Cablegate: International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

Published: Wed 19 Nov 2008 09:16 AM
DE RUEHFR #2122/01 3240916
P 190916Z NOV 08
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary
France continues to be a major transshipment point for
drugs moving through Europe. Given France,s shared borders
with trafficking conduits such as Spain, Italy, and
Belgium, France is a natural distribution point for drugs
moving toward North America from Europe and the Middle
East. France,s presence in the Caribbean, its proximity to
North Africa, and its participation in the Schengen open
border system, contribute to its desirability as a transit
point for drugs, including drugs originating in South
America. France,s own large domestic market of
predominantly cannabis users is attractive to traffickers
as well. Specifically, in descending order, cannabis
originating in Spain and Morocco, cocaine from South
America, heroin originating in or transiting through
Turkey, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and Ecstasy (MDMA)
originating in the Netherlands and Germany, all find their
way to France.
The total number of seizures reported in 2007 (latest
public figures) increased by 20.62 percent from 2005 levels
to 94,431), including seizures of some cannabis products,
morphine, amphetamines, LSD and psychotropic mushrooms. The
gross total
of the quantity of seizures of cocaine (HCL), Heroin, Khat,
and MDMA, which increased in 2006, decreased in 2007. Drug
trafficking and possession arrests increased in 2007 by
21.57 percent to 134,320. This represents the largest
increase in seizures in the last thirty years. France is a
party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
2. Status of Country
Cannabis users are the largest group of drug users in
France, according to official French government
statistics. By contrast, users of the next most popular
drugs, heroin and cocaine, account for approximately 5.7
percent and 3.58 percent of the total number of drug
abusers respectively. France,s drug control agency, the
Mission Interministerielle de la Lutte Contre la Drogue et
la Toxicomanie (MIDLT, or the Interministerial Mission for
the Fight Against Drugs and Drug Addiction), is the focal
point for French national drug control policy. Created in
1990, the MILDT (which received its current name in 1996)
coordinates the 19 ministerial departments that have direct
roles in establishing, implementing, and enforcing France,s
domestic and international drug control strategy. The
MILDT is primarily a policy organ, but cooperates closely
with law enforcement officials. The French also participate
in regional cooperation programs initiated and sponsored by
the European Union.
Possession of drugs for personal use and
possession of drugs for distribution both constitute crimes
under French law and both laws are regularly enforced.
Penalties for drug trafficking can include up to life
imprisonment. French narcotics agencies are effective,
technically capable and make heavy use of electronic
surveillance capabilities. In France, the counterpart to
the DEA is the Office Centrale pour la Repression du
Traffic Illicite des Stupefiants (OCRTIS), also referred to
as the Central Narcotics Office (CNO). French authorities
report that France based drug rings appear to be
decreasingly focused on a singly activity, and are
increasingly involved in other criminal activities such as
money laundering and clandestine gambling.
3. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2007
Policy Initiatives. In late 2004, France launched a five
year action plan called "Programme Drogue et Toxicomanie"
(Drug and Addiction Program) to reduce drug use among the
population and lessen social health damage caused by the
use and trafficking of narcotics. A full assessment of the
program is expected to be published during 2008, when it
reaches the end of its planned duration. Depending upon
the result of this assessment, a new program will be
introduced. The 2004 program,s successes include launching
a 38 million euro(approx. $50.5 million) national information
campaign on cannabis use in 2005 as well as increased
options in France,s medical treatment for cannabis and
heroin users/addicts. The program also provided funding
(up to 1.2 million euro (approx. $1.6 million)) for France,s
contributions to EU and UN counternarcotics programs in
four policy areas: Central and Eastern Europe, Africa,
Central Asia, and Latin America/Caribbean.
While France,s bilateral counternarcotics programs focus on
the Caribbean basin, special technical bilateral assistance
has also been provided to Afghanistan through France,s
Development Agency (AFD). 10 million euro -- approximately
million euro went to training Afghan counternarcotics police
and to fund a crop substitution program that will boost
cotton cultivation in the Afghan provinces of Konduz and
Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2008, French authorities made
multiple important narcotics seizures. Below find some
representative examples:
In an ongoing investigation begun in 2007, French police
identified a major drug supplier operating in the Gien
area. A round of arrests was made beginning April 1 that
netted 28 kilograms of heroin and 425,580 euros cash.
On May 6, 2008, French customs searched a tractor-trailer
and discovered 7,746.24 kilograms (7.746 tons) of hashish
destined for Great Britain.
June 3, 2008, during routine controls on a train traveling
between Paris and Mulhouse, French police apprehended a man
carrying over 20,000 Ecstasy pills -- originating in the
Netherlands -- in his clothes and luggage.
On November 13, 2008, French police discovered 600
kilograms (about 1320 pounds) of cannabis resin destined
for Paris.
