Southeast Asia and the Pacific
Australia is a committed partner in international efforts to combat illicit drugs. Australia is a consumer, rather than a producer, nation. There is no evidence of narcotics destined for the U.S. transiting Australia. U.S. and Australian law enforcement agencies have excellent cooperation on narcotics matters. Drug policy is an issue of increasing importance in domestic affairs in Australia, with the passage of state legislation allowing for safe heroin injecting rooms (clean needles provided, no prosecution for drug offenses) in two Australian cities. Australia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status Of Country
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in Australia. According to a 1998 survey for Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), nearly 40 percent of Australians over the age of 14 have used the drug at least once, with 17 percent having used it in the last 12 months. The survey revealed that 46 percent of all Australians report having used at least one illicit drug in their lives, with 22 percent having done so in the previous year.
Heroin use is on the rise in Australia. 2.2 percent of all Australians reported using heroin in the 1998 AIHW survey, up from 1.4 percent in 1995. Among men aged 20-29, 6.2 percent reported heroin use in 1998, up from 3.6 percent three years earlier. The state of New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have passed legislation allowing for the creation of "safe heroin injecting rooms," and the state of Victoria is considering similar legislation. The federal government, after receiving a letter from the UN Narcotics Control Board, has asked the NSW and ACT governments to delay implementation while it reviews whether the establishment of such rooms violates Australia's obligations under the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Australia's large banking sector and a freely exchangeable currency have allowed money launderers to take advantage of Australia. The government is committed to prevention and enforcement actions against money laundering and measures such as know-your-customer rules and a U.S. $6500 cash transaction reporting requirement make laundering difficult. Nevertheless, wire transfers and travelers checks have been used to launder drug proceeds through the Australian financial system.
III. Country Action Against Drugs
Policy Initiatives. The government's comprehensive drug strategy remains the "Tough on Drugs" program first announced by Prime Minister John Howard in 1997. During the year, two new components of the plan were announced. The first provided U.S. $13 million in government grants for community organizations to provide treatment, rehabilitation, and support to those affected by drugs. The second was an agreement between the federal government and the governments of the states and territories to divert many first time drug offenders into treatment and education programs, giving an early intervention focus to the strategy. Since its inception, nearly U.S. $190 million has been spent on implementation of the Tough on Drugs strategy, according to the Prime Minister's office. Drug policy remains an issue in which both the federal and state governments have a role. This leads to variations in laws and punishments across Australia.
Law Enforcement Efforts Australia continued aggressive anti-narcotics law enforcement activities in 1999. Responsibility for these efforts is divided between the federal and state governments, with the various law enforcement agencies generally working well together. There were two significant heroin seizures during the year. In July, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) seized 80 kilos of heroin. In October, the Australian customs service found over 219 kg of heroin in an ocean container in Sydney harbor on a boat arrived from Indonesia.
In a report issued in March 1999, the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABCI) reported that between July 1, 1997 and June 30, 1998, federal and state/territory enforcement authorities seized 320.9 kg of heroin and other opiates, 103.1 kg of cocaine, and 182.2 kg of methamphetamine and other amphetamines.
The AFP has established a number of overseas liaison posts to assist in narcotics-related investigations. These liaison officers, particularly those in the Pacific Island nations, also assist local law enforcement agencies in training and institution building. The AFP, both in country and overseas, has a close working relationship with U.S. Agencies such as DEA and FBI.
Corruption. The Australian government is vigilant in its efforts to prevent narcotics related corruption. There is no information of any senior official of the government facilitating the production or distribution of illicit drugs or aiding in the laundering of proceeds from such activities.
Agreements And Treaties. A mutual legal assistance treaty between the U.S. and Australia entered into force on September 30, 1999. There is also a bilateral extradition treaty, under which the U.S. requested the extradition of two persons for narcotics offenses during 1999. Both cases are proceeding through the courts. The Australian government is working through the court system to extradite a prominent Mexican money launderer back to Mexico pursuant to that country's request.
Cultivation/Production. The only significant illicit cultivation in Australia is cannabis, which remains at less than 5000 hectares throughout Australia. Australia has a significant licit opium crop, primarily on the island of Tasmania. Controls against diversion of that crop are excellent.
Drug flow/Transit. Australia has been and continues to be a target for Southeast Asian heroin trafficking organizations and South American cocaine traffickers. The U.S. embassy continues to monitor the possibility of these drugs transiting Australia to the U.S., but to date there has been no information that this is occurring.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives And Programs
U.S. Policy Initiatives. The primary USG counternarcotics goals in Australia remain looking for signs of traffic from Australia to the U.S. and providing mutual assistance and sharing intelligence in an effort to disrupt and dismantle international trafficking organizations. The cooperation between U.S. and Australian authorities in achieving these goals is excellent.
The Road Ahead. Australia shows no sign of lessening its commitment to the international fight against drug trafficking, particularly in Southeast Asia. The U.S. can expect to enjoy excellent bilateral relations with Australia on the counternarcotics front and the two countries should work well together in UNDCP and other multilateral fora.
Brunei Darussalam does not produce narcotic drugs, and does not consume them in significant quantities. Drug-related problems are relatively minor. There are no indications that Brunei is being used for major transshipment of illegal drugs or for money laundering. The Brunei government has a vital, proactive anti-drug program led by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). The Brunei government actively participates in regional activities and multilateral anti-drug fora and has made substantial progress in strengthening laws pertaining to narcotics-related crime. Brunei is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Contact and cooperation with regional U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials has been positive.
II. Status Of Country
The quantity of illegal drugs coming to or transiting Brunei is relatively small. Brunei authorities report there is no evidence of drug syndicates operating in the country. Drugs that enter Brunei are smuggled in by air, at its single international airport; in vehicles, crossing Brunei's several border checkpoints; by water, from the nearby Malaysian states of Sabbah and Sarawak; or through illegal jungle entry points. Most illegal narcotics shipments move through Brunei between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, but some of them inevitably stay and are consumed locally.
Crystal methamphetamine, marijuana (cannabis), and heroin are the drugs of abuse of choice in Brunei. In 1999 Brunei authorities noted an increasing presence of methamphetamine, a slight reduction in cannabis, and a drop in the use of heroin to almost zero. There is no evidence of cocaine traffic or use in Brunei.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1999
Law Enforcement. Brunei's Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), which leads the country's counternarcotics efforts, is well-funded. Its staff is trained and dedicated, professional and, although small, they efficiently perform investigative and enforcement activities. Cooperation between the NCB, police, customs, and other agencies involved in counternarcotics is excellent.
Brunei vigorously prosecutes those arrested for narcotics offenses. Like its neighbors, Malaysia and Singapore, Brunei has a well-publicized death penalty for possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking (more than 30 grams), for marijuana (more than 600 grams), for cocaine (more than 40 grams), and most recently for possession and trafficking in methamphetamine (more than 250 grams). One drug dealer was convicted and put to death in 1996, and in November 1999 another was sentenced to death. As in Malaysia and Singapore, this tough policy on drugs appears to have a significant deterrent effect.
Policy Initiatives. Asset forfeiture laws are used in Brunei's drug-related cases. Money laundering legislation was still undergoing legal review in late 1999, but the Brunei government announced that a law would be put into place soon. Anticipating such a law, in 1999 Brunei authorities initiated a cooperative effort with regional money laundering experts.
Brunei participates in ASEAN and other regional anti-drug fora, and regularly cooperates with the Malaysian government in counternarcotics operations along common borders. Brunei drug officials also maintain regular contact with counterparts in Singapore, Thailand, and Australia.
Agreements and Treaties. There are no bilateral law enforcement treaties between the U.S. and Brunei. The government of Brunei has no narcotics agreements with the U.S., but there is excellent ad hoc cooperation with the regional DEA presence in Singapore. Brunei is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Drug Flow/Transit. The Brunei government appears concerned about Brunei becoming a transit point for precursor chemicals, but has not developed a preventive strategy yet. However, to combat drug smuggling, the Brunei government sponsored a DEA training course for NCB, customs, postal and local business representatives that focused on smuggling through courier and postal services.
Demand Reduction. The Brunei government operates one drug rehabilitation facility, which accommodates approximately 250 (voluntary and involuntary) residents. Recent government focus has been on demand reduction activities, especially targeting the use of crystal methamphetamine. In 1999 the Brunei government funded school and village programs with anti-drug messages geared to 6 to 17-year-old students and their parents.
Corruption. There is no indication of drug-related corruption in Brunei.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives And Programs.
Bilateral Cooperation. During 1999 the Narcotics Control Bureau and police have been attending training courses at the newly created International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok. In September 1999, the DEA Singapore country office conducted the first ever narcotics training conference in Brunei. Training focused on mail and parcel interdiction techniques and was presented to representatives from the NCB, Brunei customs, the Brunei post office, and various private courier service companies, including Federal Express, DHL, UPS, and TNT. This training was extremely well received.
Road Ahead. The NCB continues to request further training, including technical training in a wide range of anti-narcotics law enforcement techniques. Brunei needs to remain vigilant against the amphetamine-type stimulant epidemic which has beset the rest of Asia.
Burma is the world's second largest source of illicit opium and heroin, with Burmese production exceeded only by that of Afghanistan. Due in large part to severe drought conditions in poppy growing areas, production and cultivation continued to decline significantly in 1999 for the third year in a row. In 1999 there were an estimated 89,500 hectares under opium poppy cultivation, down 31 percent from 1998. This cultivated area could yield up to a maximum of 1,090 metric tons of opium gum. The opium production figure is 38 percent lower than in 1998 and is less than half of the average amount of production during the last decade. The government maintained most of its opium crop-eradication efforts, expanding some of these only slightly. During 1999, seizures of methamphetamine continued to exceed last year's record seizures, although opium and heroin seizures were well below 1998 figures. Burma made its first airport seizures of narcotics in 1999. The Government of Burma (GOB) made little, if any, effort against money laundering during the year. While there were cases of interdiction and arrests of members of some cease-fire groups for narcotics trafficking, the GOB has been unwilling or unable to take on the most powerful groups directly. Cease-fire agreements with insurgent ethnic groups dependent on the narcotics trade involve an implicit tolerance of continued involvement in narcotics for varying periods of time. Burma is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Burma has been, and continues to be, one of the world's largest producers of illicit opium. Burmese opium production doubled in 1989, the year after the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC-the military junta that now rules Burma under the Name State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC) took power. Production levels remained high and stable for several years, but production began to decline in 1997 and dropped significantly in 1998 and 1999. The decline in potential production in 1999 over 1998 is largely due to drought, although the drop also reflects the GOB's effort to keep areas out of opium cultivation as part of its eradication efforts. The U.S. Government (USG) discontinued most U.S. direct assistance to Burma in 1988 in response to massive human rights abuses.
Burma currently accounts for approximately 80 percent of the total production of Southeast Asian opium. Most of this supply of illicit opiates is produced in ethnic minority areas of Burma's Shan State. Over the past few years, the GOB has increased its presence in this region, particularly the southern portion of it, an area formerly under the control of Chang Qifu (Khun Sa). Since 1989, Rangoon has negotiated cease-fire agreements with most of the drug-trafficking groups that control these areas, offering them limited autonomy and development assistance in exchange for ending their insurgencies. The regime's highest priority is to end insurrection and achieve some measure of national integration; counternarcotics interests in these areas are a lesser priority, reflected in the fact that many of the cease-fire agreements effectively permit the minorities to continue their narcotics cultivation and trafficking activities. Moreover, the cease-fire agreements have had the practical effect of condoning money laundering, as the government encouraged these groups to invest in "legitimate" businesses as an alternative to trafficking and some chose this opportunity to sanitize past illicit proceeds with investments in hotels and construction companies, for example.
The ethnic drug-trafficking armies with whom the government has negotiated cease-fires (but not permanent peace accords), such as the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA-Kokang Chinese), remain armed and heavily involved in the heroin trade. Through cease-fire agreements, the GOB appears to have given the trafficking armies varying degrees of autonomy; for example, Burmese troops cannot even enter Wa territory without explicit permission. Among the top leaders of those ethnic groups believed by the USG to be involved in the heroin and/or amphetamine trade are, Peng Jiasheng, and Liu Goushi of the MNDAA; Pao Yuqiang, Li Zuru, and Wei Xuekang of the UWSA; Mahtu Naw of the Kachin Defense Army (KDA); Mong Sa La and Yang Maoliang of the Mongko Defense Army (MDA); and Yawd Serk of the Shan United Revolutionary Army (SURA), which was formerly part of drug lord Chang Qifu's Mong Tai Army. Chang Qifu disbanded his army in January 1996 in return for generous terms of surrender, which allowed him to avoid criminal prosecution. U Sai Lin (Lin Mingxian) of the Eastern Shan State Army (ESSA) has been listed in previous years as a major narcotics insurgent leader, but he has successfully rid his area of opium cultivation. There are no current, confirmed reports of Sai Lin or the ESSA still being involved in narcotics trafficking, although it is likely that ESSA territory is a trafficking route because of its location along the border with China.
There is reason to believe that money laundering in Burma and the return of narcotics profits laundered elsewhere are significant factors in the overall Burmese economy, although the extent is impossible to measure accurately. Political and economic constraints on legal capital inflows magnify the importance of narcotics-derived funds in the economy. An underdeveloped banking system and lack of enforcement against money laundering have created a business and investment environment conducive to the use of drug-related proceeds in legitimate commerce.
Drug abuse-in particular intravenous drug use-is on the rise in Burma and is accompanied by an alarming spread of the HIV/AIDS virus, especially in the ethnic minority areas that are the source of the drugs. HIV/AIDS infection rates in gem and jade mining areas are particularly high.
In the past four years, as overt military challenges to Rangoon's authority from the ethnic groups have eased somewhat, the government, while maintaining its primary focus on state security, has stepped up its counternarcotics enforcement efforts. The GOB garrisoned troops on a year-round basis for the first time in the Kokang region during 1997, but it still does not have troops in Wa territory. The MNDAA, the KDA, and the MDA in Shan State have declared their intention to establish opium-free zones in territory under their control by the year 2000; the ESSA has already declared its territory an opium-free zone. The Wa have announced their territory will be an opium-free zone by the year 2005.
Ethnic groups have made "opium-free" pledges since 1989, but, with the exception of the Kachin State and ESSA territory, results have been limited. In view of the extensive opium cultivation in northern Shan State, the area of greatest opium density, expanded reduction in cultivation will require considerable eradication, much greater law-enforcement, and alternative-development efforts by the authorities. Such efforts necessitate vastly greater financial resources than the government has, however. Implementation of such a program would also require increased cooperation between the government and the ethnic groups involved in production and trafficking.
The GOB, for its part, stated that it would support its eradication efforts with development assistance in the form of infrastructure improvements and advice on crop substitution. The GOB also requested USG assistance in verifying whether these groups fulfill their commitments. The USG has requested additional information to pinpoint the areas in question. The GOB has promised to provide this information. Exchange of information on the status of opium cultivation could then occur during the opium poppy survey carried out jointly with the GOB on a year-by-year basis. In view of China's long border with the Wa area, the GOB asked China for assistance in curbing Wa trafficking. Both countries have established a regular forum for discussing counternarcotics cooperation.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1999
Policy Initiatives. Burmese counternarcotics efforts in 1999 made progress with regard to increased methamphetamine and ephedrine seizures and Burma's first seizures of drugs transiting the airport in Rangoon. An improved security situation in parts of northern Shan State permitted the Burmese anti-drug forces to conduct more vigorous law-enforcement efforts, especially in the Kachin and Kokang regions. The GOB has continued its cooperation with Japan to plant opium substitute crops on 14,565 acres. Such efforts must be stepped up, if they are to have a significant impact on the overall trafficking problem.
With encouragement from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Embassies in Rangoon and Bangkok, the Burmese and Thai governments agreed to undertake joint operations against drug trafficking along Thailand's northern border with Burma. Operation of a joint anti-drug task force in Tachilek, Burma and Mae Sai, Thailand, however, has been hampered by political disharmony between the two countries.
The Burmese continued to refuse to render drug lord Chang Qifu on grounds that he had not violated his 1996 surrender agreement. This agreement reportedly stipulated that if Chang Qifu ended his insurgency and retired from the drug trade, the GOB would provide him with security in Rangoon and allow him to conduct legitimate business. Burmese authorities assert that he will continue to enjoy immunity from prosecution in Burma or rendition to another country as long as he does not violate his surrender agreement. This issue remains a source of friction between Burma and the U.S. The 1988 UN Drug convention obligates parties, including Burma, to prosecute such traffickers. GOB officials have stated they would be willing to prosecute Chang Qifu or his subordinates, if it can be proven that they have engaged in narcotics trafficking after the surrender agreement was signed.
The SPDC affirmed its intention to increase its efforts to implement the ongoing "Master Plan for the Development of Border Areas and National Races." The plan calls for a program of integrated development combined with law enforcement aimed at improving living standards in the ethnic areas and providing viable economic alternatives to opium cultivation. Few GOB resources have been devoted to such development projects, however; health, education, and infrastructure in border areas remain poor. GOB policy is to force the leaders in the ethnic areas to spend their own revenues, including from the drug trade, on social and physical infrastructure. The GOB's ability to continue or expand its opium eradication efforts is likely to be adversely affected by the lack of such economic alternatives.
The UNDCP has begun an integrated rural development project in the southern portion of the Wa region in furtherance of the United Wa State Army's unilateral decision announced in 1995 to establish five "opium-poppy-free zones" in its area of control to reduce opium cultivation gradually. The project is part of a planned five-year, $15 million rural development project aimed at crop substitution and alternative development. The project area has expanded to include 2 more townships for a total of five, with over 200 villages participating. UNDCP has begun projects in agriculture, road building, water and sanitation, and community development. The Wa project will incorporate a monitoring and evaluation component designed to measure progress in eliminating opium cultivation. As an integrated development scheme, it will also focus on developing the infrastructure as well as providing educational and health facilities in the Ho Tao and Mong Pawk districts of the Wa region.
Accomplishments. While the extent of the drug threat from Burma remained high, law-enforcement efforts, particularly seizures of amphetamine, showed some improvement. Opium production during 1999 showed a significant decline; much of the decline, however, was the result of a region-wide drought. Seizures of 28.8 million amphetamine tablets in 1999 represented a notable increase over the previous year's record seizures of 15 million tablets. Opium and heroin seizures as of October 1999 declined from the 1998 seizure rate. The decline largely resulted from changes in trafficking patterns and refining methods adopted by traffickers in response to GOB enforcement efforts in prior years. The combined police and military narcotics task forces seized 273.2 kilograms of heroin in 1999 compared to 490 kilograms seized in 1998. By October, officials seized 1.44 metric tons of opium, compared with 5.2 metric tons for all of 1998. As indicated above, opium cultivation dropped by 31 percent and potential opium production by 38 percent to the lowest level in ten years. GOB law enforcement also made its first arrests of traffickers at Mingaladon Airport in Rangoon in October and November, seizing a total of 10.7 kilograms of heroin. To date, the GOB has also seized 6.43 metric tons of ephedrine in 1999, most of it coming from India. The GOB destroyed 23 heroin refineries and six methamphetamine refineries during 1999. The GOB also eradicated 9,800 additional acres of poppy fields, according to Burmese figures. The USG is unable to verify the accuracy of the eradication figures.
Law Enforcement Measures. The 1993 Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances Law brought the Burmese legal code into conformity with the 1988 UN Drug Convention. As such, the 1993 law contains useful legal tools for addressing money laundering, the seizure of drug-related assets, and the prosecution of drug conspiracy cases. However, Burmese policy and judicial officials have been slow to implement the law, targeting few, if any, major traffickers and their drug-related assets. Burmese drug officials claim they lack sufficient expertise to deal with money laundering and financial crimes, but money laundering is believed to be carried out on a massive scale.
Formally, the Burmese government's drug-enforcement efforts were led by the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC), which is comprised of personnel from various security services, including the police, customs, military intelligence, and the army. CCDAC now has 18 drug-enforcement task forces around the country, most located in major cities and along key transit routes near Burma's borders with China, India, and Thailand. The CCDAC, which is under the effective control of the Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence (DDSI) and relies, in part, on military personnel to execute law- enforcement duties, continues to suffer from a lack of adequate resources to support its law-enforcement mission.
Corruption. There is no evidence that the government, on an institutional level, is involved in the drug trade. However, there are persistent and reliable reports that officials, particularly corrupt army personnel posted in outlying areas, are either involved in the drug business or are paid to allow the drug business to be conducted by others. Army personnel wield considerable political clout locally, and their involvement in trafficking is a significant problem. The Burmese have said that they would welcome information from others on corruption within their ranks, and a few military personnel are known to have been arrested for narcotics-related offenses in 1999.
The lack of an enforcement effort against money laundering encourages the use of drug proceeds in legitimate business ventures by traffickers or former traffickers. Businesses owned by family members of former or present traffickers have invested heavily in infrastructure projects, such as roads and port facilities, as well as in hotels and other real-estate development projects during the year. Some of these investments are intended to supplement government expenditures on rural development projects in areas under control of the ethnic insurgent and trafficking groups. There is solid evidence indicating that drug profits formed the seed capital for many otherwise legitimate enterprises in the commercial services, and manufacturing sectors.
