Cablegate: Iceland: 2009-2010 Incsr Submission

Published: Tue 3 Nov 2009 05:05 PM
DE RUEHRK #0196/01 3071725
P 031725Z NOV 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
REYKJAVIK 00000196 001.2 OF 003
1. (SBU) Iceland's submission for the 2009-2010 INCSR:
I. Summary
Icelandic authorities confront limited, but increasing, levels of
domestic drug production. The primary focus of law enforcement is on
stopping importation and distribution, with a lesser emphasis on
prosecuting for possession and use. The number of seizures and
narcotics-related offenses in Iceland continued to decline in 2009.
At the same time, however, the total quantity of narcotics seized
increased as authorities placed greater emphasis on shutting down
large-scale operations. Icelandic police made the largest narcotics
seizure in Icelandic history, based on street value, during the
year. Along with the government, secular and faith-based charities
organize abuse prevention projects and run respected detoxification
and treatment centers. Iceland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
II. Status of Country
Illegal drugs are produced in limited, but increasing, quantities in
Iceland. Law enforcement authorities believe that the domestic
production of drugs is limited to marijuana plants, now grown in
quantities adequate to satisfy virtually all domestic demand, and
the occasional amphetamine laboratory. Police reported an average
seizure of 100-200 cannabis plants a week, a dramatic increase
considering that was the seizure rate for the entire year in 2000.
There are even rumors that some domestically grown marijuana may be
intended for export. The harsh climate and lack of arable soil make
the outdoor cultivation of drug crops in Iceland almost impossible
so all cultivation is limited to indoor facilities.
Most illegal drugs in Iceland are smuggled in through the mail,
inside commercial containers, or by airline and ferry passengers.
Amphetamines have become increasingly common during recent years and
they are now the chief illicit drug entering Iceland. Police believe
that this is part of a trend of stimulant drug use that also
involves heightened levels of cocaine and MDMA in circulation. These
drugs are believed to originate in Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain,
Lithuania and South America. They are imported into Iceland
primarily via Denmark and the Netherlands. According to authorities
there were 62 seizures of imported drugs and precursors in 2009
(latest available National Commissioner of Police figures through
September 30).
Icelandic officials raised concerns during the year that drug
smuggling into Iceland could be tied to Eastern European and Baltic
organized crime groups, perhaps occasionally working in cooperation
with Icelandic crime groups. In addition to drug trafficking,
officials believe that these groups may also be involved in money
laundering and human trafficking. Law enforcement officials stated
publicly that investigation and interdiction efforts were being
adjusted accordingly to deal with this element of organized crime.
In February, the National Police Commissioner's Analytical Unit
released an assessment on the extent of organized crime in Iceland.
The report stated that as a result of the economic crisis in
Iceland, profits from the narcotics trade will increasingly be
invested in Iceland, since capital controls and an unfavorable
currency exchange rate make exporting the profits difficult.
III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2009
Policy Initiatives. The Public Health Institute of Iceland,
established in 2003, is responsible for managing alcohol and drug
abuse prevention programs on behalf of the government. Programs are
funded through an alcohol tax, with allocations overseen by the
independent national Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Council
(ADAPC). The institute collects data, disseminates information on
use of intoxicants, supports health improvement projects, and funds
and advises local governments and non-governmental organizations
working primarily in prevention. During the year it made grants
worth roughly $361,000 to a total of 45 groups and administered
projects across the country. The institute is part of the Nordic
Council for Alcohol and Drug Research, which promotes and encourages
a joint Nordic research effort on drug and alcohol abuse.
A drug prevention program called "Youth in Europe" emphasizes the
importance of organized leisure activities, in addition to time
spent with parents, as Icelandic studies of drug abuse showed that
these reduced the likelihood of drug use. In connection with the
program, an annual Prevention Day is held each autumn in Iceland's
grade schools. The program is sponsored by the pharmaceutical
company Actavis Group, headquartered in Iceland, and is administered
and coordinated by the City of Reykjavik, the University of Iceland,
and Reykjavik University. The Icelandic Center for Social Research
and Analysis, a nonprofit research center that specializes in youth
research, published a study in October showing that 6 percent of
15-16 year olds have tried cannabis substances at least once.
Law Enforcement Efforts. Authorities have documented a substantial
downward trend in narcotics violations over the past three years and
the tentative number for 2009 shows a continuing decrease in such
violations (from 1847 in 2007, to 1590 in 2008, and 976 as of
September 30, 2009). This trend, however, can be attributed to the
authorities placing greater emphasis on large-scale seizures and
narcotics production facilities, while focusing less on individual
REYKJAVIK 00000196 002.2 OF 003
users. Police nationwide have intensified surveillance in public
places and initiated searches of suspicious individuals, while also
improving interdiction training for border police and customs
Police had confiscated a total of 25.4 kg of hashish, 74.2 kg of
amphetamines, 1.8 kg of cocaine, 6 units of LSD, 16,216 Ecstasy
pills, and 9,707 cannabis plants as of September 30, 2009.
