Cablegate: Latvia: 2006-2007 Incsr Submission, Part I - Drugs

Published: Tue 7 Nov 2006 03:33 PM
DE RUEHRA #0927/01 3111533
R 071533Z NOV 06
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. The following is Embassy Riga's submittal for the 2006-2007
International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Part I,
Drugs and Chemical Control:
2. I. Summary. Drug use in Latvia is characterized by continued
prevalence of synthetics. Ecstasy is the most common narcotic in
Latvia, though amphetamines, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and LSD can
also be found. Recreational drug use has shifted to ecstasy due to
the latter's low cost, as well as national information campaigns
highlighting the dangers of intravenous drug use. Heroin use, which
had once been Latvia's most serious narcotics problem, is showing
signs of renewed popularity. Latvia is party to the 1988 UN Drug
3. II. Status of Country. Latvia itself is not a significant
producer of precursor chemicals, but Customs officials believe that
a significant quantity of diverted "pre-precursors" originate in
Belarus and transit Latvia en route to other countries. Heroin is
sold at "retail" in public places such as parks, in the city center,
or more discreetly, in private apartments; selling tactics and
methods constantly change. Amphetamines are distributed in venues
that attract youth, such as nightclubs, discotheques, gambling
centers and raves. Organized crime groups also engage in both
wholesale and retail trade in narcotics. Recreational drug use has
increased with Latvia's growing affluence, with usage of
amphetamines, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy all increasing.
4. III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2006. Policy Initiatives.
Latvia is in the second year of its State Program for the
Restriction and Control of Addiction and the Spread of Narcotic and
Psychotropic Substances (SPRCASNPS) which was approved by the
Cabinet of Ministers for the years 2005 to 2008. This national
strategy lists as its priorities: reducing the spread of drug abuse,
especially among young people; increasing the possibilities for
rehabilitation and re-socializing for drug addicts; reducing crime
related to drug abuse and distribution, as well as drug trafficking;
eliminating and preventing the harm caused to the general
development of the Latvian state by drug addiction and drug related
crime. Latvia's passage of the SPRCASNPS addressed criticism that it
lacked a clear division of authority between municipalities and the
state regarding budget and competencies.
5. Law Enforcement Efforts. In the first nine months of 2006 the
amount of seized heroin, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine
increased compared to 2005 figures. Poppy straw, marijuana, hashish,
ephedrine, ecstasy and LSD seizures dropped in the first nine
6. Amphetamine seizures, which jumped from 2.7 kg in 2005 to 10.1
kg in the first nine months of 2006, were accomplished chiefly by
four large seizures: 1.97 kg on February 7, 1.98 kg on May 24, 0.97
kg on June 1, and 3.28 kg on June 27. All four seizures occurred in
Riga. Heroin seizures increased from 28.64 grams in 2005 to 125.82
grams in 2006. Methamphetamine seizures also increased by more than
three times, from 1.83 kilograms in 2005 to 5.96 kg in 2006.
7. Ecstasy seizures dropped from 20,945 tablets in 2005 to 2,299
tablets in 2006. Marijuana seizures dropped to 3.8 kg in 2006, down
from 25.3 kg in the previous year. Ephedrine seizures dropped from
18.46 grams in 2005 to 0.88 grams in 2006. Hashish seized dropped
to 242 grams in 2006, from 1,331 grams the year before.
8. The Latvian government acknowledges that Latvian law enforcement
needs to show better results for its counter-narcotics efforts,
despite resource and funding difficulties. The 2005-2008 national
strategy takes this into account and indicates the government's
intent to increase funding, personnel, and education for law
9. Corruption. Latvia's Anti Corruption Bureau (KNAB) was
established in 2003 to help combat and prevent public corruption and
has grown in its effectiveness and scope. According to the KNAB
Director, his bureau has not found any senior-level Latvian
officials to be involved in, encouraging, or facilitating narcotic
crimes or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.
The USG also has no evidence of drug-related corruption at senior
levels of the Latvian government. As a matter of government policy,
Latvia does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or
distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled
substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug
10. Agreements and Treaties. Latvia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and
the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol. A
1923 extradition and a 1934 supplementary extradition treaty
currently are in force between the U.S. and Latvia. On December 7,
2005, Latvia and the United States signed a new extradition treaty
and Mutual Legal Assistance protocol, which awaits ratification.
Latvia is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, and to
the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its
protocols against trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling and
illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms.
11. Drug Flow/Transit. Narcotic substances are frequently smuggled
into Latvia from Lithuania, principally by ground transport.
Seaports are used mainly to transship drugs destined for sale
elsewhere. Latvia is not a primary transit route for drugs destined
for the United States. Most drugs transiting Latvia are destined for
the Nordic countries or Western Europe. Heroin is primarily
trafficked via Russia from Central Asia.
12. Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The current national
strategy addresses demand reduction, education, and drug treatment
programs. Since its passage by the Cabinet of Ministers, the
following items have been achieved: establishment of a co-ordination
mechanism for institutions involved in combating drug addiction
(involving eight ministries); monitoring of the work program of the
EMBDDA on the national level; establishment of a system for
monitoring court directed treatment for addicted offenders; holding
educational events for teachers and parents, as well as updated
educational materials and informative booklets; inclusion of
information on drug addiction in school curriculums; establishment
of a pilot program for teaching prevention of drug addiction,
alcohol abuse and smoking; pilot programs on drug addiction for
local governments; education programs for members of the armed
forces; mechanisms for information exchange amongst relevant
institutions; and an increase in the number of employees in the
regional offices of the Organized Crime Enforcement Department under
the State Police.
13. In addition to the State Narcotics Center, Latvia has
established four regional narcotics addiction treatment centers in
Jelgava, Daugavpils, Liepaja, and Straupe. There are rehabilitation
centers in Riga and Rindzele, and youth rehabilitation centers in
Jaunpiebalga and Straupe. Data from 2005 showed that Latvia had
27,648 patients in alcoholic addiction programs and 2,441 patients
being treated for narcotic or psychotropic drug addiction.
14. IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs. Bilateral
Cooperation. The United States maintains assistance on liaison
programs in Latvia that focus on investigating and prosecuting drug
offenses, corruption, and organized crime.
15. The Road Ahead. The United States will continue to pursue and
deepen cooperation with Latvia, especially in the areas of law
enforcement and prosecution. The United States will expand efforts
to coordinate with the EU and other donors to ensure complementary
and cooperative assistance and policies with the government of
Latvia. The United States will also encourage Latvia to work with
regional partners to advance the mutual fight against narcotics
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