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Drug traffic from Afghanistan as a threat to European security

Report | Doc. 13309 | 24 September 2013

Committee
Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy
Rapporteur :
Lord John E. TOMLINSON, United Kingdom, SOC
Origin
Reference to committee: Doc. 12154, Reference 3661 of 26 April 2010. 2013 - November Standing Committee

Summary

Narcotic drugs constitute one of the major challenges to modern societies, and a threat to international peace, stability and security. In Europe, heroin and other opiates are the most harmful drugs, causing three quarters of drug-related deaths.

Afghanistan is by far the main source of this kind of drugs and Europe is the main target market for opiates from that country. The international community has so far failed to stop the flow of heroin from Afghanistan and Europe continues to pay a high price for this failure.

The report seeks to mobilise political support in Council of Europe member, observer and partner States for a more active and efficient international co-operation in combating drugs trafficking from Afghanistan; cooperation which becomes even more important in view of the forthcoming withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan by 2014.

A Draft resolutionNote

1 Narcotic drugs constitute one of the major challenges to modern societies. Drug abuse destroys human health and dignity, causes the loss of thousands of lives in Europe and brings sorrow and despair to many individuals and their families.
2 Drug trafficking and sales disrupt public order, fuel violent crime, undermine the economy, seek to corrupt, infiltrate and control State institutions and destroy social fabrics. The drugs problem is therefore a major threat to security, social cohesion and the rule of law.
3 Moreover, the proceeds from the illicit drugs trade are used to finance international criminal and terrorist networks, as well as armed insurgent activities. Drugs are therefore also a serious threat to international peace, stability and security.
4 Heroin and other opiates are the most harmful drugs used in Europe, and are the cause of three quarters of drug-related deaths.
5 Afghanistan is by far the main source of heroin and other opiates consumed in the Council of Europe member States. Europe, including Russia, is the main target market for opiates from Afghanistan.
6 Despite many solemn declarations over the last few years, the international community has so far failed to stop the flow of heroin from Afghanistan. Europe continues to pay a high price for this failure. Dozens of tons of heroin reach Europe every year, and kill thousands of people.
7 The Parliamentary Assembly deems it of utmost importance to mobilise political support in Council of Europe member, observer and partner States for a more active and efficient international co-operation in:
7.1 combating poppy cultivation and the production of heroin and other opiates in Afghanistan;
7.2 dismantling the network of traffic of opiates from Afghanistan to Europe, as well as the chains of distribution in Europe;
7.3 disrupting the channels of diversion and smuggling of chemical precursors;
7.4 combating the laundering and re-injection into criminal and terrorist activities of the proceeds of the illicit drugs trade.
8 The forthcoming withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan by 2014 makes this task even more imperative.
9 With this in view, the Assembly calls on the parliaments of Council of Europe member, observer and partner States to urge their governments:
9.1 as regards Afghanistan, to:
9.1.1 make anti-drugs policy a priority in programmes of co-operation with, and of assistance to, the Afghan Government;
9.1.2 strengthen Afghan law-enforcement agencies with a view to disrupting channels of drug traffic at source, with particular emphasis on combating corruption;
9.1.3 increase support for the capacity building of law-enforcement agencies in Afghanistan, and to step up training programmes for Afghan law-enforcement staff;
9.1.4 step up joint operations with the relevant Afghan law-enforcement agencies focusing on clandestine heroin-producing laboratories and organised criminal groups involved in the drugs trade, and to combine them with increased efforts aimed at integrated rural development, building infrastructure and supporting farmers engaged in alternative production;
9.1.5 assist Afghanistan in developing its economy and diversifying agriculture so as to reduce dependence on revenues from the illicit drugs trade, in line with the Lima Declaration and the International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development (November 2012);
9.1.6 provide full support to, and co-operate effectively in the framework of, the “Paris Pact Initiative” aimed at combating opiates originating from Afghanistan;
9.2 as regards the neighbouring countries, to:
9.2.1 increase support for the capacity building of law-enforcement agencies of the countries of central Asia, and step up training programmes for central Asian law-enforcement personnel;
9.2.2 promote further anti-drugs co-operation at the regional level, involving the countries of central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, India and China, as well as existing co-ordination and co-operation frameworks;
9.3 to create conditions, by concluding specific agreements as appropriate, for enhanced operational co-operation between law-enforcement agencies, including information and intelligence sharing, exchange of best practice and joint investigations;
9.4 to step up international co-operation against the diversion of drug precursors, and consider ways to tighten the monitoring of the acetic anhydrite (AA) trade by establishing databases of, and sharing information on, licit AA manufacturers, traders and end-users;
9.5 to step up co-operation as regards the confiscation and recovery of assets from the illicit drugs trade.
10 The Assembly strongly encourages Council of Europe member States to sign and ratify, if they have not already done so, and non-member States to accede to, the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (CETS No. 198).
11 The Assembly calls on member States to intensify co-operation in countering the trafficking of drugs from, and of drug precursors to, Afghanistan, as well as the laundering of proceeds from the illicit drugs trade, in the framework of the relevant Council of Europe mechanisms, such as the Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs (the Pompidou Group), the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL).
12 Finally, the Assembly underlines the importance of combining policing measures against illegal drug trafficking and distribution with efforts aimed at drug demand reduction, at social rehabilitation of drug users – who at the same time are often drug dealers – and at improving social conditions which favour drug use. In this context, the Assembly believes that any attempts to legalise the use of narcotic drugs run counter to these objectives and should therefore be rejected.