Nationwide drug seizure highlights include:
In March, Reykjavik Metropolitan Police confiscated 1000 and 621
cannabis plants, respectively, in two different raids on industrial
buildings near Reykjavik.
In April, a major police operation near the harbor town of Hofn in
southeast Iceland led to the discovery of 55 kg of amphetamines, 34
kg of marijuana, 19.5 kg of hashish, and roughly 9,400 Ecstasy pills
that had been smuggled into Iceland by a Belgian-registered
sailboat. The street value of the drugs amounted to millions of
dollars, making this the biggest drug bust in Icelandic history.
Over 100 people participated in the police operations including
members of the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police, police departments in
Eastern Iceland, the National Police Commissioner, the Icelandic
Coast Guard, the Danish military, and the Icelandic Defense Agency.
Six men were arrested in connection with the case.
In April, Keflavik Airport (KEF) Police arrested two Belgian women
with roughly 400 grams of cocaine hidden internally.
In April, customs officials confiscated roughly 6 kg of amphetamines
that were smuggled through express mail.
In September, KEF Police arrested two Polish men with approximately
6,000 Ecstasy pills hidden in cans.
The National Police Commissioner and the Sudurnes Police
Commissioner, who oversees Keflavik Airport, have expressed concern
about attempts at infiltration into Iceland by Central and Eastern
European gangs and criminals, including from the Baltic States. In
the past, police have cooperated with Nordic officials to prevent
the entry of biker gang members, particularly the Hell's Angels,
suspected of attempting to expand their criminal operations to
Iceland. In March, police and border guards prevented the entry of
eight members of Hell's Angels, who came to Iceland to celebrate the
eleventh anniversary of Fafnir MC, an Icelandic biker gang that the
Hell's Angels have selected as a prospective member of their
organization. Customs and police deployed drug-sniffing dogs to
popular outdoor festivals on a holiday weekend in early August to
deal with drug distribution among youths attending the events.
Corruption. There were no reports of narcotics-related public
corruption in Iceland. The country does not, as a matter of
government policy, 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
transactions. No senior official of the government is known to
engage in, encourage, or facilitate the illicit production or
distribution of such drugs or substances, or to be involved in the
laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.
Agreements and Treaties. Iceland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and
the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and its 1972
Protocol. Iceland has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three
protocols. An extradition treaty is in force between the U.S. and
Drug Flow/Transit. Authorities consider Iceland a destination
country for narcotics smuggling rather than a transit point.
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Most alcohol and drug abuse
treatment is taken on by SAA, the National Center of Addiction
Medicine. SAA was founded in 1977 by a group of recovered addicts
who wished to replicate the rehabilitation services they had
received at the Freeport Hospital in New York. SAA receives roughly
two thirds of its annual budget from the government and makes
detoxification and inpatient treatments available free to Icelandic
citizens. While there can be waiting lists for long-term addicts,
especially men, there is no wait for teenagers. SAA's main treatment
center estimated the number of admitted patients in 2009 to be
2,200-2,300. The National Hospital annually admits 400-500 drug
addicts (often those with complicating psychiatric illnesses).
Individuals with less acute problems may turn to Samhjalp, a
Christian charity that uses faith-based approaches to treating
addiction, and Gotusmidjan, a treatment center for individuals
between 15-20 years old, operated in conjunction with the Government
Agency for Child Protection.
The Directorate of Customs continued with its national drug
education program, developed in 1999 and formalized in an agreement
with the national (Lutheran) church in 2003, in which an officer
accompanied by a narcotics sniffing dog informs students
participating in confirmation classes about the harmful effects of
drugs and Iceland's fight against drug smuggling. Parents are
invited to the meetings in order to encourage a joint parent-child
effort against drug abuse. The Directorate of Customs and the
national church maintained an educational website, which expounds
the message of the program, including drug awareness, information
about the Directorate of Customs, and healthy living.
REYKJAVIK 00000196 003.2 OF 003
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. DEA has enjoyed good relations with Icelandic
law enforcement authorities on information exchanges.
The Road Ahead. The DEA and FBI offices in Copenhagen and the
Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik have
developed good contacts in Icelandic law enforcement circles for the
purpose of cooperating on narcotics investigations and interdiction
of shipments. In the past year, the Embassy's Regional Security
Office has facilitated continued support between U.S. and Icelandic
authorities by sharing law enforcement practices and techniques to
continue strengthening the abilities of the Icelandic police. The
USG's goal is to maintain the good bilateral law enforcement
relationship that up to now has facilitated the exchange of
intelligence and cooperation on controlled deliveries and other
areas of mutual concern. The USG will continue efforts to strengthen
exchange and training programs in the context of its ongoing effort
to improve law enforcement, homeland security, and counterterrorism
ties with Iceland.
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media