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Cablegate: Egypt: 2006 International Narcotics Control

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: STATE 209558

I. Summary: The Arab Republic of Egypt is not a major
producer, supplier, or consumer of narcotics or precursor
chemicals. Heroin and cannabis are transported through
Egypt, but presumed levels have not risen in four years. The
Anti-Narcotics General Administration (ANGA) is the main
counter narcotics organization in Egypt. It is competent and
progressive, and cooperates fully with the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) office in Cairo. In 2004, a joint
DEA-ANGA investigation uncovered a significant MDMA (Ecstasy)
laboratory in Alexandria, resulting in the arrest of four
individuals, possible indictment of two U.S. citizens, and a
secondary ongoing investigation which has already identified
more than two million dollars of drug related proceeds.
Egypt is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. End summary.

II. Status of Country: Egypt is not a significant producer
or consumer of narcotics or precursor chemicals, despite the
fact that opium and cannabis plants are grown here. The
substances that are most commonly abused are cannabis, which
is known here as "bango," and legitimate pharmaceuticals.
Narcotics do pass through Egypt. Egypt's long and mostly
uninhabited borders, combined with the high level of shipping
passing through the Suez Canal Zone, have made Egypt prone to
the transshipment of Asian heroin. Other types of narcotics
periodically pass through Cairo International Airport. The
narcotics are primarily destined for Western Europe, with
only small amounts headed to the United States.
Transshipment has diminished considerably in recent years due
to the elevation of security in Egypt and the region as a

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The ANGA is the oldest counter narcotics unit in the Arab
world. It has jurisdiction over all criminal matters
pertaining to narcotics and maintains offices in all major
Egyptian cities and ports of entry. The U.S. DEA office in
Egypt has a superb relationship with ANGA, which is open,
cooperative, and receptive to ideas and training. DEA
assists ANGA in interdiction operations in the Suez Canal
Zone and at Cairo International Airport, and crop eradication
operations in the Sinai Peninsula and Upper Egypt. In the
past, DEA also funded and conducted training for ANGA
officers at regional counter narcotics courses in Nairobi,
Kenya and provided in-country training on airport
interdiction and chemical controls. In July 2005, DEA hosted
the Director of ANGA for a series of meetings in the United
States regarding support for counter drug training and
DEA-ANGA joint operations in the Suez Canal, Sinai, and Red
Sea regions. The meetings were held at DEA headquarters,
Department of Justice, and Department of State's Bureau of
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
Despite limited resources, ANGA has continually demonstrated
improvements in its capabilities.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005: The Government
of Egypt (GOE) continues to aggressively pursue a
comprehensive drug control strategy that was developed in
1998. ANGA, as the primary Egyptian drug enforcement agency,
coordinates with the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, the Coast
Guard, the Customs Service, and select military units on all
aspects of drug law enforcement. Government and private
sector demand reduction efforts exist but are hampered by
financial constraints and logistical challenges.


Late in 2004, a joint DEA-ANGA investigation uncovered an
MDMA laboratory located in a small apartment building in
Alexandria, Egypt. ANGA raided the laboratory, arresting
four individuals and seizing chemicals, paste, and equipment.
Additionally, a secondary ANGA financial investigation
conducted in 2005 with assistance from the DEA country office
has identified over two million dollars in drug proceeds
located in Egypt. The investigation on this US-based
international MDMA drug trafficking organization is ongoing
in the United States, Australia, the Netherlands and Egypt.
Since 2003, production of illicit pharmaceuticals and
counterfeit narcotics are on the rise in Egypt, which may
represent a new trend toward shifting artificial drug labs to
the region due to the region's relatively lax regulation of
commercial chemical products. With the passage of the first
anti-money laundering law in 2002, which criminalized the
laundering of proceeds derived from trafficking in narcotics
and numerous other crimes, seizures of currency in drug
related cases has amounted to over 3,000,000 Egyptian Pounds
($520,000). In October 2005, ANGA seized two metric tons of
marijuana that originated in the northern Sinai.

