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Cablegate: Czech Submission for 2004-2005 Incsr Part 1, Drugs

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 249035

1. SUMMARY. Illegal narcotics are imported to, manufactured
in, and consumed in the Czech Republic. Marijuana, both
imported, and to a much lesser extent grown locally, is used
more than any other drug. Consumption of marijuana continues
to grow, particularly among the young. The popularity of
Ecstasy (MDMA) is also growing, especially among the young
and &dance scene8 visitors, who consider it
a&recreational8 drug. According to the ESPAD report for
2003, more than twice as many Czech students (44%) used
marijuana or hashish than the ESPAD average (21%).
Similarly, twice as many Czech students (12%) used some
other illicit drug than the ESPAD average (6%. The government
has taken note of these trends and has altered its drug
strategy for the next 5 years to include more anti drug
education for the young. On the positive side, the use of
what the Czechs call problem drugs, such as heroin or the
amphetamine Pervetine, decreased slightly. The level of
cocaine use remains very low. Tobacco and alcohol consumption
is very high. The Czech Republic is a producer of ephedrine,
a precursor for Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS) and a
producer of lysergic acid, ergometrine and ergotamine, used
for production of LSD.

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Status of Country
2. Several factors make the Czech Republic an attractive
country for groups in the drug trade. These factors include
its central location, the closure of most of the traditional
customs posts along the nation,s borders as part of EU
accession in 2004, low detection rates for laundered drug
money, low risk of asset confiscation, and relatively short
sentences for drug-related crimes. The maximum sentence for
any drug-related crime is 15 years.
3. The Czech National Focal Point for Drugs and Drug
Addiction, which became fully operational in January 2003, is
the main body responsible for collecting, analyzing and
interpreting data on drug use. It issues an annual report on
the drug situation in the Czech Republic and cooperates
closely with the European Center for Monitoring Drugs and
Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

4. The Focal Point report for 2003 indicates that the number
of problem drug users is approximately 30, 000 (19,000
Pervitine and 11,000 heroin users). This represents a 15%
drop from the estimate of 35,000 problem users for the
previous year. Between 80 and 90 % of this group are
intravenous drug users. Focal point estimates that 60% of
problem drug users are in regular contact with treatment
centers, and drop-in centers. Health officials say there
were only 4 new cases of HIV among problem drug users in
2003. They attribute the relatively low numbers of HIV and
hepatitis infections to the fact that the majority of IV drug
users are in contact with treatment centers and drop-in
centers which offer needle exchange.

5. Authorities offer differing explanations for the decrease
in heroin use. Some attribute it to effective substitution
treatment with buprenorphin or methadone. Others,
particularly among police officials, say the heroin market
was unstable and lower amounts of heroin were available.

