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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

A major producer of high-quality, illicit amphetamines, Poland also serves as a transit point and significant market for international narcotics. Domestically produced, low-grade heroin (kompot), once the most widely used drug in Poland, is being largely replaced by imported heroin from Turkey, Bulgaria and Afghanistan. Ongoing reorganization in 1998 has brought more centralized control to the Narcotics Bureau of the Polish National Police (PNP). Although increased drug usage among Poles is partially to blame for the 315 percent leap in the number of narcotics- related crimes detected in Poland in the first half of 1998, the PNP believes that more effective police work accounts for a significant portion of the statistical increase. New legislation making possession a crime may also account for some of the increase.

II. Status of Country

Poland is a producer and transit country for illegal narcotics into Western Europe, as well as a demand market for imported drugs. A recent development is the appearance of "black cocaine" and designer drugs. Kompot usage has steadily declined, giving way to a demand for "cleaner" heroin from Turkey, Bulgaria and Afghanistan as addicts grow wary of the domestic product's numerous side effects. West European traffickers have organized indoor cannabis cultivation; local outdoor cultivation marked by poor-quality plants. Amphetamines and other synthetic narcotics are among the most commonly used drugs, though marijuana and hashish are the most popular drugs on the market, especially among young people. South American cocaine, a very expensive narcotic, has developed a limited market among the more well-off segments of Polish society.

Poland remains a producer of some of the purest amphetamines in the world. The report of the European regional meeting of the Heads of Narcotics Law Enforcement Agencies in September 1998 cited Poland as a source of concern in production, with 25 percent of the total European product coming from Poland. Exports to Western Europe have risen as well, thanks in large part to Poland's reputation for producing high-quality narcotics. Crime groups dealing with the illegal production of amphetamines have professional laboratory equipment at their disposal, and more and more often qualified chemists with comprehensive knowledge and experience run the production process. Laboratories are increasingly located in sophisticated environments where their production can be monitored carefully.

Used by international crime groups because of its central location and open borders, Poland remains a transit point for drugs going to Western Europe and Scandinavia. A stop on the main smuggling routes of heroin from the Golden Crescent and cannabis from South Asia, Morocco and Nigeria, Poland is also an increasingly popular transit country for cocaine shipped from South America to Western Europe. Polish police authorities report that heroin traffic through Poland is controlled predominantly by Nigerian, Turkish, Indian and Pakistani nationals. All of these groups actively recruit Polish couriers to transport heroin into Western Europe.

The PNP reports that Polish organized crime groups have established working relations with local organizations in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Italy. International trucking, tourist buses and boats have been joined by express mail couriers as favorite means of transporting drugs through Poland. Police have seized significant amounts of narcotics hidden in picture frames and furniture that were sent through the mail. The PNP estimates that there are a dozen or so laboratories within Poland producing high-quality amphetamines for the needs of the home market as well as for "export," mainly to Germany and Scandinavia. Some Polish organized criminal groups, involved in large-scale automobile theft, have developed ties with drug-trafficking groups in Poland. Russian organized criminal groups control some extortion and prostitution, as well as street-level drug trafficking.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare estimates there are between 30, 000 and 40,000 drug addicts in Poland, a number that has steadily grown. Other sources report the number of drug abusers to be 100,000 to 150,000 and unofficial estimates peg the number of casual users as high as 400,000. Drug abuse among young people is also rising. Police studies indicate that about 40 percent of secondary school students have experimented with drugs, and the PNP reported an increase of 451 percent in the number of drug- related crimes committed by juveniles compared to last year.

The Polish Government has cooperated with the UNDCP on an education program to train substance abuse treatment providers, and on street-worker and needle exchange programs in areas of high demand. Other programs run by the PNP and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare concentrate on prevention among school-age children.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1998

Policy Initiatives. A reorganization of the PNP Narcotics Bureau is underway in an attempt to centralize local and national drug enforcement efforts. Starting on January 1, 1999, narcotics officers in each of the 16 voivodships (national administrative subdivisions) are to come under the control of the Organized Crime and Narcotics Bureau, instead of the dual control of the bureau and the voivodship. The Polish border guards, Polish customs and the State Protection Office (UOP) coordinate their narcotics investigations with the PNP. The PNP Narcotics Bureau, which was created with the intention of centralizing control of narcotics investigation, training and intelligence matters in Poland, and of creating a central criminal intelligence database, credits its increased efficiency and expanded authority as the reason for the considerable increase in narcotics- related crimes detected in Poland in the first half of 1998, as compared to 1997, along with the introduction of new legislation which makes possession a crime.

Accomplishments. Poland has created a system for tracking the 22 precursor chemicals outlined in the 1988 UN Drug Convention, giving the PNP's Narcotics Bureau access to information regarding the use, production, import and export of precursor chemicals in Poland. Lack of provision for adding new chemicals to the list; however, impairs the law's effectiveness and makes it difficult for Polish authorities to keep up with fast-changing drug trends.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Poland's increase in its cooperation with international drug enforcement organizations and the use of undercover operations, such as controlled delivery and transport, undercover buys, and wire and electronic communication intercepts (as recently allowed by law), are expected to increase the effectiveness of counternarcotics efforts in Poland. During the first half of 1998, Polish authorities seized 19 kilograms of amphetamines, 13 kilograms of marijuana, 8 kilograms of heroin, 8 kilograms of cocaine, and 544 kilograms of hashish, as well as significant amounts of LSD, "ecstasy" and kompot.

Agreements and Treaties. In September 1998, the Polish Government signed the UNDCP Crossborder Law Enforcement Project. An updated bilateral extradition treaty and a new mutual legal assistance treaty were ratified by the U.S. in January 1999. Poland is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Drugs, the 1961 Single Convention and its 1972 protocol. The USG has concluded a bilateral Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement. Poland participates in the Eastern European regional demand reduction project, and has 20 bilateral or regional counternarcotics agreements with countries including Germany, Greece, Hungary and Egypt.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

The primary U.S. goal is to enhance the Polish law enforcement community's ability to combat drug trafficking and organized crime, and to foster increased Polish participation in international counternarcotics efforts. To this end, the U.S. will continue to encourage and assist the Government of Poland in seeking full compliance with the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In particular, the USG aims to reduce the amount of drugs transiting Polish territory and to inhibit the development of organized criminal enterprises engaged in drug trafficking and other unlawful activities.

Bilateral Cooperation. The USG provides significant training assistance through law and democracy programs and other State Department initiatives. Courses and seminars on money laundering and financial crime, counternarcotics undercover operations, boarding officer tactics and international narcotics enforcement were conducted in 1998.

The U.S. Embassy maintains close contact with the Polish agencies involved in narcotics law enforcement, including the PNP, border guards, customs office and the UOP. In addition, the legal attaché at the Embassy and various U.S. agencies have excellent direct operational relationships with their Polish counterparts.

The Road Ahead. The USG will continue to focus its assistance to Polish law enforcement in the following key areas. judicial reform and the rule of law; police management; law enforcement coordination; specialized training requested by Polish authorities, including the newly-created Organized Crime and Narcotics Bureau; and promotion of Poland's role as a key player in regional law enforcement training and cooperation. These areas potentially offer the greatest return on limited USG resources and promise benefit to both countries.

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