Cablegate: Portugal: Draft of 2008 International Narcotics Control

Published: Fri 31 Oct 2008 04:47 PM
DE RUEHLI #2685/01 3051647
R 311647Z OCT 08
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Per reftel request, attached is Embassy Lisbon's submission for
the 2008 INCSR Report.
I. Summary
Portugal once again saw a significant decline in cocaine seizures as
shipments to Europe are increasingly being routed through African
nations rather than Northern Atlantic routes. As a result, seizures
of cocaine decreased from 5.2 metric tons in the first six months of
2007 to 2.6 metric tons during the same period in 2008. In the first
half of 2008, seizures of heroin increased from 40 kilograms in 2007
to 49 kilograms in 2008. Hashish seizures increased significantly
from 15.1 metric tons in the first half of 2007 to 24.4 metric tons
in the first half of 2008. U.S.-Portugal cooperation on drugs has
included high-level visits to Portugal by U.S. officials and
experts, and consultations on the newly established Maritime
Analysis Operations Center for Narcotics (MAOC-N), located in
Lisbon. Portugal is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
Drug smugglers have used Portugal as a primary gateway to Europe in
recent years; their task is made easier by open borders among the
Schengen Agreement countries and by Portugal's long coastline.
Since early 2007, Portuguese law enforcement entities have seen a
significant drop in cocaine seizures and speculate that traffickers
have moved to Western African nations and then enter Europe in
smaller, harder to detect packages. South America remains the
primary source of cocaine arriving in Portugal, usually transited
through Brazil and Venezuela. For hashish, primary source countries
were Morocco and Spain. Cocaine and heroin enter Portugal by
commercial aircraft, containers, and maritime vessels. The
Netherlands, Spain and Belgium are the primary sources of Ecstasy in
Portugal. Drug abuse within the Portuguese prison system continues
to be a major concern for authorities.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2008
Policy Initiatives. Portugal decriminalized drug use for casual
consumers and addicts on July 1, 2001. The law makes the
"consumption, acquisition, and possession of drugs for personal use"
a simple administrative offense. In 2007, the Portuguese Parliament
approved a law allowing police to test drivers' saliva for driving
under the influence of narcotics and/or alcohol. If the road-side
sample is positive, drivers must then undergo a blood test at a
health care establishment to confirm the results. Drug testing prior
to the new law had to be done at a health care establishment, making
the process more complicated for both drivers and law enforcement
Law Enforcement Efforts. Portugal has seven separate law enforcement
agencies that deal with narcotics: the Judicial Police (PJ), the
Public Security Police (PSP), the Republican National Guard (GNR),
Customs (DGAIEC), the Immigration Service (SEF), the Directorate
General of Prison Services (DGSP), and the Maritime Police (PM). The
PJ is a unit of the Ministry of Justice with overall responsibility
for coordination of criminal investigations. The PM reports to the
Ministry of Defense and the other entities are units of the Ministry
of the Interior. According to a 2007 semi-annual report prepared by
the PJ, the Portuguese law enforcement forces arrested 2,550
individuals for drug-related offenses in the first six months of
2008 as "traffickers/consumers." Of those arrested, 80% were
Portuguese citizens, but the foreign nationals arrested include
citizens from Cape Verde (229), Guinea Bissau (50), Brazil (36),
Angola (30), and Spain (23). The 2007 PJ semi-annual report
indicates a significant decrease in the cocaine seized in the first
half of 2007 compared to the first half of 2006. Cocaine seizures
fell by 45% from 5.2 metric tons to just 2.6 metric tons in the
first half of 2008. Also over the first six months of 2008, compared
to the same timeframe in 2007, hashish seizures jumped by 60% to
24.4 metric tons, Ecstasy seizures increased to 64,361 pills and
heroin seizures increased to 49 kilograms. PJ's first semester
report on 2008 activities notes the seizure of over 1 million Euros
in cash, plus the equivalent of over 12,000 Euros in foreign
currency, and 344 vehicles, 1,565 cell phones, and 114 weapons.
-- On May 14, 2008, GNR officers seized 4.4 metric tons of hashish
in Cabanas de Tavira, Portugal. Most hashish seized in Portugal is
intended for the Portuguese market, alQough some does go to Spain.
-- On June 26, 2008, Portuguese Judicial Police (PJ) seized 199
bales of hashish, weighing 6 metric tons, off the southwestern coast
in a Portuguese fishing boat.
Corruption. As a matter of government policy, Portugal does not
encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of
drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug
Agreements and Treaties. Portugal is party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972
Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Portugal is party to the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime and its protocols against trafficking in persons and
migrant smuggling. In September 2007 Portugal ratified the UN
Convention against Corruption. A Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement
(CMAA) has been in force between Portugal and the U.S. since 1994.
Portugal and the U.S. are parties to an extradition treaty since
1908. Although this treaty does not cover financial crimes or drug
trafficking or organized crime, certain drug trafficking offenses
are deemed extraditable in accordance with the terms of the 1988 UN
Drug Convention.
Drug Flow/Transit. Portugal's long, rugged coastline and its
proximity to North Africa offer an advantage to traffickers who
smuggle illicit drugs into Portugal. In some cases, traffickers are
reported to use high-speed boats in attempts to smuggle drugs into
the country, and some traffickers use the Azores islands as a
transshipment point. The U.S. has not been identified as a
significant destination for drugs transiting through Portugal.
Domestic Programs. Responsibility for coordinating Portugal's drug
programs was moved to the Ministry of Health in 2002. The Government
also established the Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction (IDT) by
merging the Portuguese Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction (IPDT)
with the Portuguese Service for the Treatment of Drug Addiction
(SPTT). The IDT gathers statistics, disseminates information on
narcotics issues and manages government treatment programs for
narcotic addictions. It also sponsors several programs aimed at drug
prevention and treatment, the most important of which is the
Municipal Plan for Primary Prevention. Its objective is to create,
with community input, locality-specific prevention programs in
thirty-six municipal districts. IDT runs a hotline and manages
several public awareness campaigns. Regional commissions are charged
with reducing demand for drugs, collecting fines and arranging for
the treatment of drug abusers. A national needle exchange program
was credited with significantly reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS and
hepatitis, although HIV infections resulting from injections are
still a major concern in the Portuguese prison system. In November
2006, Lisbon city officials approved plans for legalized assisted
narcotics consumption centers or "shoot houses" to open in late 2007
but the heated internal debate has stalled plans to open. Portugal
is implementing its National Drugs Strategy: 2005-2012, with an
intermediary impact assessment scheduled for 2008. It builds on the
EU's Drugs Strategy 2000-2004 and Action Plan on Drugs 2000-2004 and
focuses on reducing drug use, drug dependence and drug-related
health and social risks. The 2008 strategy includes prevention
programs in schools and within families, early intervention,
treatment, harm reduction, rehabilitation, and social reintegration
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. DEA-Madrid is responsible for coordinating
with Portuguese authorities on U.S.-nexus drug cases. The Portuguese
Customs Bureau cooperates with the U.S. under the terms of the 1994
In April 2008, U.S. Director for the Office of National Drug Control
Policy John Walters visited Portugal and met with Portuguese law
enforcement, health, and NGO officials to discuss the narcotics
problem in Portugal.
The Road Ahead. Portugal and the U.S. will use their excellent
cooperative relationship to improve narcotics enforcement in both
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