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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

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 traffickers.

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 local level.

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 youth audiences.

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 Barcelona.

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 chemicals.

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 drug seizures.

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.


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