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Cablegate: Bangladesh: Draft 2009-10 International Narcotics

VZCZCXRO7047
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKA #1014/01 3070946
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 030946Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9616
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0187

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DHAKA 001014

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/INSB, SCA/RA, AND INL FOR JLYLE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINS SNAR IN BM BG
SUBJECT: BANGLADESH: DRAFT 2009-10 INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS
CONTROL STRATEGY REPORT PART I, DRUGS AND CHEMICAL CONTROL

REF: STATE 97228

Summary
-------

1. (U) There was no evidence that Bangladesh was a
significant cultivator or producer of narcotics. Government
of Bangladesh (GOB) officials charged with controlling and
preventing illegal substance trafficking lacked sufficient
training, equipment, continuity of leadership, and other
resources to detect and interdict the flow of drugs. Law
enforcement agencies continued to interdict narcotics, from
the Golden Crescent in South Asia and the Golden Triangle in
Southeast Asia, smuggled into Bangladesh along its porous
land border with India and Burma and by fishing trawlers.
Corruption hampers the country's drug interdiction efforts.
Bangladesh is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

Status of Country
-----------------

2. (U) The country's porous borders facilitated the illegal
flow of narcotics from neighboring countries and made
Bangladesh an attractive transfer point for drugs transiting
the region. Assessments conducted by several U.S. agencies
in 2008 confirmed numerous land, sea and air border security
vulnerabilities in Bangladesh that could be easily exploited
by narcotics traffickers. The Bangladesh Department of
Narcotics Control (DNC) said it was unable to estimate the
number of drug addicts in the country, but unofficial sources
estimate between 100,000 and 1.7 million addicts, with
20,000-25,000 injecting drug users and 45,000 heroin smokers.
These estimates indicate by the wide range of the
approximation the lack of any real knowledge of the extent of
drug abuse. Other drugs used in Bangladesh were
methamphetamines, marijuana, and the codeine-based cough
syrup phensidyl. Most of the "yaba" circulating in
Bangladesh is smuggled from neighboring countries such as
Burma.

Country Actions against Drugs in 2009
-------------------------------------

3. (U) Policy Initiatives. Although government officials
said in 2007 a new interagency monitoring group had been
created, the Home Affairs Ministry said in October 2008 no
such agency existed.

4. (U) Law Enforcement Efforts. Law enforcement units
engaged in operations to counter narcotics included the
police, the DNC, the border defense forces known as the
Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), customs, the navy, the coast guard,
local magistrates and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an
elite group that played a leading role in fighting terrorism,
corruption and narcotics abuse. Customs, the navy, the coast
guard and the DNC all suffered from poor funding, inadequate
equipment, understaffing and lack of training. For example,
the DNC budget for 2008-2009 was 184 million taka (about $2.6
million), only slightly more than the actual expenditure for
the previous fiscal year. Its work force of about 940 people
also was 337 positions short of the number approved by the
government. The DNC did not maintain a presence at the
international airports in Chittagong and Sylhet and only two
officials were posted at Dhaka airport. DNC officers
throughout the country were not authorized to carry weapons.
Although RAB had become perhaps the highest-profile
anti-narcotics force in the country, it did not have a
special counter-narcotics section. Its drug-fighting
resources, which appeared stronger than other law-enforcement
agencies, included a recently expanded canine corps of 51
dogs.

5. (U) The smuggling, diversion and abuse of pharmaceuticals
originating from India is considered one of the single
largest drug problems in Bangladesh. The BDR seized 14.7 kg
of heroin, 9,626.4 kg of marijuana, and 32,870 liters of
phensidyl, a codeine-based, highly addictive cough syrup
produced in India, from January through September 2009. The
DNC keeps tabs primarily on seizures by its own officers.
Drugs seized by the department from January through September
2009 (latest statistics) are as follows: 17.6 kg of heroin

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(compared to 29.0 kg in all of 2008 and 20.9 kg in 2007);
1,540.154 kg of marijuana (compared to 2,302 kg in 2008 and
1,768 kg in 2007); more than 46,187 bottles of phensidyl; 83
ampoules of pethedine, an injectable opiate with medical
application as an anesthetic; and 3,179 tablets of yaba
tablets which consist of caffeine and methamphetamine.
Meanwhile, RAB reported 516 drug related arrests as of
September 2009.