Agreements and Treaties. Burma is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The Rangoon regime, however, has always refused to extradite Burmese citizens to other countries. The United States does not have a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) with Burma. The USG believes that a U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty, which was accepted by the post-independence Burmese government in 1948, remains in force and is applicable to U.S. requests for extradition of drug fugitives from Burma. The GOB continues to refuse to recognize the applicability of this treaty.
The GOB is one of six nations (Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam) that, along with the UNDCP, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) covering a sub-regional action plan aimed at controlling precursor chemicals and reducing illicit drug use in the highlands of Southeast Asia. In addition to periodic meetings with counterparts from the other signatories to the MOU, Burma has held counternarcotics discussions with Russia and India in 1999. The GOB signed bilateral drug control agreements with India in 1993, with Bangladesh in 1994, with Vietnam in 1995, and with the Russian Federation, Laos, and The Philippines in 1997.
Cultivation and Production. Burma is the world's second largest producer of opium. Potential production decreased sharply from 1998 levels, however, marking the third straight year of decline after a decade of steady production at a high level. Opium cultivation declined an estimated 31 percent and production declined an estimated 38 percent to 1,090 metric tons. Since the early 1990s the areas of most intense cultivation have gradually shifted from southern to northern Shan State. The bulk of the opium crop has been in areas controlled by ethnic minority groups. The GOB has signed or tried to sign cease-fire agreements with many of these groups since 1989. In the last few years, however, the GOB has begun to increase its presence in areas previously under ethnic control, with the notable exception of the Wa region. The government continued its eradication efforts during 1999 in areas previously subject to eradication, but did not expand the program significantly. A drought that affected both northern and southern areas of Shan State, was largely responsible for the sharp decline in potential opium production in 1999.
The GOB conducted a baseline survey of opium cultivation for the second year aimed at determining actual opium production (as opposed to potential production that the USG measures) throughout the country. According to Burmese figures, there were 102,066 acres cultivated in 1999, producing a total of 449 tons. The methodology used to arrive at these figures is unknown, and the U.S. must rely on the higher figures resulting from the joint U.S.-Burma opium yield survey.
Drug Flow/Transit. Most heroin in Burma is produced in small, mobile labs located near the borders with Thailand and China in Shan State in areas controlled by ethnic narcotics insurgencies. A growing amount of methamphetamine is reportedly produced in labs co-located with heroin refineries in the Wa region and the former Shan United Army territory in southern Shan State. Seizures of amphetamine tabs as of November had outpaced the record 15 million seized in 1998, reflecting the growing popularity of methamphetamine production among traffickers. Heroin and methamphetamine produced by Burma's ethnic groups are trafficked largely through transit routes crossing the porous Chinese and Thai borders; to a lesser extent over the Indian, Bangladeshi, and Lao borders; and through Rangoon onward by ship to other countries in the region. Although Thailand remains an important route for Burmese heroin to exit Southeast Asia, trafficking through China is on the increase.
Acetic anhydride, an essential chemical in the production of heroin, and ephedrine, the principal chemical ingredient of methamphetamine, are imported primarily from China and India. Traffickers continued moving heroin through central Burma, often from Lashio through Mandalay to Rangoon or other seaports, such as Moulmein, for shipment to Singapore or Malaysia. Trafficking routes leading through Kachin and Chin States and Sagaing Division in northern Burma to India continued to operate as secondary routes.
Demand Reduction. Drug abuse is a growing problem in Burma. Official estimates put the drug-addicted population at approximately 86,537, up from last year's estimate of 66,463. According to UNDCP and non-governmental organizations working in the health sector, the actual number is significantly higher, totaling about 400-500,000. Heroin is cheap in Burma, and intravenous use of heroin contributed to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS, particularly in the Kachin and Shan States. According to the GOB's "Rapid Assessment Study Of Drug Abuse In Myanmar" sponsored by the Ministry of Health and UNDCP in 1995, drug treatment services are not reaching most drug users because of a lack of facilities, lack of properly trained personnel, and inadequate treatment methods. The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) "World Concern" is implementing a demand-reduction project in Kachin State.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives
Direct material USG counternarcotics aid to Burma has remained suspended since 1988, when the Burmese military brutally repressed the pro-democracy movement. In 1998, the GOB refused to renew a crop substitution project, Project Old Soldier, by the U.S. NGO 101 Veterans, Inc., in 25 villages in the Kutkai area of northern Shan State. Currently, the USG engages the Burmese government on counternarcotics on a very limited level. DEA, through the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, shares drug-related intelligence with the GOB and conducts joint drug-enforcement investigations with Burmese counternarcotics authorities. Various U.S. agencies have conducted opium yield surveys in the mountainous regions of the Shan State in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, and 1999, with essential assistance provided by Burmese counterparts. In cooperation with Burmese counternarcotics personnel, the USG plans to conduct another survey in early 2000. Results from the surveys give both governments a much more accurate understanding of the scope, magnitude, and changing geographic distribution of Burma's opium crop.
The U.S. Government continues frequently to urge the Burmese government to take serious steps to curb Burma's large-scale opium production and heroin trafficking. Specifically, the Rangoon regime has been encouraged to:
Prosecute drug-trafficking organizations and their leaders, and deprive them of assets derived from the drug trade;
Take action against drug-related corruption, including prosecution and appropriate punishment of corrupt officials and money launderers;
Take action against fugitive drug-traffickers and turn them over to third countries;
Undertake opium poppy eradication on a wide scale in areas under its direct control or immediate influence;
Press ethnic groups, such as the Wa, the Kokang, and the Kachin, who have pledged to create opium-free zones in their regions, to make good on their commitments;
Enforce existing anti-drug, conspiracy, and anti-money-laundering legislation;
Provide strong support to multilateral drug-control projects in Shan State.
Bilateral Cooperation. USG counternarcotics cooperation with the Burmese regime is restricted to basic law-enforcement operations. The U.S. provides no bilateral material or training assistance due to U.S. concerns over Burma's commitment to effective counternarcotics measures, human rights, and political reform. DEA's liaison with Burmese policymakers and military officials-conducted mainly through DEA's office in Rangoon-will continue and will focus on providing intelligence on enforcement targets and coordinating investigations of international drug-trafficking groups.
The Road Ahead. Based on experience in dealing with significant narcotics-trafficking problems elsewhere around the world, the USG recognizes that ultimately large-scale and long-term international aid, including development assistance and law-enforcement aid, will be needed to curb fundamentally and irreversibly drug production and trafficking. The USG strongly urges the GOB to commit itself fully and unambiguously to implementing effective counternarcotics measures, respecting the rule of law, punishing drug traffickers and major trafficking organizations (including asset forfeiture and seizure), combating corruption, enforcing anti-money-laundering legislation, continuing eradication of opium cultivation, destroying drug-processing laboratories, and respecting human rights.
|Potential Harvest (ha)||89,500||130,300||155,150||163,100||154,070||146,600||165,800||153,700||160,000|
|Potential Yield (mt)||1,090||1,750||2,365||2,560||2,340||2,030||2,575||2,280||2,350|
|Acetic Anhydride (gal)||-||-||2,137||5,082||1,159||1,191||1,016||1,136||-|
|Heroin Labs Destroyed||23||32||33||11||3||4||0||2||6|
|Meth Labs Destroyed||6||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Heroin Users (thousands)||300||300||300||150||100||30||30||30||30|
|Opium Users (thousands)||120||120||120||120||120||120||120||120||120|
The year 1999 saw the establishment of peace and political stability throughout all regions of Cambodia after more than 30 years of warfare. The coalition government established in November 1998 has emphasized law and order and economic development. The National Drug Policy Board was reorganized to provide more effective operational leadership and anti-narcotics enforcement was somewhat energized. Cambodian anti-narcotics officials have begun to establish working contacts with their counterparts in the region. UNDCP has provided welcome technical assistance in the areas of precursor chemical control, demand reduction, drug control and cross border cooperation, and has sponsored several well attended, well received training sessions.
Cooperation with U.S. law enforcement has continued to be excellent. Officials at the highest levels of the government have made public statements on the importance of combating illegal narcotics. However, there is substantial cannabis (marijuana) cultivation for export almost exclusively to non-U.S. destinations. Cambodia remains a major transit route for Southeast Asian heroin to overseas markets, including the U.S.
Lack of financial resources, shortage of trained personnel, and high levels of judicial corruption continue to hinder sustained advances in anti-narcotics enforcement. Officials at all levels continue to plead for U.S. assistance in training anti-narcotics police. Cambodia did not participate in the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok.
II. Status of Country
Cambodia is not a major producer of opiates or cocoa-based drugs, although cannabis production is significant. Cambodia is not a center for narcotics derived money laundering. It is the only country in Southeast Asia that does not have a significant domestic drug abuse problem, having been saved from drug abuse by poverty, political turmoil, and isolation.
Marijuana is cultivated in significant quantities for export, as well as for domestic consumption. Although reliable figures about areas under cultivation are not available, estimates are that production could be quite high. Marijuana production in Cambodia is concentrated in four provinces, Koh Kong, Kampong Cham, Stung Treng, and Banteay Meanchey, and is reported to be in the control of ethnic Sino-Thai criminal organizations. Europe is the major destination for Cambodian cannabis. Of the approximately 70 tons of Cambodian cannabis that has been seized outside Cambodia since 1996, the majority of seizures have been made in European countries. Australia and the U.S. have also been destinations for shipments of Cambodian marijuana. The Prime Minister has announced the provincial officials who have knowledge of cannabis production and fail to take action will be removed from their posts.
Cambodia shares borders with Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, and lies near the major trafficking routes for Southeast Asian heroin. Its principal involvement in the international narcotics trade is as a significant transit route for Southeast Asian heroin to overseas markets, including China, Europe, Australia, and the United States. There is little hard information available on the scale of heroin trafficking through Cambodia, but law enforcement in Cambodia is lax, and corruption endemic. There are clear indications of alien smuggling and counterfeiting, and there have been reliable reports that narcotics traffickers and other organized criminal elements use Cambodia as a kind of refuge for their activities.
There have also been reports in the past of methamphetamine laboratories operating in Cambodia at some points along the western border with Thailand, and some have been raided in previous years. In 1999, the Interior Minister condemned the presence of some new methamphetamine labs in Koh Kong province along the Thai border, which he claimed had been established by Thai criminals to supply the Thai market. While use of methamphetamine is still limited, Cambodian officials have become very concerned over the past year about the potential for rapid increase in methamphetamine abuse and are anxious to avoid an epidemic of the proportions experienced in neighboring countries.
Cambodia's law enforcement agencies have very few resources and generally lack even basic training in law enforcement techniques and drug enforcement measures. Three decades of civil warfare and factional fighting further hampered a sustained and organized effort against illegal drugs. In 1998, the cessation of factional fighting and the final demise of the Khmer Rouge along with the formation of a new coalition government have provided a measure of stability and allowed the government to devote more attention to combating crime in general, and illegal narcotics in particular. The new government has given priority to the reestablishment of law and order throughout the country and combating corruption. Both law enforcement agencies and the judicial system remain very weak. Defendants in important narcotics cases have had charges dropped inexplicably and been set free after paying very small fines.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs In 1999
Law Enforcement. Law enforcement in general has been energized, relative to 1998, and anti-narcotics efforts were noticeably more effective than in previous year. Measures to confiscate illegal weapons were taken throughout the year, contributing to generally greater security. The Prime Minister announced that the cultivation of cannabis would not be tolerated and that provincial officials who were aware of such activities and failed to take steps to combat it would be removed from office.
Cambodian law enforcement officials have also provided excellent cooperation in counterfeiting cases. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted in Cambodia and the police actively pursue counterfeiters of it. The U.S. embassy is routinely notified when counterfeit or suspected counterfeit currency is seized. Secret Service officers, stationed in Bangkok, have visited regularly to work with Cambodian authorities on counterfeit cases and to provide training to law enforcement and bank officials in counterfeit identification.
Corruption. Corruption is an endemic problem in Cambodia, and has adversely affected drug law enforcement. Poorly paid and ill-trained police and judicial officials frequently look the other way in narcotics and other criminal cases. There has been a real danger of Cambodia becoming a refuge for criminal elements, convinced that enforcement would either be totally ineffective, or in the unlikely event they were apprehended, that they could buy their way out. The combination of incompetence and venality, even at high levels in government and the police, pose an on-going challenge to improved narcotics law enforcement.
Policy Initiatives. The government reorganized its counternarcotics policy body, the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), in response to complaints from a variety of sources that the existing group was ineffective. The new members come from law enforcement and operational backgrounds. Although the NACD secretariat members do not have law enforcement units under their direct control, they claim to have the ability to call on resources from all law enforcement agencies as necessary to conduct anti-narcotics operations. The UNDCP believes that this body has the potential to become an effective policy and coordination unit and is proposing a four year U.S. $ 2.3 million "NACD Support Project" which would strengthen the NACD Secretariat. This program includes supplying one senior drug control advisor on a full time basis and other short term technical advisors. The Cambodian authorities have enthusiastically accepted this proposal, which unfortunately has not yet been funded.
Accomplishments. In the past year, UNDCP has sponsored a number of seminars and training courses which were enthusiastically received and well attended, but the desperate need for training far exceeds what is currently available. Cambodia has also begun to cooperate with neighboring countries in narcotics law enforcement, most notably with Thailand and Laos. Exchanges of visits with regional narcotics enforcement authorities, also sponsored by UNDCP, have provided Cambodian officials with new insight into the regional nature of the narcotics problem, opportunities for information sharing, and the beginnings of regional cooperation to combat trafficking. Several highly publicized methamphetamine seizures were made at Pochentong Airport, including one involving an American citizen with 4,000 tablets heading to Japan, and several others at or near the Thai border. [this sentence does not describe drug flow/transit. You may as well just include it in accomplishments, above.
Cultivation/Production. Cambodian authorities had some success in combating illicit cultivation during 1999. The provincial governors were instructed to make sure that farmers understood that cannabis cultivation would not be tolerated and that they would be held accountable. A number of small scale plantations and fields were destroyed during the year, with one 160 hectare plantation discovered and raided in December.
Agreements and Treaties. Although Cambodia is listed as a signatory to the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, it has not yet ratified the convention. Cambodia has no extradition agreement with the U.S., but the Cambodian government has cooperated with U.S. law enforcement in the past in rendering or deporting persons wanted in the U.S. for crimes, including narcotics, upon request and presentation of an appropriate warrant. The U.S. embassy has been assured that such cooperation will continue. The Cambodian government concluded an extradition treaty with Thailand in 1998 and is in the process of negotiating an agreement with Laos. These are both important steps in Cambodia's fight against illegal drugs.
Demand Reduction. A three day workshop on drug abuse prevention and drug demand reduction in September attracted an overflow audience of 120 government health, education, and law enforcement officials, NGO representatives, children advocacy groups, and Embassy representatives.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives
Bilateral Cooperation. DEA law enforcement agents from Bangkok visited Cambodia regularly in 1999 and received excellent cooperation from their Cambodian counterparts. U.S. officials at many levels, including the U.S. ambassador, raised the narcotics issue with Cambodian officials at all levels, up to and including the Prime Minister, regularly throughout the year. The Cambodians freely admitted their shortcomings in the area of enforcement due to lack of resources, and regularly appealed for USG assistance, especially training. The Cambodian government accepted a U.S. proposal to conduct quarterly high level consultations on anti-narcotics objectives. The first such consultation was held in July 1999.
The DEA country attache stationed in Bangkok and the U.S. ambassador presented a USG-funded drug testing laboratory (funded from prior years' assistance). A series of meetings were held with the Prime Minister, deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, and top law enforcement officials, during which ways to continue and expand U.S. Cambodian cooperation were discussed. The Deputy Prime Minister specifically requested U.S. assistance in providing training and equipment for anti-narcotics police, for help in expanding their "connections" to international law enforcement, and for assistance in drug prevention and education; especially American experts to help with drug abuse curriculum and grass roots prevention programs.
Cambodian law enforcement authorities continued their tradition of cooperation with U.S. law enforcement authorities, including making arrested drug suspects available for interview by DEA. In October, at the request of the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Seattle Washington, the Cambodian authorities permitted two Cambodian police officers to travel to the U.S. to testify for the prosecution in a major narcotics case. The successful prosecution of this case was the result of more than two years of effective cooperation between DEA and the Cambodian government.
The Road Ahead. The U.S. will suggest continued efforts against corruption in Cambodia, and continued vigorous enforcement of Cambodia's anti-narcotics laws. Cambodia needs to be particularly sensitive to the threat that a lax enforcement atmosphere encourage criminal elements to "set-up shop" in Phnom Penh. There is also increasing danger to Cambodia's own people from the beginnings of methamphetamine trafficking to Cambodia. To some extent, Cambodia's poverty protected the Kingdom's subjects from more expensive illegal drugs.
China continued to take strong, effective steps to combat the use and trafficking of narcotic drugs in 1999. Although preliminary figures indicate that seizures of heroin declined significantly from 1998's record level, possibly because of a decline in production in Burma, China's total heroin seizures still surpassed the amount of heroin seized in all other Asian countries. Seizures of methamphetamine and other amphetamine-type stimulants soared, while those of precursor chemicals and opium remained at previous years' levels. Government officials estimate that more than 10 percent of China's 1.3 billion citizens viewed a nationwide anti-narcotics exhibition. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) opened an office in Beijing. China continues to cooperate actively on operational issues with U.S. drug-enforcement officials. Although the overall relationship remained intact, some elements of the law-enforcement relationship were affected by NATO's accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. A meeting of the Joint Liaison Group, Subgroup on Law Enforcement, postponed after the bombing, is expected to convene in the spring of 2000. The U.S. and China expect to finalize a framework for mutual legal assistance in 2000 as well. China often did not respond to U.S. requests for information on law-enforcement issues, and, when it did reply, the information requested often arrived too late to be of operational value. China is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention as well as to the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
II. Status of Country
China is now the principal route for heroin smuggled out of Burma, with roughly 90 percent of seizures of Southeast Asian heroin occurring within Chinese borders. There is evidence that some heroin also enters China from Laos and Vietnam and that smaller amounts enter from Southwest Asia. Preliminary figures suggest that heroin seizures in China declined significantly in 1999 from 1998's record level. Since narcotics interdiction remains one of China's primary law-enforcement priorities, it is likely that this decline was due, at least in part, to a decline in production in Burma. There are 596,000 registered heroin addicts in China, but the government recognizes that the actual number of users is far higher. Chinese officials are increasingly concerned about the abuse of methamphetamine and other amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS). Seizures of ATS more than doubled in 1999, with the largest seizure in excess of one metric ton.
China is a major producer of precursor chemicals. The ephedra plant, from which the precursor of methamphetamine is made, grows wild in northern China. China monitors all 22 of the chemicals on the 1988 UN Drug Convention watch list. Yunnan, the province most directly affected by China's drug problem, goes further by monitoring exports of 28 chemicals. China cooperates with the United States and others in providing pre-export notification of dual-use precursor chemicals.
Under Chinese law, laundering the proceeds from narcotics trafficking is a crime, but the legal system and the banking system have not kept pace with China's rapid internationalization. Consequently, China is vulnerable to financial exploitation by drug traffickers. China participated in early meetings of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, but, for a number of reasons, has not attended recent meetings of that body and did not pursue membership in the Financial Action Task Force.
III. Country Action Against Drugs in 1999
The Chinese government has pledged to put more manpower, more material, and more financial resources into the fight against illicit narcotics. China's counternarcotics strategy includes prevention, education, interdiction, and rehabilitation. In 1999, the government produced more than 6000 sets of a traveling anti-drug educational exhibition, which counternarcotics officials estimate was viewed by more than 160 million people. Chinese educational efforts are targeted primarily at youth, the segment of society most likely to use illegal drugs.
Policy Initiatives. China is committed to achieving the goals of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. China cooperates with the UNDCP and regional states on a number of projects. One such project, scheduled to begin in 2000, aims to reduce demand in the regions bordering Yunnan province, where heroin enters China from Burma. China also supports crop-substitution efforts in Burma and Laos.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Preliminary figures suggest that, while significantly lower than last year's record level, Chinese seizures of Burmese heroin will continue to account for the great majority of all such seizures in Asia. On July 4, after a lengthy investigation, Guangdong provincial authorities broke a case that resulted in twelve arrests and the seizure of 1584 kilograms of methamphetamine, an amount nearly equal to last year's total seizures. DEA sent a letter of congratulation to the Minister of Public Security in recognition of this accomplishment.
Corruption. Despite on-going efforts to combat official corruption, the phenomenon remained widespread. The media regularly reported cases of high-level government officials implicated in corruption. Most of the reports involved smuggling of consumer goods, misappropriation of funds, embezzlement, or abuse of power. There were no reports in the state-controlled media of senior government officials engaging in narcotics-related corruption.
