U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL STRATEGY REPORT, MARCH 1996: POLAND
United States Department of State
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
In 1995, Poland emerged as a major producer of illicit amphetamines, and
a significant transit point for cocaine, heroin, and multi-ton shipments
of cannabis destined for the Western European market. Narcotics-related
crime is on the rise and criminal gangs are increasingly well-entrenched
in Poland. Domestic poppy straw compote is the most widely used drug in
Poland, but amphetamine use is also on the rise. The Government of
Poland (GOP) has made significant progress towards developing a
comprehensive antidrug strategy, including the adoption of new
legislation with provisions for undercover operations. Such provisions
led, in 1995, to the dismantling of a major illicit amphetamine
operation. Despite overall resource problems, police and prosecutors
are rapidly expanding counterdrug activities and special anti-organized
crime units now operate at the national and regional level. Poland is a
party to the 1988 UN Convention. However, to facilitate compliance with
the Convention, the criminal code still requires substantial reform.
Possession of drugs remains legal in Poland, but the Parliament is
currently reviewing legislation which will criminalize possession.
II. Status of Country
The large number of arrests and seizures in 1995 underscores Poland's
role as a crossroads for illicit drug smuggling. The Cali cartel is
stepping up efforts to target Poland both by sea and air. Heroin
traffickers, including those from Nigeria, Turkey, India and Pakistan,
are also attempting to use routes through Poland as an alternative to
the Balkan route to reach West European drug markets. Ethnic Chinese
crime gangs are also establishing themselves in Poland, and Polish
nationals are increasingly attracted to the drug trade.
Many European law enforcement officials believe that Poland is now the
largest producer of illicit amphetamines in Europe and that 20 percent
of the amphetamines sold in Western Europe come from Poland. The postcommunist
era of low pay and a shrinking state research budget, offer
the drug industry a pool of highly-skilled chemists who are often
willing to supplement their incomes in illicit laboratories.
Domestically produced drugs are also a problem in Poland. The most
common of these is compote which is produced from homegrown opium poppy
that is often diverted from licit poppy fields. The Ministry of
Agriculture issues licenses for cultivation, but requires farmers to
sell the opium to the government. The farmers are allowed to keep the
seeds to sell for culinary purposes. Often, however, some of the opium
is diverted for illicit purposes.
Following the dismantling by the Polish National Police (PNP) in 1994 of
a large-scale marijuana farm run by a West European drug gang, marijuana
cultivation has declined.
The Ministry of Health estimates that there are 40,000 drug users in
Poland, but independent experts say there may be as many as 100,000
addicts in Poland, and casual users are estimated at 200,000. The most
prevalent drug used in Poland is poppy straw compote, but amphetamines
are also becoming popular. A third of all intravenous drug addicts are
HIV-positive, and intravenous drug use is the leading cause of AIDS in
III. Country Action Against Drugs in 1995
Policy Initiatives. The GOP has taken some significant steps towards
developing an effective counterdrug strategy, although much more needs
to be done to thwart the drug traffickers efforts to target Poland. The
adoption of counter-crime legislation with provisions for wiretaps and
controlled deliveries, has already begun to yield some interdiction
successes for the GOP. In June 1995, the Cabinet also approved
legislation to criminalize possession of drugs, but the bill is still
pending in the Parliament. Legislation enacted in 1994 to combat whitecollar
crime included provisions that make money laundering illegal.
These provisions include only a very limited definition of money
laundering, however. The GOP is also developing legislation which will
establish a chemical control regime to conform with the regulations of
the European Union. An inter-ministerial task force that includes 100
members is currently drafting the GOP's national drug strategy and will
develop additional legislation required to comply with the 1988 UN
To increase law enforcement efforts, the PNP has expanded and
strengthened the national organized crime division created in 1994.
Most major cities also have their own organized crime squad and the
Ministry of Justice has created analogous units in the Prosecutor
General's office and in a dozen major cities. The GOP also has plans to
establish a National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) to coordinate all
law enforcement activities and disseminate counterdrug information.
Increased resources and new laws have begun to pay significant dividends
for the PNP and the border guards. Following a two year investigation,
Polish police dismantled one of the largest amphetamine production
facilities, seized two kilograms of pure amphetamine, 40 liters of
precursors and tons of other chemicals. The laboratory is estimated to
have produced more than a ton of amphetamines. Other record seizures
include two tons of marijuana discovered by Polish border guards (SG) in
a shipment of ginger from the Netherlands, nine tons of hashish hidden
on a Polish fishing boat in Swinoujscie, and 219 kilograms of cocaine
from a Greek ship in Gdansk. International cooperation has also
resulted in increased seizures. Polish and Scandinavian authorities
seized a shipment of over 18 tons of marijuana in Norway that was
destined for Poland. Despite these successes, however, GOP authorities
note that many of their operations are hampered by the current
legislation which allows for possession of all drugs.
Cultivation and Production. There are no reliable estimates on the
extent of opium poppy cultivation, but the PNP reports increased
eradication efforts. After significant successes in eradicating
marijuana in 1994, cultivation of that crop seems to be down, but there
are no official estimates of the extent of marijuana cultivation in
Corruption. Although there have been press allegations of corruption in
the Customs Service, the USG is unaware of any reports of official
narcotics-related corruption in Poland.
Agreements and Treaties. The GOP is a party to the 1988 UN Convention
Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances,
the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and its 1972 Protocol, and
the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
The United States and Poland have an extradition treaty dating back to
1929 (supplemented in 1936). The extradition treaty was renegotiated in
1995, but is still awaiting signature and ratification by both parties.
An "Arrangement for the Direct Exchange of Certain Information Regarding
the Traffic in Narcotic Drugs," which dates back to August 17, 1931 is
also in force. Negotiations began in 1995 and are ongoing for a treaty
on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and for a Letter of
Agreement on narcotics assistance.
Domestic Programs. Although demand reduction programs are understaffed,
resources limited, and possession of all drugs remains legal, the GOP is
expanding its demand reduction programs. GOP programs include community
outreach programs involving 10,000 secondary and post-secondary youths;
complementary programs for adults involving 10,000 parents, teachers and
social workers; and peer support groups reaching about 7,500 adults.
The Ministry of Health is also expanding its rehabilitation programs and
is now beginning to work through non-governmental organizations (ngo).
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives and Bilateral Cooperation. The USG is continuing to
promote increased GOP attention to the drug problem. Against this
backdrop, the USG increased cooperation with Poland's antidrug agencies
in 1995 and provided significant law enforcement, customs, and other
assistance to the Polish law enforcement community. Additionally, the
USG financed GOP participation in a regional demand reduction program.
The Road Ahead. With the new extradition treaty and the mutual legal
assistance treaty expected to be signed soon, the United States and
Poland will have a strong legal basis for bilateral cooperation on law
enforcement issues. The USG plans to continue funding law enforcement
and demand reduction training courses for Polish participants. The USG
will also encourage antidrug cooperation by those nations, primarily in
Western Europe, most directly effected by drug smuggling through Poland.
Support from the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) to assist
Poland's customs and police is also key to the GOP antidrug effort.