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Cablegate: France Incsr 2007-2008

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFR #4695/01 3470959
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130959Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1454

UNCLAS PARIS 004695

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

INL FOR JOHN LYLE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR FR
SUBJECT: FRANCE INCSR 2007-2008

REF: STATE 136780

1. (U) Following is post's draft of the France INSCR for
2007-2008.

2. (SBU) Begin Text:

I. SUMMARY

France continues to be a major transshipment point for drugs
moving through Europe. Given France's shared borders with
trafficking conduits such as Spain, Italy and Belgium, France
is a natural distribution point for drugs moving toward North
America from Europe and the Middle East. France's presence in
the Caribbean, its proximity to North Africa, and its
participation in the Schengen open border system, contribute
to its desirability as a transit point for drugs, including
drugs originating in South America. France's own large
domestic market of predominantly cannabis users is attractive
to traffickers as well. Specifically, in descending order,
cannabis originating in Morocco (and to a lesser extent,
Algeria), cocaine from South America, heroin originating in
southwest Asia, and Ecstasy (MDMA) originating in the
Netherlands and Belgium, all find their way to France.
Seizures of amphetamines and methamphetamine in France remain
relatively inconsequential. Increasingly, traffickers are
also using the Channel tunnel linking France to Great Britain
as a conduit for drugs from Continental Europe to the UK and
Ireland. Although the total number of seizures reported in
2006 (latest published figures) declined by 6.73 percent from
2005 levels (to 78,287), the gross total of the quantity of
seizures of cocaine (HCL), Heroin, Khat, AND MDMA all
increased, whereas certain cannabis products, cocaine base
("crack" form) and LSD all decreased. Drug trafficking and
possession arrests decreased in 2006 by 8.16 percent to
110,486. This represents a significant decrease from 2004
when 121,526 arrests occurred since the peak year of 1974
when the first statistics became available. France is a
party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Cannabis users are the largest group of drug users in France,
according to official French government statistics. By
contrast, users of the next most popular drugs, heroin and
cocaine, account for approximately 4 percent and 2 percent of
users respectively. France's drug control agency, the Mission
Interministerielle de la Lutte Contre la Drogue et la
Toxicomanie (MIDLT, or the Interministerial Mission for the
Fight Against Drugs and Drug Addiction), is the focal point
for French national drug control policy. Created in 1990, the
MILDT (which received its current name in 1996) coordinates
the 19 ministerial departments that have direct roles in
establishing, implementing, and enforcing France's domestic
and international drug control strategy. The MILDT is
primarily a policy organ, but cooperates closely with law
enforcement officials. The French also participate in
regional cooperation programs initiated and sponsored by the
European Union. Since the mid-1990s, death by drug overdose
has declined dramatically from 564 reported deaths in 1994 to
57 deaths during 2005. Possession of drugs for personal use
and possession of drugs for distribution both constitute
crimes under French law and both are regularly enforced.
Penalties for drug trafficking can include up to life
imprisonment. French narcotics agencies are effective,
technically capable and make heavy use of electronic
surveillance capabilities. In France, the counterpart to the
DEA is the Office Centrale pour la Repression du Traffic
Illicite des Stupefiants (OCRTIS), also referred to as the
Central Narcotics Office (CNO). French authorities report
that France based drug rings appear to be decreasingly
focused on a single product, and are increasingly involved in
other criminal activities such as money laundering and
clandestine gambling.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2007

Policy Initiatives. In late 2004, France launched a five year
action plan called "programme drogue et toxicomanie" (Drug
and Addiction Program) to reduce drug use among the
population and lessen social health damage caused by the use
and trafficking of narcotics. A full assessment of the
program is expected to be published during 2008, when it
reaches the end of its cycle, upon which a new program will
be introduced. The 2004 program's successes include launching
a 38 million euro (approx. $50.5 million) national
information campaign on cannabis use in 2005 as well as an
increase in France's medical treatment for cannabis and
heroin users/addicts. The program also provided funding (up
to 1.2 million euros (approx. $1.6 million)) for France's
contributions to EU and UN counternarcotics programs in four
priority areas: Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Central
Asia and Latin America/Caribbean. While France's bilateral
counternarcotics programs focus on the Caribbean basin,
special technical bilateral assistance has also been provided
to Afghanistan through France's Development Agency (AFD). Ten
million euros went to training Afghan counternarcotics police
and to fund a crop substitution program that will boost
cotton cultivation in the provinces of Konduz and Balkh.

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2007, French authorities made
several important narcotics seizures. On January 18, 2007
French customs officials at the port in the northern city of
Dunkerque seized 356 kg of heroin, a record for the largest
seizure of this drug in France. The heroin, which was valued
at approximately 10 million euros (approx. 13 million), was
being transported in a truck originating from Turkey and
bound for Great Britain. On March 9, 2007 French customs
authorities seized 490,000 ecstasy pills from the car trunk
of a British national near Dunkerque. The suspect was
reportedly working with drug traffickers in Brussels, and
agreed to transport the drugs from Belgium to Great Britain.
The estimated resale value of the ecstasy seized was reported
to be 735,000 euros (appox. $967,157). With the help of the
OCRTIS and French and British customs authorities, on August
7, 2007, French maritime authorities conducted an important
operation which led to the seizure of approximately 600 kg of
cocaine from a sailing boat in the English Channel. The boat
which originated in the Caribbean was headed to a port in
northern Europe. The value of the cocaine seized is estimated
to be between 16 and 18 million euros (approx. $22-24.85
million). During 2007, French authorities also conducted
frequent operations involving the seizure of cannabis. On
September 10, 2007, French customs agents in the southern
city of Montpellier seized 618 kg of resin of cannabis. The
cannabis which is estimated to be worth around 1.2 million
euros (approx. $1.65 million) was packaged in 20 sacks that
were covered by several barrels of hay. Another operation, on
October 13, 2007, led to the seizure of over 2 tons of resin
of cannabis by French customs agents in the northern city of
Arras. The cannabis with an estimated resale value of over
4.3 million euros (approx. $6.1 million) was found concealed
in several canvas sacs inside a truck en route from Spain to
Germany.