6. While the use of heroin declined significantly,
consumption of softer drugs such as marijuana and Ecstasy
increased in 2003. The annual report by the European School
Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) showed an
increase in marijuana use from 34.8 % in 1999 to 43.6 % in
2003. Similarly, Ecstasy use grew from 3.4% in 1999 to 8.3%
in 2003. The ESPAD report also highlighted increased trend in
cigarettes smoking and alcohol consumption among 16 years
olds. The report also confirms the decrease in experimental
use of heroin and Pervitine.
7. One third of children have their first experience with
legal drugs (tobacco and alcohol) at the age of 11. Children
try illegal drugs, primarily marijuana, at the age of 14-16.
While the average age of heroin users went up in 2003,
suggesting fewer new young addicts, the average age of those
using drugs with lower health risks went down.
Country Actions Against Drugs in 2003
8. Policy Initiatives. There is an ongoing debate in the
Czech government and society over whether there should be a
more liberal line taken in regard to soft drugs, in order to
focus on hard drugs. In March, 2004, the Christian Democrats
announced their war on drugs, which, with its stricter policy
on marijuana ran counter to the then prevailing liberal line
of the government,s drug policy. Due the important
position of the Christian Democrats in the governing
coalition, the preparation of the government,s drug policies
for 2005-2009, as well as preparation for the recodification
of the nation,s penal code, were interrupted. The proposed
changes to the Penal Code would have divided drugs into soft
and hard. That division and consequent lower penalties for
soft drugs were behind the debate that led to the dismissal
of Josef Radimecky, the man who until early December, 2004
was the head of the body responsible for government drug
policy. But on one of the last business days of 2004 the
government approved the next five-year plan on drug
strategy, to a large extent along the lines suggested
earlier by Radimecky. The plan focuses on the fight against
organized gangs that provide drugs, and taking steps to
further lower the number of addicts.
9. Based on the results of an internal audit, the National
Drug Headquarters, the main institution responsible for major
drug cases, changed its organizational structure in June,
2004. They now have only two departments - focused on
natural drugs; and on synthetic drugs and precursors. This
structure allows much better coordination of existing cases
and enables them to establish task forces. In the past there
were six departments focusing on particular drugs (heroin,
ecstasy, marijuana) or particular organized groups (Asians,
ethnic Albanians, Africans, Russian speaking groups etc). The
original structure showed problems in cases when a certain
criminal group was involved in more than one activity and
dealt with more than one kind of drug. The National Drug
Headquarters also strengthened cooperation with The Financial
Police Unit, which was established in July 2004 under the
Ministry of the Interior.
10. The General Directorate of Customs underwent major
changes in 2004 as part of the Czech Republic,s entry into
the EU. All of the traditional customs posts along the
nation,s borders with Poland, German, Austria, and Slovakia,
other EU states, were closed. The only remaining
international customs post is at Prague,s International
Airport. 8 mobile customs teams have also been set up and
these teams now conduct random checks along highways, in
warehouse, and at marketplaces.
11. The drug unit of the Czech Customs Service gained new
responsibilities such as monitoring transports, and imports
and exports of precursors from and to third countries.
Beginning in January, 2005, they will also be responsible for
monitoring the growth of poppies and technical cannabis
(containing less than 2%THC). This monitoring used to be done
by the Czech Ministry of Agriculture.
12. In the first half of 2004, the National Drug
Headquarters, together with the Custom Service, seized 5.66
kg of heroin; 35 691 ecstasy pills; 1.5 kg of
methamphetamine, 26 kilograms of marihuana, 729 cannabis
plants, 5.17 kg of hashish, 0.5 kilograms of ephedrine and 3
kilograms of cocaine. They also found 105 laboratories for
methamphetamine production.
13. There were several prominent arrests in the second half
of the year. In November 2004, the National Drug
Headquarters, in cooperation with Custom Service, arrested a
five-member gang, two Czechs and three foreigners, suspected
of organizing the export of heroin from the Czech Republic.
The police seized 27 kilograms of heroin but suspect them of
having smuggled roughly 220 kilograms of heroin to other
European countries.
14. In cooperation with specialists from the U.S., Holland,
Israel and Belgium, In September, 2004, the Czech National
Drug Headquarters arrested the head of a Czech-Israeli gang
that organized the export of ecstasy from Europe to the Los
Angeles. 300,000 tablets were seized in the U.S. Two Czechs
were arrested in Austria while receiving payment for the
15. According to the police statistics for the first half of
2004, 1123 people were investigated for drug related crimes.
1086 suspects were investigated for unauthorized production
and possession of narcotics and psychotropic substances and
poisons. 88 others were investigated for drug possession for
personal use, and 37 were investigated for spreading
addiction. Comparisons with 2003 and 2002 are attached.

16. According to the statistics provided by the Ministry of
Justice for the first half of 2004, the state prosecuted 1581
suspects and accused 1389 others for drug related crimes.
203 were accused of drug possession for personal use and 195
were accused of spreading addiction. Courts have convicted
693 people; among those there were 32 convictions for drug
possession for personal use and 22 for spreading addiction.
Comparisons with 2003 and 2002 are attached.