Agreements and Treaties. In April, China and the United States signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement, which will speed communications and enhance the flow of counternarcotics-related intelligence. Problems in overall U.S.-China relations affected implementation of several aspects of a May 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Law Enforcement Cooperation. A meeting of the Joint Liaison Group was held in Washington in March 1999, but, in the wake of the accidental bombing of their Embassy in Belgrade, the Chinese postponed a follow-up meeting in Beijing in the fall. The follow-up meeting is expected to be held in spring 2000. The U.S. and China also expect to complete a framework for mutual legal assistance in 2000. In July 1999 the DEA opened an office in Beijing, as agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in May 1998.
China is a member of the Memorandum of Understanding States (MOU States) with the UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and five Southeast Asian nations. In the MOU the members agreed to collaborate on drug-control projects and programs. China has signed more than 30 mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties with 24 countries.
Cultivation/Production. China produces limited quantities of opium, mostly for domestic consumption. Production of synthetic drugs is a growing problem, particularly in Fujian and Guangdong provinces. China is a major producer of precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of illegal drugs, and China continued to strengthen its efforts to control these chemicals. Chinese police monitor closely all precursor chemicals listed in the 1988 UN Drug Convention, particularly ephedrine and potassium permanganate. U.S.-China cooperation on monitoring the movement of precursor chemicals into and out of China is, in general, excellent. However, the Ministry of Public Security rarely provides responses to routine requests from the United States for verification of the bona fides of importers, exporters, and agents.
Drug Flow/Transit. China shares a 2000-kilometer border with Burma. The majority of heroin produced in Burma now travels through China en route to the international market. Smaller quantities of heroin enter China from Southwest Asia. China supports crop-substitution programs in Burma, as well as in Laos, which have resulted in significant decreases of poppy-crop production in the project areas.
Domestic Programs. There are 596,000 registered heroin addicts in China, but government officials admit that the actual number of users is far higher. More than 80 percent of drug abusers are under 35 years of age, and government anti-drug education campaigns are centered on this group. Drug treatment is compulsory for known users. Most of the more than 600 government-run drug treatment and rehabilitation centers rely on a "cold turkey" approach to break the drug habit. Some centers also use traditional Chinese medicines to help users overcome their addiction.
The government has also placed increasing importance on the establishment of "drug free communities." The goal of these communities is to eliminate narcotics trafficking and drug-related crime, but also to provide an environment free of the pressures that lead many former abusers to relapse into drug use.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. Despite setbacks in other areas of the bilateral relationship in 1999, operational-level cooperation between Chinese and U.S. law-enforcement officials continued. U.S. policy objectives are to expand bilateral dialogue at both the operational and policy level, to foster more cooperation between American and Chinese enforcement officials, to increase Chinese counternarcotics capability, and to encourage regional counternarcotics cooperation.
Bilateral Cooperation. In 1999 the United States worked to improve counternarcotics cooperation at the operational level. A significant step in that direction was the establishment of a DEA office in Beijing. The United States regularly provided operational intelligence to Chinese narcotics enforcement officials, but the Chinese response to U.S. requests for similar information was uneven. In 1999 the Department of State, DEA, and the U.S. Customs Service continued to provide training designed to improve the enforcement ability of Chinese counternarcotics officials. In May Chinese law-enforcement officials participated in a two-week DEA-sponsored training course on jetway narcotics inspections. The U.S. Customs service held a contraband enforcement team training session in Yunnan province in March. In August U.S. Customs conducted a "risk management" course designed to help Chinese Customs officials identify high-risk cargoes. The Chinese postponed or cancelled a number of other training courses following NATO's accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
Throughout 1999, however, Chinese officers attended counternarcotics and general law-enforcement training courses at the joint U.S.-Thai International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok. This important regional forum brought together police and other law-enforcement officials from throughout the region to improve regional technical abilities and establish ties among regional counternarcotics and law-enforcement officials.
The Road Ahead. Improved and expanded cooperation on narcotics enforcement is in the interest of both the United States and China. The United States will seek to expand our fruitful operational-level relationship with China and to encourage a resumption of our mutually beneficial high-level dialogue on counternarcotics issues. Although the transshipment of Burmese heroin remains the problem of most immediate concern to the United States, we will monitor closely, and assess the potential impact on the United States of, the alarming rise in methamphetamine seizures in China.
Hong Kong's close geographical proximity to areas where drugs are cultivated, as well as its well-developed commercial transport infrastructure, have historically made it a natural transit point for drugs moving from Southeast Asia to the U.S. Although the U.S. continues to view Hong Kong as a major drug transit/staging area, it appears that Hong Kong's role as a transit/staging area for the shipment of heroin and methamphetamine into the U.S. has diminished over the last three years. This change could be attributed to the rapid development of economic and transportation infrastructure in southern China over the past five years. Development in mainland China includes the construction of new deep-water ports and road systems that dramatically reduced shipment costs and risks to movers of contraband who elect to ship from southern China rather than through Hong Kong. In addition, the counternarcotics efforts of Hong Kong's law-enforcement agencies have proven to be a strong deterrent to drug trafficking through Hong Kong. In the last three years counternarcotics officers made no seizures in Hong Kong of heroin en route to the U.S. Hong Kong residents were deeply involved in a significant heroin case in Australia, however, and counternarcotics officials in neighboring countries continue to report that Hong Kong criminal elements are involved in narcotics trafficking in the region.
Hong Kong adopted a multi-pronged strategy to combat drug trafficking and abuse consisting of effective law enforcement, anti-drug education and publicity programs, treatment and rehabilitation programs, research efforts, and international cooperation. Hong Kong's role as one of the world's major financial centers makes it an attractive venue for laundering money. Although Hong Kong is a source/transshipment point for precursor chemicals such as potassium permanganate, its role has begun to diminish. The 1988 UN Drug Convention, to which China is a party, applies to Hong Kong.
II. Status Of Country
Hong Kong is not a producer of illegal narcotics. Hong Kong's close geographical proximity to the Golden Triangle and mainland China, as well as its well-developed commercial transport infrastructure, have historically made it a natural transit point for drugs moving from Southeast Asia to the United States. Because of Hong Kong's geographical, commercial, and economic profile, coupled with Hong Kong's highly developed port facilities that historically have been used by narcotics traffickers to transport illicit drugs from Asia to the U.S., Hong Kong continues to be designated as a major drug-transit point. Hong Kong's strong law-enforcement efforts over the past several years on the one hand and the rapid development of an economic and transportation infrastructure with rapid growth in direct trade in southern China on the other indicate that Hong Kong's role as a major drug-transit center has been diminishing. The lack of recent seizures of drugs destined for the U.S., despite Hong Kong's stringent enforcement regime, suggests a reduced role for Hong Kong as a transit point for drugs. Nevertheless, drugs secreted in any of the millions of containers transiting Hong Kong each year may escape detection, despite Hong Kong's vigorous enforcement efforts. Moreover, organized criminal gangs and syndicates, many involved in narcotics trafficking, continue to operate from Hong Kong. A recent large heroin seizure in Thailand, for example, yielded investigative leads indicating involvement of Hong Kong criminal elements in managing and financing the trafficking of a series of large heroin shipments to the U.S. During 1999, Hong Kong law-enforcement officials continued to cooperate fully with their U.S. counterparts on all investigations related to illicit drugs and money laundering.
In the first half of 1999, a total of 9,928 drug abusers were reported to the central registry of drug abuse, representing a decrease of 7 percent compared to the first part of last year. Authorities believe most narcotics entering Hong Kong are destined for domestic consumption. In the first half of 1999, the most commonly abused drugs were heroin (87.5 percent), cannabis (7.8 percent), amphetamines (6.3 percent), and triazolam (4.4 percent). There was an increase of 1.8 percent in the abuse of crystal methamphetamine in the first half of 1999.
Hong Kong's role as a major financial center continues to make it vulnerable to the illicit use of its financial institutions for laundering drug-related proceeds. Money laundering in Hong Kong involves not only drug proceeds, but also funds stemming from other criminal activities, such as tax evasion. The level of money laundering from tax evasion and other criminal financial activity is believed to be significant (albeit not quantifiable). Hong Kong continues to tighten controls to prevent money laundering.
Although Hong Kong is a source/transshipment point for precursor chemicals, such as potassium permanganate, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, its role has diminished because of the recent reclassification of potassium permanganate from Schedule 3 to Schedule 2 on the "Control of Chemicals Ordinance."
III. Actions Against Drugs in 1999
Policy Initiatives. In accordance with the resolution passed at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly held in June 1998, Hong Kong amended its legislation to tighten control of potassium permanganate by upgrading it from Schedule 3 to Schedule 2 on the "Control Of Chemicals Ordinance." The new legislation requires a license from the Commissioner of Customs and Excise to import, export and manufacture potassium permanganate. In addition, the transshipment, removal, and storage of potassium permanganate are strictly controlled.
In response to another resolution passed by the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Hong Kong plans to amend its legislation to tighten the control of norephedrine and expects to have amended legislation completed by mid-2000.
As of April 1, 1999, Hong Kong significantly tightened control of the following additional substances by moving them from Schedule 4 to Schedule 2 of the "Dangerous Drugs Ordinance": morphine, acetyldihydrocodeine, codeine, dihydrocodeine, ethylmorphine, nicocodine, norcodeine, pholcodine. In addition, amfepramone, cathine, etryptamine, mesocarb, and zipeprol were added to Schedule 1 of the Ordinance. Also in response to a recent decision passed by the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, in 2000 Hong Kong will tighten control of remifentanil and dihydroetorphine by including them in Schedule 1 of the "Dangerous Drugs Ordinance."
In April 1999 the government began to strengthen its anti-money-laundering regime by introducing legislation to impose a recording requirement for large cash transactions completed at remittance centers and through exchange agents. Remittance centers and exchange agents must record information on customers making transactions of HK$20,000(U.S. $2740) or more. The records must be retained for six years. The amendment is expected to go into effect in early 2000. The government has also introduced an amendment to strengthen the "Drug Trafficking (Recovery Of Proceeds) Ordinance" and "the Serious Crimes Ordinance." The amendment will improve the reporting requirement for suspected money-laundering transactions by reducing the threshold from reasonable grounds to "believe" to reasonable grounds to "suspect" money-laundering activities. The proposed amendment will also increase the penalties for money-laundering offences from a maximum of 14-years to 20-years imprisonment and for the failure to report suspicious transactions from 3-months to 12-months imprisonment.
During the second half of 1999, the government completed a six-month policy review of the "Drug Addicts Treatment and Rehabilitation Ordinance." As a result of the review, the government is drafting new legislation to bring drug treatment and rehabilitation centers under uniform control and to improve the quality of services.
Accomplishments. As noted above, Hong Kong tightened control over several precursor chemicals, including the cocaine precursor potassium permanganate, by moving them from Schedule 3 to Schedule 2 on the "Control Of Chemicals Ordinance" and introduced legislation to strengthen its anti-money-laundering laws. Hong Kong signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement with Switzerland, and in May 1999 Hong Kong Customs and Excise entered into a cooperative agreement with the European Union.
Law Enforcement Efforts. During 1999, Hong Kong's law-enforcement community continued a focused, intelligence-based, operational approach. Resources were allocated in accordance with trends in drug manufacture, smuggling, trafficking, and consumption. Conforming to the government's "Enhanced Productivity Program," the Narcotics Bureau of the Hong Kong police force will be restructured in early 2000. The new structure will reflect the bureau's move towards intelligence-led investigations and will result in a greater allocation of resources to intelligence gathering and analysis. Liaison officers will be placed into one division, which will enhance communication with international law enforcement agencies, and will emphasize regional drug enforcement.
In the past two years, the Hong Kong police force has added 955 new officers and has spent over U.S. $3.7 million on adding to and upgrading its computer systems to improve the collation and dissemination of criminal intelligence. At the border and airport, additional police dogs have been deployed to assist in the detection of smuggled drugs. The number of police dogs increased from 124 to 133. Customs procured high-tech equipment, including ion scanners, x-ray checkers, mobile x-ray vans, and scanners, to detect microscopic traces of drugs on packages and to facilitate the efficient and effective inspection of baggage and cargo. High-tech equipment was also used in the air cargo clearance system for airport inspection, in the customs' control system for sea cargo inspection, and in the land boundary system for border checkpoints. A total of U.S. $64.1 million was budgeted for the procurement of high-tech equipment.
Heroin remains the drug of choice in Hong Kong. Heroin seizures through the end of October 1999 nearly equaled the total seized in calendar year 1998. As of October 31, a total of 205 kgs of heroin were seized. As of January 1999, the price of street-level heroin had risen dramatically, while the purity level had fallen, suggesting reduced supply. From January through October, Hong Kong narcotics officers seized 35.8 kilograms of cannabis, 16.7 kilograms of cocaine, and 98.1 kilograms of methamphetamine and arrested a total of 7,620 individuals for drug-related offenses.
Corruption. There is no known narcotics-related corruption among senior government or law-enforcement officials. Hong Kong has a comprehensive anti-corruption ordinance that is effectively enforced by an independent commission against corruption. The commission's record of enforcement efficiency is recognized worldwide.
Agreements And Treaties. In 1999 Hong Kong signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement with Switzerland, and mutual legal assistance agreements with New Zealand, France, and Australia also came into force in 1999. Arrangements were completed to allow the U.S.-Hong Kong Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement to enter into force on January 20, 2000. Hong Kong also signed a "Surrender of Fugitive Offenders Agreement" with Sri Lanka, and transfer of sentenced persons agreements with the U.S. and another with Sri Lanka came into force in 1999. In May 1999, the Customs and Excise Department entered into a cooperative agreement with the European Union. The 1988 UN Drug Convention is applicable to Hong Kong.
Cultivation/Production. Hong Kong is not a producer of illicit drugs.
Drug Flow/Transit. Hong Kong officials believe that Hong Kong's role as a major drug flow/transit center continued to diminish in 1999. Seizures indicate that shipments of heroin and methamphetamine directly from Hong Kong to the international market seem to be few in number and of relatively small quantities, usually fewer than 10 kilograms. Although illicit narcotics transit through Hong Kong, the known volume of traffic has decreased significantly over the past few years. In addition, no coordinated effort or systematic approach to the shipment of drugs through Hong Kong's territory appears to be used; many seizures involved small quantities of narcotics carried by individual couriers. In 1999, there were no seizures in Hong Kong that appeared destined for the U.S. Hong Kong traffickers continue to control large portions of Southeast Asian narcotics traffic, however, arranging both the financing and shipment of narcotics and using various routes and methods throughout the region.
Domestic Programs. During 1999, Hong Kong's drug education and public awareness programs continued to focus on Hong Kong's youth and their parents. In March Hong Kong initiated a pilot program with several non-government organizations to conduct education talks at the primary school level. In addition, the government started the "Outstanding Anti-Drug Workers' Award."
In March Hong Kong initiated a review of its methadone treatment program to evaluate the program's effectiveness and to identify areas for improvement. In August the narcotics division began preparing the second three-year plan on drug treatment and rehabilitation services. The review will examine major developments in drug treatment and rehabilitation centers and will develop recommendations on improving the quality of the programs.
In 1999 Hong Kong announced that the U.S. $40 million "Beat Drugs Fund" set up in March 1996 awarded U.S. $2.4 million to 49 projects. Of that total, U.S. $1.8 million was awarded to preventive education and publicity projects and the balance was granted for treatment and rehabilitation services.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives And Programs.
Policy Initiatives. U.S. law-enforcement officials continue to conduct joint investigations with their Hong Kong counterparts to develop cases that can be prosecuted either in Hong Kong or in the U.S.
In October 1999 Hong Kong hosted the Second International Operational Meeting on potassium permanganate, which was co-sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. Hong Kong sent a total of 12 law enforcement officials to the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok to participate in two courses, one on clandestine laboratories and the other on precursor chemicals and methamphetamine investigations. In addition, 5 customs and excise officers attended a six-week ILEA supervisory criminal investigator course, which included instruction on regional drug enforcement. In December, local U.S. drug-enforcement officials and a criminal investigator from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service provided training to Hong Kong law-enforcement officials on money laundering investigative techniques. In September, one officer from the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department attended the DEA-sponsored "operation jetway" training course.
Road Ahead. The U.S. Government encourages Hong Kong to continue playing an active role consistent with its international stature in combating narcotics and money laundering. The U.S. also encourages Hong Kong to strengthen the enforcement and implementation of existing laws and guidelines, especially regarding financial crimes and money laundering; to tighten business registration procedures to discourage "shell" companies, especially off-shore corporations; to introduce lower threshold reporting requirements for transactions at financial and banking institutions; to institute "structuring" provisions to counter
Indonesia is not a major drug-producing or drug-transit country. A willing partner in counter narcotic initiatives, however, Indonesia is becoming increasingly vulnerable to sophisticated trafficking groups. The Indonesian National Police (INP) drug unit (Narkoba) relies heavily on DEA expertise and training to address both purely domestic and U.S.-related drug investigations. In 1997 the Indonesian Parliament ratified the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and also passed new anti-narcotics laws that conform to international norms established by the Convention. The regional DEA office has been working in close coordination with the INP to update their anti-drug enforcement endeavors using the new legislation.
II. Status of Country
Ecstasy abuse is a major problem, especially in urban areas. Methamphetamine was introduced in Jakarta in 1998. Many of the pills are sold as ecstasy in Jakarta nightclubs, but are actually methamphetamine. Marijuana is produced in remote areas of northern Sumatra, primarily for domestic consumption. There has been an increase in clandestine methamphetamine and ecstasy laboratories. DEA has noted a drastic increase in methamphetamine use in Indonesia among teenagers, young professionals, and prostitutes. Indonesia has proven to be vulnerable to mail and courier shipments of drug trafficking organizations. In recent years official anti-narcotics concern over designer drugs, first, ecstasy, and now methamphetamine, has eclipsed government concern with more traditional narcotics (marijuana).
Indonesia is a transshipment for heroin and cocaine, but there is no evidence this has a significant effect on the U.S. Drug-trafficking networks continue to exist throughout Indonesia with involvement of Southeast Asian, South Asian and Nigerian criminals. These groups obtain heroin in Bangkok and engage couriers to carry it via commercial air into Soekarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta. From Jakarta, the heroin is distributed to the United States, Australia and Western Europe, with a smaller amount sold on the local market. Structured drug organizations, such as the West African heroin number 4 trafficking group, are operating in Indonesia. The DEA is working with INP Narkoba officials on enforcement efforts to counter this threat.
Cocaine has also become a problem. Drug traffickers use Indonesia as a transit point for shipping cocaine to Europe, Asia and the U.S. Recently, one and one half kilograms of cocaine that had transited Indonesia was seized in Miami in a joint operation between the DEA office Singapore, INP, and DEA office in Miami. Two West Africans were arrested. There is also a growing domestic market in Indonesia for heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, cannabis, and ecstasy. Many of the drug traffickers establish themselves in Indonesia by speaking the local language and marrying Indonesian women.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs
Policy Initiatives. In 1997, the Indonesian Parliament approved legislation outlawing psychotropic drugs including ecstasy, and providing for penalties of up to seven years imprisonment for marijuana possession and a maximum of 20 years in jail for marijuana trafficking. An asset forfeiture law was also passed in the 1997 legislation.
Accomplishments/Law Enforcement Efforts. DEA continued its close relationship with the INP Narkoba unit through training and by providing operational expertise. DEA works very closely with the INP Narkoba unit to identify drug labs and cultivation areas. This proved very successful in 1998; INP and DEA dismantled the first known clandestine methamphetamine and ecstasy laboratory in Jakarta. Arrests of narcotics traffickers were reported frequently in Jakarta and in the Kuta Beach area of Bali. Arrests of foreigners, particularly Nigerians, in connection with narcotics use, possession and trafficking are frequently noted in the Indonesian media.
Corruption. Corruption among police and customs personnel persists in Indonesia, with continuing reports from street sources that police personnel often assist drug traffickers or are themselves involved in selling narcotics, and that persons arrested for narcotics trafficking can easily bribe police to free them. It should be noted, however, that none of DEA's investigations have ever been compromised by Indonesian narcotics officers. Furthermore, convicted heroin traffickers are receiving 8 to 17 year prison sentences from Indonesian judges. Given the low salaries of these officers (U.S. $40 to $60 per month), they face great temptation to accept bribes from West African heroin and Indonesian drug traffickers.
Agreements and Treaties. Indonesia is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. While there is no formal extradition relationship between the United States and Indonesia, in practice U.S. and Indonesian authorities cooperate effectively in cases involving fugitives from U.S. justice. Indonesia is a party to the World Customs Organization's International Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance for the Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of Customs Offenses (Nairobi Convention), Annex X on Assistance in Narcotics Cases.
Cultivation and Production. As their limited resources permit, the INP, in particular the narcotics unit, and Indonesian customs continue their efforts to combat narcotics smuggling. As in previous years, the illicit cultivation of marijuana in Aceh province was the target of periodic eradication campaigns. The INP are strongest in enforcing and eradicating drug usage in Jakarta and other urban areas, but have more difficulties in more rural areas.
