, approximately 120 drug addicts die in Belarus annually because of overdoses. The largest number of drug users is between 20 and 30 years old, and prevention programs in schools remain under-funded. News reports indicate that the ratio of consumers of oral (vs. injected) drugs is growing due to the relative ease of concealment of oral drug use. The government generally treats drug addicts in psychiatric hospitals or at outpatient narcotics clinics (of which there are 21 in Belarus), either as a result of court remand or self-enrollment. Addicts are also treated in prisons. On the whole, treatment emphasizes detoxification over stabilization and rehabilitation. In April 2009, the Ministries of Health and Interior, the General Prosecutor's office, the Belarusian State University and a number of counternarcotics NGO's conducted a seminar to review the possibility of mandatory treatment in lieu of criminal liability for first-time users, unless guilty of a serious crime. To date no decision has been taken, but seminar participants established a working group to examine the practices of foreign states and decide on the relevance of their practices to Belarus. The methadone replacement clinic opened by the Ministry of Health in Minsk in July 2009 was the second such clinic in operation. Another clinic is scheduled to be built in the city of Soligorsk in the Minsk region before the end of 2009. Both clinics are expected to serve approximately 100 people this year.
There are at least twelve small-scale NGO-run rehabilitation centers in various areas of Belarus. On the whole, availability and quality of services have improved somewhat. NGO-run centers provide fee-rehabilitation services to both registered and anonymous drug addicts, while government-run centers provide similar services for free, but only to registered addicts. Since drug use remains highly stigmatized in Belarusian society, and because the official drug addict registry is readily available to Belarusian law enforcement and other government agencies, drug addicts still often avoid seeking treatment, fearing adverse consequences at work, at school, or in society writ large if their addiction becomes known.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs.
Bilateral Cooperation. The USG has not provided counternarcotics assistance to the GOB since February 1997. Although some working-level assistance and contacts have existed in the area of law enforcement, these ceased in early 2008, when the GOB forced a draw down of the official American presence in Belarus from 35 to 5 Americans and began denying visas to U.S. law enforcement personnel for visits. The imposition of restrictions in 2005 by the Government of Belarus on technical assistance including the taxation of humanitarian aid poses additional hurdles to cooperation. Moreover, the USG is currently prohibited by domestic U.S. legislation from providing direct assistance to the government of Belarus, including in this sphere. Although the USG hopes for improvement in the bilateral relationship, present conditions do not permit closer cooperation.
The Road Ahead. The USG will continue to encourage Belarusian authorities to enforce their counternarcotics laws and cooperate on cases as appropriate.
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|Publication:||International Narcotics Control Strategy Report|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2010|
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