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Cablegate: Portuguese Discuss Cocaine Trends with Staffdel

VZCZCXRO6970
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ
DE RUEHLI #1937/01 2541403
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111403Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5134
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0058
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0309
RUEHPA/AMEMBASSY PRAIA 0219
RHEHOND/DIR ONDCP WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LISBON 001937

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR H AND INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP SNAR ASEC PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGUESE DISCUSS COCAINE TRENDS WITH STAFFDEL
BRENNAN

REF: LISBON 1262

LISBON 00001937 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Summary: Staffdel Brennan, a delegation made up of
House International Relations Committee (HIRC) and House
Judiciary Committee staffers, visited Portugal from August 30
- September 2 to meet with local law enforcement and
politicians to discuss narcotrafficking trends from Latin
America to Europe. The delegation visited in preparation for
a committee hearing on drug flows to Europe later in
September. Law enforcement officials highlighted Portugal's
cocaine seizures, which already exceed 30 metric tons (MT) in
2006 as well as international counternarcotics cooperation
plans. End summary.

More Drugs Seized, Use Reportedly Stable
----------------------------------------

2. (U) Judicial Police (PJ) Director for Counternarcotics
Jose Braz, the main law enforcement agency involved in
counternarcotics efforts, told the Staffdel that Portugal has
seen a significant increase in cocaine seizures thus far in
2006. Portugal has seized more than 30 MT of cocaine in the
first six months of this year accounting for over 50% of the
total cocaine entering the European Union. Braz reiterated
his request for a U.S. law enforcement interlocutor here in
Lisbon (reftel) and commented that such a presence would
significantly help in the international efforts to stem
narcotics trafficking.

3. (SBU) In response to the Staffdel's questions about
cocaine seizures, Braz told the delegation that Portuguese PJ
undercover operations had led to significant finds in 2006
including: "Operation Atlantico" in February which found 2.8
MT of cocaine, "Operation Portuguese Soul" also in February
which netted 8.2 tons, "Cyclone" which located another 2.8
tons and "Tornado" in mid August which discovered 6 MT of
cocaine and 3 million Euros. According to Braz, most of the
deliveries were made in international waters when traffickers
unwittingly moved shipments onto GOP-controlled vessels
during undercover missions. Braz said Portuguese law
recently changed to allow such undercover missions.

4. (SBU) Despite the increased police captures, several
interlocutors including Ministry of Justice Advisor Filipe
Costa underscored that Portugal is primarily a transit nation
and Portugal's cocaine consumption remains among the lowest
in Europe. Members of the Staffdel responded that other
transit nations soon found themselves consuming and offered
the examples of Brazil and Pakistan.

International Response
----------------------

5. (U) Portugal's PJ is currently coordinating an effort with
Spain, the UK, France, and Germany to form an Atlantic nation
police liaison monitoring center along the lines of JIATF
East (Joint Inter-Agency Task Force) in Key West. The PJ
sent several members to do a case study on "lessons learned"
from JIATF East and will participate in a September meeting
to discuss recommendations. The Atlantic nation group hopes
to have an information sharing agreement in place by the end
of this year and plans to establish an office based in
Portugal staffed with representation from each member nation
by 2007. During a meeting with Colombian DCM Rodrigo Pinzon,
the Staffdel encouraged Colombia to become involved with the
European interagency group to increase the information
available overall.

Monitoring the Problem
----------------------

6. (U) The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug
Addiction statisticians stressed that their information on
supply was limited because the EU is more focused on demand
reduction overall. Nevertheless, they noted that drug users
in Portugal and the rest of Europe in general preferred
heroin over cocaine. However, they acknowledged that the
center only has information on admitted cocaine users
(usually addicts) and that given the usual drug trajectory,
they would not have a full picture of current cocaine use for
years to come.

Conclusions for the HIRC Meeting

LISBON 00001937 002.2 OF 002


--------------------------------

7. (SBU) Staffdel members said they plan to relay the
following observations and recommendations from their visit
to the HIRC in the meeting scheduled for September 21:

OBSERVATION

-- The USG and EU should play a more significant role in
stemming the flow of cocaine into Europe. The European drug
trade may be undercutting US counterterrorism goals in
Colombia by providing a cocaine profit margin two to three
times higher than in the U.S. money that finds its way into
the coffers of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).

RECOMMENDATIONS

-- Encourage Embassy Lisbon's assistance to and operational
support for the new international police liaison center
modeled on JIATF East through a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
presence in country along with Portuguese, Spanish, UK,
German, French, Colombian, and Brazilian counterdrug police.

-- That DEA officials conduct a laboratory analysis of
cocaine seized in recent major seizures to ascertain the
origin of the illicit drugs.

-- Based upon DEA "signature analysis," origin country police
officials should be approached to participate in the liaison
center.

-- An Embassy Lisbon law enforcement liaison (DEA or other)
should consider establishing mechanisms to monitor cocaine
trafficking, seizures and arrests more closely and in a
timelier manner.


Police Respond to Threat, Politicians Less Interested
--------------------------------------------- --------

8. (SBU) Comment: Portuguese officials are keen to reach out,
both to EU neighbors and to the United States to close the
net on drug traffickers. The new JIATF East-like liaison
center promises to be a useful tool in coordinating a
European response to the trans-Atlantic drug supply.
Nevertheless, Portuguese politicians appear only vaguely
aware of the dangers that being "Europe's drug gateway" could
pose in the future. We believe that the media attention on
these large cocaine seizures will help highlight the issue
beyond law enforcement circles. End comment.
O'Neal

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