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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


SPAIN

I. Summary

Spain is a transit country, and remains actively involved in counternarcotics efforts globally. Spain is a signatory to the three UN Drug Conventions and maintains membership in the UN Commission. Spain complies with EU consensus on drug trafficking and money laundering. Drug trafficking and terrorism remain Spain's highest law enforcement concerns.

II. Status of Country

Illicit refining and manufacturing of drugs in Spain is minimal. However, small scale laboratories which convert cocaine base to cocaine hydrochloride are discovered and confiscated each year. The first significant cocaine conversion operation was discovered in February 1995, when the Spanish National Police (SNP) seized a cocaine base extraction and conversion lab in a Madrid. It became apparent that individuals purchasing chemicals allegedly for legitimate use were diverting them for illicit use.. Although Spain has a pharmaceutical industry that produces precursor and essential chemicals, there have been no reports of diversion of chemicals to the illicit market. In all cases where MDMA (spell out) laboratories have been seized in Spain, Dutch traffickers were found to be in charge of operations. The production process is a simple one.(?) The SNP recently seized an MDMA logo press. A substantial amount of MDMA was seized in Murcia in early November 1998. When amphetamine laboratories are discovered in Spain, they have been operated by Spaniards with no involvement by other nationalities. There has never been a heroin conversion laboratory identified in Spain. No methamphetamine laboratories have been seized in Spain.

Ever increasing amounts of cocaine are seized by Spanish drug law enforcement agencies each year. Trends indicate that Spain is the chief gateway for cocaine shipments entering Europe. Spain's close historic and linguistic ties with Latin America attract Colombian cocaine traffickers who fully exploit Spain's position as a bridge to the rest of Europe. Maritime containerized cargo shipments account for the bulk of the cocaine shipped to Spain, but a proliferation of smaller amounts smuggled into the country by air courier, usually at Madrid's Barajas International Airport, also contribute to sizeable totals.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1998

Policy Initiatives. A major drug policy initiative was adopted in January 1997 by the government of Jose Maria Aznar. The principal points of the plan include modification of the criminal code to authorize undercover operations against drug traffickers. Discussions with the Spain's National Drug Plan Office (PNSD) office confirmed that as of December 1998, most proposals had been implemented

A national central office was established to coordinate the operations of the security forces and the customs service with the objective of establishing fluid channels of communication between the different agencies involved in counternarcotics enforcement activities.

Accomplishments. Ecstasy seizures have decreased in Spain over the past six months of 1998, while amphetamine seizures have increased. Spain systematically tops the list of European countries in the amount of hashish seized each year. During the first half of 1998, Spanish authorities seized 246.9 metric tons of hashish. almost all of Moroccan origin. Spanish National Police arrest statistics for the first and second quarters of 1998 indicate that Spaniards led the numbers for hashish-related arrests, followed by Moroccans.

Cocaine seizures by Spanish drug law enforcement agencies were notably lower for the first seven months of 1998 than comparable results from the previous year in which nearly 20 metric tons were seized. Only 4.37 metric tons were confiscated from January to July of 1998. As Spain shares the Iberian Peninsula with Portugal, overland heroin shipments destined for Portugal transit Spain. Otherwise, in contrast to cocaine, there is not a lot of heroin transshipped through Spain to other destinations, including the United States.

Law Enforcement Efforts. As far as law enforcement is concerned, the fight against the trafficking of illicit drugs and international operational cooperation falls under the umbrella of the central drug unit within the judicial police chief's office - a part of the general police directorate. The National Central Drug Unit (OCNE), appointed to the judicial police chief's office, was granted its authority on January 14, 1997. The OCNE is composed of members of the national police corps, the Civil Guard, and the customs service.

Spain's National Drug Plan Office is the equivalent of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The Spanish law enforcement agencies responsible for narcotics control are the Spanish National Police (SNP) and the Civil Guard (GC), both falling under the domain of law enforcement and civil security matters within the Ministry of the Interior. The GC's mandate extends nationwide. In time of war, the GC is transferred to the Defense Ministry. The Spanish Customs Service, within the Treasury Ministry, also carries a mandate to enforce anti-drug legislation.

The establishment of UDYCO'S, or regional units, in designated zones of high intensity organized criminal activity has assisted in increasing the number of cocaine seizures made by Spanish drug law enforcement entities. These UDYCO's have been set up to fight against organized crime activity in Spain (often with international connections).

The government's delegation for the National Drug Plan, attached to the Interior Ministry, provides political and strategic direction in the area of drugs, and develops general operational plans.

