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Cablegate: Croatia: Incsr 2009-2010, Part 1

VZCZCXRO7550
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHVB #0649/01 3071506
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031506Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9625
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ZAGREB 000649

SIPDIS
DEPT PASS TO INL: JOHN LYLE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SNAR KCRM HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA: INCSR 2009-2010, PART 1

ZAGREB 00000649 001.2 OF 004


1. The following is the International Narcotics Control Strategy
Report, 2009-2010, Part 1 for Croatia.

BEGIN TEXT.
Croatia

I. Summary

The Republic of Croatia is a transit point through which narcotics
are smuggled from production countries to consumer countries. While
smuggling occurs both overland and by sea, the most significant
seizures, particularly for cocaine, are connected with sea
transport. Croatian law enforcement bodies cooperate actively with
their U.S., EU and regional counterparts to combat narcotics
smuggling. Croatian authorities estimate that smuggling of narcotic
drugs via container traffic will increase. According to available
indicators, the drug supply increased and became more diverse in
recent years. These changes have led to an increase in drug use,
particularly among young people. Some of the factors that are
contributing to the growth of narcotic-related crime in Croatia are
the liberalization of border traffic as part of the EU integration
process, increasing tourism and maritime traffic, the long maritime
border, and Croatia's geographical position as a crossroads between
the East and West and Northern and Southern Europe. The illicit
production and/or distribution of narcotics as well as laundering of
crime proceeds are punishable under Croatian law. Croatia is a
party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The Government's Office for
Combating Narcotic Drugs Abuse has been intensively working on
building and strengthening national systems and is actively involved
in European and broader international initiatives.

II. Status of Country

Geographically, Croatia is located in South-East Europe at the
crossroads of the Mediterranean, Central Europe, and the Balkans.
The long land border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia,
Montenegro, and Hungary, and a 1777 km coastline (plus an additional
1185 islands) are attractive targets for contraband smugglers
seeking to move narcotics into the large European market. The
"Balkan route" is recognized as the shortest way from the East to
Western Europe and lately it has become a two-way route with heroin
and cocaine moving through Croatia to Western Europe and synthetic
drugs moving from Western European producers to the Middle East and
Asia. There has also been a recent increase in cocaine traffic
coming into Croatia from South America via Africa and then on to
other European destinations. According to Croatian authorities,
there is no significant or organized production of narcotics in
Croatia, and domestic production is limited to individuals growing
marijuana for the domestic narcotic market.

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008 and 2009

Policy Initiatives. Beginning in 1995, Croatian officials created a
counternarcotics master plan which is divided into a National
Strategy and an Action Plan which define the tasks of individual
ministries and state administration bodies involved in
counternarcotics efforts. The "National Strategy on Combating
Narcotic Drugs Abuse (2006-2012)" and the "Action Plan on Combating
Narcotic Drugs Abuse in the Republic of Croatia for 2009-2012,"
delineate the tasks of relevant ministries and government
administration bodies in Croatia's fight against the use and trade
in illegal drugs. Croatia's new National Strategy replaced a former
program that was implemented in 1996 and ended in 2005. The
strategy is comprehensive and covers the same five pillars as the
EU's strategy: coordination, supply reduction, demand reduction,
international cooperation, and information, research, and
evaluation. Its two main goals are: (i) a reduction in drug use,
drug addiction and related health and social risks and (ii) the
promotion of successful law enforcement efforts to curtail the
production and trafficking of drugs and precursors. The strategy is
complemented by the Action Plan which implements annual programs.
The Plan describes in detail the specific aims and methods for
achieving the strategic goals, as well as specific tasks of
particular offices and ministries for each budgetary period.

Addiction prevention programs in Croatia, which were established in
2005 in all counties, involve sectors such as education, health and
social care, nongovernmental organizations, and media. There are 21
counties in the Republic of Croatia, each with a County Commission
on Combating Narcotic Drugs Abuse bringing together local experts
from different fields. In 2008, the Government also passed the
Annual Employment Plan, which includes guidelines for the employment
of rehabilitated addicts.

The Croatian Penal Code provides for criminal penalties for
narcotics and narcotics-related offenses. The minimum penalty for
narcotics production and dealing is three years. The minimum penalty
for selling narcotics by organized groups is five years. The minimum
penalty for incitement or facilitating the use of illegal narcotics
is one year. In addition, punishment for possession of related
equipment or precursor chemicals has a mandatory sentence of no less
than one year.

ZAGREB 00000649 002.2 OF 004

Law Enforcement Efforts. The Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry and
Customs Directorate share responsibilities for law enforcement
efforts, 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 Ministry of Interior reported successful and effective
cooperation in 2008 and the first six months of 2009 with DEA, FBI,
the General Inspectorate of Interpol, UNODC (the UN's Office for
Drug-Control and Crime Prevention) and other agencies responsible
for drug control.

Under Croatian law, police are allowed to use undercover
investigators and confidants, simulated purchases or sales,
simulated bribery, secret surveillance, technical recording of
persons, and wiretapping. Croatian criminal legislation
strengthened measures to confiscate assets of organized crime groups
in late 2008 by shifting the burden of proof about the legitimate
origins of assets to the defendant rather than the prosecutors.
Reverse sting authorization was included in December 2008 changes to
the Criminal Procedure Act, but police did not conduct a reverse
sting operation during the reporting period. According to the
amendments to the Croatian Penal Code (article 82), if a case falls
under the authority of the specialized prosecutors who work in the
Office for Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK), it
shall be assumed that all of a defendant's property was acquired by
criminal offences, unless the defendant can prove the legal origin
of assets. The pecuniary gain in such cases shall also be
confiscated if it is in possession of a close third party (e.g.
spouse, relatives, and family members) and it has not been acquired
in good faith. Croatia continues to cooperate well with other
European states to improve border management. Authorities described
this cooperation on narcotics enforcement issues with neighboring
states as good.

In 2009, the Croatian Police created separate Police USKOK
(PN-USKOK) offices to correspond with the prosecutor's USKOK
offices. This should enable better cooperation on drug trafficking
and organized crime cases between police and prosecutors. Croatia
also created separate sections within the four largest courts to
hear USKOK cases with specially trained and vetted judges.

Croatian laws are generally sufficient to combat narcotics
trafficking and drug use. The Criminal Law covers the illicit use
(possession), production, and trade of narcotics. The law also
criminalizes acts committed under the influence of drugs. Criminal
sanctions vary from a fine to long-term imprisonment, depending on
the nature of the crime and crime consequences. The Act on
Combating Narcotic Abuse, enacted in 2001, covers misdemeanor
crimes, the export and use of precursor chemicals, and other
administrative and regulatory issues. The act requires all persons
or corporations to obtain import, export, or transport licenses for
any quantity of listed drugs or precursors. The act also regulates
healthcare, treatment, international cooperation, and drug education
and other preventive programs.

During 2008, seizures of various types of narcotics declined 10
percent from 2007 to 5,879 seizures. The seizure rate continued to
drop in 2009, falling by 9 percent for the first nine months to
4,158. The Ministry of Interior reported that the general,
undercover, customs, and/or border police seized drugs in the
following amounts during 2008 and the first nine months of 2009:
2008 2009
Cocaine 29 kg 5kg
Heroin 153 kg 57 kg
Marijuana 221 kg 204 kg
Hashish 5 kg 112 kg
Amphetamine 15 kg 4 kg
Hemp (stalk) 268,822 pieces. n/a
Heptanone 10,920 tablets 2,754 tablets
Ecstasy 6,855 tablets 1,879 tablets
LSD 654 doses 9 doses

The largest seizures of cocaine in the Republic of Croatia occurred
in the container terminal of the port of Rijeka. No seizures
occurred at sea during the reporting period. Evidence indicates
that the cocaine was intended for the illegal narcotic markets of
Western Europe. Cocaine trafficking has been increasing in recent
years and this has been generally reflected in the overall seizure
rate:
2008 233 seizures
2007 253 seizures
2006 179 seizures
2005 147 seizures
2004 135 seizures
In the first nine months of 2009, however, cocaine seizure have
fallen dramatically with only 5 kg seized compared to more than 25
kg in the same period in 2008.

A total of 7,882 drug related criminal offences were registered in
2008 which constitute 10.6 percent of all reported criminal offences

ZAGREB 00000649 003.2 OF 004


in Croatia. Police filed criminal charges against 5,225
individuals. The Ministry of Interior reported 5,610 criminal acts
related to narcotic abuse were registered in the period from January
1 to September 30, 2009. Nearly one-third of those are complex
felony cases. During this time period, 4,723 persons were charged
with narcotic-related crimes.

Corruption. The illicit production and/or distribution of narcotics
as well as the laundering of criminal proceeds are punishable under
Croatian law. As a matter of government policy, neither Croatian
officials nor the Croatian government facilitate the production,
processing, or shipment of drugs, or the laundering of the proceeds
of illegal drug transactions. The USG is not aware of any
allegations of senior government officials participating in such
activities. Croatia is a party to the UN Corruption Convention.

Agreements and Treaties. Croatia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972
Protocol, and the 1972 UN Convention Against 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. The Croatian Constitution prohibits the extradition of
Croatian nationals, but the Government was preparing a
constitutional amendment during the reporting period as part of EU
accession negotiations to allow extradition of its nationals. On
March 1, 2008, the Croatian Ministry of Interior sent a liaison
officer to Europol.

Cultivation/Production. Small-scale cannabis production for domestic
use is the only known narcotics production within Croatia. Poppy
seeds are cultivated on a small scale for culinary use. Because of
Croatia's small drug market and a relatively porous border, Croatian
police report that nearly all illegal drugs are imported into
Croatia.

Drug Flow/Transit. Croatia lies along part of the "Balkan Route" for
heroin smuggling. Officials report that the Balkan Route is now
"two-way," with heroin and other drugs from Asia moving through
Croatia to Western Europe and synthetic drugs produced in Western
Europe smuggled through to the East. Drugs are smuggled through
Croatia both overland and via the sea, and Croatian authorities
believe that smuggling through shipping containers will increase in
the coming years. Although Croatia is not considered a primary
gateway, police seizure data indicate smugglers continue to attempt
to use Croatia as a transit point for non-opiate 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. The Ministry
of Interior reports that most large-scale shipments of marijuana and
hashish arrive from Africa and are being smuggled via ship. Some
smaller quantities of marijuana are brought into Croatia by foreign
tourists during the summer season, mostly for their own consumption.
Some marijuana is also produced through domestic illegal
cultivation. Synthetic drugs like amphetamine and derivates of
amphetamine, mostly Ecstasy tablets, are smuggled from Western
European producer countries and also from narcotic markets in Asia
and from Croatia's neighboring countries.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Office for Combating Drug
Abuse develops the National Strategy for Narcotics Abuse Prevention
and is the focal point for agency coordination activities to reduce
demand for narcotics. According to the most recent indicators, drug
availability increased on the Croatian market in the past several
years, which resulted in an increased number of drug addicts,
especially among youth. According to the Croatian Public Health
Institute the number of treated persons continues to decrease. Of
the treated addicts the greatest number were treated for addiction
to opiates and marijuana. In 2008, 116 drug-abusers died, which is a
30 percent decline from 2007. Of these deaths, approximately 70
percent were overdoses. Nearly half of all heroin addicts were
infected with the hepatitis C, and 13.6 percent were positive on
hepatitis B. The Ministry of Education requires drug education in
primary and secondary schools. The state-run medical system offers
treatment for addicts, and slots are sufficient to accommodate those
seeking treatment.

In 2008 the Republic of Croatia spent 84 million kuna (USD 17.5
million) for the implementation of the National Strategy and the
Action Plan, which include both law enforcement efforts and demand
reduction programs. In 2008 the state budget for the implementation
of the activities stated in the National Action Plan and the
Strategy increased by 26.4 percent in comparison with 2007. During
the first six months of 2009, Croatia only spent 30 million kuna
(USD 6.3 million), reflecting cuts to the national budget due to the
economic crisis.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


ZAGREB 00000649 004.2 OF 004


Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. counternarcotics policy in Croatia is
focused on expanding the capacity of the police and prosecutor's
drug divisions and working with investigators from the Croatian
Ministry of the Interior's Drug Division on their international
investigations, particularly with respect to South America-based
drug trafficking organizations. DEA is the lead agency in this
endeavor and continues to foster an outstanding relationship with
Croatian law enforcement. DEA has achieved significant results with
respect to bilateral and multilateral investigations and cooperation
in 2009. Croatia is also a regular participant at international drug
conferences covering strategic as well as operational matters. U.S.
assistance for police reform efforts under the State
Department-supported ICITAP (Department of Justice) program is now
focused on combating organized crime and corruption. The Export
Control and Related Border Security Program (EXBS) also provides
support and training to customs and border police. DEA, ICITAP, and
EXBS training and cooperation have helped lead to several seizures
and more effective prosecutions of drug crimes.

Road Ahead. In 2010, the ICITAP and EXBS programs will continue to
train and advise Croatian law enforcement personnel on
anti-narcotics activities. The Department of Defense is also
assisting with counternarcotics equipment for border police through
the U.S. European Command. Resident advisors will continue to
assist the Ministry of Interior and Office for Suppression of
Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK) in improving police and
prosecutor cooperation in complex narcotics and organized crime
cases and plan to assist Croatian police and prosecutors in planning
and conducting reverse sting operations and prosecutions. EXBS
(Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance) programs
will also assist the Ministry of Interior and Customs Directorate to
enhance their capabilities in fighting narcotics and organized crime
cases.

END TEXT.

FOLEY

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