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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

Although Germany is not a major narcotics producing country, it is an important consumer and transit hub. There has been little change in heroin and cocaine consumption over the past three years, according to German officials. Heroin remains the drug of choice for abusers, although authorities note a continuation in a trend of increased amphetamines and designer drug use. Germany's excellent communications infrastructure and location at the center of Europe makes it a major transit country. Most of the heroin that the German authorities seize arrives via Balkan land routes from Turkey. The Netherlands continues to be the primary source country for amphetamines. German customs authorities remain powerless to control an increasing number of cross-border cash transits--which remain free from reporting requirements.

II. Status of Country

Germany will remain a major narcotics transit country and consumer of illicit drugs throughout 1998. Trucks and passenger vehicles account for most of the heroin coming via the Balkan land route. While Germany is a major chemical producer, German chemical companies comply with chemical regulations implemented in 1993.

German anti-drug authorities report that the number of first-time hard drug users has remained basically constant (the marked apparent increase in the statistics of new users almost certainly reflects new data-gathering methods as opposed to a true increase, according to authorities). German police, however, report that they detect a continuation in the trend of increased amphetamine/designer drug use.

As of the end of October, 1997, authorities recorded 1,202 drug deaths--a slight increase from 1996. Authorities indicate that heroin abuse and multiple addiction continue to be the primary causes of drug deaths.

An anti-money laundering provision which would mandate the declaration to Customs of international cash or check transfers of the German equivalent of $17,500 is currently under consideration by the Parliament as part of a broader organized crime bill.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Policy Initiatives. German counternarcotics activities remain governed by the 1990 National Narcotics Prevention Plan, based on a consensus between the federal and state governments.

During 1997, the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein made a proposal--rejected by the federal government--to allow the distribution of hashish from selected pharmacies.

Accomplishments. Seizures of cocaine are on the rise as police identify trafficking patterns of South American organizations. Reflecting the usage trend anti-drug authorities have tracked over the last year, seizures of synthetic drugs continue to rise.

Law Enforcement Efforts. German law enforcement is effective at both the federal and state levels, and cooperation with US officials is excellent. While budget pressures continue to exist, police receive adequate resources.

Corruption. There is no significant drug-related corruption in Germany. The German government does not encourage or facilitate the production or distribution of narcotics.

Agreements and Treaties. Germany ratified the 1988 UN Drug Convention in 1993. Since no Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) exists between the United States and Germany, the US Department of Justice must use "Letter Rogatory" procedures to obtain evidence in almost all investigative requests. Negotiations on an MLAT continued during 1997. The USG has concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government of Germany.

Cultivation/Production. There is no reported illicit cultivation of natural narcotics, or illicit production of opium or coca in Germany. While German authorities report that cultivation of cannabis on a micro scale for personal use continues to be a problem, there were no take-downs of large scale cannabis growers in 1997.

Between January 1 and September 30, 1997, German police dismantled 14 illegal drug laboratories, 11 of which produced amphetamines or amphetamine derivatives.

Drug Flow/Transit. Germany's efficient transportation infrastructure and Central European location makes it a natural trafficking hub. The Balkan route--whose diversification following the war in Yugoslavia has complicated police analysts' efforts to pin down individual smuggling paths--continues to be the route of choice for Turkish and Southwest Asian heroin smugglers. Turkish nationals, with the support of Eastern European groups, dominate this smuggling route. Synthetic drugs such as ecstasy and other amphetamines produced in The Netherlands continue to flow across the German border. Germany remains a transit country for cocaine smugglers, who use Germany's busy airports to bring cocaine into the country for transshipment and local sale.

Demand Reduction. Germany's prevention program focuses on education about the dangers of drug abuse, and targets kindergarten and elementary school students. The federal government also promotes self-help programs for rehabilitating drug users in conjunction with state authorities.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. US-German law enforcement cooperation is excellent. Authorities routinely cooperate on joint investigations of international drug trafficking organizations. DEA is a permanent member of the Permanent German Narcotics Working Group (STAR) and also participates in a number of other regional narcotics working groups which are designed to exchange information and to develop operational strategy and policy. During 1997, the US Internal Revenue Service conducted money laundering and exchange of information seminars to legal, customs, and tax officials in Magdeberg, Berlin, Dresden, and Nuremberg. As in past years, the primary purpose of these seminars is to improve the money laundering investigative ability of authorities in the former East Germany. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and US Customs also provide on-going assistance to a German government-sponsored think-tank which studies specific issues of money laundering enforcement in Germany.

The Road Ahead. The United States will continue its effective working relationship with German authorities. The United States will also continue anti-drug work with German authorities through the Dublin Group.


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