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1998 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
United States Department of State
February 26, 1999


I. Summary

At the end of 1998, Moldova was facing the most severe economic crisis of its short history as an independent country. With very limited financial resources, it has had a difficult time meeting its obligations under the 1988 UN drug convention, to which it is a party. The country is not a significant narcotics producer and its low per capita income makes it an unattractive market for drugs. Moldova, particularly the area along its eastern border, is being used for the transshipment of illegal narcotics from, and precursor chemicals to, central Asia. The Moldovan government is now in the process of drafting anti-money laundering legislation. In 1998, the United States continued to assist all Moldovan ministries and departments that are involved in counternarcotics and other law enforcement training and technical programs.

II. Status of Country

Moldova does not cultivate, process, or manufacture sizeable amounts of narcotics. Because it is not a regional or international banking center and generally has an underdeveloped banking system, there is little opportunity for money laundering. With the eastern border of Moldova controlled by the "authorities" of the illegal and unrecognized, self-declared "Transnistrian Republic," Moldova (primarily Transnistria) is used as a transshipment route for contraband, including some narcotics.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1998

Policy Initiatives. Moldova's anti-drug policies remained unchanged during 1998. At year's end, the government was in the process of drafting anti- money laundering legislation to be implemented in early 1999. The Moldovan government endeavored to meet its obligations under the 1988 UN Drug Convention and other international narcotics agreements to which Moldova is a party; however, the severe economic crisis has made it difficult to give these priority over other issues.

Law Enforcement Efforts. The Ministry of Internal Affairs' Department to Combat Organized Crime and Corruption, established in 1997, has made a few high profile arrests, though not directly involving narcotics. According to Moldovan government statistics, during the ten-month period ending October 1998, police and customs officials made the following seizures: 236 kilograms of poppy straw; 153 kilograms of marijuana; and 8 kilograms of opium. No heroin was seized in 1998. The government destroyed 670 fields (13,008 square meters) of illegal poppy. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that the largest single seizure was eight kilograms of marijuana. Ministry sources further advised that drug traffickers were carrying smaller amounts of narcotics to reduce any possible criminal sentence.

Corruption. Acceptance of bribes reportedly continues to interfere with the government's counter -narcotics efforts. Moldova has no law specifically dealing with narcotics-related corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. Moldova is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

Cultivation/Production. Hemp is the principal locally grown illegal substance. Originally introduced for rope making, legal hemp cultivation was eliminated fifty years ago. Narcotic-quality plants grow as weeds throughout the country and criminal elements have capitalized on its availability. No reliable yield estimates are available. Besides poppy plant oil, other locally produced substances include synthetic and semi- synthetic drugs such as Ephedrine, Pervitini, Omnoponi, and Methadone. None of these substances is exported in significant quantities.

Drug Flow/Transit. Since 1991, the illegal and unrecognized, self-declared "Transnistrian Republic" has controlled much of Moldova's eastern border. There is significant anecdotal evidence that this area is used to transship all types of contraband, including narcotics. Intermittent seizures by Moldovan officials indicate that Moldova is a transit route for heroin and cocaine moving from central Asia to Europe and precursor chemicals moving in the opposite direction.

Demand Reduction. The Ministry of Health registered 3969 persons in drug treatment programs during the first nine months of 1998. This is an increase of 1,219 addicts over the same time period in 1997. Accurate statistics on the actual number of non-registered narcotics users are unavailable. With an overall cut in health care spending due to the current severe economic crisis, spending for Moldova's demand reduction program will remain constant at best.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

U.S. Policy Initiatives. United States assistance is directed to improving the capability of Moldovan counternarcotics units and the Customs Service to interdict international drug shipments, and to increasing the competence of the Moldovan Department to Combat Organized Crime and Corruption to deal with these challenges on a transnational level.

Bilateral Cooperation. In 1998 Moldovan police and Customs officials continued to attend courses conducted by U.S. law enforcement agencies. The United States arranged for a number of Moldovan officials, including the President of the Supreme Court and the head of the Department to Combat Organized Crime and Corruption, to come to the United States as exchange visitors, or for training. In Chisinau, Moldova's capital, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency conducted a basic counternarcotics course for Moldovan police and a seminar on money laundering was provided by experts from U.S. Customs, Treasury, and the Federal Reserve.

The Road Ahead. At the end of 1998, a multi-agency USG assessment team recommended that interim Department of Justice legal advisers, trainers, and consultants be sent to Moldova on a continuing basis until such time as a resident advisor could be assigned to assist in legal reform. Also, the Department of State has agreed to fund major, long term, U.S. Treasury Department financial enforcement advisors and U.S. Customs border service experts. With these additional resources dedicated to law enforcement, the USG will be better able to promote counter-narcotics assistance in Moldova.

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