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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

LITHUANIA

I. Summary

Lithuania continues to contend with drug trafficking and abuse problems. Improving economic conditions have increased drug trade. Reports indicate that half of the students in the capital city of Vilnius have been exposed to drug dealers. Drug crimes are up 22.7 percent over 1996, with 454 drug-related crimes reported from January through the end of September 1997. Confiscations of narcotic and psychotropic substances have increased over last year: by way of illustration, 687 kg of poppy stems (as compared to 512 kg in 1996) and 2.03 kg of cocaine were seized in the first nine months of 1997. "Ecstasy" and other new synthetic drugs have become more available and are mostly used by young people at discos, bars and social gatherings. Illegal drug production laboratories have emerged producing crude opium extract and manufactured synthetic drugs. Authorities have noticed increased trafficking by organized criminals with international connections across Lithuania, a major route between the states of the former Soviet Union and western Europe.

II. Status of Country

Lithuania is faced with increasing drug smuggling, including relatively new and inexpensive drugs like "Ecstasy," and the involvement of organized crime groups in the drug trade. These organizations have well-established connections with drug-producing countries in Central and Southwest Asia, and Turkey. Although law enforcement officials previously noted opiates and cannabis as the primary drugs smuggled through the region, cocaine trafficking is on the rise. Lithuania also has a unique problem of illegal motorcycle gangs that are increasingly involved in the production, sale and distribution of amphetamines.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Policy Initiatives. On May 22, 1997, Lithuania's Parliament passed a law "On Operative Activities" which empowers the police to engage in undercover operations to fight the drug trade. In addition to cracking down on organized crime and drug smuggling, Lithuania is working to combat money laundering. The Parliament also passed a law in June 1997 which, when it comes into force on January 1, 1998, will require all financial institutions to report deposits over $2,500 to the tax authorities.

Law Enforcement Efforts. The Lithuanians are working with European and USG institutions to improve border security and prevent smuggling. Specific joint operations have been conducted with Moscow and Kaliningrad region police, as well as customs officials in Cologne, Germany. These exchanges have met with some success, although most of the contraband seized to date has not been narcotics.

Corruption. The USG is unaware of any official narcotics-related corruption in Lithuania.

Agreements and Treaties. While Lithuania became party to the 1961 Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, as well as the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, it has not become a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. However, through the implementation of newly passed laws previously noted, the GOL appears to be engaged in efforts to meet the goals of the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

There is an Extradition Treaty in force between Lithuania and the US that dates back to 1924. The US anticipates seeking Circular 175 authority to negotiate a new Extradition Treaty with Lithuania. In addition, Lithuania and the US recently completed negotiations of an Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which is expected to be signed in January 1998.

Cultivation and Production. Cultivation of opium poppy is illegal in Lithuania. This is hard to enforce though due to the widespread use of poppy for cooking. Production of other narcotics, though, is insignificant.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives and Bilateral Cooperation. The USG continues to support programs which enhance Lithuania's capacity to combat narcotics trafficking. USG support includes law enforcement and customs training to address organized crime and narcotics. The USG also continues to support UNDCP activities in Lithuania and the Baltic states.

The Road Ahead. In 1998, the USG will urge the GOL to continue its legislative reforms, and become a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. USG training will continue to improve the capabilities of national border security forces to detect and combat drug trafficking. Training will also seek to enhance the ability of law enforcement authorities to disrupt and dismantle major narcotics trafficking organizations including production, transportation, and distribution. The USG will also seek to strengthen the GOL's efforts to address the growing threat of drug use and abuse.

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