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
Not a significant producer or cultivator of narcotics, Spain serves as a
transit country for South American cocaine and Moroccan hashish destined
for Europe. The most notable increase in narcotics consumption in Spain
continues to be the use of designer drugs, such as ecstasy. Spanish drug
policy is coordinated by the National Plan on Drugs (Plan Nacional Sobre
Drogas, or PNSD). Government policy is to attack the drug problem across a
broad front, encompassing prevention, treatment, re-incorporation of
addicts into society, and interdiction of supply, with primary emphasis on
prevention. The PNSD plays a coordinating role, with prevention and
treatment activities undertaken by the Ministeries of Health and Education,
regional and local governments, and NGO'S. Law enforcement activities are
the responsibility of the police, civil guard, and Customs. The most recent
PNSD annual report (The "1996 Memoria," released in November 1997) covers
calendar year 1996. The government introduced a package of measures in
January 1997 to provide new powers to combat drug trafficking, money
laundering, and diversion of chemical precursors while extending existing
prevention and treatment programs and authorizing new ones. Spain is a
party to the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol; the 1971 UN
Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the 1988 UN Drug Convention; and is
a member of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
II. Status of Country
Spain is not significant as a producer of drugs. Spain does not appear
to be a major diverter of precursor chemicals. There is a money laundering
problem, related to Spain's role as a transit country for South American
cocaine, but its scope is difficult to determine.
Spain is significant as a transit country for South American cocaine and
Moroccan hashish, both of which are also consumed in Spain, destined for
Europe. This is due to Spain's geographical location as the closest
European country to Morocco and to the cultural, economic, and linguistic
ties between Spain and Latin American countries. For heroin and synthetic
drugs, Spain is a country of destination. Most heroin that enters Spain
comes over land through Europe from the Middle East. Synthetic drugs tend
to come from diversions from legal sources, such as pharmacies,
laboratories, and medical centers, as well as from clandestine labs,
principally located in Holland, Great Britain, and Poland. The authorities
are concerned that amphetamines and methamphetamines of Russian origin,
which have appeared in western Europe, may make their way into Spain.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997
Policy Initiatives. The government of Jose Maria Aznar, which
assumed power in May 1996, adopted a major drug policy initiative in
January 1997. This initiative includes recommendations made in December
1995 by the Mixed Commission for the Study of the Drug Problem and focuses
on prevention, treatment, reintegration of addicts into society, and
interdiction. The principal points of the plan are as follows.
Modify the criminal code to authorize undercover operations against drug
Authorize "controlled deliveries" in money laundering cases.
Implement a 1995 law creating a fund from assets seized from drug
traffickers, to be managed by the PNSD to finance programs of prevention as
well as interdiction.
Establish and maintain a register of precursor chemicals.
Establish a national central office to coordinate the operations of the
security forces and the Customs service, with the objective of establishing
fluid channels of communication between the different agencies involved in
counternarcotics enforcement activities.
Establish new drug and organized crime units within the National
Judicial Police, with sub units for drug trafficking, money laundering, and
organized crime, to be deployed to selected areas of the country where the
need is greatest; create new proximity police units patterned on English
Bobbies to patrol selected urban areas to control drug trafficking on the
Establish thirty pilot projects in prevention in selected schools, with
activities such as sports, art, and workshops.
Propagate media campaigns, including specially focused ones targeted at
Give priority to programs to rehabilitate minors, diminish risks (AIDS)
associated with drug use, augment mechanisms for dispensing methadone and
exchanging needles, and implement joint action with the National Plan on
Aids (Plan Nacional del SIDA).
Develop programs to provide alternative penalties for addicts, making it
possible for them to complete their sentences in accredited detoxification
and rehabilitation centers.
Extend programs to distribute methadone to all penitentiaries.
Find 5,000 jobs or trainee positions for reformed drug addicts to aid in
their reinsertion into society.
Increase the number of locations distributing methadone and
needles. (This program began in Madrid in January 1997, with distribution
through selected pharmacies.)
Form the Spanish Drug Observatory as a permanent organ responsible for
gathering information, to have an advisory council consisting of members of
social, professional, and scientific groups.
Drug Flow/Transit. The synthetic drug, ecstasy, has been produced
in Spain. In July 1997, Spanish police seized equipment in the suburbs of
Madrid capable of producing up to 8,000 ecstacy pills per hour, broke up a
drug ring responsible for the equipment, and seized a stash of 100,000
ecstasy pills, representing the largest seizure of ecstacy capsules in
Spain up to that time. A week later, police dismantled another ecstasy
laboratory, this one capable of 1,000 pills per hour, outside
With respect to the countries of the European Union, more cocaine and
hashish were seized in Spain in 1995 than in any other EU country. Spain
occupied the number five position in heroin seizures, after Italy, Germany,
the UK, and France.
The Government's report states that in 1996, 11.7 percent of Spaniards
used marijuana, 4.5 percent cocaine, 0.4 percent heroin, 0.9 percent
hallucinogens, and 2.3 percent designer drugs. All of these figures, except
for heroin, represent an increase over 1995.
While Spain produces precursor chemicals, it does not divert them to
illicit purposes. Spanish legislation on precursor chemicals is in
accordance with European directives and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. A 1995
law made illegal use of precursors a contraband offense. In 1997, the
Government authorized the PNSD to establish a register of precursor
Law Enforcement Efforts. Excellent relations exist between US law
enforcement agencies represented in Spain and their Spanish
counterparts. In July 1996, an inter-ministerial committee, the Superior
Committee for the Fight Against Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering,
under the chairmanship of the Minister of Interior, established three law
enforcement priorities, in order of importance: fight against laundering
money obtained from drug trafficking; dismantle large trafficking
organizations; and, maintain and increase, where possible, the level of
Demand Reduction. Prevention is the number one priority of the
PNSD. Prevention programs are developed by several central government
ministeries and by all the autonomous community governments. These programs
center on schools, communities, the communications media, the workplace,
the armed forces, and other areas such as traffic control.
Corruption. As a matter of policy, the Government of Spain does
not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of
drugs, other controlled substances or the laundering of drug money.
Agreements and Treaties. The US has an Extradition Treaty and a
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with Spain. Spain is a party to the
1988 UN Drug Convention. The USG has concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance
Agreement (CMAA) with the Government of Spain.
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. US goals and objectives in Spain are to
increase bilateral cooperation in law enforcement and demand reduction
efforts and encourage Spain's deeper involvement in the Dublin Group
process and other international counternarcotics efforts. In the area of
public diplomacy we seek through exchange programs, to increase each
other's awareness of the drug problem and related issues and to make
possible direct contact between officials of both countries involved in all
facets of counternarcotics work and related fields. In particular, we seek
to maintain, and if possible increase avenues of Spanish cooperation with
US counternarcotics objectives in Latin America, especially with regard to
alternative development programs.
The Road Ahead. Embassy Madrid will maintain close coordination
with government of Spain counternarcotics officials in both the public
policy and law enforcement areas. Spain will continue to be a key player in
the international fight against drug trafficking and money laundering.