Cablegate: Spain: International Narcotics Control Strategy

DE RUEHMD #1307/01 3471728
R 121728Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) As requested in REFTEL A, Post's submission for the
"International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) Part
I, Drugs and Chemical Control," follows in paragraph 2. This
report includes draft numbers for statistical information on
seizures for the calendar year 2008. If information for the
full year 2008 becomes available in time, an updated
submission will be sent before January 30, 2009. POC for the
INCSR, Part 1 in Spain is Hugh Clifton. Telephone
34-91-587-2294, email:

2. (U)

I. Summary

Spain remains the primary transshipment and consumption area
for cocaine imported into Europe from South and Central
America. Although Madrid in 2008 declared that cocaine
consumption is no longer on the increase, Spain continues to
be the largest consumer of cocaine in the European Union
(EU), with 3 percent of the Spanish population consuming it
on a regular basis (20 percent of all European consumers live
in Spain). Sixty-three percent of patients admissions to
Spanish emergency rooms for drug consumption were due to
cocaine consumption, and 47 percent of the people admitted in
treatment/rehabilitation centers were cocaine users. Among
EU nations, Spain is also the number one consumer of designer
drugs and hashish, with 25 percent of Spaniards 15 to
24-year-olds having consumed hashish in the last year.
Spanish National Police, Civil Guard, and Customs Services,
along with autonomous regional police forces, maintained an
intense operational tempo during 2008. Spanish security
services carried out increased law enforcement operations
throughout Spain, seizing more than twice as much heroin in
2008 than in the previous year and midway through the year
were on track to notch a record year for seizures of hashish.
As of the end of June, cocaine seizures were down more than
50 percent from 2007 while the Spanish security services
appeared on track to seize roughly the same quantity of
Ecstasy as they did in 2007.
The Spanish government ranks drug trafficking as one of its
most important law enforcement concerns and continues to
maintain excellent relations with U.S. counterparts. The
United States continues to improve the current excellent
bilateral and multilateral cooperation in law enforcement
programs it has with Spain, as symbolized by joint operations
to arrest key drug traffickers and a series of visits this
year from high-level USG officials, such as the Commandant of
the U.S. Coast Guard and Congressional delegations. Spain is
a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Spain remains the principal entry, transshipment, and
consumption zone for the large quantities of South American
cocaine and Moroccan cannabis destined for European consumer
markets, and is also a major source and transit location for
drug proceeds returning to South and Central America.
Colombia appears to be Spain's largest supplier of cocaine
from Latin America, although some information available
suggests an increase in shipments of illicit cocaine from
Bolivia. Bolivian cocaine is transshipped through Venezuela
and Argentina by vessel or plane to the Iberian Peninsula.
Spain also faces a sustained flow of hashish from its
southern neighbors, Morocco and Algeria. Maritime smuggling
of hashish across the Mediterranean Sea is a very large-scale
business. Spanish police continued to seize multi-ton loads
of Moroccan hashish, some of which is brought into Spain by
illegal immigrants. In an effort to prevent this, Morocco
and Spain created in November 2008 a joint working group to
study drug-smuggling routes from the former country to the
latter. The majority of heroin that arrives in Spain is
transported via the "Balkan Route" from Turkey, although
Security Forces in 2008 have noticed recent efforts to
transport it into Spain by boat. The Spanish National Police
have identified Turkish trafficking organizations that
distribute the heroin once it is smuggled into Spain.
Illicit refining and manufacturing of drugs in Spain is
minimal, although small-scale laboratories of synthetic drugs
such as LSD are discovered and destroyed each year.
MDMA-Ecstasy labs are rare and unnecessary in Spain as MDMA
labs in the Netherlands prefer shipping the final product to
Spain. However, the Ecstasy trafficking trend has been to
use cities in Spain as transshipment points for small
shipments to the U.S. to foil U.S. Customs inspectors who are
wary of packages mailed to the U.S. from Belgium or the
Spain's pharmaceutical industry produces precursor chemicals;