17. Statistics for year 2003 show that most of the convicted
criminals (60%) receive conditional sentences for drug
related crimes and only one fourth of convicted criminals is
sentenced to serve time. Only 14% of this latter group
receive sentences higher then 5 years. The majority (72%) of
those given prison sentences receive from 1 to 5 years. For
details see below.
18. Possession of a small amount of drugs is considered an
administrative offence and possession of more than a small
amount a criminal offence. The vague definition of what is a
&small amount8 opened up the possibility for police
corruption, allowing some venal officers to construe any
amount as &small8 and treat the offense as an
administrative one. To avoid any possible confusion and to
eliminate possibilities for corruption, the Police President
and Supreme Public Prosecutor issued internal regulations
designed to clarify elements of the drug law that some feared
allowed policemen too much discretion in whether to pursue
drug cases.
19. In 2003 10 police officers committed drug related
crimes. There were 9 cases of production and distribution of
drugs, and 1 case of spreading addiction. Four of the 10
police officials received sentences from four to nine years
for trying to sell five kilograms of heroin, part of a larger
amount confiscated in an earlier case. A prosecutor and his
superior arranged for part of a drug seizure to avoid
destruction and then arranged with two policemen to sell the
heroin. In 2002 only 4 police officers committed drug related
crimes (3 cases of production and distribution and 1 case of
spreading addiction. All those cases were conditionally
20. Agreements and Treaties. The Czech Republic is a party
to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and the World Customs
Organization's Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance
for the Prevention Investigation and Repression of Customs
Offenses. An extradition treaty and an MLAT are in force
between the U.S. and the Czech Republic, though the
extradition treaty is 80 years old, based on outdated mutual
lists, and does not allow the extradition of Czech nationals
to the US. The Czech Republic has taken the necessary
legislative measures to join the European Arrest Warrant.
However, the EAW has not been used and there is sharp debate
about whether the Czech constitution even allows the
extradition of nationals. It is hoped that a test case will
resolve the issue in 2005. The Czech Republic has signed, but
not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime.
Drug Flow/Transit
21. Marijuana cultivation used to be primarily for personal
use only. However the police recently found many laboratories
where the drug was cultivated hydroponically. Police
discovered three big laboratories in the first half of the
year. The marijuana growers stated that they were encouraged
by the signals of the government,s more liberal drug policy
against soft drugs. Marijuana is also imported from Holland
and more recently from Morocco via Spain.
22. Czech police focused their activities on ethnic Albanian
drug gangs that import heroin mainly from Afghanistan via
Iran and Turkey. There were no reports of imports of white
heroin from Thailand or Burma. Heroin sometimes transits the
Czech Republic via the Balkan Route to Northern and Western
Europe. But police believe shipments are now smaller and more
frequent, unlike the big heroin cases of the past.
23. Cocaine is mainly exported to the Czech Republic through
Holland. It usually then transits through to Northern and
Western Europe. It is delivered most often to the Czech
Republic by individual travelers returning from visits abroad
or by mail. Czech drug couriers mainly use the airport in
Amsterdam where the cooperation with the local police is very
complicated in terms of arrest. The local police more often
than not confiscate the drug, but do not start prosecution.
Due to the price of cocaine, to the degree it is used in the
Czech Republic, it is mainly consumed by the middle and upper
24. Pervitine, a synthetic amphetamine, is produced mainly
by Czechs, primarily for local consumption. It is often
produced in home laboratories where ephedrine, the main
ingredient in Pervitine, is extracted from pills that are
freely available. One Czech company, INC Roztoky u Prahy, had
been producing tens of tons of ephedrine annually. INC
announced a production pause on 17 May, 2004, in connection
with plans to sell the factory or the production technology.
Neither of those two options have taken place, but all
ephedrine stocks have been sold, mainly to the USA ( Novus;
cca 30 tons), South Africa (cca 3 tons), Argentina and Brazil
or to local companies. It looks as though INC plans to
restart its production in 2005. Pervitine is exported mainly
to Germany and to a lesser extent to Austria. Czech knowledge
of Pervitine production has also been exported to neighboring

