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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

Poland continues to serve as a major producer of high-quality illicit amphetamines, as well as an increasingly popular transit point for cocaine, heroin, and cannabis destined for western Europe. Kompot, made from domestic poppy straw, is still the most widely used drug in Poland, though amphetamine usage is sharply increasing. New laws passed during 1997 criminalize narcotics possession and place controls on the 22 precursor chemicals named in the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Narcotics-related arrests in 1997 were up by 103 percent over 1996.

II. Status of Country

Poland continues to play a role in narcotics as a producer and transit country, as well as a consuming country. Poland has a traditional domestic market for economical Polish heroin ("kompot"). In 1997, a limited upper class demand for heroin from the Golden Crescent and domestically-produced amphetamines developed.

Poland continues to produce some of the purest amphetamines in the world. Data indicates that Poland supplies up to 25 percent of amphetamines that flow to western Europe and Scandinavia. Precursor chemicals necessary to manufacture amphetamines generally are imported, although police have confiscated a few laboratories which had the equipment and ingredients necessary to produce precursors. New legislation, which went into effect in October 1997, institutes specific controls and licensing procedures for 22 previously unmonitored precursor chemicals.

Seizure statistics show that Poland remains a transit point on the northern route for smuggling narcotics from Turkey to western Europe.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Policy Initiatives. The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) was created in September 1996 to coordinate information held by various law enforcement agencies. In February 1997, the CNB ceased to function as a separate entity when its responsibilities were transferred to the Polish National Police (PNP). Since May 1997, the CNB has functioned as a separate headquarters bureau with 400 police officers working specifically on narcotics issues country-wide. The CNB headquarters in Warsaw distributes drug trend updates, complete with color photos, to its branch offices and conducts liaison with other countries' drug enforcement agencies. The establishment of a separate counternarcotics bureau within the PNP has resulted in a more professional and dedicated counternarcotics force.

In April 1997, the Polish Parliament approved new drug legislation which criminalized possession of narcotics and instituted control over the 22 precursor chemicals named in the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Against the CNB's recommendations however, the new law allows possession of unspecified amounts of drugs for personal use. In each case, a judge will decide whether the amount seized constitutes an amount acceptable for personal use.

Accomplishments. Since May 1997, CNB units initiated thirteen operational investigations into illicit production and distribution of amphetamines. The CNB's focus and efficiency has resulted in the doubling of arrest rates for narcotics-related crimes in the first nine months of 1997.

Poland is creating a system for tracking the 22 precursor chemicals outlined in the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The pharmaceutical department of the Ministry of Health will issue licenses for domestic production and use of precursor chemicals. The Customs Service will issue import and export licenses for the same chemicals. A new database linking the CNB, the Customs Service, and the Ministry of Health will allow each of these agencies to enter data regarding licenses and will allow the CNB to track and tag any suspicious companies, individuals, or shipments.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Besides the 400 officers assigned full-time to the CNB, another 250 officers, mainly in smaller towns, have counternarcotics work assigned as one of their major duties.

The CNB has the capability to conduct undercover operations, but must adhere to strict oversight procedures. Before beginning any operation, the CNB must obtain the permission of the Interior Ministry, which can delay operations for weeks.

Corruption. The US Embassy in Warsaw does not know of any specific instances of drug-related corruption charges. However, personnel from the police, the border guards, and customs have been implicated and arrested for allowing stolen cars, cigarettes, and alcohol to cross the border undocumented. Low wages and lack of incentives in the forces are widely cited as reasons for corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. In 1996, the USG and Poland signed an updated Extradition Treaty and a new Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty; both treaties are awaiting advice and consent to ratification in the US Senate. Poland is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Drugs, the 1961 Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol. The USG has concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government of Poland. Poland participates in the eastern European regional demand reduction project and has 20 bilateral or regional counternarcotics agreements with countries including Germany, Greece, Hungary, and Egypt.

Drug Flow/Transit. In July 1997, the Polish police seized 52 kg of heroin during a raid near Warsaw. Also during July, Polish police destroyed two illicit poppy fields, including an 8,000 square meter field in Radom Province. On 11 November 1997, the Wroclaw police seized 3 kg of heroin during a raid in a local hotel.