Corruption. As a matter of government policy, France is
firmly committed to the fight against drug trafficking
domestically and internationally. The government does not
encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution
of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled
substances, or the proceeds from illegal drug
transactions. Similarly, no senior government official is
alleged to have participated in such activities.
Agreements and Treaties. France 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
the 1972 Protocol, and a 1971 agreement on coordinating
action against illegal trafficking. France and the U.S.
have an extradition treaty and an MLAT, which provides for
assistance in the prevention, investigation, and the
prosecution of crime, including drug offenses. In 2004,
bilateral supplemental extradition and mutual legal
assistance instruments were concluded in order to
implement agreements in these areas between the U.S. and
the EU, which will enhance cooperation further once they
enter into force. The U.S. also has a Customs Mutual
Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with France. France is a party
to the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its
protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in
Cultivation/Production. French authorities believe that
the cultivation and production of illicit drugs is not a
significant problem in France. France cultivates opium
poppies under strict legal controls for medical use, and
produces amphetamines as pharmaceuticals. The government
reports its production of both products to the
International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and cooperates
with the DEA to monitor and control these products.
According to authorities, the majority of illicit drugs
produced in France come from smaller home laboratories.
Drug Flow/Transit. There is no evidence that significant
amounts of heroin or cocaine enter the United States from
France. France is a transshipment point for illicit drugs
to other European countries. Traffickers move heroin from
both Southwest and Southeast Asia (of Burmese origin) to
the United States through West Africa and France, with
back-haul of cocaine from South America to France through
the United States and West Africa. New routes for
transporting heroin from southwest Asia to Europe are
developing through Central Asia and Russia and into Belgium
and the Netherlands. West African drug traffickers (mostly
Nigerian) are also using France as a transshipment point
for heroin and cocaine. Law enforcement officials believe
these West African and South American traffickers are
stockpiling heroin and cocaine in Africa before shipping it
to final destinations. Most of the South American cocaine
entering France comes through Spain and Portugal. To
counter this flow, France joined six other European
countries to form the Maritime Analysis and Operations
Center-Narcotics (MAOC-N)in Lisbon, which should bolster EU
capacity to protect its southwestern flank. In addition,
officials are seeing an increase in cocaine coming directly
to France from the French Caribbean, giving impetus to the
creation of the Martinique Task Force: a joint effort with
Spain, Columbia, and the UK. France also has seconded a
Liaison Officer to Joint Interagency Task Force South to
coordinate maritime counternarcotics operations in the
Caribbean Basin. Most of the Ecstasy in or transiting
France is produced in the Ntherlands or Belgium.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. MILDT is responsible
for coordinating France,s demand reduction programs. Drug
education efforts target government officials, counselors,
teachers, and medical personnel, with the objective of
giving these opinion leaders the information they need to
assist those endangered by drug abuse in the community. In
an effort to combat the consumption of cannabis in France,
which has consistently increased over the past 20 years, in
October of 2007, Etienne Apaire, the President of MIDLT
(since September 2007) announced a new government policy
aimed at cannabis users. Beginning in 2008, the state will
force those arrested for cannabis use to take a two day
class on the dangers of cannabis consumption. The cost of
the class, 450 euros (approx. $660), will be paid by the drug
user. France,s current law (dating from 1970) includes
stiff penalties for cannabis use including up to a year
prison sentence and a 3750 euro(approx. $5,515) fine though
the penalties are rarely, if ever, applied. This new
measure is intended to be a more effective approach towards
the prevention of cannabis use.
4. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives/Bilateral Cooperation. U.S. and GOF
counternarcotics law enforcement cooperation remains good.
During 2008, the DEA,s Paris Country Office and the French
OCRTIS continued to routinely share operational
intelligence and support one another,s investigations. The
DEA and the OCRTIS shared intelligence was developed from a
program which identifies orders for precursor chemicals
placed from French companies for exportation outside of
France. Since its inception seven years ago, this program
has resulted in the seizure of 33 MDMA labs worldwide
(including 22 in the U.S.), and the arrest of 65
individuals involved in the supply chain.
Additionally, during 2008 the DEA,s Paris Office passed
intelligence to OCRTIS regarding two possible drug couriers
intending to transit France while traveling from Turkey to
the United States. As a result of this information, in
February French authorities arrested two Orthodox Rabbis
transporting approximately 12 kilograms of morphine base in
concealed compartments built into their suitcases.
Information developed from the French investigation was
shared with the DEA and several other countries, law
enforcement services, which as led to a number of valuable
investigative links. The DEA and the OCRTIS regularly
exchange information relating to suspected airline internal
drug couriers traveling internationally, and other routine
law enforcement information that leads to arrests and drug
The Road Ahead. The United States will continue its
cooperation with France on all counternarcotics fronts,
including through multilateral efforts such as the Dublin
Group of countries coordinating narcotics assistance and
the UNODC.
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media