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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09SKOPJE554 2009-11-18 13:54:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Skopje
Cable title:  

MACEDONIA: 2009-2010 INSCR PART I

Tags:   PGOV PHUM MK 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0018
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSQ #0554/01 3221354
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181354Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY SKOPJE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8683
					  UNCLAS SKOPJE 000554 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM MK
SUBJECT: MACEDONIA: 2009-2010 INSCR PART I

REF: SECSTATE 97228

Summary
-------

1) Macedonia is neither a major producer nor a major regional
transit point for illicit drugs. The Government of Macedonia (GOM)
continues to make progress in combating drug trafficking, evidenced
by the fact that illicit drug seizures in Macedonia increased during
the first nine months of 2009. Macedonian law enforcement
authorities cooperated with regional counterparts, including Serbia,
Bulgaria, and Turkey. The lack of an authorized drug enforcement
agency in Kosovo has somewhat hindered Macedonia's cooperation with
its newest neighbor, but the Macedonian Ministry of Interior (MOI)
works with third-country representatives in Kosovo on
counternarcotics operations. There have been significant
improvements in interagency coordination compared to the previous
year, resulting in only a small number of operational problems due
to lack of coordination. Macedonia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention.

Status of Country


--------------------------



2) Macedonia is one of several Balkan drug routes used to deliver
Afghan heroin (through Turkey and Bulgaria) to Western Europe.
Hashish and marijuana produced in Albania travel along the same
Macedonian routes to Turkey and Greece. Synthetic drugs on the
Macedonian market are smuggled in from neighboring Bulgaria and
Serbia and also from the Netherlands. Illegal commercial marijuana
is cultivated in fields in northwest Macedonia, while small amounts
of marijuana is cultivated for personal use in southern Macedonia,
where the climate is favorable. According to government sources,
there was no production of precursor chemicals or synthetic drugs,
nor illicit drug production facilities of significance in Macedonia.
According to MOI sources, trafficking in synthetic drugs remained at
a similarly low level to 2008. Seizures, however, were significantly
higher this year. Macedonia produced licit poppy straw and poppy
straw concentrate on approximately 500 hectares of its territory,
but in quantities insufficient for the country's pharmaceuticals
industry. As a result, some poppy straw was imported under license.

Country Actions against Drugs in 2008


--------------------------



4) Macedonia's National Anti-drug Strategy, approved in 2006, was
followed in May 2007 by a National Action Plan for implementing that
strategy, which in turn was succeeded by the current 2008-2012
Action plan for implementation. A 2008 Law on Control of Narcotic
Drugs and Psychotropic Substances improved drug enforcement efforts
and interagency cooperation, which resulted in an increase in
seizures and better cooperation between Customs officials and
agencies.

5) According to MOI statistics, in the first nine months of 2009,
criminal charges were brought against 359 persons (268 for Jan-Sept
2008)-a total of 91 more cases then in the same period of 2008. Of
these persons charged, 288 were cases of illicit drug trafficking,
including 21 cases in the largest prison in the country. In 2009,
police seizures of illicit drugs increased significantly compared to
the previous year. MOI sources claim that Macedonia, especially the
northwestern areas, continues to be used as a wholesale drug depot.
The Macedonian MOI has significantly improved cooperation and
communication with its counterparts in Austria, Bulgaria, Serbia,
and Turkey. MOI sources and intelligence contributed to the seizure
of 111 kilograms of heroin in Bulgaria, resulting in the arrests of
three people, and the seizure of 16 kilograms of heroin in Serbia.
The Macedonian MOI has cooperated on two successful controlled
deliveries in Turkey, and a Macedonian-led initiative resulted in
the bust of a group of dealers in Austria and a conviction of 14
people.

6) The MOI reported the following quantities of drugs and
psychotropic substances seized in the first nine months of 2009
(2008 figures are also Jan-Sept):
Heroin: 112 kilograms (26.1 kg in 2008);
Marijuana: 720kg (10.6 kg in 2007); Cannabis: 403 plants (268 plants
the previous year);
Hashish: 123 grams (30 grams in 2008);
Ecstasy: 2618 pills (290 pills seized in 2008)

7) Customs Administration continued to strengthen its intelligence
units and mobile teams. Police officials claimed cooperation with
their Customs colleagues significantly improved compared to past
years.