Poland remains a transit point for drugs going to western Europe and Scandinavia. There were 20 smuggling arrests in 1994, 97 arrests in 1996, and 122 arrests as of November 1997. Police arrested nationals from the following countries on drug-related charges in Poland: Tanzania, Italy, Peru, Turkey, and Nigeria. International trucking, tourist buses, and boats remain the main means of transporting large quantities of drugs through Poland.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). The Polish National Police estimate that there are between 100,000 and 150,000 drug addicts in Poland, including 4,500 who are addicted to kompot.

The Ministry of Health's Bureau for Drug Addiction has a $6 million annual budget and funds projects of 95 non-governmental organizations operating within Poland. The Bureau operates a number of treatment centers, half-way houses, and educational programs throughout Poland.

In November 1997, the Bureau for Drug Addiction began an innovative education program with the CNB. A three-day course, attended by CNB personnel from Poland's 12 western-most provinces, was designed to educate narcotics officers on behavioral characteristics of drug addicts, to provide the officers with basic information on social programs available in their towns, and to give the officers a better understanding of drug addiction. The Bureau for Drug Addiction will continue the training in 1998, beginning in southern Poland.

Though no statistics are yet available for 1996 or 1997, the Bureau for Drug Addiction believes that the number of amphetamine addicts in Poland is sharply on the rise, based on the number of addicts seeking help in Bureau-run treatment centers. The increase in amphetamine addicts is causing the Bureau to redesign many of its treatment programs, formerly designed only for heroin addicts. The Bureau believes many amphetamine addicts are easier to "cure" than heroin addicts due to the fact that their in-patient treatment is much shorter and they return to society more quickly than heroin addicts.

In January 1998, the Ministry of Health will host a regional meeting of health care professionals from ten former East-Bloc countries. The symposium is designed as an information sharing and strategy planning forum and is partially funded by the UNDCP.

The CNB has begun an educational program for primary and middle-school children that involves sending uniformed police officers into schools throughout Poland to discuss the dangers of drug use. Additionally, the Ministry of Education has begun to better utilize television advertisements to target its anti-drug messages to school-aged children.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

The primary US goal is to enhance the Polish law enforcement community's ability to combat drug trafficking and organized crime, and to foster increased Polish participation in international counternarcotics efforts. To this end, the US will continue to encourage and assist the Government of Poland (GOP) to achieve full compliance with the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In particular, the USG aims to reduce the amount of drugs transiting Polish territory and to inhibit the development of organized criminal enterprises engaged in drug trafficking and other illicit activities.

Bilateral Cooperation. The USG provides significant training assistance through law and democracy programs and other State Department initiatives. Courses and seminars on money laundering and financial crime, precursor chemical diversion and control, forensic chemistry, counternarcotics undercover operations, boarding officer tactics, and international narcotics enforcement were conducted in 1997. The USG also funded travel for Polish delegates to professional conferences at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Budapest. A new program which pairs police departments in Wroclaw and Warsaw with their "sister city" counterparts in Charlotte and Chicago was launched this year. This program is designed to give Polish officers a detailed exposure to the full range of American police operations, including counternarcotics activities. The Embassy's Resident Legal Advisor continues to work with Polish prosecutors, judges, and legislators on narcotics and organized crime issues.

The US Embassy maintains close contact and cooperation with the Polish agencies dealing with narcotics law enforcement, including the PNP, border guards, and the customs office. In addition, various US agencies have excellent direct operational relationships with their Polish counterparts. In February 1997, a permanent Legal Attache (FBI) office opened in Warsaw, further strengthening bilateral law enforcement cooperation.

The Road Ahead. The USG will focus its assistance to Polish law enforcement in five key areas: the activities of prosecutors and judges; legal reform; police management; law enforcement coordination; and specialized training requested by Polish authorities, including counternarcotics units. These areas offer the greatest potential return on limited USG resources and promise to be of lasting benefit to both countries. The pilot sister-city program, which covers a wide range of issues for a single investment, will be expanded, as will contacts and consultations with the Dublin Group, the EU, and the UN on counternarcotics issues.


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