6. (U) Corruption. The drive against corruption launched by
the Caretaker Government in January 2007 slowed following the
December 2008 national elections. The Awami League formed
the Government following elections, replacing the Caretaker
Government. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) faced
criticism from both ruling and opposition party leaders for
what they described as "harassment" of politicians during the
two years of the state of emergency. The ACC saw a change of
leadership and a government review committee recommended
withdrawal of 875 cases, mostly involving Awami League
leaders, as of October 2009. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
vowed to continue the campaign against corruption. The GOB
did not, as a matter of government policy, encourage or
facilitate illicit production or distribution of drugs or
controlled substances or launder proceeds from their
transactions. No senior official had been identified as
engaging in, encouraging, or facilitating the production or
distribution of drugs or controlled substances.

7. (U) Agreements and Treaties. Bangladesh is a party to
the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as
amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on
Psychotropic Substances. Bangladesh acceded to the UN
Convention against Corruption in February 2007. The GOB and
USG signed a Letter of Agreement on Law Enforcement and
Narcotics Control (LOA) in September 2002 under which the
U.S. provides equipment and technical assistance to the DNC
and its central chemical laboratory. The LOA also provided
for training, via the U.S. Department of Justice, to law
enforcement personnel involved in counter-narcotics
activities.

8. (U) Cultivation/Production. The International Narcotics
Control Board estimated small quantities of cannabis are
cultivated in Bangladesh for local use. The DNC acknowledged
that some small amount of cannabis is cultivated in the hill
tracts near Chittagong, in the southern silt islands, and in
the northeastern region, claiming it is for local
consumption. The DNC also reported that as soon as knowledge
of a cannabis crop reached its officers, that crop was
destroyed in concert with law enforcement agencies. The DNC
said there were no significant crop destruction activities in
the first 10 months of 2009.

9. (U) Drug Flow/Transit. The most frequently used drug is
heroin, thereafter, phensidyl (Codeine based cough syrup)
illegally transit from India and the third highest is
cannabis. Bangladesh has borders with India on its three
sides except the south, which stands on the Bay of Bengal.
There were few media reports of major narcotics seizures in
the first 10 months of 2009. The International Narcotics
Control Board in its 2007 report cited evidence that "heroin
consignments destined for Europe are increasingly passing
through Bangladesh." It said heroin was smuggled into
Bangladesh by courier from Pakistan, by commercial vehicle or
trains from India, by truck or public transport from Burma
and by sea via the Bay of Bengal. The Chittagong seaport
appeared to be the main exit point for narcotics leaving
Bangladesh, the report added. Bangladesh Navy officials said
they suspected Bangladesh was a transit zone for heroin
smuggled out of the Golden Crescent in South Asia and the
Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia. Smugglers used
Bangladeshi, Burmese and Thai Fishing Trawlers for
trafficking heroin into Bangladesh.

10. (U) Several recent U.S. government assessments confirmed
vulnerabilities along Bangladesh's land, sea and air borders.
One report from the Department of Homeland Security
described a chaotic situation at Benapole, the main land
border crossing between India and Bangladesh, which could
easily be exploited by narcotics traffickers. The report
said examination of luggage items was said to be cursory at

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best. Opium-based pharmaceuticals and other drugs containing
controlled substances are being smuggled into Bangladesh from
India. White (injectable) heroin comes in from Burma.

11. (U) Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Law enforcement
officials believe that drug abuse, while previously a problem
among the ultra-poor, is becoming a major problem among the
wealthy and well-educated young. The Department of Narcotics
Control ran treatment centers in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi,
Khulna, Jessore and Comilla. In the nine months through
September 2008, 3,120 patents received treatment at the
government facilities, the vast majority of them being male.
A drug addicts' rehabilitation organization, APON, operates
six long-term residential rehabilitation centers, including
the first centers in Bangladesh for the rehabilitation of
female addicts (opened in 2005 and a more permanent facility
in 2009). APON says it is the only organization that
includes street children in its drug rehabilitation program.
The International Narcotics Control Board in its 2007 report
said prescription controls in Bangladesh were not adequately
enforced at the retail level. It said pharmaceutical
preparations were stolen from both hospitals and pharmacies.

U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
------------------------------------

12. (U) Bilateral Cooperation. The USG continued to support
Bangladesh's counter-narcotics efforts. The U.S. Embassy in
Dhaka provided a grant of $52,000 to APON for a new
rehabilitation center for female drug addicts, which opened
in November 2009.

13. (U) The Road Ahead. The USG will continue to provide
law enforcement and forensic training for GOB officials,
which the USG hopes will be useful to Bangladesh's
counter-narcotics efforts. New Delhi-based Drug Enforcement
Administration officials visited Dhaka in November 2009 to
liaise with Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies about future
counter-narcotics cooperation.

MORIARTY

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