8) Corruption is widespread in Macedonia, with low salaries
fostering graft among law enforcement officials and the judiciary,
which remains weak. As a matter of policy and practice, the
Government of the Republic of Macedonia does not encourage or
facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs, or the
laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.

9) Macedonia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961
Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971
Convention on Psychotropic Substances. A 1902 Extradition Treaty
between the United States and Serbia, applies to Macedonia as a
successor state of the former Yugoslavia. Macedonia is a party to
the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its
protocols against trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling, and
trafficking in illicit firearms. In April 2007 Macedonia acceded to
the UN Convention against Corruption.

10) Macedonia is neither a major cultivator nor producer of illicit
narcotics. There are no reports of local illicit production or
refining of heroin or illegal synthetic drugs. Only one
pharmaceutical company in the country was authorized to licitly
cultivate and process poppy for medicines. Authorized poppy
production, some 500 hectares in 2009, is monitored by the Ministry
of Health, which shares production data regularly with the
Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board. Illicit
marijuana cultivation in southeast Macedonia continued mostly for
personal consumption. However, in 2009, MOI officials noted a new
trend in northwest Macedonia, where the illicit cultivation of
marijuana is occurring in greenhouses and fields for sale on both
the domestic and foreign markets.

11) Macedonia is on the southern branch of the Balkan Route used to
ship Afghan heroin to the western European consumer market. The
quantity of synthetic narcotics trafficked to Macedonia in 2009
probably remained the same, judging by the stability of the street
price. Most synthetic drugs aimed at the Macedonian market
originated in Bulgaria, Serbia, and the Netherlands, and arrived in
small amounts by vehicle.

12) Official Macedonian statistics regarding drug abuse and
addiction are unreliable, but they are improving with the opening of
the National Center, triggered by efforts to reach European
standards in narcotics control policies. Ministry of Health
officials estimated there were some 9,000 drug users in the country.
The most frequently used drug was marijuana, followed by heroin.
There were an estimated 600 or fewer cocaine users in the country in
2009, according to official sources. Treatment and rehabilitation
activities are carried out in eleven state-run outpatient medical
clinics for drug users. These clinics supervise methadone
maintenance therapy for registered heroin addicts. One of the eleven
centers is located in the largest prison in the country (with over
60 percent of the country's total prisoner population). Of the 1,500
prisoners in the country's main prison, an estimated 380 were
identified as drug addicts, mainly addicted to heroin. Macedonian
health officials acknowledged that rehabilitation centers were
overcrowded. In-patient treatment in specialized facilities
consisted of detoxification accompanied by medicinal/vitamin
therapy, as well as limited family therapy, counseling and social
work. Follow-up services after detoxification, or social
reintegration programs for treated drug abusers were inadequate.
There were only three centers for social reintegration and
rehabilitation.

U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs


--------------------------



13) During 2009, DEA agents worked with the Macedonian police to
support coordination of regional counternarcotics efforts. Financial
police, Customs officers, prosecutors, and judges continued to
receive USG-funded training in anti-organized crime operations and
techniques. USG representatives continued to provide training,
technical advice, equipment, and other assistance to Macedonian
Customs and MOI Border Police units.

14) Macedonia's porous borders, and the influence of regional
narcotics trafficking groups, will continue to make the country an
attractive secondary route for the transit of illegal drugs. The
United States Government, through law enforcement training programs,
will continue to work to strengthen the ability of Macedonian
police, prosecutors and judges to monitor, arrest, prosecute, and
sanction narcotics traffickers. In cooperation with EU and other
international community partners, the U.S. will press for continued
successful implementation of the national counternarcotics action
plan. USG law enforcement training agencies in Macedonia will
encourage the preparation of new laws to strengthen the ability of
prosecutors to successfully pursue counternarcotics cases. The USG
will continue to work with the GOM and international partners to
strengthen Macedonia's criminal intelligence system, and to improve
the government's ability to provide reliable statistics on drug use,
arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers.
NAVRATIL