Drug Flow/Transit. Indonesia continues to be used as a transit point for Southeast Asian heroin and other drugs, including transshipment to Australia, Europe and, in small quantities, to the U.S. Because of Indonesia's porous borders, drug traffickers find Indonesia an attractive area for their operations. Customs and immigration officials working outside of the capitol are easier to bribe and less motivated in their work. Drug traffickers can thus move their products into and out of Indonesia relatively easily.
Money Laundering and Assets Seizure. Indonesia's criminal code does not cover money laundering. This absence of a key statute, and corruption and lack of training among police and customs officials, continues to impede anti-narcotics law enforcement. The DEA is working closely with the INP Narkoba unit to push laws that effectively address money laundering issues, but rapid political change has radically increased the work load of Indonesia's Parliament. DEA and the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta are encouraging the passage of specific drug money laundering legislation.
IV. Policy Initiatives
Policy Initiatives. DEA will continue to work on increasing the ability of the INP to handle bilateral investigations against major trafficking groups. GOI resources will have a direct impact in this area. The INP Narkoba unit will be trained in how to effectively exploit their new drug laws. This will enhance their counter drug efforts and provide a more viable platform to work cases with DEA and other U.S. law enforcement agencies. Over the last year, 67 INP Narkoba officers have attended training at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok.
Bilateral Cooperation. Training at the regional narcotics academy (ILEA-Bangkok) will continue. U.S. Customs continues to work with Indonesian customs to enhance and upgrade the narcotics detection/canine interdiction program at Soekarno Hatta International Airport. Police narcotics officers and customs officials greatly improved their operating procedures, i.e., surveillance and contraband search techniques, intelligence gathering, interview techniques, report writing, arrest procedures, and execution of controlled deliveries
The Road Ahead. Indonesia has weak chemical control laws and the government bureaucracy prevents any major advance in this area. The DEA will continue to provide the INP with information on precursor and essential chemical shipments that American companies in Singapore ship to Indonesia. The DEA will keep pressing the GOI and INP Narkoba authorities to make chemical control issues as a priority.
Japanese law enforcement authorities made record seizures of methamphetamine and cannabis in 1999. Through November 1999, authorities seized almost 1,900 kilograms of methamphetamine, surpassing the total seizure of methamphetamine for the previous five years. The total seizure of cannabis for 1999 was more than double the amount seized during any of the last five years. Record seizures reflect increased cooperation among relevant Japanese law enforcement agencies and greater exchange of information between Japanese and foreign law enforcement entities. Japan has also become the target of increased drug smuggling operations, including methamphetamine reportedly coming from North Korea.
Methamphetamine remains by a wide margin the drug of choice in Japan. Japan is not a major producer of drugs. Methamphetamine smuggled into Japan is believed to have been refined largely in China, although there have been also been large seizures linked to North Korea.
In August, the Japanese Diet enacted legislation expanding the scope of Japan's money laundering law. Japanese law enforcement agencies believe the new legislation will strengthen their ability to fight money laundering. Reporting of suspicious transactions increased from 11 in 1998 to over 900 during 1999.
II. Status Of Country
Japan is not, and is unlikely to become, a significant producer of narcotics. However, Japan is believed to have one of the largest methamphetamine markets in Asia. A survey in 1999 indicated that there are over 2 million methamphetamine users in Japan, consuming an estimated 10-14 tons per year. Japan also is believed to be a transshipment point for Southeast Asian heroin destined for the United States. However, there is no reliable information suggesting that this transit has a significant effect on the U.S.
There is a growing drug market in Japan and increased trafficking activity within the illegal immigrant population. Narcotics trafficking in Japan continues to be a source of income for Japanese organized crime.
Japan is suspected of being a major money laundering center. Law enforcement authorities believe organized crime is responsible for much of the drug trafficking and money laundering in Japan. Law enforcement agencies have welcomed the passage this year of legislation expanding the scope of money laundering law.
III. Country Action Against Drugs
Policy Initiatives. On September 24, 1999, The National Police Agency (NPA) issued a white paper emphasizing the need for the Japanese police to enhance cooperation with law enforcement authorities in other countries and with international organizations to combat transnational crimes including narcotics trafficking. The white paper also highlights the need for officers with better language skills to deal with the rising number of criminal cases involving foreigners in Japan. This directive is expected to strengthen Japanese law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking and use.
In August 1999, the Japanese Diet passed legislation expanding the scope of Japan's money laundering law. The new legislation identified additional predicate offenses other than drug trafficking. These include murder, assault causing bodily injury, theft, extortion, fraud, and kidnapping. Previously, money laundering prosecution was limited to drug trafficking. The Diet also approved in 1999 legislation which allows law enforcement authorities to wiretap communications of members of the organized crime.
Accomplishments. The U.S. and Japan held two rounds of negotiation on a mutual legal assistance treaty during 1999. The two sides hope to conclude the treaty in 2000. The next round of talks will take place in Washington early spring of 2000. The MLAT is expected to expedite and strengthen law enforcement cooperation.
Overall law enforcement cooperation with other countries is expected to improve with the publication of NPA's white paper which emphasizes the importance of international cooperation.
Japan continued its sponsorship of many annual international drug enforcement and prevention programs. Japan is also an active participant in all major conferences conducted throughout the world each year which concern narcotics trafficking and relate to crime.
Japan is an active member of the UNDCP major donors group, and finances and participates in many UNDCP programs.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Police anti-narcotics efforts tend to focus on Japanese organized crime groups, the main smugglers and distributors of drugs. However, police and prosecutors have been hesitant to pursue cases in which a conviction is uncertain. In addition to smuggling and distribution activities, law enforcement officials are paying increased attention to drug-related financial crimes.
There were record seizures of methamphetamine and cannabis in 1999. The volume of methamphetamine seized by Japanese authorities in the first eleven months of 1999 totaled 1900 kilograms, almost triple the previous full calendar year record of 650.8 kilograms in 1996. Authorities also seized 669 kilograms of cannabis, more than double the amount seized in any of the last five years.
Through 1998, NPA has seized a total of about U.S. $7.23 million (yen 723 million) in drug proceeds in 82 investigations since 1992, when the asset seizure law took effect. The largest of the cases originated in September 1997, when police in Osaka arrested an organized crime gang leader who had allegedly received U.S. $1.48 million (yen 148 million) from junior gang members in exchange for offering them a place to sell drugs. The Osaka district court imposed a penalty of yen 148 million on the gang leader in February 1998 in the first use of Article 10 of the money laundering law which makes it unlawful to receive money that has been illegally earned.
Following a 1998 Financial Action Task Force evaluation report which concluded that Japan's anti-money laundering system was ineffective, Japan has moved to improve suspicious transaction reporting by financial institutions. The Ministry Of Finance received over 900 reports of suspicious transactions in 1999.
Corruption. Japan has no known drug-related corruption.
Agreements and Treaties. The U.S. and Japan conducted two rounds of negotiation on a mutual legal assistance treaty during 1999. The two sides hope to conclude the treaty in 2000. A U.S.-Japan Extradition Treaty is currently in force. Japan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Cultivation/Production. Although not a significant cultivator or producer of controlled substances, Japan is a major producer of 60 types of precursor chemicals, which have legitimate industrial uses as well. Japan is one of only a handful of countries that produce ephedrine, which is used to create antihistamines, but is also an essential ingredient in methamphetamine. Japan is a member of the chemical action task force, and the DEA country attache in Japan is conscientious about monitoring end users of precursors.
Drug Flow/Transit. Almost all drugs illicitly trafficked in Japan are smuggled from overseas. According to the NPA, China and Thailand are the principal overseas sources. Japan is also a transshipment point for some Southeast Asian heroin bound for the U.S. and other destinations, but it is not believed to have a significant effect on the U.S.
Demand Reduction/Domestic Programs. Domestic programs focus primarily on interdiction. Drug treatment programs are small and are generally run by private organizations.
IV. U.S. Policy initiatives and programs
Policy Initiatives. U.S. goals and objectives include.
- conclude a mutual legal assistance treaty;
- strengthen enforcement cooperation, including participation in controlled deliveries;
- encourage more demand reduction programs;
- encourage effective use of new anti-crime legislation.
Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S.-Japan Common Agenda For Global Cooperation, established in 1993, includes a narcotics working group. Under the common agenda counternarcotics initiative, the U.S. and Japan work together to reduce the supply of and demand for narcotics. Bilateral efforts include law enforcement cooperation, anti-money laundering, and control of precursor chemicals. Under the common agenda, both countries have contributed to UNDCP counternarcotics programs, including the 1997 UNDCP Asia-Pacific Training Seminar On Maritime Drug Enforcement in Japan. In Peru, both countries have supported cultivation of the tropical fruit "camu camu" as a cash crop substitute for coca.
The Road Ahead. The passage of the anti-crime bill was a welcome development. U.S. law enforcement agencies will encourage Japanese counterparts to make full use of the new legislation, especially against money laundering activities.
The U.S. and Japan will work toward concluding a mutual legal assistance treaty in 2000. The two countries also will continue to explore cooperative counternarcotics initiatives under the common agenda.
Laos is a major drug-producing country; it remains the world's third largest producer of illicit opium, behind Afghanistan and Burma. Although opium cultivation fell 16 percent in 1999, the U.S. estimates Laos' opium production for that year at 140 metric tons, identical to the 1998 estimate. Somewhat improved weather conditions increased estimated average yields, allowing total production to remain unchanged. Crop substitution project areas funded by the USG continued to show only low levels of opium cultivation, with production sufficient only for some local addict consumption. In May 1999, the government of Laos (GOL) agreed to a joint goal with the UNDCP to eliminate opium cultivation in Laos within six years; the estimated U.S. $80 million plan to achieve this goal is in preparation. In September, a new USG-funded crop control and development project began in Phongsali province, which ranks first among opium producing provinces. Counternarcotics Law Enforcement Offices (CNO's) were opened in two more provinces. Drug seizures fell, however, from previous year's record totals. The (GOL) is not yet a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention; its stated goal is ratification of the Convention in the near future, as agreed by all participants in the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs.
II. Status of Country
Laos remains the third largest producer of illicit opium in the world, trailing only Afghanistan and Burma. Because Lao opium is grown by small-scale subsistence farmers, without fertilizer, irrigation, or other agricultural improvements, average yields are generally less than half those found in neighboring Burma. The USG continues to support crop control and development programs in Laos in order to help the GOL change farmer practices before organization of opium cultivation by criminal syndicates boosts yields and overall production.
Location next to one of the world's largest producers of opium and heroin (Burma), and land borders with countries that combine important opium markets and ports on trade routes to Europe and America (China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia), make Laos an important route for drug trafficking. This importance is increasing as Laos' physical and communications infrastructures gradually improve, and is the basis for continued USG assistance to upgrade judicial and law enforcement institutions before Laos is overwhelmed by regional trafficking syndicates.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1999
Policy Initiatives. In 1999, the GOL agreed to a new goal of eliminating opium cultivation in Laos by 2006. The GOL will fund 25 percent of the U.S. $80 million estimated cost of the six-year plan now being developed with UNDCP assistance. This ambitious plan includes alternative development, law enforcement, and demand reduction elements. It will largely replace, and update the previous GOL counternarcotics master plan, which dated from 1993 and was also developed with UNDCP assistance. The GOL and UNDCP are seeking donor support for this new initiative. In March, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) established a new counternarcotics department under the general police department. The new department oversees Provincial Counternarcotics Offices (CNO's), and has developed standards for CNO staffing and reporting. The provincial CNO's are still weak, but projected to eventually constitute a national network of counternarcotics law enforcement bodies.
Accomplishments. In June, senior Lao police officials from provinces bordering Vietnam met with their Vietnamese counterparts to discuss measures for increasing drug interdiction cooperation. This was the first ever meeting of its kind, and is scheduled to repeat annually. In August, an equivalent meeting was held with Thai police counterparts; this was the second such meeting, following an inaugural gathering in 1998. In November 1999, the fifth and sixth U.S. State department-supported CNO's were officially opened, in Luang Prabang and Phongsali provinces. Opening ceremonies for CNO's in Houaphanh and Champasak provinces are planned for early 2000. In April and November, the first two semi-annual national conferences of provincial CNO chiefs were held in Vientiane. UNDCP signed an agreement with the GOL to join a multi-million dollar highland stabilization project in Houaphanh province; principal financing for the project comes from the Asian Development Bank. This is the first UNDCP-ADB collaboration in Laos; such collaborations are expected to be an important part of the six-year opium elimination strategy. The German embassy began a counternarcotics assistance program including supply and demand reduction activities, and stationed a full-time advisor to the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision (LCDC) in Vientiane. Staffing for the LCDC permanent secretariat was also increased.
Law Enforcement Efforts. USG-funded counternarcotics units in six provinces, along with other provincial police offices, reported 143 drug-related criminal cases in 1999, resulting in the arrests of 348 suspects, including 10 foreign nationals. Most arrests were of small-scale traffickers. These cases involved the seizure of 14.7 kilograms of heroin, 225.8 kgs of opium, 806,700 methamphetamine tablets, and 2.2 metric tons of marijuana. Opium and heroin seizures fell significantly from record 1998 levels, as there was no case to match the 1998 destruction of a heroin laboratory. Methamphetamine seizures rose by 30 percent. Trafficker vehicles, weapons, and cash were confiscated in a large number of cases.
Corruption. The Lao government does not encourage or facilitate the production or distribution of illicit drugs; indeed, they try to enforce their laws against abuse of narcotic drugs. Given Laos' poverty and the very low salaries of Lao government employees, however, it is assumed that there are officials and military personnel who receive rewards from illicit drug trafficking. Past corruption cases have included officials at relatively senior levels. The GOL has stated that it will not tolerate narcotics-related corruption. Lao district and provincial officials were arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced in 1999 for involvement in drug trafficking.
Agreements and Treaties. The U.S. and Lao governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Counternarcotics Cooperation in 1989. Bilateral crop control agreements have been signed annually since 1989, as have bilateral law enforcement project agreements since 1992. Both countries have expressed their intention to continue to expand this cooperation. Although the GOL does not have a mutual legal assistance or extradition treaty with the United States, it has cooperated in deporting drug traffickers to the U.S. The GOL completed negotiating extradition treaties with Vietnam and Thailand this year; ratification is expected in 2000. In 1998, Laos and Germany signed an agreement to begin a three-year project focusing on drug supply and demand reduction. Laos is also a signatory to an MOU on regional counternarcotics cooperation with UNDCP and the other Mekong basin countries (China, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam). Laos has bilateral counternarcotics treaties with Vietnam, Burma, and the Philippines, and is an active participant in regional counternarcotics initiatives. Laos is a party to the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1961 UN Single Convention. Although Laos is not yet a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the GOL strives to meet the goals and objectives of that Convention. The GOL plans to ratify the Convention in the near future, and is working with UNDCP to pass legislation, such as chemical control and money laundering regulations, necessary to bring it into compliance with the Convention.
Cultivation and Production. Opium is produced in the ten northern provinces of Laos as a cash or barter crop and as a traditional medicine. The extreme isolation of most opium producing communities and the absence of economic alternatives makes opium an important crop for the area's subsistence farmers. USG 1999 crop estimates indicate a 16 percent fall in cultivation to 21,800 hectares, although estimated total potential production remained unchanged at 140 metric tons. More favorable weather produced average yields estimated at 6.4 kilograms per hectare, compared to only 5.4 kgs per hectare in 1998. Most of the heaviest production remained in the northwest, where new USG crop control initiatives are targeted.
Drug Flow/Transit. The GOL's ability to control the flow of narcotics within and across its lengthy, porous borders is severely limited by lack of personnel, resources, expertise, and ready access to many isolated areas of the country. Effective control over borders with Thailand, Burma, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia exists only in the vicinity of major population areas, along principal land routes, and at established river crossings. As Lao road infrastructure improves, and as interdiction efforts on Burma's borders with China and Thailand grow more efficient, Laos is apparently becoming a more popular route for illicit drugs. Although Lao drug seizures fell in 1999, Vietnam and Thailand reported larger drug flows entering their territories via Laos.
Domestic (Demand Reduction) Programs. Opium addiction is still the main drug use problem in Laos, but addiction is overwhelmingly a rural phenomenon and concentrated in the north of the country. Many addicts began using opium for medical reasons. In its 1998 opium survey report, UNDCP estimates an opium addict population of around 60,000. The GOL is putting great emphasis on detoxification programs for addicts, although implementation details are left to provincial administrations. The location of most addicts in remote, often inaccessible rural areas increases the cost and difficulty of treatment and follow up. UNDCP conducted a survey of urban student drug use in October 1999; preliminary results reportedly show alarming levels of methamphetamine use and the first appearance of ecstasy. Local methamphetamine use was almost unknown as recently as three years ago. In June and November, the USG funded the fourth and fifth in a series of drug treatment workshops for Lao health care officials in Vientiane, conducted by Daytop International.
IV. U.S. Policy And Initiatives
Policy Initiatives. The USG focuses on helping the GOL achieve two primary counternarcotics objectives: elimination of opium poppy cultivation, and suppression of illicit drug and precursor chemical trafficking. The USG is addressing the first goal through bilateral crop control projects, first in Houaphanh province and now in Phongsali province. The USG works closely with UNDCP and other donors of development assistance to ensure that counternarcotics objectives are included in all rural development programs in northern Laos. Suppression of trafficking is pursued through support of special counternarcotics police units, and through support of the Lao customs service. Additional support has been provided to the Lao national commission for drug control and supervision (LCDC), which has overall policy direction for counternarcotics activities under the Office of the Prime Minister.
Bilateral Cooperation. In 1999, the USG began funding a crop control and development project in Phongsali, Laos' most important opium producing province. This is modeled after the successful Lao-American Houaphanh project. The USG also funded opium surveys in Phongsali and Oudomxai provinces to help development of provincial drug suppression plans. In response to a GOL request, the USG will support the establishment of counternarcotics law enforcement units in each province over the next few years. Lao customs officials participated in US-sponsored narcotics and contraband smuggling programs in the U.S. in February and November, and joined the U.S. Customs-sponsored Pacific Basin Conference in Hawaii in August. Lao police, customs, and justice officials have been active participants in US-funded training sessions at the new International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, which began operations in February 1999.
The Road Ahead. The GOL has now committed to eliminate commercial opium cultivation in advance of the UNGASS 2008 (UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs) target date. To do so, it must change the practices of Lao highland farmers and upgrade its law enforcement capacity, before modernization of the Lao society and economy exacerbates the problems of narcotics production and trafficking. In support of GOL efforts, the USG will continue to provide crop control and development assistance to northern Laos, with particular emphasis on cooperation with UNDCP and other interested donors. U.S. assistance to a network of specialized counternarcotics law enforcement units should increase Lao interdiction capabilities. The GOL needs to improve coordination between these units and other law enforcement bodies to translate capabilities into more significant drug seizures, however. The USG is committed to supporting GOL counternarcotics efforts, in recognition of gradual GOL progress in this area and of the many development challenges that hamper the GOL's ability to achieve its counternarcotics objectives alone. Future counternarcotics achievements will depend on the GOL's effective use of both its own resources and those of interested donors.
|Potential Harvest (ha)||21,800||26,100||28,150||25,250||19,650||18,520||26,040||25,610||29,625|
|Potential Yield (mt)||140||140||210||200||180||85||180||230||265|
Malaysia is not a major dug producing country. Heroin transits Malaysia, as do some other drugs, but no significant quantity reaches the U.S. market through Malaysia. Domestic drug abuse is a problem. Malaysia's competent counternarcotics officials and police officers have the full support of senior government officials. Narcotics-related arrests and seizures fell in 1999, partly because of deep government budget cuts in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. Cooperation with the U.S. on combating drug trafficking is excellent. Malaysia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Malaysia does not produce a significant amount of illicit drugs. Some heroin from drug producing countries in Southeast Asia transits Malaysia, but there is no evidence that a significant amount of this heroin reaches the U.S. market. Some other drugs, primarily psychotropic pills, also transit Malaysia. Reliable statistics on domestic drug abuse are sparse. Anecdotal reports indicate that domestic drug abuse, primarily of heroin and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), may be growing. Because Malaysia has not enacted a comprehensive anti-money laundering statute, money laundering is a potential concern, but the true extent of the problem is not known. Precursor chemicals are a small-scale problem. Additional legislative controls on precursor chemicals would strengthen Malaysia's performance in this area.
III. Country Action Against Drugs in 1997
Policy Initiatives. Malaysia's overall counternarcotics framework did not change in 1999. A senior-level national drug council coordinates Malaysia's overall drug policy. Senior leaders often state that counternarcotics efforts are one of Malaysia's top national priorities. In 1999, Malaysia announced some further steps to promote treatment and prevention of drug addiction. The government expanded a school prevention program and announced a drug-free workplace initiative. The government also announced plans to build another drug treatment facility to alleviate overcrowding at existing facilities. Law enforcement efforts, perhaps reflecting previous budget cuts undertaken in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, resulted in fewer arrests and seizures in 1999. Malaysia law enforcement authorities still vigorously pursued traffickers and users of illicit drugs, however. Malaysian law provides for mandatory death sentences for some traffickers and detention without trial for some drug-related offences.