Through the Customs Service, the Treasury/Economic Ministry, , carries out cooperative operations with individual units of the judicial police in the fight against the illicit trafficking of drugs, while at the same time exercising its own particular law enforcement mission.

Agreements and Treaties. Spain is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. All parties of the Convention are applied in Spain. The 1990 Strasbourg Convention was ratified on August 6, 1998, and entered into force for Spain on December 1, 1998. Extradition between the U.S. and Spain is governed by a 1970 Extradition Treaty and two additional supplements to the Treaty. A Third Supplementary Extradition Treaty between Spain and the U.S. was approved by the U.S. Senate in October 1998 and current awaits ratification by both governments. {The Third Supplementary Extradition Treaty is intended to improve the extradition relationship between the two countries by removing amnesties and the application of the statute of limitations as impediments to extradition and by facilitating future extraditions by application of a simplified procedure for extradition.}

Cultivation and Production. Coca leaf is not cultivated in Spain, however opium poppy is cultivated for research purposes under strictly regulated conditions. Insignificant amounts of cannabis are also cultivated.

As previously discussed, there exists minimal refining and manufacturing of drugs in Spain, however there is evidence of small scale laboratories which convert cocaine base to cocaine hydrochloride. Ecstasy is manufactured in Spain in limited quantities.

Drug Flow/Transit. Spain has the reputation for being a chief gateway for cocaine shipments entering Europe. Spain's close linguistic and cultural ties with Latin America attract Colombian cocaine traffickers who exploit Spain's position as a bridge to the rest of Europe. Cocaine is shipped to Spain through maritime containers in cargo holds. In Spain's northwest province of Galicia, local groups involved in smuggling contraband - usually tobacco - have expanded their illicit activities to include cocaine and hashish trafficking.

Domestic Programs. Studies and analyses carried out in cooperation with the Center for Sociological Investigations and the Institute for Police Studies over the issue of victimization emphasize that street-level drug trafficking and drug use in urban centers form one of the most important indices for measuring safety concerns among the general populace of city neighborhoods. It is felt that this type of behavior is the genesis of 80 percent of urban crime, usually property-related, but is also responsible for a large number of disruptive acts

Media campaigns were launched, including specially focused ones targeted at youth audiences. Spain's PNSD office has decided to push a positive drug prevention message to young people rather than using the "say no to drugs" phrase which is prevalent in many countries. In a European forum held during the European Drug Prevention Week that began November 16, 1998, Spanish policy in this area was judged to be the most valuable and effective of that of all the participants. Priority has been given to rehabilitating minors to diminish the threat of syringe-borne diseases. Mechanisms have been developed for dispensing methadone and exchanging needles, and joint action has been implemented with the National Plan on Aids (Plan Nacional del Sida).

Programs have also been developed to provide alternative penalties for addicts, making it possible for them to complete their sentences in accredited detoxification and rehabilitation centers.

Methadone distribution programs have been extended to all penitentiaries.

Multilateral Cooperation. Spain provides counternarcotics assistance to Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. Cooperation is on the bilateral level as well as within the framework of the European Union. Spanish anti-drug officials feel that police training is an area of primary importance in many Latin American countries. Spain is actively engaged in providing training assistance in El Salvador and other Central American nations.. Spain also would like to exert influence on Latin American drug source countries, encouraging their efforts to further develop drug crop eradication programs.

Spain is an important contributor to UNDCP. Spain has also promised contributions to UNDCP programs in the future. Spanish officials were unable to specify how much was contributed to the UNDCP in the areas of law enforcement, interdiction, alternative crop development, demand reduction, and anti-corruption. Spain is a member of the UNDCP Major Donors Group and the Dublin Group. Spain is the regional Dublin Group chair for Central America and Mexico.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

U.S. goals and objectives in Spain include maintaining and increasing existing excellent levels of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in law enforcement and demand reduction efforts. We seek to promote continued contacts between officials of both countries involved in all facets of counternarcotics work and related fields. Latin America continues to be an area of shared interest. A region in which both Spain and the U.S. have considerable interest and expertise and where opportunities for counternarcotics cooperation abound, Latin America will continue to be the focus of our shared efforts to augment existing high levels of cooperation in third countries.

Bilateral Cooperation. Cooperation between the USG and the Government of Spain on drug matters is close.

The Road Ahead. The United States Embassy in Madrid will maintain close coordination with Spanish counternarcotics officials in both the public policy and law enforcement areas. Spain will continue to be a key player in the international fight against drug trafficking and money laundering.

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