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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL STRATEGY REPORT, MARCH 1996: THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC

United States Department of State

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs


THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC

I. Summary

During 1995, drug trafficking and use, particularly of heroin continued to escalate. The Slovak Republic remains a key transshipment point on the "Balkan route" from Turkey to Western Europe. Police also believe that a seizure of cocaine revealed a new effort by South American cocaine traffickers to target the Slovak Republic as a conduit for cocaine smuggling to Western Europe. The Government of the Slovak Republic (GOSR) is increasing efforts to form an effective antidrug strategy, including the creation of a National Drug Service and developing legislation to implement the UN drug conventions. Such efforts, however, continue to be hampered by a lack of resources and experience. As a successor state to the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, 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 interests are continuing to target the Slovak Republic as a key conduit for smuggling Southwest Asian heroin to Western Europe. The Slovak Republic's position and loose border controls leave it wide open to the Turkish heroin networks and other drug groups that have smuggling operations in the region. This trend was underscored when a Turkish truck destined for Germany was seized by Slovakian authorities with a record load of over 200 kilograms of heroin. According to the Central Drugs Service report and Western law enforcement authorities, opiates from Central Asia are smuggled via Ukraine to Slovakia.

Although seizures of cocaine have been minimal, police believe that the Slovak Republic may emerge as a crossroads for cocaine traffickers seeking new routes to Western Europe. One such cocaine seizure in 1995, revealed efforts by Colombian drug traffickers. Moreover, Colombian traffickers have been smuggling cocaine through the neighboring Czech Republic since 1991.

Meanwhile, Slovakian authorities have expressed concern about the vulnerability of the Slovak Republic's well-developed chemical and the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, all licit narcotics issues, including licensing of export/import controls and prescription system, are handled by one official in the Ministry of Health. Although regulations to establish a monitoring regime have been adopted, they are not effectively implemented. Privatization of the industry is offering opportunities to drug trafficking organizations seeking ownership of the means to produce illegal narcotics or precursor chemicals.

Because the banking sector is still in nascent stages, Slovak officials believe that drug money laundering operations are limited. Some officials fear, however, that money launderers may increase their use of Slovak banks which do not question large cash deposits and allow anonymous accounts.

Health authorities believe that drug abuse, particularly of heroin, may be increasing, but there are few supporting statistics. The BratislavaWest Slovakian region reported a more than ten-fold increase of heroin addicts referred to treatment in 1992-94 and other regions have reported substantial increases according to the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP).

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1995

Policy Initiatives. In 1995, the GOSR focused efforts on implementing significant policy changes adopted the previous year, including a new comprehensive antidrug plan to target drug trafficking and use and changes to the criminal code. As a result of these plans, an independent national drug service was created in November 1995.

Despite severe resource restrictions, the Slovakian police continued limited antidrug operations. The National police had two major seizures during 1995, including a 123.5 kilogram (kg) heroin seizure, and a 25 kg cocaine seizure. Police cooperation with Swiss and Norwegian authorities resulted in the arrest of several members of a major European drug smuggling organization.

Concern about possible money laundering has prompted the government to seek to bring its legislation in line with European and international norms. In addition, the GOS has begun efforts to develop asset seizure legislation.

Implementation of chemical control regulations and legislation continues to be a challenge for law enforcement authorities. However, the GOSR has outlined chemical control as a priority for 1996.

Cultivation and Production. In recent years, GOSR authorities reported extensive illicit amphetamine production. There were no reports of such production in 1995. There were no indications of opium poppy cultivation and only minimal cannabis cultivation in private greenhouses.

Corruption. In March 1995, the Slovak Interior Minister announced an anti-corruption "clean hands" program which included plans to combat corruption by amending the criminal code, and establishing a special police unit. Although rumors of corruption are widespread, there were no narcotics-related corruption cases in 1995.

Agreements and Treaties. As one of the successor states to the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, the Slovak Republic is will honor all obligations and treaty commitments of the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, and is a party to the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 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 as a successor state.

Demand reduction was incorporated as one of the primary aspects of the national drug control policy adopted by the Slovak government in 1994. As a result during 1995, several demand reduction programs were initiated, including one directed at educating teachers and school administrators. These programs are carried out by both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, as well as by several nongovernmental organizations (NGO's). By all accounts, the first training segment, which took place in October 1995, was well received by the participants, and there is enthusiastic support, both from the government and NGO's, for the remaining segments of the program.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives and Bilateral Cooperation. The USG will promote increased GOSR attention to the drug problem. Through the UNDCP, the USG has contributed funds to strengthen the law enforcement and customs communication infrastructure to enhance surveillance and interdiction capabilities. Additionally, the USG has provided training through the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Customs. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also offered training to combat organized crime.

The USG will continue to encourage the Slovak Republic to focus on the drug problems, to expand drug control activities, and to establish the necessary institutional capabilities. The USG will continue to provide limited law enforcement training and equipment to assist the Government in its antidrug campaign. The USG and UNDCP are co-funding the GOSR's participation in a regional demand reduction program in Sicily. The USG also plans to continue providing prevention education training.

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