MADRID 00001307 002 OF 004

however, most precursors used in Spain to manufacture illegal
drugs are imported from China. There is effective control of
precursor shipments within Spain from the point of origin to
destination through a program administered under the Ministry
of Health and Consumer Affairs' National Drug Plan, known by
its Spanish acronym of PNSD.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2008
Policy Initiatives. The PNSD provides overall guidance and
strategic directives for Spain's national policy on drugs.
In 2008, Spain concluded its first-ever PNSD, which covered
the years 2000 to 2008. The strategy, approved in 1999,
expanded the scope of law enforcement activities and
permitted the sale of seized assets in advance of a
conviction and allowed law enforcement authorities to use
informants. The strategy also outlined a system to
reintegrate individuals who have overcome drug addictions
back into Spanish society. The strategy also targeted money
laundering and illicit commerce in chemical precursors and
calls for closer counternarcotics cooperation with other
European and Latin American countries.
Over the past year, Spain also drafted its new PNSD for
2009-2016, which it formally unveiled on November 12, 2008.
This new plan - which still needs to be approved by the
Congress - aims to have citizens more involved in the fight
against drugs, with the hope to prevent and/or lower
consumption, delay the age for initial consumption (currently
at age 20 for cocaine and heroin, and age 18 for hashish),
and to guarantee assistance to drug addicts.
In October 2008, the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs
released a report claiming that consumption of cocaine had
stabilized after it decreased in 2007 for the first time
since 1994. Overall, 3 percent of the Spanish population
regularly consumes cocaine. Spain is a UNODC Major Donor and
a member of the Dublin Group, a group of countries that
coordinates the provision of counternarcotics assistance.
In March 2008, the International Narcotics Control Board
(INCB), the independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body
for the implementation of the UN's international drug control
conventions, congratulated Spain for its 2007-2010 Action
Plan to Fight Cocaine Consumption, a plan that has an annual
cost of 7 million euros. The INCB report urged countries
with cocaine consumption problems similar to Spain, such as
the US, UK, Italy and Denmark, to follow the Spanish example.
The report also highlighted that cocaine consumption in
Spain has doubled in the last 10 years among the general
population (from 1.8 percent to 3 percent), and quadrupled
among the Spanish youth (from 1.8 percent to 7.2 percent).
Law Enforcement Efforts. The Spanish law enforcement agencies
responsible for narcotics control are the Spanish National
Police and the Civil Guard, both of which fall under the
domain of law enforcement and civil security matters within
the Ministry of Interior. The Spanish Customs Service, under
the Ministry of the Treasury, also carries a mandate to
enforce counternarcotics legislation at Spain's borders and
in Spanish waters. Spanish officials at the Ministry of
Interior report that drug enforcement agencies had seized 22
MT of cocaine as of the end of September 2007.
Large-scale cocaine importation in Spain is principally
controlled by Colombian drug traffickers, though Galician
organizations also play an important role in the trafficking
of cocaine into and within the country. Hashish trafficking
continues to increase, as does the use of the drug in Spain.
Many of the more significant seizures and arrests this past
year were a direct result of the excellent cooperation
between the U.S. DEA Madrid Country Office and Spanish
authorities. For example, in September 2008, the Spanish
National Police and the Civil Guard, working with the DEA,
arrested Colombian national Edgar Vallejo Guarin in Madrid.
Also known as Beto the Gypsy, Vallejo Guarin was one of the
most wanted drug traffickers in the world and the subject of
a $5 million reward by the US Government for information
leading to his arrest. Spanish authorities recorded several
large seizures of cocaine in 2008. For example, a
Venezuelan-flagged ship with 3,600 kilos of cocaine was
stopped in June by the Spanish IRS. Another operation in
July ended with the seizure of 1,500 kilos of cocaine in a
sailing boat on its way to Bilbao from South America.
Hashish trafficking is controlled by Moroccan, British, and
Portuguese smugglers and, to some extent, nationals of
Gibraltar and the Netherlands. Spanish Civil Guard
investigations have uncovered strong ties between the
Galician mafia in the northwest corner of Spain and Moroccan
hashish traffickers. Hashish continues to be smuggled into
Spain via commercial fishing boats, cargo containers, fast
Zodiac boats, and commercial trucks. Spanish authorities
also recorded several large hashish seizures in 2008. For
example, in September authorities intercepted 1,110 kilos of