Law Enforcement Efforts

Internal security and combating terrorism are the major foci
of Egyptian law enforcement efforts. Despite these
priorities, ANGA is able to operate an effective program
against narcotics trafficking. Egypt is a transit country
for narcotics. ANGA investigates and targets significant
drug traffickers, intercepts narcotics shipments, and detects
and eradicates illegal crops. Large-scale seizures and
arrests are rare, primarily because Egypt does not have a
significant narcotics market or narcotics abuse culture. ANGA
operates its own drug awareness campaign in addition to other
government and private sector demand reduction programs.
ANGA's Eradication Unit conducts monthly operations against
cannabis and opium crops in the Sinai. Continuing a trend
over the past several years, the amount of narcotics seized
during 2004 was again higher than that of the previous year.
Drug seizures in 2004 included cannabis (80,249 kilograms),
hashish (1,868 kilograms), and smaller amounts of heroin,
opium, psychotropic drugs, and cocaine. Significant amounts
of prescription and "designer" drugs such as Ecstasy (6,194
tablets), amphetamines, and codeine were also seized. During
the course of 2004, Egyptian law enforcement officials
eradicated 171 hectares of cannabis and 65 hectares of opium
poppy plants. (Note. Post expects to receive preliminary
2005 data on seizures and arrests from ANGA by end-December.
Post will transmit that data upon receipt. End note.)


As a matter of government policy, the Government of Egypt
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 transactions. The GOE has strict laws and harsh
penalties for government officials convicted of involvement
in narcotics trafficking or related activities. However,
low-level local police officials involved in
narcotics-related activity or corruption have been identified
and arrested.

Agreements and Treaties

Egypt and the United States have had an extradition treaty in
place since the 1860's. Egypt has been a party to the 1988
UN Drug Convention since 1991. Egypt also is a party to the
1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the 1961 UN
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and the 1972 protocol
amending the Single Convention. The U.S.-Egypt Mutual Legal
Assistance Treaty entered into force on November 29, 2001.
Egypt is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime and its protocol on trafficking in women and

Cultivation and Production

Cannabis is grown year round in the northern and southern
Sinai and in Upper Egypt, while opium poppy is grown in the
southern Sinai only from November through March. Rugged
terrain means that plots of illegal crops are small and
irregularly shaped. ANGA combats this production by using
aerial observation and confidential informants to identify
illegal plots. Once the crops are located, ANGA conducts
daylight eradication operations that consist of cutting and
burning the plants. ANGA has yet to implement a planned
herbicide eradication program. No heroin processing
laboratories have been discovered in Egypt in the last 14
years and no evidence is available indicating that opiates or
cannabis grown in Egypt reach the United States in sufficient
quantities to have a significant impact. In an ongoing
investigation that started in 2004, a joint DEA-ANGA
operation uncovered the first ever MDMA laboratory in Egypt
and eliminated it before it reached significant production.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction)

In 2005, the National Council for Combating and Treating
Addiction continued to be the GOE's focal point for domestic
demand reduction programs. The Council is an
inter-ministerial group chaired by the Prime Minister and has
the participation of ten ministries. The group espouses a
three-pronged strategy to counter the demand for narcotics:
awareness, treatment (including detoxification and
social/psychological treatment), and rehabilitation. The
group's efforts over the past year included a range of
activities, for example, a media advertising campaign with
participation from First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, annual
seminars at Al-Azhar University on "Islam and Narcotics," and
the establishment of a drug treatment hotline and website.
Additionally, the Council sponsors four rehabilitation
centers, mostly located in the Cairo metropolitan area.
These centers annually receive thousands of requests from
addicts for help.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs: The U.S. counter
narcotics policy in Egypt is to engage the GOE in a bilateral
program to reduce narcotics transshipments and decrease opium
poppy and cannabis cultivation. The policy includes the
following specific objectives: increase training to ANGA and
other government offices responsible for narcotics
enforcement; assist with the identification of illegal crop
eradication targets; improve narcotics interdiction
methodology; improve intelligence collection and analysis.

The Road Ahead

In fiscal year 2006, the U.S. Government plans to increase
its joint operations with ANGA, moving beyond a previously
predominant focus on monitoring the problem. This will
involve the DEA country office continuing to work closely
with ANGA on joint investigations, as well as improving
interdiction and eradication techniques and developing
additional sources of information on trafficking and
production. In 2005, the DEA country office initiated
Operation Sphinx, a joint DEA-ANGA operation to collect
actionable intelligence for enforcement/interdiction action
in the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba. The operation
targets sources of information in the maritime industry
throughout the region. In 2005, ANGA requested additional
support and financial assistance from DEA and INL to provide
training in financial investigations, drug interdiction,
clandestine drug laboratory investigations, internet-based
drug crimes and chemical identification and control.


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