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Cablegate: Croatia Incsr 2006 - Part One


DE RUEHVB #1338/01 3101452
R 061452Z NOV 06






E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 172484

Sensitive but unclassified; please handle accordingly.

1. (U) Below please find per reftel request, part one of post's
submission for the annual International Narcotics Control Strategy
Report. Part two on money laundering will be submitted septel.

I. Summary
Croatia is not a producer of narcotics. However, narcotics
smuggling, particularly heroin, through the Balkans route to Western
Europe remains a serious concern. Croatian law enforcement bodies
cooperate actively with their U.S. and regional counterparts to
combat narcotics smuggling. Croatia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug

II. Status of Country
Croatia shares borders with Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary,
and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has a 1,000 km long coastline (4,000
km adding in its 1,001 islands), which presents an attractive target
to contraband smugglers seeking to move narcotics into the vast
European market. Croatian police have noted a steady increase in
smuggling from the east, estimating that 70 to 80 percent of heroin
destined for European markets is smuggled through the notorious
"Balkans Route."

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III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2006
Policy Initiatives. In December 2005 Croatia adopted a National
Strategy for Narcotics Abuse Prevention in November for the
2006-2012 period, developed with assistance from the European
Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The
Strategy aims to bring demand and supply reduction efforts in line
with EU policies and creates a National Information Unit for Drugs
to standardize monitoring and the assessment of drug abuse data to
facilitate data sharing with the EU's EMCDDA programs. In February
2006 the Government adopted the Action Plan on Drug Abuse Control
for the 2006-2009 period. Its goal is to achieve equal availability
of programs throughout the country targeting primarily children,
youth and families. By the end of 2005, the Government completed
establishment of the network of addiction prevention centers, which
are now available in all of Croatia's 22 counties.

In June 2006, Parliament adopted changes to the Criminal Code, which
increased sentences for possession and dealing of illicit drugs.
The amendments also simplified confiscation of assets of organized
criminals. Croatia instituted changes to the criminal code during
the year, increasing penalties for several provisions. The minimum
penalty for individual narcotics production and dealing was
increased from one to three years. The minimum penalty for selling
of narcotics by organized groups was increased from three to five
years. The minimum penalty for incitement or facilitating the use
of illegal narcotics was increased to one year. In addition,
possession of related equipment or precursor chemicals is now
punishable by a punishment of no less than one year, an increase
from three months.

According to the criminal code, police are able to control
deliveries and shipments, a method that was used frequently with
international cooperation. One of the changes to the criminal code,
effective October 2006, eased measures to confiscate assets of
organized crime groups. The amendment places the burden of
providing evidence about the origins of assets on the defendant
rather than the prosecutor, and allows confiscation of assets
acquired during the period of incriminating activity.
Croatia continues to cooperate well with neighboring and other
European states to improve the control and management of its porous
borders. Cooperation on narcotics enforcement issues with
neighboring states is generally described as excellent.

Law Enforcement Efforts. The Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry and
Customs Directorate have primary responsibility for law enforcement
issues, while the Ministry of Health has primary responsibility for
the strategy to reduce and treat drug abuse. The Interior Ministry's
Anti-Narcotics Division is responsible for coordinating the work of
counter-narcotics units in police departments throughout the
country. The Interior Ministry maintains cooperative relationships
with Interpol and neighboring states, and cooperates through the
South-Eastern Cooperation Initiative (SECI). Croatian police and
Customs authorities continued to coordinate counter-narcotics
efforts on targeted border-crossing points, although with 189 legal
border crossings, the level of coordination was not consistent.
Heroin (25 kg in 2005 vs. 80 kg in the first nine months of 2006)
and hashish (6 kg in 2005 vs. 12 kg in the first nine months of
2006) seizures increased this year. The sharp rise in heroin
seizures was attributed to a large seizure by border police.
Marijuana (428 kg in 2005 vs. 144 kg in the first nine months of
2006) and cocaine seizures (17.6 kg in 2005 vs. 5kg to date this
year) declined, as have amphetamine and ecstasy seizures. Police
reported 4.7 percent more arrests this year in connection with
narcotics charges when compared to 2005. Increased attention has
been paid to detecting money laundering with funds obtained through
narcotics dealing. In 2005 police submitted ten such criminal

Corruption. Narcotics-linked corruption does not appear to be a
major problem in Croatia. As a matter of government policy, Croatia
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.
Similarly, no senior government official is alleged to have
participated in such activities. In 2006, police increased efforts
to fight corruption internally, resulting in the removal of six
hundred thirty officers.

Agreements and Treaties. Croatia ratified the UN Convention Against
Corruption in April 2005. Croatia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by its 1972
Protocol and the 1971 UN Convention On Psychotropic Substances.
Croatia is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime and its protocols against trafficking in persons,
migrant smuggling, and illegal manufacturing and trafficking in
firearms. Extradition between Croatia and the United States is
governed by the 1902 Extradition Treaty between the U.S. and the
Kingdom of Serbia, which applies to Croatia as a successor state.
Croatia has signed bilateral agreements with 29 countries permitting
cooperation on combating terrorism, organized crime, smuggling and
narcotics abuse. The Croatian constitution prohibits the
extradition of Croatian citizens; however, the Government of Croatia
permits its citizens to be extradited to the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Cultivation/Production. Small-scale cannabis production for
domestic use is the only narcotics production within Croatia. In
2005, 2,960 cannabis plants were seized. Opium poppies are
cultivated on a very small scale for culinary use of the seeds.
Because of Croatia's small market and its relatively porous border,
Croatian police report that nearly all illegal drugs are imported
into Croatia. However, authorities believe that given the existence
of ecstasy labs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is inevitable that
small-scale labs will be discovered in Croatia.