B Explanatory memorandum by Lord Tomlinson, rapporteur

1 Introduction

1 In February 2010, a motion for a resolution on “Increasing drug traffic from Afghanistan as a threat to European security” was tabled by Mr Sergey Markov, then member of the Russian delegation, and a number of other members.
2 The motion pointed out the growing threat to European security from heavy drugs such as heroin, of which up to 90% originated from Afghanistan, and called for increased co-operation between various agencies of all Council of Europe member States with a view to combating drug production in Afghanistan and stopping drug traffic from that country.
3 Subsequently, the committee heard an oral presentation by Mr Markov and held a preliminary exchange of views on the issue. Mr Markov also prepared an outline for a report, and was authorised to carry out fact-finding visits to Tajikistan and to Turkey, which he did not have an opportunity to undertake.
4 Following the elections in Russia in December 2011, Mr Markov left the Assembly and, consequently, ceased to be rapporteur. In January 2012, I was appointed as the new rapporteur.
5 In September 2012, the committee held an exchange of views on the basis of an information note prepared by the Secretariat under my instructions. The committee expressed itself in favour of keeping the focus on drugs smuggled to Europe from Afghanistan, and not broadening the scope of it to drugs originating from other regions, such as cocaine from Latin America.
6 The committee authorised me to carry out fact-finding visits to Brussels (European Commission and European External Action Service, EEAS) and to The Hague (European Police Office, Europol). These visits were conducted on 7-8 November 2012. I am grateful to all the officials I met in Brussels and The Hague for providing valuable information which enabled me to better understand the challenges posed by, and the ways of counter-acting, drugs traffic from Afghanistan.
7 Subsequently, I visited Ankara (Turkey) on 14 February 2013 and met with the key figures, both at the political (Ministers of the Interior, Justice and European Co-operation) and the operational level (National Police, Gendarmerie, Customs Enforcement and Coast Guards), responsible for combating drugs trafficking. I am particularly grateful to the Turkish Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly for organising this very informative visit.
8 In March 2013, the committee considered my preliminary draft memorandum and held an in-depth discussion on issues raised therein. In this report, I have tried to take into account useful comments made, and provide additional information suggested by the committee members. To my regret, due to the lack of time, I was not in a position to carry out a fact-finding visit to Russia as was suggested during the discussion, but I have added some supplementary data related to that country.

