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U.S. Department of State
1997 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, March 1998

United States Department of State

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Europe and Central Asia


I. Summary

The extent of narcotics smuggling, production, and consumption in Serbia/Montenegro (FRY) remains difficult to determine. Nonetheless, following the lifting of UN trade sanctions in 1996, it appears that the country has once again become part of the Balkan route for heroin smuggling from the Middle East to western Europe. Serbia/Montenegro is not a member of the United Nations but holds itself responsible for meeting the standards of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Lack of US diplomatic recognition of the "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" prevents meaningful cooperation with federal enforcement authorities and increases the difficulty of obtaining information from other than open media sources. FRY enforcement authorities claim that lack of international cooperation has reduced their effectiveness in fighting drug trafficking and have requested renewed cooperation with the United States. They also promised to provide a full set of statistics on the drug problem sometime in the first quarter of 1998.

II. Status of Country

During the 1970's and 1980's, the Former Yugoslavia (FRY) was a major avenue for the trafficking of heroin from the Middle East to western Europe. The disintegration of the FRY and the imposition of UN trade sanctions against the FRY reduced the extent of transit traffic through the country and thus minimized the opportunity for drug trafficking along this route. At the same time, gray market smuggling of a variety of goods, including cigarettes, food, and oil, became a standard practice during the UN sanctions. The federal government initiated a very public campaign against these gray market activities during the late spring and summer of 1997, but the results are not yet clear. Widespread smuggling and the existence of a largely cash-based economy are important impediments to the ability of enforcement authorities to prevent narcotics trafficking. The Republic of Montenegro's 1996 designation of itself as an offshore business (and banking) zone clouds the picture further.

FRY authorities admit that heroin trafficking through the country is growing and blame most of it on Albanian Kosovars and foreigners. These officials point to frequent drug-related arrests of Albanian Kosovars in neighboring and western European countries. Officials are also concerned about indications that domestic consumption of heroin is growing.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Law Enforcement Efforts. The following incident involving distribution was reported in the press. On November 25, two ethnic Albanians were arrested in Kosovo for attempting to sell 136.7 grams of heroin in Bujanovack Banja, near Vranje in southern Serbia. An additional 102 grams were reportedly found in one of their homes'.

Corruption. No examples of official involvement in narcotics smuggling have surfaced.

Cultivation and Production. Minimal.

Drug Flow/Transit. Press reports have not touted the large heroin interdictions that occurred during the autumn of 1996. The following incidents have been reported in the press for 1997. On September 4, two Montenegrin citizens, Igor Maras and Zdenko Mara, were arrested by FRY army border units and charged with attempting to smuggle 127 kilograms of marijuana into Montenegro from Albania via Skadar Lake. The reported street value of the marijuana was over 650,000 Deutsche Marks.

On November 12, FRY customs seized 4 kilograms of heroin at the Gradina border crossing between Bulgaria and Serbia/Montenegro. The drug was reportedly found in the luggage compartment of a bus, concealed in a false-bottomed suitcase belonging to a German national. The bus originated in Istanbul and was bound for Frankfurt.

On November 19, another 13 kilograms of heroin were seized at Gradina. The drug was reportedly found in a Citroen passenger car belonging to a Bulgarian citizen. The drug was concealed inside the spare tire of the vehicle.

Agreements and Treaties. We presume that the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Stubstances continue to apply to the FRY by succession. We consider that extradition between the FRY and the US continues to be governed by the 1902 Treaty with Yugoslavia.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. Lack of diplomatic relations precludes negotiations on narcotics-related bilateral agreements. Serbia/Montenegro is not a member of the United Nations and therefore can not be a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The government's position is to implement the Convention and become a party to it as soon as possible.

According to enforcement authorities, all international cooperation is conducted on an informal, ad hoc basis.


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