Accomplishments. Malaysia has a good institutional and policy foundation for its counternarcotics work. Law enforcement, demand reduction, and treatment activities continued in 1999. Police continued to disrupt distribution, sale, and financing of illicit drugs. Cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies on counternarcotics remained excellent. The lack of a comprehensive anti-money laundering statute makes money-laundering an area of concern.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Malaysian police continued to investigate and prosecute narcotics crimes vigorously. Arrests and seizures were generally below the levels of 1998. Budget cuts undertaken in the wake of the Asian financial crisis may have partly been responsible for this trend. In 1998 (Latest complete year data available), the government arrested 14,970 persons on narcotics-related violations, an increase of roughly 2% from 1997. Notably, methamphetamine seizures increased by almost 22%. Law enforcement officers seized 290 kilograms of heroin, an increase of 5% over seizures recorded in 1997. In 1999, Malaysia's largest heroin seizure took place in January, when police seized roughly 53 kilograms. With Malaysia's economy recovering, operating funds for law enforcement, previously cut, may be restored. As in previous years, cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies was excellent.
Corruption. Malaysia has an anti-corruption agency with no power to prosecute, but with the power to investigate independently. A few police officers and officials were arrested and prosecuted for drugs-related corruption. No senior police were prosecuted for drugs-related corruption.
Agreements and Treaties. The U.S.-Malaysian Extradition Treaty came into force in 1997, but there has yet to be a case to test its effectiveness. The U.S. and Malaysia have made no recent progress in concluding a mutual legal assistance treaty. Malaysia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Malaysia is a party to the World Customs Organization's International Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance for the Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of Customs Offenses (Nairobi Convention), Annex X on Assistance in narcotics Cases.
Drug Flow/Transit. Malaysia's geographic position makes it a natural nexus of smuggling routes from the heroin producing Golden Triangle area. There was no evidence that in 1999 heroin transiting Malaysia made a major impact on the U.S. market.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Malaysia, with the help of the United States, finished expanding a pilot school demand reduction program into a nationwide program. Malaysia also announced a drug-free workplace prevention program. In 1999, Malaysia announced that it would construct a new treatment center to alleviate overcrowding. There were many incidents throughout the year of violence, disturbances, and mass escapes at treatment centers. These incidents resulted largely from overcrowding.
IV. Us Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation: The U.S. has greatly expanded counternarcotics training via the new International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok. ILEA Bangkok trained scores of Malaysians on chemical precursors, financial investigations (money laundering), controlled deliveries, and other topics. In addition, the United States has a successful bilateral Memorandum Of Understanding On Counternarcotics Cooperation with Malaysia. In 1999, the U.S. provided money for demand reduction programs in Malaysia.
Road Ahead. U.S. Goals and objectives in the coming year are to:
- continue to encourage the enactment of stronger anti-crime legislation, including a conspiracy law and a comprehensive anti-money laundering;
- continue and expand successful cooperation in law enforcement;
- encourage the government to improve controls of precursor chemicals and to stiffen penalties for violators.
U.S. Law enforcement agencies will continue to cooperate with Malaysian authorities to monitor and interdict drugs transiting Malaysia. The U.S. will continue its modest assistance to Malaysia's efforts to stem domestic consumption. Inadequate infrastructure and overcrowding will complicate treatment of drug addicts. Effective money-laundering legislation is needed to enhance counternarcotics work.
Drug trafficking and abuse are not widespread in Mongolia, but are on the rise. Since Mongolia opened its border to China, however, it has become vulnerable to illegal trade of all sorts, including drug trafficking. Reports indicate that an increasing number of illegal migrants who transit Mongolia, usually going from China to Russia or Europe, transport or traffic in narcotics. Police and government observers suspect that the increase in prostitution and trafficking in women in Mongolia means drug-related activities also will increase.
Wedged between China and Russia with borders that are loosely protected, Mongolia could become an alternate transit route for drug traffickers stymied by more stringent border controls and counternarcotics efforts elsewhere. Although Mongolia is a party to the 1961 Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, Mongolia is not a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, since many of its provisions are not applicable to circumstances in Mongolia. The U.S. government has concluded a Customs Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the government of Mongolia.
In 1999 Mongolia prosecuted high-level officials, including three Members of Parliament, involved in bribery in the tendering of a casino operation. This case prompted legislation rescinding the Law on Casinos, thus making them illegal. While these actions may have merely scratched the surface, they demonstrate government concern and public awareness about money laundering and official corruption.
Poor and underdeveloped, Mongolia is ill equipped to address the reported increased availability and use, domestically, of marijuana, heroin, amphetamines, and over-the-counter drugs by all generations. Mongolia is increasing its scrutiny of chemical plants that produce precursor chemicals, particularly those with foreign investment or those seeking to export precursor chemicals. Mongolian internal corruption and financial crimes appear unrelated to narcotics activities. The weakness of the legal system and financial structure leave Mongolia vulnerable to exploitation by drug traffickers and international criminal organizations, particularly those operating in China and Russia.
There have been regular reports from many official and unofficial sources for at least the last 20 to 30 years that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK-North Korea) encourages illicit opium cultivation and engages in trafficking of opiates and other narcotic drugs as a criminal state enterprise. Those reports continued in 1999, with several seizures of drugs alleged to be North Korean in origin and several arrests of North Korean officials.
Uncertainty and speculation characterize all attempts to analyze the significance of the reported incidents. We have not been able to confirm the extent of North Korea's opium production, though we did receive one eye-witness report of "large fields" of opium growing in North Korea. Even the North Koreans admit that opium is grown there, while maintaining that it is used for medicines and painkillers. There continues to be no evidence that any North Korean trafficking of illicit drugs has a significant impact on the United States.
This past year's drug seizure reports seem to point to more trafficking in amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), and less in heroin and opium. There were also two recent large seizures of a controlled, but not illicit drug, rohypnol, the so called "date rape" drug. One of these seizures occurred in Egypt in January 1998. It involved a North Korean diplomat assigned to Syria. Another incident occurred in April 1999 in the Czech Republic. 55Kg of rohypnol was seized in this latter incident; the drugs had been posted to the Czech Republic by a North Korean Embassy officer in Sophia, Bulgaria. It is unclear whether the rohypnol in both of these seizures was manufactured in North Korea. There were other incidents reported, one in Taiwan in May of 1999 and another in Japan in October of 1999, involving transfers of North Korean drugs at sea, possibly from North Korean trawlers. In April of 1997, Japanese Customs officials at a small port in southern Japan seized 130 pounds of methamphetamine, offloaded from a North Korean freighter, and marked as honey. Defector reports also continued to point to state complicity in drug manufacturing and trafficking.
The extent of opium cultivation in North Korea is not clear. Estimates of the area under cultivation range from 4200 hectares (10,378 acres) to 7000 hectares (17,300 acres) and estimates of opium production range from 30 Metric Tons (MT) to 44 MT annually. This would yield from about 3 to 4.5 metric tons of heroin. None of these estimates have been confirmed, however, and the amount of opium necessary for medicines is simply unknowable. Agricultural problems in North Korea, including flooding and shortages of fertilizer and insecticides, suggest that current opium production might be well below these estimates. There has also been a very clear shift in Asian drug abuse away from opium towards methamphetamine-type drugs. This change in the reported illicit market for North Korean drugs would also suggest that cultivation of opium has declined.
There have been numerous reports this year and in previous years that opium is refined into heroin in North Korea. More recently, North Korea is reportedly stepping up its manufacturing capacity for methamphetamine production. The proximity of the fast-growing Japanese market for illicit methamphetamine (more than 2 million casual users consuming an estimated 10-14 tons per year ) and large seizures in 1998 and 1999 in Japan of methamphetamine traceable to North Korea also suggest an increase in methamphetamine production. Large scale imports of ephedrine (a chemical precursor of methamphetamine), such as 2.5 MT, temporarily held by Thai authorities in January 1998 as it transited from India on its way to North Korea, well beyond what many observers believe would be adequate for North Korea's own needs, also suggest increased metemphetamine production in North Korea.
The U.S. does not appear to be a market for North Korean traffickers. Russia and China are the key markets and transit routes for North Korean drugs. From Russia and China, opiates and increasingly methamphetamine are trafficked to Asia and on to Europe. North Korean methamphetamine is reported to have gained a large market share of the sharply expanding illicit market in Japan. One of the largest methamphetamine seizures in Japanese enforcement history, some 600Kg in October of 1999 in Fukuoka, has a North Korean connection. Suspects being held in Japan in connection with the case told investigators that their vessel met a North Korean vessel, offshore, where the drugs were transferred. An additional 100 Kg of reported North Korean methamphetamine was seized in April 1999 by prefectural authorities near Kobe, secreted among clams used for traditional Japanese soup. There have also been press reports of North Korean logging firms operating in Russia's Far Eastern provinces receiving suspicious shipments of opium from North Korea, and there are instances in which North Korean employees of these firms have fallen victim to sting-type "buy/bust" operations in Russia. Two individuals prosecuted after one of these buy/bust operations in Russia's Far Eastern provinces were reported in July 1999 by the Russian press to have been sentenced to eight and five years, respectively.
North Korean individuals employed as diplomats and in quasi-official capacities at North Korean state trading companies have been regularly apprehended by the customs and police officials of many countries trying to smuggle narcotics produced elsewhere. For example:
In August of 1995, Ethiopian law enforcement officials arrested a North Korean for smuggling cocaine;
In 1998, Russian officials arrested two North Korean diplomats for smuggling from Mexico to Moscow 77 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $4 million;
In January 1998, Egyptian police arrested a North Korean diplomat who was serving in Syria as he attempted to smuggle 500,000 tablets of rohypnol, the so-called "date-rape drug," into Egypt. This is believed to be the largest seizure ever of the controlled substance rohypnol.
When asked to comment on instances of North Korean citizens, even diplomats, being apprehended with narcotics, the North Korean government attributes these criminal actions to the individuals or to their organizations, and claims that they will be punished if returned to North Korea. However, given North Korea's economic difficulties, many argue that the state has become involved in criminal activity to earn foreign exchange. This view finds support from allegations by North Korean defectors who describe official jobs involving the transport and trafficking of narcotics.
It remains unclear whether alleged North Korean involvement in illicit activities results from state policy, or is simply the actions of criminal individuals or entities. However, as the reports multiply, it seems more likely that the state itself is involved in drug manufacture and trafficking. For example, repeated arrests of official North Koreans while trafficking narcotics-diplomats, employees of state enterprises, etc.-suggest, at the least, official tolerance of criminal activity, at the worst direct state involvement in drug trafficking and manufacture.
As in the case of narcotics, there have been many other incidents and arrests which suggest North Korean state involvement in other criminal enterprises. Among the crimes most frequently mentioned are counterfeiting, illicit trade in endangered species, fraudulent antiques, counterfeit CDs, tapes, and cigarettes. In April 1998, Russian police arrested a North Korean who was caught passing $30,000 in counterfeit $100 bills. There are reports in the press and from trade sources that North Korea has a high quality press which produces excellent, hard-to-detect counterfeit notes.
The growing evidence of state complicity by North Korea remains of profound concern, as the U.S. seeks to determine whether the North Korean state has chosen to sponsor illegal activities as a matter of state policy.
Despite close and careful monitoring of North Korea by many law enforcement and foreign affairs agencies, it has been difficult to resolve the dilemma of the extent to which North Korea is involved in drug manufacture and trafficking. It has also been difficult to determine whether North Korea directs criminal activities, including illicit drug manufacture and trafficking. There is considerable evidence suggesting North Korean complicity in illicit activities, indeed direction of illicit activities, but almost all of that evidence is subject to alternative explanations, which put the blame on the individual or on the entity where the individual works.
Over the coming year, the United States will continue to monitor North Korean cultivation and trafficking to determine the extent of any opium poppy cultivation, and the effect that North Korean drug trafficking has on the United States. If we can confirm that there is illicit opium poppy cultivation of 1000 hectares or more, or that North Korean heroin or methamphetamine transiting North Korea significantly affects the United States, we will add North Korea to the list of major drug producing and drug transit countries.
In 1999, combating narcotics trafficking has continued to be a priority for President Estrada's administration. The Government of the Philippines is reviewing options for restructuring its law enforcement agencies to bolster effectiveness in combating drug trafficking. Legislation is in the works to create a single drug enforcement agency (loosely modeled on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) and GOP officials hope it will be enacted early in 2000. Legislation on money laundering and asset forfeiture is still pending. The Philippines continues to serve as a transit point and producer of crystal methamphetamine, an exporter of marijuana and hashish, and as a transit country for Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin. The Philippines is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country.
The Philippines is a significant producer and exporter of marijuana, but the U.S. is not a major destination. Stemming production is difficult owing to topography, corruption, and the lack of effective or well-funded countermeasures. Marijuana growers generally cultivate in areas which are inaccessible by vehicles, and controlled by rebel groups. The Philippines is not a significant producer of other drugs, although production of crystal methamphetamine is a growing problem.
Although law enforcement efforts continue to limit the use of Philippine airports as transshipment points for narcotics, an increase in seizures locally, as well as in the U.S. and Guam underscore the ongoing problem. In 1999, a trend of heroin and cocaine trafficking by West African nationals continued. However these groups were observed to target primarily Japanese and European cocaine markets using Brazil as the source country and transporting the drugs via commercial air couriers.
Precursor chemicals for producing crystal methamphetamine are smuggled into the Philippines with relative ease. In 1999, several clandestine methamphetamine manufacturing or recrystalization laboratories were seized by the Philippine authorities. The Philippine National Police (PNP) - working with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the National Drug Law Enforcement And Prevention Coordinating Center (NDLEPC) and The Presidential Anti- Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) - have organized specialized units to work against clandestine laboratories. Crystal methamphetamine is the favored drug in the Philippines. Some of it is produced domestically and some is smuggled in from surrounding countries, primarily the People's Republic of China. In late 1999, a significant trend emerged in which containers are used to smuggle methamphetamine into the Philippines. This trend appears to be an active supplement to the use of ordinary cargo vessels to bring crystal methamphetamine and precursors to the Philippines. The Philippines exports crystal methamphetamine to Japan, Australia, and the U.S. including Guam and Saipan. The Philippines is not a major money-laundering center, although stringent bank secrecy laws make this a potential problem.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1999
Policy Initiatives. The Estrada administration is seeking appropriate legislation to meet 1988 UN Drug Convention objectives and to give a proposed new drug enforcement agency the necessary tools to carry out its mandate. A bill patterned after the U.S. RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute is pending in congress. This statute would include money laundering, asset seizure, and conspiracy provisions. Unfortunately, the anti-graft provisions of the proposed RICO statute make its passage politically difficult. The Philippine bankers' association's adamant opposition to any change in current bank secrecy laws is also an impediment to enactment of asset seizure laws. The administration is also determined to seek passage of legislation authorizing consensual eavesdropping and non-consensual wire-tapping. The Philippine congress passed legislation reorganizing the PNP which will authorize increased pay and training for officers and enable greater focus on counternarcotics efforts.
Other legislation proposed or pending in 1998 was resubmitted to the congress in 1999 and the president has ordered the congress to "fast-track" this legislation. Presently, there are 14 bills pending in congress relating to drug law enforcement. In addition to the lack of necessary legislative tools, Philippine anti-drug efforts are hampered by weaknesses in tracking, intelligence collection, and law enforcement techniques and standards. All of these problems are exacerbated by the lack of resources.
The GOP has strongly advocated the establishment of an ASEAN transnational crime center, and has offered the Philippines as the site for the proposed center.
Accomplishments. The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has plans for an integrated rural development program to eliminate marijuana cultivation through crop substitution. Although these crop substitution efforts have not yet been funded, other marijuana eradication efforts are continuing.
In October 1998, the DDB established a precursors and essential chemicals unit to implement the provisions of Article 12 of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Among other things, the unit is responsible for monitoring chemical establishments (including importers, manufacturers, and distributors), narcotics intelligence coordination with domestic and foreign counterparts, and information dissemination. To date, the unit has licensed approximately 130 chemical precursor establishments in the Philippines, conducted compliance inspections/investigations of 26 establishments and imposed administrative sanctions on one establishment for failing to comply with importation requirements.
Law Enforcement Efforts. President Estrada has placed a number of well-qualified officials in key judicial and law enforcement positions and has given them a clear mandate to act. In January 1999, President Estrada established by executive order the National Drug Law Enforcement And Prevention Coordinating Center (NDLEPCC) to act as the centerpiece of the republic's counternarcotics effort for supply side and demand reduction programs. Philippines officials requested and received DEA and INL assistance and advice in the organization and management of the Center and demand reduction programs. Additionally, the President established the Philippine Center For Transnational Crime (PCTC) to focus the country's enforcement efforts against international and domestic crime. The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) has also been extremely active in combating drug trafficking. The PAOCTF recently seized 420 kilos of crystal methamphetamine, the largest seizure in the history of the Philippines.
The DDB, Philippine National Police (PNP) and customs narcotics groups together organized a specialized chemical control unit in 1998. The goals of the unit are to track precursor chemical end-users, investigate the diversion of chemicals from the end-users, investigate smuggling of precursor chemicals, and target clandestine laboratory production.
Corruption. Philippine law enforcement efforts suffer from corruption among police, customs, and military officials. Judicial corruption is also acknowledged to be an impediment to drug prosecutions. There were some arrests and prosecutions of law enforcement and military officials for narcotics-related corruption in 1999, and early in 1999 the chief of the Philippine national police was suspended for allegedly coddling drug lords. Efforts are underway to strengthen internal controls within the PNP, and GOP officials are studying U.S. DEA vetting procedures as a possible model for the proposed drug enforcement agency. In November 1999, President Estrada installed a new chief of the PNP who has set aggressive new standards for the conduct of the police in an effort to rid the PNP of corrupt practices.
Agreements and Treaties. Judicial assistance and extradition requests are being processed through the U.S.-GOP extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties. The Philippines is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Cultivation/Production. Marijuana is grown throughout the Philippines. The largest areas of cultivation in the mountainous areas of northern Luzon, central Visayas, and central, southern and western Mindano. Eradication efforts lost ground in 1999 due to financial constraints.
Reporting indicates that crystal methamphetamine production in the Philippines is on the rise. The lack of an effective GOP tracking system, however, makes it hard to quantify this increased production.
Drug Flow/Transit. The use of the Philippines as a transit point for commercial air couriers of heroin has continued at levels roughly equivalent to 1998. There were no arrests of airport couriers. Most of this heroin reaches the Philippines from Thailand and Pakistan and is destined for the Canada, Europe, Africa, and other countries in Southeast Asia. Some drugs transiting the Philippines are headed for the U.S., but not to a major extent. In response to successful law enforcement efforts to stem courier activities, traffickers are also using express mail services. West African criminal gangs appear to be the masterminds of this heroin transshipment.
In 1999, Philippine law enforcement officials continued to seize express mail parcels containing cocaine. This cocaine originated in Brazil and was apparently destined for the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
Crystal methamphetamine continues to be smuggled by ship from the People's Republic of China. In addition, criminals transship crystal methamphetamine by Federal Express to the United States and by commercial air couriers to Guam and the mainland United States.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). In 1999, at the urging of the DEA, the Philippine drug law enforcement community revisited the issue of the number of drug addicts and determined that the number is probably close to one million nationwide. However, the GOP law enforcement agencies are still studying the issue to determine the number of addicts or abusers involved in each drug category.
President Estrada's executive order creating the NDLEPCC gave the new agency the lead in demand reduction. The NDLEPCC, in concert with the Philippine information agency and the DDB, developed a new initiative called "MAD" (which translates into "Citizens Against Drugs"). This program, which focuses on demand reduction through community based activism, has been extremely successful. A "MAD" rally in Manila drew approximately 500,000 people for the day-long festivities.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs.
U.S. Policy Initiatives. As in 1998, the primary goals of the U.S. counter-drug policy in the Philippines are to: 1) work with local authorities to prevent the Philippines from being used as a transit point by trafficking organizations; 2) assist Philippine authorities to improve the capabilities of Philippine law enforcement entities to act against drug trafficking organizations; 3) support legislative processes to pass pending laws against money laundering, asset forfeiture laws and other related anti-drug legislation to strengthen GOP counternarcotic institutions; 4) prevent the shipment of crystal methamphetamine to the U.S. and its territories of Guam and Saipan; and 5) prevent the transshipment of heroin to the United States.
Bilateral Cooperation. DEA continues to work with Philippine government agencies, especially: NDLEPCC, PNP, NBI, and Customs, among others to reduce the flow of drugs to the U.S. from the Philippines. Planned USG-funded training of Philippine officials will increase both cooperative efforts and local law enforcement capabilities. USG-funded demand reduction training aimed at preventing recidivism by drug users who have undergone drug rehabilitation programs was completed in September 1999. There has been no USG-funded in-country counter-drug law enforcement training provided to the Philippines since 1995. However, the U.S.-funded International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, Thailand, has provided training to approximately 60 law enforcement personnel since the academy opened in 1999.
