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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

Continuing a trend begun following the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, drug use in the Slovak Republic escalated in 1998. The Slovak Government acknowledged in 1997 that Slovakia has changed from primarily a transit country for illicit drugs to a consumer country as well, and has taken steps to address this issue. Despite increased law enforcement spending and international cooperation on drug enforcement, demand for drugs within the country, trafficking of drugs and public awareness of drug use and sales throughout Slovakia has remained on a steady upward trend. Slovakia remains a transshipment point to Western Europe on the Balkan Route from the Middle East and Turkey to Germany, France and other European countries. The Government of the Slovak Republic is a party to the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

II. Status of Country

Drug dealing within Slovakia has increased markedly in the last year. Press reports regularly noted arrests for drug use and small seizures of drugs ranging from marijuana to cocaine to heroin. Slovak authorities are especially concerned about the increasing use of heroin by young people in economically disadvantaged parts of the country. In particular, Petrzalka, a section of the capital city, Bratislava, is known for an ever-increasing amount of drug-related violence. Several non-governmental organizations have noted increasing drug abuse among young people, and homegrown, Slovak- organized criminal elements have expanded their control over the sale and distribution of drugs in Petrzalka and in other localities.

The Slovak Government stated in 1998 that there has been an increase in the number of drug users from ever-younger age groups (though the number of minors arrested for drug possession/use actually decreased to 51 in 1998 from 102 in 1997). The Slovak Government acknowledged that the Slovak Republic is now a consumer country, as well as a transshipment country.

The Slovak Government reports that the number of drug consumers and addicts in Slovakia is increasing. Excluding Bratislava, locations within the Slovak Republic which are noted for drug-related offenses are the country's numerous spas (Piestany, Trencianske Teplice, Bardejov) and tourist centers (such as the high Tatra mountains near the Polish border).

As noted above, one of the Slovak Government's main concerns with regard to the smuggling of illicit drugs centers on Slovakia's position as a transshipment point. The Slovak Government is concentrating on east-west smuggling from Ukraine and Russia. Additionally, the Balkan Route is a major concern, chiefly because of Slovakia's small and under-manned border posts, such as Komarno and Medvedov along the Slovak-Hungarian border.

As in other areas, the influence of organized crime on drug sales and use increased in 1998. The Slovak police have seen organized crime elements (both from within Slovakia and from abroad) gaining ground in terms of their complexity and the amount of resources at their disposal. In contrast to past years, when organized crime was less pervasive and had fewer connections, criminal figures now have state-of-the-art equipment, receive financing from other ventures and utilize their international contacts to further drug-related criminal enterprises. Specific information about the extent to which they collaborate with their foreign partners is sketchy, however.

Data is lacking on production and cultivation of opium poppy; however, poppy seeds are a traditional ingredient in Slovak food, as they are in neighboring countries. The climate is unsuitable for coca production. The National Drug Service reports that cannabis is grown almost everywhere in Slovakia; however, this is largely for domestic consumption.

The Ministry of Health operates a specialized health care system for drug users, and includes six specialized treatment centers and 40 out-patient clinics. The Centre for the Treatment of Drug Dependencies in Bratislava is a specialized in-patient center and also houses a training, research and information institution. The Ministry of Health estimates that the main users of drugs are between 18 and 24 years old and estimates the number of heroin users in Bratislava, the capital, at 4,000.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1998

Policy Initiatives. A new government, elected in September 1998, has begun to reorganize the police corps, particularly the section charged with enforcing drug laws, to improve its effectiveness. The new government has declared that fighting corruption and organized crime is one of its top three priorities. It has also indicated willingness to accept training from the USG and other countries and to cooperate more closely on specific cases of international trafficking in narcotics.

Law Enforcement Efforts. During the first three quarters of 1998 (most recent data available), 457 cases of drug-related crime were reported, 313 less than during the same period in 1997. Of these, 421 were successfully prosecuted. More than 12.4 kilograms of heroin were seized in this period in 1998, and 16.25 kilograms of cocaine. More than 1,250 kilograms of cannabis derivatives, including hashish, were seized (though it should be noted that much of this was as part of a single large seizure). The Slovak Government reported that 96 kilograms of amphetamines were seized. Other drugs, including methamphetamine, LSD, morphine and rohypnol were also seized in relatively small quantities. There were no statistics available on deaths related to drug-related crime. Slovak authorities noted that illicit drugs tend to be sold from houses and apartments rather than on the street. It is worth noting that the seizure amounts for all of 1997 were as follows. heroin - 7.60 kilograms; cocaine - 9.577 kilograms; cannabis/derivatives - 852 kilograms.

Corruption. Slovak observers continue be concerned that corruption exists in the Slovak Republic, particularly at the lower levels of the law enforcement community. The newly elected government acknowledged in late 1998 that corruption was a significant problem and pledged to work against it within the framework of international norms.

Agreements and Treaties. As one of the successor states, treaty commitments of the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic continue to apply to the Slovak Republic, including the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention and the 1972 Protocol thereto, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The bilateral extradition treaty between Czechoslovakia and the United States has continued in force in the Slovak Republic and has, in effect, been updated to encompass drug-related offenses by virtue of the Slovak Government's ratification of the UN Narcotics Conventions. The U.S. concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement with Slovakia in 1998.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The USG has provided funds and training expertise from a variety of USG agencies to assist the Slovak Government in its anti- drug initiatives, including support from the Department of State; the U.S. Customs Service, which conducted land border interdiction training; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The USG expects to provide limited additional assistance to the Slovak Government in the form of training opportunities in 1999. In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development is working with certain communities and non-governmental organizations on demand-reduction programs.

The Road Ahead. Through bilateral cooperation, the USG is encouraging the Slovak Government to maintain its tough stance on drug interdiction and to expand its enforcement and prevention capabilities through modernization of responsible agencies and, where possible, funding education programs for at- risk groups.

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