MADRID 00001307 003 OF 004

hashish, arresting three people. In August, seven tons of
hashish were seized in two boats near the Balearic Islands
and six people were arrested, and the same month another two
operations seized roughly 2.5 tons of hashish each in Malaga.
In July, several operations seized more than 25 tons of
Spanish law enforcement officials have detected a worrying
rise in the amount of heroin trafficked through the country
in recent years. On August 1, 2008 Spanish police seized a
sailing boat in Sitges, just south of Barcelona, with 316.5
kilos of heroin, more than all of the heroin seized in 2007.
Heroin smuggled into Spain originates principally in
Afghanistan and transits Turkey on the way to Spain; it is
usually smuggled into Spain by commercial truck or private
vehicle through the "Balkan Route" or from Germany or the

Data Table:
Seizures: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
(Tentative) 2008 (Tentative)
Heroin (kg) 631 275 242 271 174 454 197
416 (as of October 2008)
Cocaine (MT) 34 18 49 33 48 47 34
12.2 (as of first six months of 2008)
Hashish (MT) 514 564 727 794 670 451 571
412 (as of first six months of 2008)
(pills x 1000) 860 1,400 772 797 573 408 482
233 (as of first six months of 2008)
Corruption. Spain's Organized Crime Intelligence Center
(CICO) coordinates counternarcotics operations among various
government agencies, including the Spanish Civil Guard,
National Police, and Customs Service. Under their guidance,
law enforcement cooperation appears to function well. Spain
does not encourage nor facilitate illicit production or
distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other
controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from
illegal drug transactions. There is no evidence of
corruption of senior officials or their involvement in the
drug trade, but there have been isolated cases involving
corrupt law enforcement officials who were caught
facilitating drug trafficking. For example, the Chief of
Police in El Molar and two Civil Guards in Guadalix de la
Sierra were arrested in an operation to combat drug
trafficking in the Autonomous Community of Madrid. Another
case in 2008 involved the dismantling of a drug-dealing and
illegal immigration network that operated out of Madrid's
Barajas airport. Forty-seven people, including a Police
Deputy Inspector, were arrested. In April 2008, the Chief
Inspector for Organized Crime of the Malaga Police Office was
arrested, along with another five people. They were accused
of stealing money from drug dealers to buy drugs and sell
them later.
Agreements and Treaties. Spain 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. Spain is also a party to the UN Convention
against Corruption and the UN Convention against
Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on
trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. A 1970
extradition treaty and its three supplements govern
extradition between the U.S. and Spain. The U.S.-Spain
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty has been in force since 1993,
and the two countries have also signed a Customs Mutual
Assistance Agreement.
Cultivation/Production. Coca leaf is not cultivated in Spain.
However, there has been concern in recent years that
clandestine laboratories in Spain and some West African
countries have been established for the conversion of cocaine
base to cocaine hydrochloride. Some cannabis is grown in
country, but the seizures and investigations by Spanish
authorities indicate the production is minimal. Opium poppy
is cultivated licitly under strictly regulated conditions for
research, and the total amount is insignificant. The DEA is
in the process of considering an amendment to its regulations
to update the list of nontraditional countries authorized to
export narcotic raw materials (NRM) to the United States.
This change would replace the former Yugoslavia with Spain
and would, once it takes affect, allow Spain to join the
other "non-traditional" NRM exporters, Australia, France,
Hungary, and Poland, as the only countries allowed to supply
approximately 20 percent of the NRM required annually by the
United States. Traditional exporters India and Turkey have
preferred access to 80 percent of the NRM market. Spain is
not a significant production zone for synthetic drugs. While
not a significant producer of MDMA/Ecstasy limited production
of the drug has been reported in Spain.