25. Ecstasy, still the favorite drug of the &dance scene,8
is imported mainly from Holland and Belgium. The import is
organized among smaller, closed groups or individuals however
the amounts of drug shipments are growing. Most ecstasy in
the Czech Republic is in pill form. There are no indicators
for production of ecstasy or making pills from powder
26. The Ministry of Agriculture monitors the growth and sale
of poppies that are cultivated for poppy seeds sold to EU
markets or used in traditional Czech cooking. Total
production in 2003/2004 (July 2003-June 2004) was 19,544 tons
(16,918 tons in 2002/2003). 80 - 90% of production is
exported. The Czech Customs Service will be responsible for
monitoring growth as well as exports beginning January 2005.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction).
27. School prevention programs have been and continue to be
the most common prevention programs. Different after-school
activities are organized by NGOs. The number of contact
centers that provide needle exchange is growing. In 2003 1.7
million needles were distributed.
28. In 2003, the state budget provided 317 million Czech
Crowns, or $13.7 million to national drug programs and an
additional 48 million Crowns, or $2.1 million directly to
the regions. The Government Commission for Coordination of
Drug Policy received $4.45 million for projects at the local
level, up from the 2002 amount of US$3.75 million.
29. The Commission needs to coordinate with other
institutions to make sure that the resources for prevention
and treatments programs will be spent wisely. It has been
criticized for supporting programs to test the purity of
ecstasy at &dance-parties8 in the past. Since there are
many preventive as well as treatment programs and a lot of
them are not very effective, the Committee came up with a
proposal to evaluate programs, based on the &service
minimum.8 At the same time, the Ministry of Health has
supported establishment of a research and development project
that focuses on evaluation of drug prevention and treatment
30. The U.S. Department of State supports the prevention
efforts of Lions' Club, Lions' Quest Program. Children are
taught at elementary schools how to live a healthy life
without drugs. This program, supported by the Ministry of
Health and Ministry of Education, is now being implemented at
several schools.
Bilateral Cooperation
31. Czech police consider cooperation with the U.S., German,
Austria, Israel, Switzerland and the UK as very good. Czech
and German police continue to cooperate in Operation
&Crystal8 to combat Pervitine trafficking.
U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation.

32. The U.S. covers Czech Republic drug issues through the
DEA office in Berlin. They maintain an extremely active and
cooperative relationship with Czech counterparts,
particularly with the National Drug Headquarters. DEA
cooperates with NDH on investigations. DEA also assists with
organizational changes at NDH and has provided training. The
State Department has given grants for counternarcotics
education and has provided equipment and training for customs
The Road Ahead
33. In the first half of the year the Government Commission
for Coordination of Drug Policy did an analysis of Czech drug
policy. Based on the results of their analysis, they
proposed a new drug policy strategy for 2005-2009. They
proposed a general document to which they would add two
action plans for 2005-2006 and 2007-2008. The priority will
be given to public health concerns, including a balance
between drug supply, demand reduction and risk minimization,
and standardization and quality assurance of services such as
primary prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. The
government now runs nine drug treatment/substitution centers
and wants to increase the number of these centers. The
government also wants to implement a certification scheme for
NGOs providing these services. Legal drugs, tobacco and
alcohol, became another priority of the government. They want
to focus more on misuse of these drugs by children, based on
the latest research results. This strategy hasn,t been
approved yet due to political differences over drug policy.
34. The Interior Minister intends to seek legislation
approving undercover &buy-bust8 type operations and use of
criminal informants, which he feels would help catch
criminals and corrupt officials involved in the drug trade.
The bill is prepared but hasn,t begun the legislative
approval process.
Chemical Control

35. The Czech Republic has a well-developed chemical
industry and is a producer of precursors. There are two main
companies - INC Roztoky u Prahy, which annually produces tens
of tons of ephedrine, which can be used to make the
methamphetamine Pervitine;and IVEX (formerly Galena a.s.
Ostrava), which annually produces hundreds of thousands of
kilos of lysergic acid, ergometrine and ergotamine, which are
used in the production of LSD. Both companies are members of
the Association of Chemical producers of the Czech Republic.
A third company, Farmak a.s., imports ephedrine from India
(in the past from Germany) to make medication against
Parkinson,s disease. INC announced a production pause on 17
May, 2004, in connection to plans to sell the factory or the
production technology. Neither of those two options have
taken place, but all ephedrine stocks have been sold, mainly
to USA ( Novus; cca 30 tons), South Africa (cca 3 tons),
Argentina and Brazil or to local companies. It looks as
though INC plans to restart its production.

