Cablegate: Morocco's 2006-2007 International Narcotics


DE RUEHRB #2280/01 3521126
P 181126Z DEC 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 154898

I. Summary

1. Morocco achieved significant reductions in cannabis
production and cultivation, although it remains one of the
world's major producers and exporters of cannabis. According
to the Agency for the Promotion of Economic and Social
Development of the Northern Prefectures and Provinces of the
Kingdom of Morocco (APDN), Morocco produced an estimated
53,400 metric tons (MT) of cannabis in 2005, representing a
significant decrease from 2004 when it produced 98,000 MT.
According to the 2005 combined study on cannabis conducted by
the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and
Morocco's (APDN), Morocco's gross cannabis production in 2005
provided for potential cannabis resin (hashish) production of
1,067 MT the study noted. According to the UNODC report,
Morocco in 2005 succeeded in decreasing by 40 percent its
land dedicated to cannabis cultivation to 72,500 hectares,
down from 120,500 hectares in 2004, due in part to an
aggressive Government of Morocco (GOM) eradication campaign.
The UNODC study also states that approximately 800,000
Moroccans (2.5 percent of the country's estimated 2004
population) were involved in cannabis cultivation. Morocco's
efforts to combat cannabis cultivation are made more
difficult by limited short-term alternatives for those
involved in its production. Available information continues
to indicate the United States is not a major recipient of
drugs from Morocco. Morocco is a party to the 1988 UN Drug

2. In 2006, the GOM in addition to its efforts against
production, acted against drug-related corruption. In
September, a GOM investigation into the network of a major
drug baron arrested in the north resulted in the arrest of
more than a dozen high-ranking government, judicial,
military, and law enforcement officials linked to
narcotics-related corruption.

II. Status of Country

3. Morocco consistently ranks among the world's largest
producers and exporters of cannabis, and its cultivation and
sale provide the economic base for much of the mountainous
northern region of Morocco. Only very small amounts of
narcotics produced in or transiting through Morocco reach the
United States. According to a 2005 UNODC report, the illicit
trade in Moroccan cannabis resin generates approximately $13
billion a year in total revenues, but Morocco retains only a
small share (approximately $325 million) of total turnover
from the cannabis trade. Independent estimates indicate that
the returns from cannabis cultivation range from
$16,400-$29,800 per hectare (little of which goes to the
growers themselves), compared with an average of $1,000 per
hectare for one possible alternative, corn. EU law
enforcement officials report that Moroccan cannabis is
typically processed into cannabis resin or oil and exported
predominately to Europe, as well as Algeria, and Tunisia. To
date, Morocco has no enterprises that use dual-use precursor
chemicals, and is thus neither a source nor transit point for
them. While there continues to be a small but growing
domestic market for harder drugs like heroin and cocaine,
cannabis remains the most widely used illicit drug in
Morocco. There is no substantial evidence of widespread
trafficking in heroin or cocaine, but press reports suggest
Latin American cocaine traffickers may have started using
well-established cannabis smuggling routes to move cocaine
into Europe.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs

4. Policy Initiatives: The GOM's partnership with UNODC in
conducting cannabis surveys the past three years (2005, 2004,
2003) reflects Morocco's growing desire to compile accurate
data on narcotics production and address its narcotics
problem. Morocco is one of the only countries to publish
scientific estimates of cannabis cultivation within its
borders. In 2004, Morocco launched an awareness campaign for
cannabis growers alerting them to the adverse effects of

cannabis cultivation for the land and informing them of
alternatives to use the land more productively.

5. Throughout the 1980's, the GOM worked in conjunction with
the UN to devise a response to the unique geographic,
cultural and economic circumstances that confront the many
people involved in the cultivation of cannabis in northern
Morocco. Joint projects to encourage cultivation of
alternative agricultural products included providing goats
for dairy farming, apple trees, and small bee-keeping
initiatives. This effort also included paved roads, modern
irrigation networks, and health and veterinary clinics. In
the 1990,s, the GOM continued to focus on development
alternatives in Morocco's northern provinces through the work
of APDN and the Tangier Mediterranean Special Agency (TMSA).
In June 2003, TMSA oversaw the groundbreaking of the
centerpiece of its northern development program, the
Tanger-MED port, which is set to become Morocco's primary
maritime gateway to the world. To study the viability of
medicinal plant substitution the GOM selected Taounate, a
cannabis producing province, as the site for the construction
of the National Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

6. Law Enforcement Efforts: According to government
statistics, Morocco in 2005 seized 116 tons of cannabis, down
from the previous year's total of 318 tons. Seizures,
however, were up for cocaine, heroin, and psychoactive drugs
during the same period.

7. Since 1995, the GOM reports it has detailed up to 10,000
police personnel into the North and Rif mountains to
interdict drug traffic and to maintain narcotics checkpoints,
rotating personnel approximately every six months. Moroccan
forces also staff observation posts along the Mediterranean
coast, and the Moroccan Navy carries out routine sea patrols
and responds to information developed by the observation
posts. These efforts, however, have not changed the
underlying reality of extensive cannabis cultivation and
trafficking in northern Morocco. Morocco and France agreed
in 2004 to reinforce bilateral counternarcotics cooperation
by deploying liaison officers to Tangiers and France. During
the past several years, according to both Moroccan and French
police sources, controlled deliveries of drugs has proven to
be a very successful interdiction technique.

