Cablegate: Portugal Incsr Part I: Drugs and Chemical Control
DE RUEHLI #0565/01 3060845
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020845Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7954
INFO RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS LISBON 000565
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PREL SOCI PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGAL INCSR PART I: DRUGS AND CHEMICAL CONTROL
REF: STATE 97228
1. Summary: Portugal once again saw a significant decline in cocaine
seizures as shipments to Europe are increasingly being routed
through African nations rather than northern Atlantic routes. As a
result, seizures of cocaine decreased from 2.6 metric tons in the
first six months of 2008 to 1.6 metric tons during the same period
in 2009. Portugal also saw a drop in heroin and hashish seizures.
Seizures of heroin decreased from 49 kilograms in 2008 to 39.2
kilograms in 2009. Hashish seizures decreased from 24.4 metric tons
in the first half of 2008 to 16.7 metric tons in the first half of
2009. U.S.-Portugal cooperation on drugs has included joint
investigations with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and
consultations at the newly established Maritime Analysis Operations
Center for Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon. To continue with this
cooperation, DEA will be opening an office in Lisbon in 2010.
Portugal is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. End Summary.
Status of Country
2. Drug smugglers have used Portugal as a primary gateway to Europe
in recent years; their task is made easier by open borders among the
Schengen Agreement countries and by Portugal's long coastline.
Since early 2007, Portuguese law enforcement entities have seen a
significant drop in cocaine seizures and speculate that traffickers
have moved to Western African nations and then use "swallower mules"
to enter Europe in smaller, harder to detect packages.
Additionally, it is believed that traffickers are also increasingly
using containers, which are harder for law enforcement officials to
access. South America remains the source of cocaine arriving in
Portugal, usually transited through Brazil and Venezuela. For
hashish, the primary source country was Morocco, transshipped
through Spain. Cocaine and heroin enter Portugal by commercial
aircraft, containers, and maritime vessels. The Netherlands, Spain
and Belgium are the primary sources of Ecstasy in Portugal. Drug
abuse within the Portuguese prison system continues to be a major
concern for authorities.
Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009
3. Policy Initiatives. Portugal decriminalized drug use for casual
consumers and addicts in 2001. The law makes the "consumption,
acquisition, and possession of drugs for personal use" a simple
administrative offense. In 2007, the Portuguese Parliament approved
a law allowing police to test drivers' saliva for driving under the
influence of narcotics and/or alcohol. If the roadside sample is
positive, drivers must then undergo a blood test at a health care
establishment to confirm the results. Drug testing prior to the new
law had to be done at a health care establishment, making the
process more complicated for both drivers and law enforcement
4. Law Enforcement Efforts. Portugal has seven separate law
enforcement agencies that deal with narcotics: the Judicial Police
(PJ), the Public Security Police (PSP), the Republican National
Guard (GNR), Customs (DGAIEC), the Immigration Service (SEF), the
Directorate General of Prison Services (DGSP), and the Maritime
Police (PM). The PJ is a unit of the Ministry of Justice with
overall responsibility for coordination of criminal investigations.
The PM reports to the Ministry of Defense and the other entities are
units of the Ministry of the Interior. According to a 2009
semi-annual report prepared by the PJ, Portuguese law enforcement
forces arrested 2,748 individuals for drug-related offenses in the
first six months of 2009 as "traffickers/consumers." Of those
arrested, 2,284 were Portuguese citizens; the foreign nationals
arrested included citizens from Cape Verde (173), Guinea Bissau
(71), Spain (38), Angola (35), and Brazil (32). The report
indicates a decrease in the cocaine, hashish and heroin seized in
the first half of 2009 compared to the first half of 2008. Cocaine
seizures fell from 2.6 metric tons to 1.6 metric tons in the first
half of 2009. Also over the first six months of 2009, compared to
the same timeframe in 2008, hashish seizures fell from 24.4 metric
tons to 16.7 metric tons. Heroin seized decreased slightly from 49
kilograms to 39.2 kilograms in the first half of 2009. Ecstasy
seizures in 2009 have amounted to a seizure of 31.3 grams, and 143
grams of amphetamine were seized. Additionally, PJ's first semester
report on 2009 activities notes the seizure of over 1 million Euros
in cash, plus the equivalent of over 8,000 Euros in foreign
currency. The PJ also seized 15 vehicles, 16 boats, 80 weapons and
1,516 cell phones.
On October 25, 2009, GNR seized 550 kilograms of cocaine on a yacht
at Horta, located on the island of Faial in the Azores. The seizure
was the largest ever of cocaine in the Azores.
5. Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Portugal does not
encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of
drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug
6. Agreements and Treaties. Portugal is 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.
Portugal is party to the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime and its protocols against trafficking in persons and
migrant smuggling. In September 2007 Portugal ratified the UN
Convention against Corruption. A Customs Mutual Assistance
Agreement (CMAA) has been in force between Portugal and the U.S.
since 1994. Portugal and the U.S. have been parties to an
extradition treaty since 1908. Although this treaty does not cover
financial crimes, drug trafficking or organized crime, certain drug
trafficking offenses are deemed extraditable in accordance with the
terms of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In addition, Portugal and the
U.S. have concluded protocols to the extradition and mutual legal
assistance treaties pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU extradition and
mutual legal assistance agreements. The protocols are pending entry
7. Drug Flow/Transit. Portugal's long, rugged coastline and its
proximity to North Africa offer an advantage to traffickers who
smuggle illicit drugs into Portugal. Some traffickers are reported
to use high-speed boats in attempts to smuggle drugs into the
country, and some use the Azores islands as a transshipment point.
The U.S. has not been identified as a significant destination for
drugs transiting through Portugal.
8. Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Responsibility for
coordinating Portugal's drug programs is with the Ministry of
Health. The Government also established the Institute for Drugs and
Drug Addiction (IDT) by merging the Portuguese Institute for Drugs
and Drug Addiction (IPDT) with the Portuguese Service for the
Treatment of Drug Addiction (SPTT). The IDT gathers statistics,
disseminates information on narcotics issues and manages government
treatment programs for narcotic addictions. It also sponsors
several programs aimed at drug prevention and treatment, the most
important of which is the Municipal Plan for Primary Prevention. Its
objective is to create, with community input, locality-specific
prevention programs in 36 municipal districts. IDT runs a hotline
and manages several public awareness campaigns. Regional
commissions are charged with reducing demand for drugs, collecting
fines and arranging for the treatment of drug abusers. A national
needle exchange program was credited with significantly reducing the
spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, although HIV infections resulting
from injections are still a major concern in the Portuguese prison
system. In November 2006, Lisbon city officials approved plans for
legalized assisted narcotics consumption centers or "shoot houses"
to open in late 2007 but the heated internal debate has stalled
plans to open them.
Portugal is implementing its National Drugs Strategy: 2005-2012,
with an intermediary impact assessment that took place in 2008.
Portugal's strategy builds on the EU's Drugs Strategy 2000-2004 and
Action Plan on Drugs 2000-2004, focusing on reducing drug use, drug
dependence and drug-related health and social risks. This new
strategic cycle created an innovative integrated drug demand
reduction program, incorporating prevention, harm reduction,
treatment and rehabilitation. The 2008 strategic Action Plan
strategy included prevention programs in schools and within
families, early intervention, treatment, harm reduction,
rehabilitation, and social reintegration measures. The internal
evaluation for the 2008 Action Plan culminated with a report
presented to the Ministry of Health in May 2009. This internal
evaluation was run by a specialized subcommittee of the
Interministerial Technical Committee, heading the work of nine other
specialized subcommittees in all areas of the Action Plan.
Together, the ten specialized subcommittees gathered 36 institutions
from the Central Public Administration, the National Council on
Drugs, the Portuguese Economical and Social Council, Civil Districts
and Local Administration, for a total of 88 representatives. These
subcommittees also created the new Action Plan for 2009-2012.
Representatives from producers, marketers and distributors as well
as Central Public Administration collaborated on a proposal for a
National Plan to Reduce Problems Linked to Alcohol Abuse.
Both proposals for the Action Plan for 2009-2012 and the National
Plan to Reduce Problems Linked to Alcohol Abuse are waiting Ministry
approval. Delay is due to the 2009 electoral cycle and change of
U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
9. Bilateral Cooperation. DEA-Madrid is currently responsible for
coordinating with Portuguese authorities on U.S.-nexus drug cases.
Portuguese Customs cooperates with the U.S. under the terms of the
In December 2008, DEA and PJ culminated a joint investigation with
the seizure of 957 kilograms of cocaine, 745,200 USD, three vehicles
and arrest of four members of the organization responsible for the
cocaine shipment. This investigation was conducted with the
additional cooperation of DEA San Juan, DEA Caracas, JIATF-South and
the Spanish National Police. The organization targeted in this
investigation was responsible for multi-hundred kilogram quantities
of cocaine being shipped into Portugal and distributed throughout
Europe. The enforcement actions included the execution of an
International Controlled Delivery that was possible due to the
considerable coordination between the investigating agencies. This
investigation is one example of the good working relationship that
exists between DEA and the Portuguese.
10. The Road Ahead. Portugal and the U.S. will use their good
cooperative relationship to improve narcotics enforcement in both
DEA's aim at assessing changing drug trafficking patterns through
their Rightsizing process, the determination was made to establish
full time DEA presence in Portugal with the opening of a DEA Country
Office in Lisbon. The anticipated startup date is mid-2010. This
office will consist of one Country Attache, one Special Agent and
one Administrative Support Specialist, with plans to increase the
staffing with the addition of an Intelligence Research Specialist in
the near future. This office will be able to conduct joint
investigations with the Portuguese authorities targeting large drug
trafficking organizations that utilize Portugal as a point of entry
for their European shipments.
The Joint Inter Agency Task Force South (JIATF-S) now has a
permanent observer to the MAOC-N. The Chief of the Tactical
Analysis Team, Debra Slaminski, arrived in October 2009 and is the
liaison officer to JIATF-S.