The Road Ahead. In 2000, the USG hopes to enhance the training available to GOP counterparts through U.S.-funded programs. Prospective 1999 in-country and regional training (at ILEA in Bangkok) will focus on enhancing host country abilities to dismantle criminal organizations affecting the Philippines and the U.S. The USG will also continue to promote law enforcement institution-building, encourage improved internal controls (to stem corruption), and encourage passage of needed laws (e.g. through providing model legislation). The USG also has plans to continue to participate in intelligence exchanges with the Philippine law enforcement community. The goal of these efforts is to help the Philippines combat its internal drug problem and to facilitate cooperation to curb the drug flow to the U.S.
Singapore does not produce precursor chemicals or narcotics. However, as a major regional financial and transportation center, it is an attractive venue for money laundering and drug transshipment. The government of Singapore (GOS) effectively enforces its stringent anti-drug policies through strict laws (including the death penalty), vigorous law enforcement and active prevention programs. The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of Singapore cooperates effectively with law enforcement agencies from the U.S. and other countries. Singapore anti-narcotics law enforcement agencies are virtually free of drug-related corruption and regularly attend U.S.-sponsored training programs. Though no formal agreement exists between the U.S. and Singapore, the GOS has cooperated extensively with U.S. law enforcement agencies in drug money laundering and interdiction cases. For the fifth straight year, the total number of people arrested on charges of possession, use, or trafficking in drugs in Singapore has dropped. Singapore is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and earlier international drug conventions.
II. Status Of Country.
Singapore does not produce narcotics or precursor chemicals. The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) works with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to closely track the import of small amounts of precursor chemicals for legitimate processing and use. CNB's precursor unit monitors and investigates any diversion of precursors for illicit use.
As a regional financial center, Singapore attracts investors from around the world, including money launderers. Bank secrecy laws and the lack of routine currency reporting requirements make Singapore attractive to drug traffickers to launder and move their money. The 1999 amendment to the Drug (Confiscation Of Benefits) Trafficking Act (DTA) extended the application of money laundering laws to non-drug-related serious crimes.
Singapore has the busiest (in tonnage) sea port in the world. Due to the sheer volume of cargo that transits the port, some of that cargo contains illicit materials. The GOS is aware of the problem and has taken action to stop the transshipment of illicit drugs, though there is room for improvement. GOS officials act effectively when they obtain information on possible transshipment of narcotics through Singapore and share information with DEA officers on a case-by-case basis. Absent specific information about a drug shipment, GOS officials have been reluctant to impose tighter interdiction requirements at the port, out of concern that this would interfere with the free flow of goods and thus jeopardize Singapore's position as the region's primary shipping entrepot.
III. Country Action Against Drugs in 1999.
As a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, Singapore treats narcotics-associated money laundering as a criminal offense. Under the DTA, financial institutions must report suspicious transactions and positively identify customers engaging in large currency transactions. Banks maintain adequate records to respond quickly to GOS inquiries in narcotics-related cases. However, there are no routine reporting requirements on amounts of currency that can be brought into or out of Singapore.
In July 1998, Singapore amended the Misuse Of Drugs Act (MDA) to crack down harder on illicit drug use. Third-time offenders are subject to a minimum of 5 years imprisonment and 3 strokes of the cane. Law enforcement officers may now require urinalysis tests for every Singapore citizen and permanent resident returning from outside the country. Those who test positive are treated as if they consumed the illegal drug in Singapore. About 500 arrests have been made since the amendment took effect. Because of the increase in methamphetamine abuse, anyone caught with more than 250 grams of crystal methamphetamine "ice" is subject to the death penalty. Those convicted of having more than 25 grams of methamphetamine or 10 grams of Ecstasy will face charges of drug trafficking, which carries a minimum of five years imprisonment and five strokes of the cane.
Law Enforcement. For the fifth straight year, the total number of people arrested on charges of possession, use, and drug trafficking has dropped, even though there was a rise in the number of arrests for ecstasy and methamphetamine. The prosecution rate for 1998 was 34.5 percent, a slight rise from the year before, despite the drop in the actual number of people arrested on drug charges. The final 1999 arrest figures for ecstasy possession are expected to rise by 10-20 percent, but the overall number of such arrests remains low (approximately 200). Methamphetamine arrests are expected to increase by approximately 10 percent. On the other hand, arrests for cannabis and heroin no.3 are expected to decline. CNB efforts targeting heroin no. 3 abusers and long term imprisonment for hard core opiate addicts are at least partially responsible for the decline in those arrests. The CNB reports that of the 44 major operations it mounted in 1998, 29 of them were against drug syndicates. In 1998, authorities seized nearly 142 kg of heroin, as well as 22.8 kg of opium, 21.8 kg of cannabis, more than 35,000 psychotropic pills and over U.S. $340,000 worth of assets, including several motor vehicles.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Singapore uses a combination of punishment and rehabilitation against first time offenders. Many first time offenders are given rehabilitation instead of jail time. Adopting the theme "Prevention: The Best Remedy'" Singapore authorities organize sporting events, concerts, plays and other activities to reach out to all segments of Singapore society on drug prevention. Drug treatment centers, halfway houses and job placement programs exist to help addicts successfully readjust to society. At the same time, the GOS has toughened anti-recidivist laws. Three-time offenders face long mandatory sentences and caning. Convicted drug traffickers are subject to the death penalty.
Bilateral Cooperation. Singapore and the U.S. continue to enjoy good cooperation on a number of levels. The GOS has never refused a U.S. Government request for extradition. In 1999, approximately two dozen GOS law enforcement officials attended training courses at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok on a variety of transnational crime topics. The DEA provided training to CNB officers on investigative techniques and technical equipment, international controlled deliveries, mail and parcel interdiction, precursor chemical training and airport interdiction. DEA officers can access Singapore port-net, a computer tracking system run by the port, which can track all ships and containers passing through the port of Singapore.
Agreements and Treaties. Singapore is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Extradition is conducted through the 1931 U.S.-UK Extradition Treaty, which remains in force between the U.S. and Singapore. In the absence of a formal mutual legal assistance treaty between the U.S. and Singapore, assistance is provided only through the use of Letters Rogatory. Due to strict bank secrecy laws, bank records cannot be obtained through Letters Rogatory. The U.S. and Singapore are in the process of negotiating a drug-designation agreement, which will allow for provision of abroad range of assistance in drug-related cases.
Corruption. Singapore's Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is charged with the enforcement of Singapore's anti-drug laws. The CNB, and other elements of the government, are effective and virtually free of drug-related corruption.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
The Road Ahead. The U.S. Government would like to complete a drug-related financial and money laundering agreement with the government of Singapore and would welcome new currency reporting requirement laws and increased transshipment monitoring efforts.
The Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) was a strong regional player in counternarcotics efforts in 1999. In June, the ROK hosted the Anti-Drug Liaison Officials' Meeting For International Cooperation (ADLOMICO) conference, attended by 120 representatives from 16 different countries. Regarding enforcement, there were no methamphetamine laboratories discovered in 1999, and availability of illicit drugs for domestic use, primarily methamphetamine, increased only slightly. The ROK supreme prosecutors office continued its nationwide drug education/demand reduction program during 1999.
South Korea is not a major drug-producing or drug-transiting country, although cocaine and heroin transiting activity increased during 1999. Additionally, the transiting of cocaine precursor chemicals increased significantly during the same period. For example, in May 1999, 12 tons of potassium permanganate (PP), a cocaine precursor seized in Santa Marta, Colombia, had been sent via Korea from China. This seizure followed an additional 10-ton load, which was also sent to Colombia in March 1999.
II. Status of Country
The ROK has a comparatively modest drug problem. A slight increase in methamphetamine use surfaced in 1999. Importation of heroin and cocaine for local consumption remained relatively stable. Overall, the drug user population in Korea remains small. Korea reported only 8,000-9,000 drug arrests for the year for a population of approximately 46 million. Additionally, the most dramatic development noted during 1999 was the increasing use of the ROK as a transit country for chemical precursors. As mentioned earlier, two sizable shipments of potassium permanganate were sent from Korea to Colombia. Delivery of the shipments, which were received from China, was brokered in Hong Kong.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1999
Policy Initiatives. An extradition treaty between the U.S. and Korea entered into force December 20, 1999. This treaty has all the attributes of modern extradition treaty. The treaty should facilitate apprehension and extradition of fugitives, including those charged with drug offenses.
Agreements and Treaties. A U.S.-Korea MLAT has been in force since 1997, and an extradition treaty entered into force on December 20, 1999. Korea 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. The USG has concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government o South Korea.
Illicit Cultivation and Production. Although methamphetamine had previously been produced in the ROK, evidence in 1999 suggests that this is no longer a problem. This is most likely due, to legislation passed in 1989 that treats illicit traffic in ephedrine (methamphetamine precursor) as a criminal offense. Laws prior to that were administrative in nature and viewed such importations as pharmaceutical violations. Since 1989, methamphetamine laboratory discoveries have continually declined to none this year. The only other drug produced in Korea is marijuana. The marijuana, which is cultivated legally for hemp and is used for fabrics and fertilizer, is grown in the northeast and southwest areas of the ROK. A portion of the licit marijuana crop is believed to be diverted for illegal use. A derivative of marijuana, hashish, is found only in small amounts in the ROK, and is believed to be imported by West Africans and Middle Eastern smugglers.
Regional Cooperation. The ROK plays a leading role in regional anti-narcotics cooperation. Law enforcement personnel share and develop information with the U.S. and other countries. The ROK hosts, at ROK expense, the Anti-Drug Liaison Officials Meeting Of International Cooperation (ADLOMICO). During the last three-day conference, which was held in Seoul, the U.S. Ambassador to Korea made opening remarks. One hundred twenty representatives from 16 different countries attended the conference. ADLOMICO was co-chaired by DEA representatives in Korea who, along with representatives from DEA headquarters, gave presentations on international drug trafficking. An open forum allowed each country the opportunity to make a presentation and answer questions.
Demand Reduction. Demand reduction through drug awareness and train-the-trainers is carried out under the auspices of the Supreme Prosecutor's Office. Every summer, representatives from the office travel throughout Korea and instruct teachers regarding the perils of drug usage, drug identification, and how to recognize and counsel students suspected of using drugs. The teachers then pass along this information to their students. Additionally, the Pusan district prosecutor's office is in the process of initiating a drug awareness program. The program uses a variety of approaches to curb drug use, including education and treatment.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Cooperative law enforcement efforts with the USG by ROK authorities increased in 1998/9. DEA and the U.S. Customs (USCS) have increasingly worked with the ROK supreme prosecutor's office, district prosecutor's offices in various cities, and Korean Customs, giving rise to the successful resolution of several drug cases. More recently, U.S. and ROK authorities have jointly investigated shipments of precursor chemicals used in cocaine production in Colombia that transited the ROK. The investigation so far has resulted in two arrests. In October 1998, Korean Customs, the lead counternarcotics enforcement agency in the ROK, established an airport unit in concert with DEA designed to interdict drug traffickers and identify suspicious luggage or parcels. This initiative proved successful in 1999, but to build on this success, further training is needed.
Corruption. Although media reports of corruption among public officials in the ROK surface periodically, there is no evidence public officials were involved in narcotics trafficking in 1999, or that corruption adversely influenced narcotics law enforcement in Korea.
Drug Flow/Transit. Methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin transit Korea bound for other locations. Methamphetamine is often destined for the U.S. via Guam. In 1999, a kilogram shipment from Manila, organized by Korean traffickers in Seoul, was seized by DEA. DEA Seoul worked closely with Korean officials during 1999 to expand this investigation.
Heroin for local use enters the ROK sporadically from China while heroin, coming from Thailand, transits Korea on its way to markets elsewhere. Additionally, West African traffickers continue to be a heroin trafficking threat in Korea.
Money-Laundering. At this time, South Korea appears to have little to no significant narcotics money-laundering activity. The Korean government's financial investigations generally focus on preventing the transfer of funds out of the country. Laws do not presently exist which would make the transfer of funds in furtherance of other illegal activities a crime. There is currently legislation being proposed in the national assembly that will, if enacted, provide for criminal prosecution of money laundering activities. This proposed legislation is similar to U.S. law as it relates to narcotics offenses.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. Both DEA and USCS work closely with Korean enforcement authorities. They have supported Korean investigations through exchange of information. In an effort to target trafficking through Korea, DEA encouraged the establishment of "Operation Airbust," an airport interdiction, drug detection program. The program, which established a 25-person unit, has already met with major success, and more are sure to follow.
Road Ahead. Law enforcement officials from the ROK have proven to be strong allies in the anti-drug effort, and would greatly benefit from additional training; such training is under consideration. Fine-tuning their skills, would of course, also benefit the U.S. and surrounding countries due to the volume of drugs that transit the ROK.
The United States considers Taiwan a major drug-transit point for drugs affecting the U.S. due to its geographic location and its role as a regional transportation/shipping hub. The UN removed Taiwan in 1996 from its list of major drug transit centers. Despite the lack of recent seizures in the U.S. of heroin that has transited Taiwan, Taiwan individuals with connections to organized-crime groups are known to be involved in drug trafficking in the Southeast Asian region. In view of Taiwan's geographic location, its role as a regional shipping hub, and activities of organized-crime groups, it is likely that drugs transit Taiwan to the West, including the U.S.
In 1999 Taiwan continued its aggressive domestic counternarcotics program and its excellent effective cooperation with the U.S. The authorities investigated 68,612 new narcotics cases through October 1999, an increase of 48.9 percent compared to the same time period in 1998. The authorities seized more narcotics, primarily of methamphetamine-type stimulants, in the first ten months of 1999 than all of 1998. Indictments and convictions for drug-related offenses on Taiwan continued to fall in 1999. The decline reflects the first full year in which a law has been in effect allowing first-time addicts to participate in drug treatment programs in lieu of imprisonment. Taiwan cannot be a party to the 1988 Drug Convention because it is not a UN member. Taiwan authorities, nonetheless, have passed and implemented laws in compliance with the goals and objectives of the Convention. Taiwan also continued to expand counternarcotics cooperation with U.S. law-enforcement agencies through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT); in some cases, however, authorities in Taiwan are not responsive to U.S. requests for assistance in criminal investigations.
II. Status of Taiwan
Taiwan does not cultivate or produce illegal narcotics, but the illegal consumption of both heroin and methamphetamine remains a serious social problem.
Mainland China continues to be the primary source of drugs entering Taiwan. Some 78 percent of methamphetamine and 17 percent of the heroin, whose origin could be identified, came into Taiwan from mainland China.
Despite the lack of heroin seizures in the U.S. that can be directly linked to Taiwan, USG analysts continue to view Taiwan as a major transit point for heroin significantly affecting the U.S. The conclusion is based on analyses of regional trafficking patterns and Taiwan's role as a regional transportation/shipping hub. Taiwan's Kaohsiung harbor is the world's third busiest container port and is a major center for shipping to and from Southeast Asian ports. Of the nearly 6.27 million TEU (twenty-foot-equivalent unit) shipping containers handled at Kaohsiung port last year, a significant percentage was "in transit" and, according to standard international practice, not subject to inspection by Taiwan Customs. Taiwan Customs examined 3.41 percent of inbound containers and 0.73 percent of outbound containers.
Money laundering of drug proceeds is a problem in Taiwan, but money laundering also occurs for non-narcotics-related activities, such as insider trading and smuggling. Through October 1999, 1,003 cases of suspicious financial transactions were investigated, of which charges were filed in seven cases and 116 cases were referred for further investigation.
III. Taiwan Actions Against Drugs in 1999
Policy Initiatives. Taiwan has continued an aggressive island-wide counternarcotics campaign that includes both harsh sentences for narcotics trafficking and social rehabilitation programs. This year was the first full year that Taiwan's tough Omnibus Hazardous Narcotics Prevention Act was in force.
On May 11, 1999, the Legislative Yuan passed two key narcotics laws: The "Law for Management of Controlled Drugs" and the "Organizational Law for the Bureau of Controlled Substances". These laws, which AIT and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) encouraged the Taiwan authorities to adopt, provide the legal basis to control the manufacture and sale of phenylpropanolamine (PPA). They also allow pre-export notification on shipments of PPA to other countries, as well as establish a new agency to monitor the production, use, and sale of narcotics in Taiwan. In addition, these laws authorize the use of small amounts of seized drugs for research purposes.
The Taiwan authorities want greater cooperation with the People's Republic of China (PRC) to combat drug trafficking, since many of the narcotics-particularly methamphetamine-entering Taiwan come from the PRC. Taiwan's ability to block drug smuggling has been hampered by cross-strait tensions and the concomitant lack of cooperation from PRC law-enforcement agencies. The Taiwan authorities have indicated that they would like to include law-enforcement issues in the cross-strait dialogue, when it resumes.
In order to improve Taiwan's ability to interdict cross-strait smuggling, the Legislative Yuan in 1998 created the Maritime Police Bureau. Approximately 20,000 officers staff this bureau, and it has a total of 87 boats-four more boats will be added in the year 2000. Organized into 16 squadrons, the bureau has stationed 13 boats on Taiwan's west coast to operate in the Taiwan Straits. The Maritime Police Bureau operates within 200 nautical miles off Taiwan's coast. Its predecessor organization had a jurisdictional limit of only 12 miles. Under AIT auspices, DEA has met with bureau officials to discuss intelligence sharing and pending operational matters.
The Money Laundering Prevention Center (MLPC) serves as the enforcement and intelligence backbone of Taiwan's interagency anti-money-laundering efforts. It continues to expand its contacts and exchanges with the U.S. and other foreign law-enforcement officials. The MLPC is a founding member of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering and, in 1998, became a participant in the Egmont Group, an informal international anti-money-laundering collective.
Through AIT, Taiwan has cooperated closely with U.S. law-enforcement agencies in conducting investigations and joint operations involving illegal narcotics trafficking and related crimes. Taiwan authorities have responded positively and constructively to U.S. requests and initiatives related to counternarcotics issues. Over the past year, Taiwan law-enforcement officials continued to expand their exchanges through AIT with U.S. and regional law-enforcement agencies to share information collected in Taiwan on cases extending beyond the island itself.
Accomplishments. The Taiwan authorities continued to investigate vigorously all potential narcotics leads. By the end of October 1999, Taiwan officers seized 70.62 kilograms of heroin and 1139.34 kilograms of methamphetamine. Those seizures represent a decrease of 44 percent for heroin and a 50 percent increase for methamphetamine compared to the same period in 1998. The number of individuals charged with narcotics crimes in the first ten months of 1999 decreased 37.4 percent to 8,044. The decline is due, in part, to provisions in the Hazardous Narcotics Prevention Act, in force for its first full year in 1999. The Act provides that first-time users who successfully undergo treatment no longer face criminal charges. Likewise, the number of narcotics-related convictions through October 1999 (6,511) also decreased by 63.7 percent from the 1998 ten-month conviction rate.
Law Enforcement Efforts/Corruption. The Ministry of Justice plays a major role in formulating counternarcotics policies and legislation. The Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) and the National Police Administration's Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) are Taiwan's lead counternarcotics law-enforcement agencies.
Taiwan's law-enforcement personnel are fully committed to the fight against narcotics trafficking. Through October 1999, they investigated more than 68,612 new cases. Taiwan has continued a crackdown on organized crime and is aggressively pursuing cases of public corruption. To date, there have been no reported cases of official involvement in narcotics trafficking on Taiwan. Taiwan authorities do not tolerate the production or distribution of illegal drugs. Taiwan law-enforcement officers have both the will and ability to target major syndicates and individuals trafficking in drugs and have worked with DEA on narcotics investigations. Counternarcotics authorities are often hampered in their ability to conduct long-term investigations, however, because of a legal requirement that investigations be completed within a specified period of time. Laws against entrapment are also strict, and undercover activity by law-enforcement officials remains a legal gray area.
Agreements and Treaties. Taiwan authorities have long indicated an interest in negotiating a mutual legal assistance agreement with the U.S. AIT and its Taiwan counterpart, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), are discussing the possibility of negotiating a mutual legal assistance agreement and are currently negotiating a customs mutual assistance agreement. In 1992, AIT and TECRO signed a memorandum of understanding on counternarcotics cooperation in criminal prosecutions. Taiwan is not now party to any other formal bilateral counternarcotics agreements and cannot be a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention because it is not a UN member. Nevertheless, the Taiwan authorities state they are committed to the goals and objectives of the Convention and have enacted legislation to bring Taiwan's counternarcotics laws into close conformity with its provisions.
Despite the lack of formal agreements, Taiwan law-enforcement officials work closely with their counterparts in the region. For example, they have shared intelligence information with Japan, Hong Kong, and The Philippines. This coordinated effort resulted in a number of significant investigations, which led to the seizure of large quantities of methamphetamine and numerous arrests. In addition, through AIT, DEA and MJIB conducted a joint investigation over several years that has led to the disruption of a major methamphetamine trafficking organization. In a joint DEA-MJIB investigation, the MJIB seized 76 kilograms of methamphetamine and 22 kilograms of heroin and arrested four people in February 1998. MJIB developed more information, which it shared with its Japanese counterparts. This effort led to the October 1999 seizure of 616 kilograms of methamphetamine in Japan and the arrest of 15 people. As a result of another joint DEA-MJIB investigation, Japanese authorities were provided with intelligence that resulted in the seizure of 101 kilograms of methamphetamine and the arrest of 17 people.