MADRID 00001307 004 OF 004

Drug Flow/Transit. Spain is the major gateway to Europe for
cocaine coming from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador.
Traffickers exploit Spain's close historic and linguistic
ties with Latin America and its extensive coastlines to
transport drugs for consumption in Spain or distribution to
other parts of Europe. DEA information suggests a developing
trend for Colombian cocaine to be sent first to Africa and
then smuggled northward into Spain. This year has seen a
significant increase in the number of "swallower mules"
detained in Nigeria en route from Latin America to Spain.
Spanish police report that the country's two principal
international airports, Madrid's Barajas and Barcelona's El
Prat, play expanding roles as the entry point for much of the
cocaine trafficked into and through Spain, and there
continues to be a substantial number of body cavity smugglers
arriving by air. Those two airports are also key transit
points for passengers who intend to traffic Ecstasy and other
synthetic drugs, mainly produced in Europe, to the United
States. These couriers, however, are typically captured
before they leave Spain or when they arrive in the U.S. Spain
remains a major transit point to Europe for hashish from
Morocco, and Spain's North African enclaves of Ceuta and
Melilla are principal points of departure. Spanish law
enforcement has disrupted many drug shipments through its use
of the Integrated External Surveillance System (Spanish
acronym SIVE), deployed on its southern coast. The Spanish
Civil Guard initiated the SIVE system to control the growing
flow of illegal maritime drug trafficking, mainly African
hashish, especially around the coasts of Cadiz and Malaga.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The national drug
strategy identifies prevention as its principal priority. In
that regard, the government continued its publicity efforts
targeting Spanish youth. The PNSD closely coordinates its
demand reduction programs with the Spanish National Police,
Civil Guard, Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, and
Ministry of Public Administration. Spain's autonomous
communities provide treatment programs for drug addicts,
including methadone programs and needle exchanges. Prison
rehabilitation programs also distribute methadone. The
government contributes over 4 million euros to assist
private, nongovernmental organizations that carry out drug
prevention and rehabilitation programs.
In November 2008, the Delegate of the Government for the
National Drug Plan announced that several hospitals would
administer, over a 12 month period, a vaccine against cocaine
addiction to a number of volunteers to study its effects
prior to its approval by the European Medicine Agency, which
is expected in 2009.
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. The United States continues to improve
the current excellent bilateral and multilateral cooperation
in law enforcement programs it has with Spain, as symbolized
by a series of-visits this year from high-level USG
officials, such as the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and
Congressional delegations. Bilateral cooperation in 2008
built upon a strong foundation from the previous year, when
DEA coordinated with the Spanish government to host the
annual IDEC conference in Madrid - the first time IDEC was
held in Europe. On November 8, 2008, Spanish Council of
Ministers approved the extradition to the U.S. of Colombian
drug dealer Vallejo Guarin. DEA continues to work very
closely with its Spanish law enforcement counterparts, which
has resulted in numerous successful joint investigations.
DEA also has conducted training courses in undercover
operations and financial investigations for its Spanish
counterparts, which were very well received by the Spaniards.
The U.S. urges Spain to become a leader among EU member
states in the fight against narcotics and is pleased to see
that Spain in 2008 assumed the rotating leadership of the
Maritime Analysis and Operations Center-Narcotics (MAOC-N) in
Road Ahead. With drug traffickers targeting Spain in a major
way and its government reaching out to us for collaboration,
the U.S. will continue to coordinate closely with Spanish
counternarcotics officials. Spain will continue to be a key
player in the international fight against drug trafficking
and seeks to maintain momentum from its successful hosting of
the IDEC. The U.S. and Spain are natural partners in Latin
America, and are intent on developing a partnership there for
the benefit of Latin America as well as Spain and the U.S.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>


Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC