Cablegate: Iraq: Incsr Report Part I - Drug and Chemical Control
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R 290414Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5920
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 003353
DEPT FOR INL-I
TAGS: SNAR KCRM KJUS PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQ: INCSR Report Part I - Drug and Chemical Control
1. (SBU) Summary: Senior Iraqi Government officials acknowledge that
illicit drugs enter Iraq from Iran, some to be used by Iraqis, but
most transshipped south out of Basra or north through Iraqi
Kurdistan. However, officials deny that illicit narcotics are a
major problem in Iraq. Indeed, faced with terrorist attacks and
sectarian violence, the Government of Iraq (GOI) maintains no
drug-abuse-specific statistics. The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior
(MOI) has reported no known production of illicit drugs in Iraq.
While the MOI, which also supervises the Border Forces, monitors
narcotics-related arrests or seizures, it does not track the
information in a manner in a manner that can be disseminated.
Anecdotal reports from the Kurdish region note an increased albeit
nascent use of illegal narcotics as a function of proximity to the
transit route and returning Iraqi Kurds from exile in Iran with
existing addictions. End Summary.
2. (SBU) According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Iraqi
health system is under-resourced and overwhelmed by trauma cases.
Given the relatively modest drug abuse problems in Iraq, the MOH has
not organized special treatment options for drug abuse. There are no
controls over prescription drugs and no GOI focus on illegal drug
use. Smuggling or theft of chemicals of any sort is more often
related to bomb-making activities, not drug manufacture or abuse.
However, within the last few years, there has been a marked increase
in the seizure of large quantities of methamphetamine precursors,
ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, as well as large seizures of
amphetamine tablets. Money laundering is widely employed to support
sectarian militias and/or terrorist groups, but is less apt to be
used to launder the proceeds of narcotics sales. The availability of
both chemical precursors and money laundering networks illustrate
Iraq's vulnerability to narcotics trafficking should the security
environment continue to improve. The three GOI anti-corruption
agencies reported no corruption cases involving narcotics. Iraq is a
party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Status of Country
3. (SBU) Iraq is not a significant producer of illicit drugs or
precursor chemicals. USDA advisors in Iraq opined that most of Iraq
is too arid to grow plants that could be used for illicit drugs. In
the South, where sufficient water is available, efforts to farm
marijuana instead of rice have not succeeded. Due to its
geographical location near drug-producing countries (Afghanistan)
and drug-consuming or transshipping countries (Iran), Iraq is a
transit country for illicit drugs. Iraq's vast desert borders and
tenuous security situation make it vulnerable to illicit drug
smuggling operations. However, due to numerous military checkpoints
and subversive activity outside of military-controlled areas, the
amount of narcotics being smuggled in and through Iraq is estimated
to be low. Iraq is not a major drug-consuming country: most Iraqis
would seem hard-pressed to find the cash to support a drug habit. A
2009 INL-commissioned National Drug Intelligence Center report
states that "although drug abuse statistics are sparse, reporting
indicates that the abuse of synthetic drugs, especially
pharmaceuticals, within Iraq is increasing. The primary abusers are
Qpharmaceuticals, within Iraq is increasing. The primary abusers are
reportedly Iraqi youths."
4. (SBU) Policy Initiatives: The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD),
in conjunction with the Department of State (DOS) Bureau of
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), has begun an
extensive training program for Iraqi border forces. This basic
skills training program for Iraqi Forces includes a module on
narcotics. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) is
pursuing a partnership with GOI/MOH to provide training and
technical assistance supporting two major treatment goals: 1)
Screen, identify and treat patients needing substance abuse
services; and 2) Provide rehabilitation, counseling and education
services for patients enabling them to stay in treatment.
Law Enforcement Efforts
5. (SBU) While Iraq lacks a coordinated national anti-narcotics
effort, several Iraqi police commanders have requested training from
the U.S. in identifying and prosecuting narcotics traffickers. The
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has sent test kits for
narcotics to several police units. Training in how to use these kits
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is done by U.S. contractors. Several provinces have anti-narcotics
units and have requested funding, training and equipment for
forensics laboratories to assist them in enforcing the strict
anti-narcotics laws. To date, the GOI does not have official
statistics on arrests and convictions for narcotics-related crime.
6. (SBU) The Iraqi Ministry of Justice (MOJ) reports that the vast
majority of inmates confined in Iraq's prisons are there on
terrorism-related charges. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provide
advisory and training assistance to Iraqi Department of Border
Enforcement officials at high threat locations along Iraq's borders.
DHS and CBP also provide assistance to Iraqi Customs, Immigration,
and Border Guards to help ensure their policies, procedures, and
capabilities enhance Iraqi border control efforts.
7. (SBU) The USG provides some assistance to help the GOI develop
counter-narcotics capacity. For example, State Department
INL-contracted experts assigned to MNC-I (Multi-National Corps-Iraq)
conduct training for Iraqi Border Forces. DEA also provides
assistance. DEA operates in a concerted region-wide manner through
the Ankara Regional Office in Turkey. DEA efforts include:
establishing relations in the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government)
between MNSTC-I (Multi-National Security Transition Corps-Iraq) and
Kurdish authorities to develop operational cooperation, intelligence
sharing, and investigative training; sharing intelligence and
supporting Coalition initiatives such as MNF-W's (Multi-National
Force-West) Joint Prosecution Exploitation Cell (JPEC); increasing
efforts to develop intelligence in southeast Turkey, along the
borders with Iran and Syria; assigning DEA agents to the Major
Crimes Task Force (MCTF), an interagency effort headed by the FBI
that works with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
8. (SBU) While corruption is a serious problem in Iraq, Iraqi
officials do not seem to engage in narcotics-related corruption.
Before 2003, the GOI enforced strict prohibitions on narcotics
abuse; current Iraqi cultural norms discourage recreational drug
use. Consequently, current GOI officials are not viewed as
encouraging or facilitating illicit production or otherwise
supporting drug-trafficking. INL has provided $21 million in
assistance from the FY-07 supplemental budget, and an additional
$6.2 million from the 2008 supplemental budget, to train Iraqi
anti-corruption agencies. Thus far, none of the corruption
investigations undertaken have involved narcotics.
Agreements and Treaties
9. (SBU) Iraq 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, In March 2008, Iraq
acceded to the UN Convention against Corruption and to the UN
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) but has not
signed any of the UNTOC protocols. The extradition treaty between
Iraq and the United States is in force.
10. (SBU) Iraq is primarily a narcotics transit country. This
presents many challenges for its new government. An Iraqi official
Qpresents many challenges for its new government. An Iraqi official
in Sulaymaniyah province reported seeing opium, heroin, and cannabis
coming over the border in mule trains, cars and trucks operated by
Iranian gangs. The drugs are moved on to Turkey, where the opium is
refined into heroin then transited to Western Europe.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction
11. (SBU) With its current focus on anti-terrorism operations, the
GOI has no domestic programs to respond to the relatively few
instances of narcotics-related problems. There are no prescription
drug controls in Iraq. Village markets often have prescription
drugs, pilfered from medical facilities, for sale in an uncontrolled
atmosphere. In February 2008, the GOI, in a report provided by the
National Intelligence Information Agency, within the Ministry of the
Interior (MOI), summarized the drug problem in Iraq. The GOI
reported that after 2003, there was a noticeable increase in the
sale and consumption of illegal drugs.
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12. (SBU) The GOI estimated approximately 10,000 Iraqi's are
addicted to illegal narcotics, with recent growth among the addicted
population between the ages of 16-24. It identified Iran as the main
source of illegal drugs, and Maysan province as a primary passageway
for illegal drugs. Health officials believe that Valium, a drug
found in Iraqi correctional facilities and health institutions, is
the drug most commonly abused by the Iraqi population. NGOs report
that prescription drugs are significantly cheaper and more easily
accessible than illegal drugs or even alcohol. Accordingly, there
is limited street demand for illegal drugs at this time.
Drug Trafficking, the Insurgency, and Security Forces
13. (SBU) There is some evidence that terrorists and/or violent
groups use drug trafficking as a means of financing. Additionally,
Coalition forces have reported that these groups use drugs to
increase the risk-taking willingness of their fighters.
14. (SBU) Since 2006, there have been several seizures of
significant amounts of amphetamine tablets in Iraq.
In December 2006, coalition forces seized 50,000 tablets of
amphetamine. In June 2008, coalition forces seized 595,000 tablets
of amphetamine. In July 2008 the Iraqi National Intelligence and
Information Agency (INIIA) seized approximately 425,000 tablets of
amphetamine. In October 2008, coalition forces seized 125,000
tablets of amphetamine. Regionally, Jordanian law enforcement
reported seizing approximately ten million tablets a year since
2004, while Saudi Arabian authorities reported seizing approximately
twenty-two million tablets from May to November 2007.
15. (SBU) Kuwait law enforcement has reported large quantities of
hashish are being smuggled from Iran through Basra Province into
Kuwait. This is corroborated by limited Iraqi intelligence
reporting. Syrian law enforcement officials reported seizing
approximately 125 kgs of hashish smuggled through Iraq.
Equipment/Precursors. In the last three years there have been
multiple attempts to import tablet processing equipment and large
quantities of methamphetamine precursors into Iraq.
16. (SBU) In 2005 international law enforcement officials tracked
the delivery of a tablet manufacturing press capable of producing
50,000 tablets per hour from Germany to Iraq. In 2006,
international law enforcement officials stopped six shipments of
ephedrine to Iraq totaling 18,000 kgs, and in 2007, stopped an
additional three shipments of pseudoephedrine totaling 250,900 kgs.
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has set Iraq's
legitimate annual ephedrine/ pseudoephedrine requirement at 1,400
kgs. In March 2008, international law enforcement officials halted
the shipment of 10,000 kgs of pseudoephedrine to a company in Iraq.
17. (SBU) While there has not been any indication of large scale
methamphetamine production in Iraq, incidents of this nature and the
large number of amphetamine tablets seized cause concern for the
possibility of future production of methamphetamine or, more likely,
illicit diversion of precursors to third countries.
U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
QU.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
18. (SBU) To assist Iraqi maritime forces in readiness to patrol,
the USCG sent two engineering teams to provide training in the areas
of logistics and administration. They also sent teams to provided
advanced outboard motor maintenance and small boat operations
The Road Ahead
19. (SBU) The USG will continue to support the training of the
Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police, the anti-corruption agencies, the
Border Forces, and economic policy-makers in terms of agriculture
and banking. Further, the USG is exploring a demand reduction
program that will focus on awareness programs for youths. The U.S.
will encourage Iraq to direct more resources towards
narcotics-related crime and abuse, and will assist Iraqi ministries
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to improve their capacity in preparation for a period when improved
security permits a more typical enforcement effort.