Cultivation/Production. Taiwan is not a producer of illicit drugs.
Drug Flow/Transit. From January to October 1999, Taiwan authorities seized 70.62 kilograms of heroin, of which 35.6 percent arrived from Thailand, 14.2 percent from Hong Kong, and 10.2 percent from mainland China. Of the 1139.34 kilograms of methamphetamine seized, 68.5 percent came from mainland China and 5.2 percent came from Thailand. Some heroin is smuggled into Taiwan on container ships. Both heroin and methamphetamine are smuggled into Taiwan through a variety of methods and routes. Drugs traffickers send couriers and trawlers carrying narcotics from numerous Asian locations to Taiwan's ports and airport. Fishing boats continue to be the principal means of smuggling heroin and methamphetamine from mainland China to Taiwan.
Domestic Programs. The Hazardous Narcotics Prevention Act, implemented in 1998, recognized the importance of rehabilitation in addition to more traditional methods of dealing with drug use. The Act requires users to undergo observation and treatment at narcotics rehabilitation centers. Users who succeed in kicking their habits do not face criminal charges. If they fail to pursue treatment seriously, they may be charged. While still in the early stages, this approach has had some success. During the first ten months of 1999, 33,634 individuals (including 31,396 adults and 2,238 juveniles) entered treatment programs. Of the 32,968 individuals who completed treatment, the authorities believe that 22,406 (68 percent) have not resumed drug use.
Taiwan continues to employ an aggressive media campaign to educate the public on the negative consequences of narcotics use and has expanded school programs designed to discourage juveniles from trying drugs. In addition, Taiwan is also encouraging private organizations to participate in school programs and the management of rehabilitation centers.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. The USG, through AIT, has vigorously pursued closer working-level cooperation on counternarcotics matters, including increased intelligence exchanges and joint operations. During the past year, DEA has expanded its working-level contacts with Taiwan law-enforcement agencies.
In March 1999, AIT and DEA met with various executive Yuan agencies and Legislative Yuan members to encourage Taiwan to adopt a comprehensive control system for the export of narcotic precursor chemicals, including pre-export end-user checks. In May, the Legislative Yuan approved two laws to control these items.
In April, a chemist from the DEA's special testing lab visited Taiwan to exchange information with his counterparts at MJIB. Subsequently, MJIB sent one of its chemists to the U.S. In June, DEA conducted training for MJIB on undercover operations, informant handling, and drug trafficking trends in Southeast Asia. Also in June, the Deputy Director of DEA's Office of Diversion Control and the Chief of Chemical Controls visited Taiwan to discuss controls on precursor chemicals and pre-export checks.
Through AIT's voluntary and international visitor programs, the U.S. has exposed key Taiwan prosecutors and legislators to U.S. law-enforcement policymakers and programs.
Road Ahead. In the coming year, AIT and U.S. law-enforcement agencies will continue to work closely with Taiwan to further promote joint counternarcotics operations, money-laundering investigations, and two-way exchanges of information.
At the time that the List of Major Drug Producing and Transiting Countries was prepared at the end of last year, information available indicated that in excess of 1000 hectares of opium was cultivated in Thailand. However, success with eradication programs during the current crop year seems to have reduced cultivation to well under that figure. Thailand, nevertheless, is a major drug transit country as a significant amount of heroin transits Thailand on its way to the U.S. Indeed, Thai authorities recently made a number of large seizures of heroin headed for the U.S.
Throughout 1999, Thailand continued its long tradition of cooperation with the United States and the international community in anti-drug programs. Thailand added to its leadership role in transnational crime issues by co-managing the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) with the U.S. in Bangkok. The U.S.-Thailand extradition relationship continues to be highly successful, and Thailand continues to extradite its nationals under the treaty. Indeed, Thailand is one of the top three countries in the world in cooperating with the U.S. on extradition requests. Extensive cooperative law enforcement programs continued to bear fruit. According to RTG figures, 314.8 kilograms of heroin were seized and 14 methamphetamine labs destroyed during the first ten months of 1999.
Thailand has one of the most effective illicit narcotic crop control programs in the world. USG analysts estimate that Thailand's opium production in the 1999 growing season declined 62 percent from sixteen to six metric tons. Poppy cultivation decreased by 38 percent to 835 hectares. Continuing trends established in previous years, opium farmers continue to cultivate smaller, more isolated fields and engage in multiple cropping to avoid eradication. In addition, activities related to heroin production, such as the refining of raw opium into morphine base, continued in northern border areas where drug producers often combined heroin operations with the manufacture of methamphetamine. Seizures and court actions under the asset seizure law continued. With U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) support, the Royal Thai police (RTP) established the second in a series of specially trained narcotics law enforcement units to target major trafficking groups. Thailand's programs aimed at treatment, epidemiology of substance abuse, and demand reduction continued; nevertheless, the epidemic of methamphetamine abuse rapidly accelerated, especially among the young, underscoring the need for cost effective community based models of addiction treatment and additional abuse-prevention training for both public and private sector health professionals.
Money laundering legislation covering seven predicate offenses including narcotics violations was passed in March 1999, and took effect in August. A senior police official has been named to head the 64 person money laundering control office. The decision to become a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention is currently being cleared through all relevant Thai Government agencies. Approval is expected during the March 2000 parliamentary session with accession to follow soon after.
II. Status of Country
Thailand is no longer a major source of opiates for the international market. Its opium poppy crop accounts for less than one percent of the regional production of opiates. Supplies from Burma are necessary to satisfy Thailand's own domestic demand for illicit opiates. The growing abuse in Thailand of methamphetamine is a serious concern, as traditional opiate traffickers in Thailand, Laos, and Burma are now either producing and/or moving both opiates and amphetamine type stimulants (ATS).
Traffickers have diversified drug smuggling operations to include direct maritime transshipment from Burma to major regional container ports. The UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP) estimates that 60 percent of Burma's opiate production enters China. Nevertheless, good roads in northern Thailand join refineries in Burma with the remainder of Thailand's transport system. Thailand's advanced road network continues to be a vital link in the supply line for commodities and materials needed by trafficking groups in neighboring areas. Thailand's position as a regional airline hub remains a factor in narcotics trafficking. Thailand still produces marijuana in its northeast region, although quantities have been reduced due to law enforcement suppression activity in recent years, as well as by competition from growers in Cambodia who benefit from lower production costs and a less challenging law enforcement environment. There continue to be reports of marijuana cultivation in Thailand's northern and southern regions. The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) estimates that Thailand produced 48 MT of marijuana in 1998. Methamphetamine is mostly produced in Burma. Some limited production of methamphetamine does occur in Thailand. However, most of this is by smaller scale producers using more simple production techniques that turn out perhaps only one thousand tablets per day. These traffickers purchase methamphetamine tablets from the larger Burmese-based suppliers, crush the tablets, use additives (Caffeine and the like), and re-tablet the material with new markings. The quality of these tablets is obviously lower, so the market for these tablets are poorer abusers who cannot afford higher quality drugs. By the end of October 1999, the RTG (Royal Thai Government) had destroyed fourteen methamphetamine labs in Thailand. These included five labs with modern tablet-making machinery, seven "kitchen" labs, and two labs producing methamphetamine hydrochloride in bulk.
An extremely large and growing number of Thai youth graduated from occasional methamphetamine use to dependency. From January through October 1999, the RTG seized 3,248 kilos of methamphetamine and arrested 146,317 persons involved in 135,358 ATS-related cases. The number of drug-related indictments went from 56,954 in 1988 to 186,232 in 1998, and the percentage of methamphetamine indictments rose from 1.8 to 67.3 percent during this same period.
As a result of the increase of methamphetamine in the country, Thailand has experienced a surge in poly-drug use among traditional heroin users such as the hill tribes in the north and fishermen in the south. The Thai ONCB has reported that methamphetamine generates more profit for the traffickers than all the heroin consumed both regionally and sent out of Southeast Asia to world markets. Money and time are not tied up in agricultural production of poppy plants, and nearby markets minimize the costs and "taxes" required to ensure delivery to distant lands. A study of the drug abuse situation in Thailand published in 1995 by the Thai Development and Research Institute (TDRI) contributed the baseline estimate for drug abuse in Thailand of 1.27 million persons, which includes those abusing ATS, inhalants, heroin, opium, and marijuana.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1999
Policy Initiatives: Money laundering legislation covering seven predicate offenses, including narcotics violations, was passed in March 1999. With this legislation, Thailand is now in compliance with the 1988 UN Drug Convention and expects to accede to that international instrument during the March 2000 parliamentary session. A senior police officer has been named to head the 64 person Money Laundering Control Office (MLCO). ONCB and the RTP have sponsored several training sessions on money laundering for concerned Thai government agencies and private financial institutions. The USG also sponsored training to improve enforcement against financial crimes.
Thailand controls precursor chemicals as required by the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In addition, Thailand and its neighbor Laos have agreed to cooperate in controlling precursor chemicals. The 1991 asset seizure and conspiracy law is limited to narcotics cases. As of October 31, 1999, 910 cases opened under the statute yielded forfeitures over U.S. $984.4 million. 786 cases were suspected of major narcotics trafficking involvement amounting to over U.S. $756.5 million in assets.
In late 1998, the RTG co-founded the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok with the U.S. In 1999, ILEA trained over 600 law enforcement and judicial officials from nine regional countries and the Hong Kong special administrative region. While the U.S. provides most of the funding and training expertise, the spirit of openness and hospitality, which has much to do with establishing a regional cooperative anti-crime network, is uniquely Thai. In addition, Thai unique regional expertise has enriched many of the training programs. The joint Thai/U.S. staff has created a quality educational institution with which all participating countries genuinely identify.
The six UN MOU on Sub-regional Narcotics Cooperation countries are Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Thailand actively participates in activities under the UNDCP-sponsored MOU. Thailand is also a member of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and is the designated law enforcement coordinator for ASEAN's Senior Officials on Drugs (ASOD) group.
Thailand has been extremely cooperative with the U.S. under the bilateral extradition treaty and is one of the top three countries in the world, along with U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico, in cooperating with the U.S. on extradition requests. The Foreign Ministry, the Judiciary, the Royal Thai Police, and the Office of the Attorney General have developed expedited extradition mechanisms and have worked closely with U.S. Justice Department officials and courts to facilitate extraditions. Since 1991, the Thai government has extradited forty-four fugitives to the United States, 35 of whom were wanted for narcotics-related offenses.
Despite the requirement for budgetary austerity in the aftermath of the regional economic crisis, Thailand maintains support for programs to combat the production and trafficking of illicit drugs and other transnational crimes. National and local level action against drugs has been improved by Prime Ministerial Order 141 issued on August 19, 1998. The order provided a needed coordination framework and facilitated collaboration among all government agencies as well as interested parts of civil society, such as NGOs, professional organizations, and religious groups. It made clear that Thailand's drug problem was the responsibility of all concerned government agencies (36 agencies of 11 ministries) and not just the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) and the Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau (PNSB).
A Thai drug epidemiology working group reports on emerging drug abuse trends and participates in regional demand reduction fora. Thai officials also provide a supportive environment for coordination and cooperation among the foreign anti-narcotics community (FANC) which is composed of fifty one foreign law enforcement members of twenty-one agencies attached to nineteen Bangkok embassies. The current FANC chairman is U.S. DEA group supervisor.
Law Enforcement Efforts: The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), the Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau (PNSB) and the Royal Thai Army Third Region Command (RTA III) covering North Thailand, are primarily responsible for the implementation of national level drug enforcement programs. These agencies coordinate with local police and enforcement bodies such as the Border Patrol Police (BPP), Provincial Police and the Royal Thai Customs on narcotics cases.
Extensive law enforcement cooperation with U.S. authorities continues. With DEA support, the Thai police established two special enforcement units which target major trafficking groups. In addition, the Northern Drug Task Force targets major violators in that region. A second task force in the Bangkok area became operational in 1996 and, after inclusion in the DEA/Thai police special program in 1999, developed several significant cases against major traffickers moving heroin to the U.S. The third center in southern Thailand became operational in 1999 and is assisting with several important investigations. A DEA/DOD/USG program to enhance maritime interdiction capabilities of the Royal Thai Navy in the Gulf of Thailand is nearly operational. The U.S. has continued to support these RTG initiatives through provision of operational assistance, commodities, and training provided jointly by DEA, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the USG. Enforcement actions by the BPP have produced seizures of both opiates and methamphetamine. The BPP continued to receive training from DEA and DOD elements in 1999. It must be noted that the BPP undertakes especially dangerous counter-drug operations which have resulted in two dead and four wounded officers so far in 1999.
According to ONCB figures, 0.314 mt of heroin was seized during the first ten months of 1999. Drug related arrests totaled over 205,276 individuals during the first ten months of the year, reflecting both the growth of drug abuse and RTG efforts to counteract it.
Corruption. The Royal Thai government does not condone the cultivation, production, trafficking, or financing of illicit narcotics.
The Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board continue to exhibit a high degree of professionalism and honesty derived in part from long standing relationships and institution-building programs with international drug control organizations, including those from the United States. Some representatives of civil society, such as academics, the media and various non-governmental organizations, roundly criticize examples of corrupt practices, and involvement in gambling and smuggling by some members of Thai law enforcement. Some Thai law enforcement officials themselves express frustration with corruption and its variant, political or family influence at high levels, which negatively impact their ability to prosecute those caught in criminal acts. For example, in discussing trafficking trends in central Thailand, the 1998-99 ONCB narcotics annual report notes that, ".the sophisticated and expanding trafficking network in this region consisted of the conspiracy of power groups and some governmental authorities." Interference of this nature often becomes known throughout law enforcement, raising the level of cynicism and providing excuses for weaker elements to abuse their office and accept money or other favors.
Narcotics trafficking poses special problems in countering corruption because of the fantastic profits generated and the resultant availability of cash for either facilitating payoffs or completely co-opting law enforcement personnel. The surge in methamphetamine abuse and trafficking adds greatly to the potential for corruption. Although the law applies to all, RTG efforts to counternarcotics corruption have so far focused on junior level officials. In July, a significant number of such officials, including military and police, were either sacked, transferred, or asked to resign. On the other hand, American law enforcement officials have noted that security of complex operations against major traffickers intended for extradition has been maintained. This indicates an internal sensitivity to the issue as well as knowledge of those police officers and other governmental officials who can or cannot be trusted with sensitive information.
Declarations of assets, already compulsory for cabinet ministers, are now required for over 900 senior state officials. They must also report the assets and liabilities of their spouses and underage children. Hopefully, as the political system matures, common corrupt practices, especially related to voter fraud and vote buying, will be reduced, eliminating some of the more notorious politicians from public life.
Cultivation/Production. The northern border areas of Thailand are the principal location for poppy cultivation in the country. Opium has a long history in the region, and the use of the crop as a medicine and source of cash for certain hill tribe communities has been a fact of social and economic life. The government's control efforts have combined eradication of the crop with development, improved infrastructure, and economic support designed to offer growers alternatives to narcotics production. The crop substitution/development program began in 1969 and from the very beginning concentrated on providing alternative medical care and cash crops to substitute for the medicinal and economic benefits of opium. Only after 15 years of development assistance, when the hill tribe communities could actually support themselves without opium, did the RTG begin to forcefully eradicate the farmers' opium crops.
Thailand has one of the most effective narcotics crop control program in the world. The eradication campaign is one of the main reasons heroin refineries no longer operate in Thailand, and has reduced opium cultivation in Thailand to a point where opium must now be imported to meet the requirements of domestic addiction. Last year, counter drug programs and less than ideal growing conditions led to the lowest cultivation and production estimate for Thailand since the U.S. Government began its crop estimates in the mid-1980's. Thai eradication forces successfully destroyed 808 hectares of the gross 1,643 hectares cultivated in 1999 which, together with the debilitating effects of the drought on opium yields, resulted in opium production of six metric tons. Average opium yield was estimated in 1999 at 7.18 kilograms per hectare.
The Thai government estimates that ten percent of Thai poppy growers use opium, and many of these sell their higher quality product for cash and consume cheaper drugs from Burma. Since brokers and middlemen play a strong role in the production equation and influence hill tribe growers, the propensity to plant a crop exists, even with the risk of having it destroyed by the government. Out-of-season poppy plantations and multiple cropping require exceedingly more effort and capital to cultivate; and reflect the significant adjustments traditional growers have had to make in the face of eradication efforts. A mark of the growers' sophistication is the practice of interspersing the poppy plants with legitimate vegetable production. The stubbornness and greed of Thailand's residual growers and their ability to increase cultivation in some geographically difficult to control areas argues for continued active efforts by Thailand in its opium control program.
An important initiative in crop control supported by the U.S. and other donors has been the establishment of Chiang Mai University's highland agricultural training center. Opened in 1994, this center provides hands-on training and experience to farmers in alternative crop techniques and provides a site for training farmers from neighboring countries.
ONCB coordinates the annual opium crop survey with the assistance of RTA III and the police. The RTG survey and analysis methodology is unmatched in the region. Both ground and aerial surveys are used. Information from a computerized geographic information system is combined with other survey and statistical data to measure opium cultivation trends. Survey data is shared with eradication campaign operating units. ONCB executes its survey before, during and after the traditional opium cultivation cycle to cover early and late season crops.
Drug Flow/Transit. Methamphetamine and opiates move into Thailand for consumption and also for onward shipment to world markets, making Thailand both a consuming and a transit country. Over the past several years, and especially since notorious drug trafficker, Khun Sa's, "retirement" and the occupation of his former territory by the Burmese Army, there has been a steady increase in the use of alternate routes through China, but also through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Since drug trafficking is an intrinsically illegal activity, neither Thailand nor its regional law enforcement colleagues have a clear and complete idea of trafficking patterns, but it is clear from recent heroin seizures that a significant amount of heroin transits Thailand on its way to the U.S.
Demand Reduction and Treatment Programs. Prevention and demand reduction programs are coordinated through ONCB and managed by various government agencies such as The Anti-Narcotics Coordinating Committee (ANCC). The ministries of health and education have programs in place to expand treatment and implement demand reduction in schools and in provincial areas as well as to target specific high-risk groups including students, fishermen, laborers, and long-haul truck drivers. School programs have received the greatest emphasis. This emphasis is justified, as 1997 abuse data shows more than 50 percent of the total 110,000 drug users in Thailand were youth. In late 1998, ONCB and other agencies organized a training course on drug counseling techniques for school teachers in 34 provinces. ONCB also organized a "Friends For Friends Group" training program to prepare student leaders to conduct school-based drug prevention activities. The project will expand to cover 379 Bangkok area schools. Youth groups also participated in the "Life Skills Education For Prevention Of Drugs Project" designed to foster communication, and coping and problem solving skills in school drug prevention.
The Bangkok DEA office worked with the Royal Thai Police in bringing the "Drug Abuse Resistance Education" (DARE) program to Thailand. In November, thirty-three police officers graduated from an intensive two-week course conducted by DARE International. The RTG expects to make the program available to schools nationwide within two years.
The Ministry Of Public Health (MPH) Department Of Medical Services currently has registered 421 drug treatment centers in both government and private hospitals. Most are attached to MPH-run provincial and community hospitals. A longer term program within the health ministry aims to increase the number of treatment facilities and spaces in therapeutic communities. Thailand is in the forefront in the utilization of the therapeutic community and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) models in relapse prevention, although NA is still in its infancy.
Thailand's current drug treatment systems were originally developed in response to opium and heroin addiction and are not appropriate nor effective for ATS treatment. Few health care providers have had any training in addiction, and there are no community based models of addiction treatment that can address the problem. There is an urgent need to develop addiction training and cost effective treatment services to deal with the current methamphetamine epidemic. Fortunately, effective treatment models exist and the Ministry Of Public Health already has detailed plans for community prevention and outreach through its facilities located throughout the country. Alcoholism remains a hidden problem and thus goes largely untreated. The potential benefits from developing a nationwide capacity to provide effective chemical dependency treatment would go far beyond dealing with the current ATS epidemic. The potential savings from effectively reducing the costs of untreated alcoholism would be great enough to justify investment in addiction training and treatment programs.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives. Based on guidelines in the national strategy, U.S. goals and objectives in Thailand are:
to reduce the amount of illicit drugs (principally heroin) available in the United States by assisting Thailand to counter the threat of drug trafficking. Support actions targeting drug traffickers and their organizations.
Assist with programs to implement the newly enacted money laundering legislation, and with developing other legal and enforcement tools, such as a strengthened conspiracy law, and witness protection and plea bargaining programs.
Through continued cooperative investigations, indict traffickers and cooperate in extraditions to the United States. Work toward broadening allowable evidence rules in the Thai legal system to enable more prosecutions and convictions of high-level traffickers in Thailand.
Continue initiatives to reduce and eliminate opium poppy cultivation through eradication and development of viable economic alternatives for farmers.
Assist Thailand in its efforts to maintain and expand its drug abuse awareness, demand reduction, and treatment activities.
Continue to develop the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) to improve regional law enforcement skills and coordination on transnational crime issues.
Bilateral Cooperation. Thailand and the United States have long been partners in counternarcotics criminal investigations. In addition to the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) and the extradition treaty referred to elsewhere in this report, four State Department funded bilateral narcotics assistance project agreements continue in force:
Narcotics Law Enforcement-project is designed to enhance the ability of narcotics law enforcement agencies to meet the threat posed by sophisticated trafficking organizations. This agreement provides commodity and training support for ONCB, PNSB and other Thai law enforcement organizations, and supports efforts aimed at strengthening criminal-justice system institutions and fostering judicial cooperation.
Narcotics Crop Control-USG funding is provided to RTA III, ONCB, BPP, and provincial police (PP) to assist the Royal Thai government in surveying, locating, and eradicating the illicit opium poppy crop in northern Thailand. In addition, U.S. funding supports outreach and development initiatives through the Royal project, RTA III, and Chiang Mai University.
Demand Reduction-the USG assists Thai authorities to improve and expand demand reduction programs and to support increased private sector and NGO involvement in national drug abuse awareness efforts.
Regional Initiatives-the USG supports the RTG leadership role in working with regional states on narcotics control issues. This project includes The International Law Enforcement Academy Bangkok (ILEA).
Cooperation between the U.S. and Thailand in a number of areas not specifically covered by formal agreements also has a long history. DEA works closely with Thai drug agencies in investigating major heroin trafficking organizations and with training to develop Thai drug enforcement capabilities. The U.S. Customs Service and Department of Defense have cooperated with various agencies on anti-smuggling projects. DOD also provides training for selected border patrol and narcotics police units, and has supported the establishment of the regional drug task force centers.
The embassy Public Affairs Section (PAS), formerly the United States Information Service (USIS), arranges visitor programs for consultations on drug control issues and is currently managing the Professionals In Residence Program on Judicial affairs in Bangkok. PAS also organizes video conferences allowing experts in the U.S. and Thailand to consult on narcotics, judicial, and law enforcement issues.
The Road Ahead. Thailand will strengthen its role as a regional leader in drug control and in combating transnational crime. The Kingdom will also cooperate fully with the international community in this regard. In addition to Thailand's new money laundering laws, other useful legislation addressing the issues of plea bargaining, co-conspirator testimony, a witness protection program, and the broadening of evidence rules, could strengthen law enforcement efforts. These types of legislation could either deprive traffickers of the profits of trafficking or facilitate the criminal justice system's prosecution of major traffickers.
Newer areas of concern needing attention are northeastern Thailand, the east, the south, and all maritime areas. Northeast and east Thailand border Laos and/or Cambodia. Thailand must suppress trafficking in these areas if it and its two neighbors are to avoid a southern version of the Golden Triangle, not marked by opiate production but by narcotics trafficking and other lawlessness. The Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea are currently weak in law enforcement. Criminal activity includes narcotics trafficking, general smuggling to avoid taxes, smuggling of illegal aliens, and illegal trade in natural resources. USG funding alone cannot eliminate these problems but the relatively modest USG contribution permits the RTG to quickly address problem areas.
The U.S. and Thailand will continue to cooperate on extradition of fugitives. The office of the Thai attorney general is drafting a new extradition law to update the current 1929 statute. Judicial processes will strengthen as the political system develops. The narcotic crop control program will be maintained. Regional cooperation on crime will greatly expand through networking facilitated by the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok. Thailand will develop systems of internal control and legal and administrative tools to counter the destabilizing impact of corruption and the influence of organized crime. Current drug prevention and treatment activities will develop into comprehensive nationwide programs. Thailand maintains its solid reputation in anti-narcotics efforts, and neighboring countries have been encouraged to follow aspects of the Thai model.
|Potential Harvest (ha)||835||1,350||1,650||2,170||1,750||2,110||2,880||2,050||3,000|
|Potential Yield (mt)1||6||16||25||30||25||17||42||24||35|
|Potential Harvest (ha)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Heroin Labs Destroyed||0||1||3||2||1||0||2||0||5|
|Meth Labs Destroyed||14||13||19||1||-||-||-||-||-|
|Narcotics Arrests (thousands)||205||186||158||125||120||102||85||73||75|
|Opium Consumed (mt)||60.0||60.0||60.0||60.0||60.0||53.0||53.0||53.0||53.0|
|Heroin Consumed (mt)||4.0||4.0||4.0||4.0||4.0||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5|
|Opium Users (thousands)||111||111||111||111||111||35||35||35||35|
|Heroin Users (thousands)||220||220||220||220||220||220||220||220||220|
1 Figure based on December 1991-February 1992 Opium Yield Study. Average yield / hectare is 11.5 kg. Opium in Thailand is "generally cultivated, harvested and eradicated from October to February each year. To make the data consistent with seizure and" "processing data, opium seasons are identified by the calendar year in which they end. For example, the October 1996 to" "February 1997 opium season is referred to as the 1997 calendar year season. Data on opium cultivation, eradication, and" production are based on USG estimates. RTG estimates are often lower on cultivation and higher on eradication. Data on opium "cultivation, eradication, and production are based on RTG and USG estimates. RTG estimates are lower on cultivation. In 1995," opium yield was increased from the figure reported in 1994.
Growing concern over domestic addiction rates led Prime Minister Phan Van Khai to elevate counternarcotics to Vietnam's second highest domestic priority, after poverty reduction. Among specific actions taken in 1999 were the establishment of special task-force units to combat drug trafficking along the borders, the unveiling of plans to build two large regional treatment centers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, and creation of a marine patrol force. Along with the stepped-up counternarcotics effort, Vietnam pursued high-profile corruption cases against high-ranking government and party figures to highlight an effort to eliminate official corruption. One focus was the Customs Service, clearly related to the counternarcotics campaign. An intensified effort at poppy eradication, stiffened law-enforcement campaigns against drug traffickers, and tougher prosecution led to a record number of arrests and convictions. Still, despite the enhanced effort, which appears to have reduced consumption somewhat among students, drug use overall continues to rise, especially heroin and methamphetamine abuse. Vietnam continued negotiations with the U.S. on a bilateral counternarcotics agreement, while pursuing mutual legal assistance and other legal agreements with other countries. In December Vietnam's National Assembly approved legislation criminalizing money laundering. In November 1997 Vietnam became a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
II. Status Of Country
Vietnam is a major drug-producing country. Opium is grown in some of Vietnam's northern provinces. In 1999, despite an intensified crop-eradication effort, more than 2,100 hectares of land were devoted to opium-poppy cultivation. Vietnam also produces cannabis. Law-enforcement officials reported eradicating 860 of the estimated 1,000 hectares devoted to cannabis cultivation in 1999.
Vietnam is a significant drug transit country. The government of Vietnam is also increasingly concerned about a recent rise in domestic drug consumption, especially among urban youth. Heroin from the "Golden Triangle" transits Vietnam on its way to industrialized countries. Cannabis, along with some heroin and synthetic drugs, passes into Vietnam from Cambodia. Increasing quantities of synthetic drugs (amphetamine-type stimulants) and psychotropic drugs manufactured in China and Burma have been entering Vietnam through its borders with China and Laos.
The structure of Vietnamese counternarcotics efforts in 1999 continued to be built around the Vietnam National Drug Control Committee (VNDCC). The VNDCC was established by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai on August 25, 1997, and in 1999 was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem. Its mandate is to carry out propaganda programs, to resolve the issue of opium cultivation, to oversee treatment programs, to fight against drug trafficking and crimes, to develop drug laws, and to carry out cooperation with other countries. The organization includes representatives from all major ministries and agencies involved in counternarcotics matters and has a counterpart organization in each province, city, district, and commune of Vietnam.
In September, Vietnamese counternarcotics police raided a heroin refinery lab in the province of Nghe An. Despite a vigorous effort to eradicate poppy cultivation in mountainous border regions through joint crop-substitution and law-enforcement initiatives, some poppy cultivation continues to occur, particularly in the provinces of Yen Bai, Nghe An, Lai Chau and Son La. The Vietnam National Drug Control Committee believes that rural poverty has led peasants in ten mountainous provinces (especially Lai Chau, Yen Bai, and Son La) to revert to opium cultivation. They also believe that Vietnamese opium is exclusively for domestic consumption, primarily among minority group members in the mountainous areas.
The growing availability of drugs passing through Vietnam has led to serious growth in domestic consumption. Alarmed, the government has responded with an augmented prevention campaign in schools, workplaces, and the media warning of the dangers of drug abuse.
Vietnam tightened its control over precursor chemicals by assigning responsibility for monitoring them to the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Public Health, and General Department of Customs. No precursor chemicals were detected being smuggled into Vietnam in 1999.
On December 1, 1999, Vietnam's National Assembly approved penal code revisions that criminalize money laundering. The provisions will take effect on July 1, 2000. The new provisions call for penalties of up to ten years imprisonment, multiple fines, and property seizure, among others. The World Bank is working with the government to develop a money-laundering chapter for draft banking legislation.
III. Country Action Against Drugs in 1999
Policy Initiatives. In December of 1998, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai instructed all elements of the government dealing with the drug problem to start an intensified counternarcotics campaign. To bring this about, Khai called on relevant government ministries and agencies to "strengthen their guidance" on drug prevention and control and to step up interagency coordination. These national measures were to be simultaneously adopted by provincial and municipal governments, as well. Mass organizations were to work more closely with authorities on drug questions. Propaganda and education campaigns were launched against drugs, particularly to raise awareness among youth.
During a conference held in August to review the intensive counternarcotics campaign launched in 1998, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai set four immediate tasks to stop abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs: (1) further enhance a sense of responsibility among the people; (2) thorough and comprehensive assessment of what has been done so far to stop the abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs; (3) more efficient methods of detoxification to stop recidivism; (4) more efficient anti-drug forces, including the expansion of international cooperation, especially with border countries. Other targets included stopping drug use among children and students, elimination of poppy crops, tightening control of "pro-drug elements," and heavy penalties for drug crimes. The Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs also announced plans to build two large drug rehabilitation centers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Vietnam strengthened coordination among the police, customs, and border-guard forces. Vietnamese police and security agencies hold regular meetings with their Lao counterparts, including meetings between provincial authorities of border provinces. The UNDCP, foreign governments, and non-governmental organizations maintain four national projects and six subregional projects on drug control cooperation.
From November 1998 to October 1999, law-enforcement forces took 19,010 drug criminals into custody, an increase of 31 percent over the same periods in 1997/98. They seized 51.8 kilograms of heroin, 314 kilograms of opium, and 369 kilograms of cannabis. In August, the VNDCC asked the government to set up special task-force units to combat drug trafficking along Vietnam's borders. September marked the anniversary of the first full year of operations of the Marine Police Force. Since beginning operations in September 1998, the force has conducted dozens of patrols along Vietnam's 3,200-kilometer coastline and over one million square kilometers of claimed continental shelf.
Among the trends in drug crime of primary concern to Vietnam's police are the increasing use of heroin, methamphetamine, and other synthetic drugs by the young. Police first encountered the drug "ecstasy" this year. Also for the first time this year, Vietnamese drug abusers began to drink dangerous substances, including methamphetamine, amphetamine, ecstasy, and methadone, in addition to smoking, inhaling and injecting them, according to the police.
Another trend in drug crime that deeply disturbs Vietnamese law-enforcement authorities is the increasing possession and use of weapons by drug traffickers to resist arrest. Drug traffickers in Vietnam have seldom before used weapons. Police report encountering weapons in Hanoi, Haiphong, Ho Chi Minh City, Nghe An, and Lang Son during 1999. Police say that in Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Lai Chau, and Thai Nguyen provinces, traffickers in 1999 used their weapons against law-enforcement agents while being chased. When captured, some now resist, threatening suicide or retaliation, or refuse to cooperate upon arrest, all of which are unusual reactions for Vietnamese criminals.
The police began to exercise their authority to seize assets in narcotics cases: in one narcotics case, police seized $400,000, 78.5 kilograms of gold, 80 million dong (USD $5,700), and 11 houses.
Accomplishments. Vietnam in 1999 took significant steps towards achieving full compliance with the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The government continued its efforts to reduce opium poppy cultivation. It has intensified cross-border collaboration with neighbors on law-enforcement issues. It is working on counternarcotics legislation to be introduced into the national assembly next year, which will implement all of the remaining provisions of the Convention.
Officials have brought 3,310 drug-related cases with a total of 4,952 defendants to trial. Of these cases, 35 were sentenced to death, 21 to life imprisonment, and many more to lesser sentences. In Vietnam, possession of 100 grams of heroin or 5 kilograms of opium warrants the death sentence.
Corruption. 1999 saw the implementation of a high-profile anti-corruption campaign through public trials of high- ranking government and party figures in narcotics and smuggling cases. Vietnamese Customs was particularly targeted. Along with the show trials, Vietnam's print and broadcast media have focused on official corruption. While the two most prominent trials did not deal directly with the narcotics crimes, they dealt with the integrity of government institutions, such as Customs and the banking system, which are central to the counternarcotics and anti-money-laundering efforts.
In June 1999, Vietnam uncovered the Tay Trang drug trafficking case, which could become the most important in Vietnamese history in terms of the number of arrests. The police are still searching for the alleged kingpin, a senior Customs official at the Tay Trang Customs entry point. The ring he led is believed to be linked to the Vu Xuan Truong syndicate. A prior case of syndicate members involved two Ministry of Public Security officers, among others, both of whom received death sentences. That case was Vietnam's biggest drug trafficking case to date. The case involved significant heroin trafficking from Laos, and clearly required complicity at fairly high levels within Vietnam's Customs Service.
The Tay Trang case is not an anomaly. Corruption remains a problem among some Vietnamese counternarcotics officials, especially within the Department of Customs. Recently, the government replaced the director general of the Customs Department. Although no official reason was given, it was widely believed the change took place to remove the vestiges of corruption at Customs. The appointment of a new Customs director general and the government's recent aggressive efforts against corruption show a high-level will to take action. The record shows that officials committing drug offenses are dealt with severely in Vietnam.
Agreements and Treaties. Vietnam has no extradition, mutual legal assistance, precursor chemical, money laundering, or counternarcotics agreements with the U.S. While most provisions of a bilateral counternarcotics agreement have been agreed upon in negotiations, a few outstanding matters remain to be decided.
Vietnam is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention (with reservations to Article 6 on extradition and Article 32, paragraph 2 and 3 on dispute settlement). Work is proceeding rapidly on the draft of a new counternarcotics law, slated to be introduced at the April 2000 session of the National Assembly. The government intends to use the bill as implementing legislation for the terms of the UN Drug Convention.
In 1999, Vietnam intensified its effort to bring about greater international cooperation through bilateral and regional counternarcotics agreements. At present, Vietnam has counternarcotics agreements with five countries: Burma (1995), Thailand, Russia, Cambodia, and Laos (1999). In 1993, with UNDCP support, Vietnam signed a regional counternarcotics Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. The so-called "MOU States" agreed to cooperate on counternarcotics activities and to work with UNDCP help at coordinating their law-enforcement efforts. Vietnam is currently precluded by statute from extraditing Vietnamese nationals, but it is contemplating legislative changes.
Cultivation/Production. Opium is grown in the uplands and mountainous regions of some northern provinces of Vietnam, notably Yen Bai, Son La, Lai Chau, and Nghe An. Despite a vigorous GVN effort to eradicate poppy cultivation in mountainous border regions through joint crop-substitution and law-enforcement efforts, some poppy cultivation continues. According to government reports, 98 percent of Vietnam's opium crop has been eliminated. Rural poverty has led those peasants who still cultivate in the mountainous provinces to revert to opium cultivation. The government claims that Vietnamese opium is exclusively for domestic consumption, primarily among minority group members in the mountainous areas. Some opium is sold to drug organizations, which are believed to sell it within Vietnam. It is also possible that the drug organizations transport the illicit narcotics across Vietnam's borders.
Despite intensified eradication efforts, the prospects of good weather led to opium poppies being cultivated over a much larger area. The total area under cultivation in 1999 exceeded the total land used in 1998. In 1999 the total increased by 645 hectares and totaled more than 2,100 hectares devoted to poppy crops.
Some cannabis is grown in Vietnam's southwestern provinces, notably An Giang, Tra Vinh, Long An, and Binh Phuoc. None is believed to grow in central and northern Vietnam. The VNDCC report that Vietnamese police eradicated 860 of Vietnam's estimated 1,000 hectares of cannabis cultivation in 1999. Eradication is primarily done by hand, normally by the peasant farmers themselves, when told by police and military to destroy their illicit crops. Estimates of all drug production in Vietnam are only approximate, since Vietnam lacks the means to perform a scientific survey of its illicit crops.
Drug Flow/Transit. Due, in part, to its proximity to the "Golden Triangle," Vietnam is a major transit point for opium and heroin. Vietnamese narcotics authorities have identified three main trafficking routes through Vietnam. First, heroin and other drugs from the Golden Triangle enter via mountainous border points in Lai Chau province, from which they are transported to Hanoi. Methamphetamine, synthetic drugs, and other illicit substances also arrive in Vietnam at various points along the border with China, destination Hanoi. From Hanoi, drugs are transported to the port of Haiphong for transshipment to The Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan, then on to Japan or, in some relatively few cases, the United States.
Second, drugs (especially heroin) from the Golden Triangle pass over the border from Laos into Nghe An province and on to the port of Vinh. Vietnam has designated Vinh as Laos's "port city," so illicit drugs are easily hidden in legitimate merchandise being exported. From Vinh, heroin follows similar routes through The Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and on to the West from there. Heroin arriving from Thailand passes through various points on the Lao- Vietnamese border, from which it is transported to Ho Chi Minh City. At the port of Ho Chi Minh City, these drugs are transported to Singapore and Malaysia. Vietnam government officials believe some drugs from Ho Chi Minh City are sent to the U.S.
Vietnam's law-enforcement authorities are increasingly concerned about the use of commercial airplanes to transport heroin. They believe increasing quantities of heroin arriving in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City by land are then sent overseas by air, including some sent via express mail services.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). Vietnam began a major, new, yearlong, nationwide demand-reduction campaign in November 1998. The campaign has been carried out in 61 provinces and cities. In addition to enhanced law-enforcement efforts, the campaign features propaganda, education, and treatment.
Vietnam has 52 drug treatment centers nationwide, offering patients in many cases a choice of institution-based or community-based treatment. The rate of recidivism is high, however, considered to be 90 percent nationwide. In 1999, Vietnam began to emphasize the importance of family-and community-based in-treatment efforts. In 1999 Vietnam also began to build two major treatment centers, one in the north, one in the south. When completed, they will become the regional drug-treatment centers for their respective regions.
There are about 97,000 registered drug addicts nationwide. While the number of addicts is rising, addiction among students decreased somewhat this year due to close cooperation among local police, schools and parents. Among the registered addicts are 8,000 prisoners. Police attribute the rise in the number of registered addicts in part to improved detection techniques. It is estimated that only about 10 percent of registered addicts have received treatment.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
U.S. Policy Initiatives. The key U.S. policy objective for Vietnam is the negotiation of a bilateral counternarcotics agreement. Most of the draft agreement's provisions have been finalized, and the government frequently expresses its desire to conclude the agreement. Both sides hope for final agreement in 2000. A permanent DEA office will open in Hanoi in February 2000. The U.S. currently funds training for Vietnamese law-enforcement officers to participate in courses at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok as well as bilateral training programs. The U.S. also contributes indirectly to assistance to Vietnam through its contributions to the UNDCP. Following signature of a bilateral counternarcotics agreement, the U.S. hopes to provide enhanced training, some equipment, and other forms of assistance to Vietnam. The U.S. also hopes to offer assistance to Vietnam on drafting a new counternarcotics law and to begin the process of negotiating a bilateral mutual legal assistance agreement.
Bilateral Cooperation. Despite the absence of a formal counternarcotics agreement, Vietnamese authorities cooperated fully with U.S. Embassy and U.S. law-enforcement agencies and courts. There is a regular exchange of criminal information. Vietnamese law-enforcement agencies eagerly participate in U.S. training programs, particularly in courses at ILEA. National and provincial law-enforcement agents are relatively accessible and cooperative with embassy officers in meetings.
The Road Ahead. With Vietnam being acutely aware of rising domestic drug consumption and seeking higher levels of international cooperation, Vietnam will likely significantly extend its law-enforcement and legal cooperation with the U.S. Both the U.S. and Vietnam look forward to completing the bilateral counternarcotics assistance agreement, which provides the cornerstone for cooperation on narcotics matters. The U.S. has a good deal of experience in narcotics legislation, crop substitution, demand reduction, education, eradication, and law-enforcement techniques, and is ready to share its experience with Vietnam through training and other forms of assistance.
Vietnam Statistics (1991-1999)
|Potential Harvest (ha)||2,100||3,000||6,150||3,150||-|
|Potential Yield (mt)||11||24||45||25||-|
1 Cultivation data from USG estimates based on aerial imagery.
2 Data is from UNDCP, based upon statistics from the Vietnamese government.
3 Based upon estimates by Vietnam drug control authorities.