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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

MOLDOVA

I. Summary

A party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, Moldova has only limited budgetary resources to meet its obligations under that Convention. The country is not a significant narcotics producer or money laundering center, and its low per capita income make it a relatively unattractive market for narcotics. However, Moldova is being used for the transshipment of illegal narcotics from, and precursor chemicals to, central Asia. The new Moldovan government's determination to deal with drugs and related criminal activity is evidenced by the creation in 1997 of an elite "Department to Combat Organized Crime and Corruption" in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The United States is assisting this new organization, the existing Drug Squad, and Moldovan Customs with training programs and with equipment purchased under a 1996 Letter of Agreement providing $50,000 in INL assistance.

II. Status of Country

Moldova does not produce significant quantities of narcotics or serve as an international money laundering center. The country's low per capita income discourages the widespread use of imported drugs. However, recent seizures indicate that the country is being used as a transshipment route for narcotics from, and precursor chemicals to, central Asia.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Accomplishments. The new Moldovan government, formed after the inauguration of President Petru Lucinschi in January 1997, has evidenced a determination, within its resource constraints, to meet its obligations under the 1988 UN Drug Convention and other international narcotics agreements to which Moldova is a party. The most encouraging sign of this determination has been the formation of a Department to Combat Organized Crime and Corruption in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This new Department, composed of specially-recruited officers, attempts to prosecute criminal organizations--and their protectors in government--which may deal in drugs, among other illegal activities. The Department has begun making arrests, but no convictions have yet emerged from the slow-moving criminal justice system.

Law Enforcement Efforts. According to the Narcotics Squad's statistics, the number of drug-related crimes has increased three-fold over the past five years. During the nine-month period ending September, 30, 1997, 592 narcotics-related crimes were registered, as compared to 515 in all of 1996. 572 of these cases were solved. Police and Customs officials made the following seizures in this period: 487 kilos of poppy straw; 362 kilos of hashish, hashish oil and marijuana; 16 kilos of opium, 10 kilos of heroin, 3 kilos of noxitron, and one kilo of ethedron.

Corruption. The work of the new Department to Combat Organized Crime and Corruption has resulted in the dismissal of senior police officials with criminal charges pending, but these cases are not known to involve narcotics. Moldova has no law specifically dealing with narcotics-related corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. Moldova is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

Cultivation and Production. The principal locally-produced illegal substance is hemp, originally introduced in Moldova for rope-making. Legal hemp production was eliminated some 50 years ago, but narcotic-quality plants still grow throughout the country. No reliable production estimates are available, but hemp's ready availability has been capitalized upon by criminal elements, particularly among an ethnic minority in northern Moldova. Other locally-produced substances include oil-bearing poppies and synthetic and semi-synthetic drugs including Ephedrine, Pervitini, Omnoponi, and Methadone. However, neither hemp nor any of these substances is exported in significant quantities.

Drug Flow/Transit. Periodic seizures indicate that Moldova is used as a transit route for heroin and cocaine moving from central Asia to central and western Europe and precursor chemicals moving in the opposite direction. However, the seizures are too sporadic to indicate trends in this regard.

Demand Reduction. Moldova's low per capita income ($440 per annum) effectively discourages the widespread use of imported narcotics. Police and public health officials estimate that some 50-60,000 Moldovans abuse drugs, about 1 percent of the population. However, this estimate lacks a hard basis, and only 2750 persons are in drug treatment programs. Anecdotal evidence and personal observation suggest that drug addiction does not constitute a major public health problem. For this reason demand reduction is not a priority for Moldova's financially strapped health service.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. US assistance is aimed at enhancing the ability of the Moldovan Drug Squad and Moldovan Customs to interdict international narcotics shipments and the competence of the Department to Combat Organized Crime and Corruption to deal with these interrelated problems.

Equipment purchased under the 1996 Letter of Agreement began to arrive in 1997, and Moldovan police and Customs officials continued to attend courses conducted by US agents. INL responded to the formation of the Department to Combat Organized Crime and Corruption by financing two seminars, presented by Assistant US Attorneys and FBI Special Agents, to share expertise with representatives of this organization and other Moldovan officials. The seminar presenters also consulted with their Moldovan counterparts on the development of new legislation and procedures to facilitate their task. The responses of the Moldovan officials to this aid have been uniformly positive, and the US Embassy is regularly asked for additional assistance.

The Road Ahead. The commitment of INL resources has been largely responsible for the progress made in the counternarcotics field. The Moldovans would welcome an expanded program dealing with narcotics, corruption and other facets of organized criminal activity.

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