36. The Czech Republic has signed the UN Conventions on
Narcotic Drugs, on Psychotropic Substances, and against
Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
Substances. Chemical control in the Czech Republic is
regulated under law No. 167/1998 Col. on Addictive
Substances. Addictive substances are regulated with national
legislation; EU legislation regulates only trade in
precursors and essential chemicals (EEC No 3677/90). The last
amendment to the Czech Law on Addictive Substances from May
2004 (No 466/2004 Col) fully harmonized the law with EU
requirements; it changed Czech legislation mainly in the area
of import and export of precursors and in the area of
registration of producers, exporters, importers and sellers
of essential chemicals. Czech legislation was much stricter
than EU law before the amendment especially in the area of
import of precursors where the Czech Ministry of Industry and
Trade had to issue import license. Since 1 July 2004 any
import licenses are not required but based on a very good
cooperation with companies that import precursors the
Ministry of Health still receives information about imports.
This &step back8 was one of the requirements of EU for
Czech EU membership. The current development in the EU in the
area of precursors is taking direction of previous experience
of new EU members like the Czech and Slovak Republic where
the import licenses for precursors were required. It is
expected that the current legislation will need to be changed
again, probably in August 2005. For exports of precursors the
Ministry still issues the export licenses but newly on
special papers that cannot be duplicated (with special safety
measures, such as holograms) The Ministry would appreciate
regular confirmation of receipt, especially from US

37. Currently, substances in the Czech Republic are divided
into four groups: (1) narcotic and (2) psychotropic
substances, (3) precursors and (4) essential chemicals.
Groups 1, 2 and 3 require stricter rules; there has to be an
&authorization for handling8 approved by the Ministry of
Health. No national authorization is required of pharmacists
or doctors because regional offices control them. Group 4
required registration of all people that are somehow involved
with the export, import, production or sale of the essential
chemicals. The new amendment from May 2005 now allows
exceptions in handling as well as exporting of certain
amounts of essential chemicals without any obligation to
register at Ministry of Health. This change and easier
administration benefits companies with smaller consignments.

38. The Inspectorate of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances
of the Czech Ministry of Health, that monitors producers and
dealers of precursors, is involved in the international
monitoring operations Purple (control of potassium
permanganate, used for cocaine production) and Topaz (control
of acetic anhydride, used for heroin production). Czech
Republic has joined operation Prism, (control of ephedrine
used for Pervitine production) but hasn,t started control
procedures yet. The Czech police and custom officers are
still in the process of identifying the necessary mechanisms.

39. The Inspectorate also monitors distribution to
pharmacies and the consumption of certain medicines and
precursors (e.g ephedrine) because some pills that contain
these substances, used for Pervitine production, are
available without special prescriptions These pills contain
less than 30 mg of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. All the
information about consumption/distribution is provided to the
National Drug Headquarters for their use while monitoring
illegal production of Pervitine. The National Drug
Headquarters is responsible for the detection of the abuse of

40. In 2001 the Ministry of Interior initiated the signing
of a &Memorandum of Understanding8 between the police and
customs service and the associations of the chemical and
pharmaceuticals industry. Companies agreed in the Memorandum
to announce any suspicious purchases or sales. Several
investigations have already been initiated based on such

41. The General Directorate of Customs (under Ministry of
Finance) undertook major changes during 2004 as part of Czech
entry to EU. Since the Czech Republic is surrounded by other
EU states, the traditional border posts were closed and
hundreds of staff were transferred to other assignments.
Those border posts were great sources of information, and
their closure has made the work of custom officers much more
difficult especially in the area of monitoring movements to
and from the country. The only remaining international
customs check is at Prague,s airport. Random checks are
conducted by mobile teams along highways, at warehouses, or
marketplaces. The Czech Customs authorities have expressed
the opinion that EU information sources and services are
insufficient and don,t make their work any easier.

42. The drug unit of the Czech Custom Service was not
structurally changed by EU accession. However, it has
gained new responsibilities such as monitoring transports,
imports and exports of precursors from and to third
countries. They also will be newly responsible for monitoring
the growth of poppy seeds and technical cannabis (contains
less than 2% THC).

43. As part of the European operation Seis Frontera, the
Czech Custom Service will be given responsibility for the
monitoring of carbonate sodium, which can be used in cocaine
production. The Czech Republic doesn,t produce carbonate
sodium but imports it from neighboring Slovakia. Only amounts
over 100kg will be reported. Czech Custom Service still
hasn,t designated their point of contact for this.


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