Drug Flow/Transit. Croatia lies along part of the "Balkans Route."
Authorities believe that up to 80 percent of the heroin from Asian
sources travels across this route on its way to the European market.
Although not considered a primary gateway, police seizure data
indicate smugglers continue to attempt to use Croatia as a transit
point for other drugs, including cocaine and cannabis-based drugs.
A general increase in narcotics abuse and smuggling has been
attributed to liberalization of border traffic and increased tourism
and maritime activities. Police noted that cocaine seizures
primarily occurred at Croatia's seaports. Cannabis-based drugs have
increasingly been identified at road border crossings. Ecstasy and
other pill-form narcotics are smuggled into Croatia both from
Western Europe (The Netherlands and Belgium are primary suspected
sources) and eastern countries in small quantities for domestic use.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Office for Combating Drug
Abuse is the focal point for coordination of various agencies
activities to reduce demand for narcotics. This Office develops the
National Strategy for Narcotics Abuse Prevention, which was adopted
by the government in November for the period of 2006-2012.
According to the Office, Istria County continued to have the highest
rate of treated addicts, followed by the Zadar and Varazdin County.
The high rates in Istria did not necessarily reflect high drug abuse
rates, but rather an efficient system of their inclusion in
treatment due to good cooperation between drug abuse prevention
centers and general practitioners. In 2005, 6,688 persons underwent
drug addiction treatment, which is a 15.6 percent increase from in
the previous year.

The majority of those treated were opiate addicts. The number of
the first-time seekers of addiction treatment, which has been
sliding since 2001, rose by 9.3 percent in 2005 and the number of
new opiate addicts increased 7.2 percent compared to 2004.
Government sources ascribe the increase to a wider and more
efficient network of addiction prevention centers. Approximately 72
percent of the overall number of addicts was addicted to heroin.
The Government said that the number of addicts infected with
hepatitis C and HIV, which stood at 47 percent and 0.5 percent
respectively, has not changed significantly in 2005. The number of
deaths caused by overdose continued to rise. There were 104
drug-related deaths in 2005, down from 108 in 2004 (of which 88 died
from overdose).

Demand reduction programs are coordinated by the Government's Office
for Combating Drug Abuse. The Ministry of Education requires drug
education in primary and secondary schools. Other ministries and
government organizations also run outreach programs to reach
specific constituencies such as pregnant women. The state-run
medical system offers treatment for addicts, but slots are
insufficient to accommodate all needing treatment.

Methadone is used in the treatment of 67 percent of patients. The
Ministry of Health operates in-patient detoxification programs as
well as 14 regional outpatient methadone clinics. In January 2006,
Croatian authorities adopted guidelines to change the official
health protocol on disbursement of heptanon and other heroin
addiction replacement therapy drugs. This initiative was taken to
counter the growing abuse of heptanon in Croatia: seizures of
illegal heptanon doubled in 2005 compared to 2004 and 20 persons
died from overdose. Under the guidelines only licenced
psychiatrists are allowed to prescribe substitute treatment which
must occur in the presence of a general practitioner. The Ministry
of Heath is currently forming guidelines for buprenophine usage.

The Government spend 49.8 million kuna (8.6 million USD) on all drug
abuse related programs) in 2005, which is eight percent less than in
the previous year. It has created a network of county-level expert
advisory groups that work with local governments to counter
narcotics abuse and serve as incubators for policy initiatives. In
Varazdin, the advisory group continued a random drug testing program
for high school students.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. The primary objectives of U.S. initiatives in
Croatia are to offer assistance with the development of skills and
tools among Croatian law enforcement agencies to improve their
ability to combat organized crime and narcotics trafficking and to
improve Croatian law enforcement agencies' abilities to work
bilaterally and regionally to combat trafficking. Having achieved
basic objectives, U.S. assistance for police reform efforts under
the ICITAP (DoJ) program was refocused on combating organized crime
and corruption. In October 2006, Croatian police formed the first
joint police-prosecutor task force to target a criminal organization
allegedly involved in drug trafficking and other illegal activities.
In addition, Croatian police have been regular participants in
training programs at the U.S.-funded International Law Enforcement
Academy in Budapest as well as follow-on training in Roswell, New
Mexico. Under the Export Control and Border Security (EXBS)
program, police and customs officers have been trained this year on
border security, tracking training, and commodity identification,
all of which will assist in preventing trafficking through Croatia.

Road Ahead. For 2007, U.S. expert training teams will join
in-country U.S. trainers to help Croatian police develop skills in
surveillance, management development, port security and port
vulnerability assessments. Resident advisors will continue to
assist the Ministry of Interior in improving police and prosecutor
cooperation in complex narcotics and organized crime cases.
Additional training and detection equipment donations planned for
2007 under the EXBS program will have ancillary benefits for
Croatia's fight against narcotics trafficking, particularly in the
areas of interagency cooperation and border management.

© Scoop Media

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