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, France is
firmly committed to the fight against drug trafficking
domestically and internationally. The government does not
encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of
narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled
substances, or the proceeds from illegal drug transactions.
Similarly, no senior government official is alleged to have
participated in such activities.

Agreements and Treaties. France is a party to the 1988 UN
Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic
Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by
its place, including a 1971 agreement on coordinating action
against illegal trafficking. France and the U.S. have an
extradition treaty and an MLAT, which provides for assistance
in the prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of
crime, including drug offenses. The U.S. also has a Customs
Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with France. France is a
party to the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN
Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against

migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons.

Cultivation/Production. French authorities believe that the
cultivation and production of illicit drugs is not a
significant problem in France. France cultivates opium
poppies under strict legal controls for medical use, and
produces amphetamines as pharmaceuticals. The government
reports its production of both products to the International
Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and cooperates with the DEA to
monitor and control these products. According to authorities,
the majority of illicit drugs produced in France come from
smaller home laboratories.

Drug Flow/Transit. France is a transshipment point for
illicit drug to other European countries. France is a transit
point for Moroccan Cannabis (hashish) and South American
cocaine destined for European markets. Most of the heroin
consumed in, or transiting France, originates in southwest
Asia (Afghanistan) and enters France via the Balkans after
passing through Iran and Turkey. New routes for transporting
heroin from southwest Asia to Europe are developing through
Central Asia and Russia and into Belgium and the Netherlands.
West African drug traffickers (mostly Nigerian) are also
using France as a transshipment point for heroin and cocaine.
These traffickers move heroin from both Southwest and
Southeast Asia (primarily Burma) to the United States through
West Africa and France, with a back-haul of cocaine from
South America to France through the United States and West
Africa. Law enforcement officials believe these West African
and South American traffickers are stockpiling heroin and
cocaine in Africa before shipping it to final destinations.
There is no evidence that significant amounts of heroin or
cocaine enter the United States from France. Most of the
South American cocaine entering France comes through Spain
and Portugal. However, officials are seeing an increase in
cocaine coming directly to France from the French Caribbean,
giving impetus to the creation of the Martinique Task Force:
a joint effort with Spain, Colombia and the UK. Most of the
Ecstasy in or transiting France is produced in the
Netherlands or Belgium.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. MILDT is responsible for
coordinating France's demand reduction programs. Drug
education efforts target government officials, counselors,
teachers, and medical personnel, with the objective of giving
these opinion leaders the information they need to assist
those endangered by drug abuse in the community. In an effort
to combat the consumption of cannabis in France, which has
consistently increased over the past 20 years, in October of
2007, Etienne Apaire, the President of MIDLT (since September
2007) announced a new government policy aimed at cannabis
users. Beginning in 2008, the state will force those
arrested for cannabis use to take a two day class on the
dangers of cannabis consumption. The cost of the class, 450
euros (approx. $660.00), will be paid by the drug user.
France's current law (dating from 1970) includes stiff
penalties for cannabis use including up to a year prison
sentence and a 3750 euro (approx. $5,515) fine though it is
rarely, if ever, enforced. This new measure is intended to be
a more effective approach towards the prevention of cannabis
use.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives/Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. and GOF
counternarcotics law enforcement cooperation remains
excellent. During 2007 the DEA's Paris Country Office and the
French Office Central Pour la Repression Du Trafic Illicite
Des Stupefiants (OCRTIS), continued to routinely share
operational intelligence and support one another's
investigations. The DEA and the OCRTIS shared intelligence
was developed from a program which identifies orders for
precursor chemicals placed from French companies for
exportation outside of France. This program resulted in the
identification and seizure of dozens of illicit MDMA and
Methamphetamine laboratories located both within the United
States and France as well as many other countries around the
world. Additionally, during 2007, the OCRTIS and the DEA
cooperatively conducted a controlled delivery of over two
tons of pseudoephedrine to the Democratic Republic of the
Congo. The subsequent investigation of this shipment
confirmed that the shipment was intended for illegal
reshipment to Mexico for suspected use in the clandestine
manufacture of methamphetamine. Further investigation,
resulted in the seizure of additional shipments of ephedrine
products in the DRC, totaling nearly 10 tons, and in the
identification of Mexican nationals involved in coordinating
the diversion of these shipments from Africa to Mexico. In
March of 2007, the OCRTIS seized the equivalent of over 1.3
million dollars US in cash drug proceeds. Information
developed from the French investigation was shared with the
DEA and several other countries' law enforcement services,
which has led to a number of valuable investigative links.
The DEA and the OCRTIS regularly exchange information
relating to suspected airline internal drug couriers
traveling internationally, and other routine law enforcement
information that leads to arrests and drug seizures.

The Road Ahead. The United States will continue its
cooperation with France on all counternarcotics fronts,
including through multilateral efforts such as the Dublin
Group of countries coordinating narcotics assistance and the
UNODC.

END OF TEXT

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm


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