8. The GOM in 2005 destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of
cannabis, primarily in Larache and Taounate Provinces. As
part of its 2006 eradication campaign, which targeted more
than 15,000 hectares, the GOM claims to have completely
eliminated cannabis production in Larache province. Morocco
has laws providing a maximum allowable prison sentence for
drug offenses of 30 years, as well as fines for narcotics
violations ranging from $20,000-$80,000. Ten to fifteen
years' imprisonment remains the typical sentence for major
drug traffickers convicted in Morocco. In 2004, Morocco
claims to have arrested 22,526 Moroccan nationals and 356
foreigners in connection with drug-related offenses.

9. Corruption: The GOM does not promote drug production or
trafficking as a matter of policy. In September, a GOM
investigation into the network of a major drug baron resulted
in the arrest of more than a dozen high-ranking government,
judicial, military, and law enforcement officials linked to
narcotics-related corruption, including a senior security
official and former chief of police in Tangier. This
investigation, as part of a larger government effort to
combat corruption, led to further high-level shake ups in the
law enforcement community, as well as the detention of other
alleged drug traffickers. Although this investigation
continues, the trials of some of the arrested individuals
were moving forward. Morocco has signed, but has not yet
ratified, the UN Convention Against Corruption.

10. Agreements and Treaties: Morocco is a party to the
1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on
Psychotropic Substances and the 1961 UN Single Convention on
Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol. Morocco is
a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized


11. Cultivation/Production: The center of cannabis
production continues to be the province of Chefchaouen, where
56 percent of Morocco's cannabis is cultivated. Production,
however, has expanded north in the last two decades to the
outskirts of Tangiers and east toward Al Hoceima. According
to the UNODC report, small farmers in the northern Rif region
grow mostly cannabis, where an estimated 27 percent of arable
land is dedicated to its cultivation. Production also occurs
on a smaller scale in the Souss valley in the south. The
2005 UNODC survey found that 75 percent of villages and
96,000 farms in the Rif region cultivate cannabis,
representing 6.5 percent of all farms in Morocco.

12. The GOM has stated its commitment to the total
eradication of cannabis production, but given the economic
and historical dependence on cannabis in the northern region,
eradication is only feasible if accompanied by a
well-designed development strategy involving reform of local
government and a highly subsidized crop substitution program.
Moroccan drug officials have indicated that crop
substitution programs thus far appear to have made little
headway in providing economic alternatives to cannabis
production. An UNODC report warned that this agricultural
monoculture represents an extreme danger to the ecosystem due
to the extensive use of fertilizers. Moreover, forest
removal continues to be the method of choice to make room for
cannabis cultivation.

13. Drug Flow/Transit: The primary ports of export for
Moroccan cannabis are Oued Lalou, Martil and Bou Ahmed on the
Mediterranean coast. Most large shipments bound for Spain
travel via fishing vessels or private yachts. Smaller
&zodiac8 speedboats, which can make roundtrips to Spain in
one hour, are reportedly being used to transport drugs. Drug
shipments of up to two tons have been seized on these boats.
Smugglers also continue to transport cannabis via truck and
car through the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and
the Moroccan port of Tangiers, crossing the Straits of
Gibraltar by ferry. According to the UNODC, Spain still
accounts for the world's largest portion of cannabis resin
seizures (54 percent of global seizures in 2004). The
Moroccan press reported that some 800 tons of Moroccan
cannabis resin were seized in Spain in 2004. Given its
proximity to Morocco, Spain is a key transfer point for
Europe-bound Moroccan cannabis resin. Due to the Schengen
zone, once contraband reaches Spain it can pass unchecked to
most of Western Europe.

14. Domestic Programs: The GOM is concerned about signs of
an increase in domestic heroin and cocaine use, but does not
aggressively promote reduction in domestic demand for these
drugs or for cannabis. It has established a program to train
the staffs of psychiatric hospitals in the treatment of drug
addiction. In partnership with UNODC, the Ministry of Health
is exploring the relationship between drug use and HIV/AIDS
infection in Morocco. Moroccan civil society and some
schools are active in promoting counter-narcotics use

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

15. U.S. Policy Initiatives: U.S. policy goals in Morocco
are to enhance Morocco's counter narcotics capability through
training in law enforcement techniques and to promote the
GOM's adherence to its obligations under relevant bilateral
and international agreements. U.S.-supported efforts to
strengthen anti-money laundering laws and efforts against
terrorist financing may also contribute to the GOM,s ability
to monitor the flow of money from the cannabis trade.

16. Bilateral Cooperation: According to Moroccan narcotics
officials, USG-provided border security equipment,
particularly new scanners in main ports, improved the
effectiveness of security measures at entry points, which
directly contributed to increased drug seizures in 2004.
Morocco and the U.S. have also begun to expand cooperation on
drug investigations of mutual interest. The Drug Enforcement

Administration (DEA), which covers Morocco from its Paris
office, has enhanced its engagement with the Moroccan
National Police, including discussing ways to increase
training visits to the US by Moroccan narcotics officials and
by US officials to Morocco. In September 2005, the U.S.
Coast Guard sent a Mobile Training Team to provide training
in maritime law enforcement boarding procedures.

17. Road Ahead: The United States will continue to monitor
the narcotics situation in Morocco, cooperate with the GOM in
its counter-narcotics efforts, and, together with the EU,
provide law enforcement training, intelligence, and other
support where possible.

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