2 Scope and aims of the report

9 From the outset, I wish to stress that my aim is not to produce an exhaustive report on drugs-related problems: such reports are available from a variety of competent sources.
10 Illicit drugs production, trafficking, trade and abuse are not new phenomena in our societies, and there exists abundant information on them. Most countries have developed national anti-drugs policies and have established specific bodies which produce dozens of publications on drug-related issues annually.Note
11 Moreover, since the drugs trade is of a transnational nature, international anti-drugs co-ordination and co-operation exist at various levels and so does the reporting. For instance, the two major European Union agencies involved in combating drugs, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol, have just published a joint 160-page “EU Drug Market report – A Strategic Analysis”. At the global level, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) publishes a yearly “World Drug Report” (the 2012 edition contains 100 pages), as well as regional or substance-specific reports, including on Afghanistan.
12 This report aims to provide some general information on drugs as a major threat to modern society, and on heroin and opiates from Afghanistan as a sizeable part of the illicit drugs market in Europe. It is mainly based on the official publications of the above-mentioned United Nations and European Union bodies (UNODC and EMCDDA), as well as on the data collected during my visits.
13 As mentioned earlier, the report focuses on drugs from Afghanistan, as suggested by the original motion, and leaves out drugs from all other origins, however dangerous they may be to our societies. In addition, it mainly concentrates on supply policies (poppy cultivation, production of opium and heroin, and trafficking) and does not touch upon the demand side, although I am fully aware that both supply and demand need to be addressed in order to reduce heroin abuse.
14 Another important point to stress: though the analysis of the situation in Afghanistan, and especially its possible evolution after the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdrawal by 2014, is highly important for understanding the dynamics of drug production and for proposing policies to combat it, this report has no ambition to study it in detail.Note
15 Above all, the report is based on the understanding that the Council of Europe, while participating in international efforts to counter drug trafficking from Afghanistan,Note is not meant to be a leading institution in this process.
16 Therefore, the purpose of this report, as I see it, should be to mobilise political support in Council of Europe member States for a more active and efficient international co-operation in: a) combating poppy cultivation and the production of heroin and other opiates in Afghanistan; b) dismantling the traffic of opiates from Afghanistan to Europe, as well as the chains of distribution in Europe; c) disrupting the channels of diversion and smuggling of chemical precursors; and d) combating the laundering and re-injection of the proceeds of illicit drugs trade into criminal and terrorist activities.

3 Drugs as a major threat to modern society

17 The use and abuse of narcotic drugs is a problem which human societies have faced for dozens, if not hundreds, of years. The first efforts to address the challenges posed by drug trafficking at international level date back to 1909, when the first international conference to discuss the world's narcotics problems was convened in Shanghai (International Opium Commission). Subsequently, the first international drug control treaty, the International Opium Convention, was signed in The Hague in 1912.
18 Nonetheless, a century later, the drug problem continues to affect almost all countries in the world, with grave consequences for individuals and society as a whole. The Political Declaration adopted by the United Nations high-level segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (Vienna, 2009) stated:
“… notwithstanding the ever-increasing efforts and progress made by States, relevant international organizations and civil society, the drug problem continues to pose a serious threat to the health, safety and well-being of all humanity, in particular youth, our most precious asset. Furthermore, the world drug problem undermines sustainable development, political stability and democratic institutions, including efforts to eradicate poverty, and threatens national security and the rule of law. Drug trafficking and abuse pose a major threat to the health, dignity and hopes of millions of people and their families and lead to the loss of human lives.”
19 According to UNODC estimates, about 230 million people of the global population of 7 billion use an illegal drug at least once a year, which represents 1 in 20 persons between the ages of 15 and 64. In the same age group, 1 person in 40 uses drugs at least once a month, and about 1 in 160, that is 27 million people, use drugs in a manner that exposes them to very severe health problems.Note Thus, one out of eight people who use illicit drugs will develop drug dependency.
20 There are four major families of illicit drugs: cannabis, cocaine, opioids (including opium, heroin, morphine and non-medical use of prescription drugs) and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).
21 While the large majority of illicit drug users consume cannabis, about 17 million people worldwide use opiates, mostly heroin. Opiates are considered to be the most problematic type of drugs. It needs to be stressed that the consumption of heroin causes dependency much more rapidly than other drugs: over 50% of heroin users are considered as substance-dependent.
22 The key impact of illicit drug use on society are the adverse consequences on public health; the most extreme are drug-related deaths (by overdose, in a drug-induced accident, suicides, etc.). Some 200 000 people die every year worldwide from drug use, half of them from overdoses. According to estimates by the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, more than one million people have died worldwide since 2001 from Afghan heroin use. In western and central Europe, drug-related deaths account for about 1% of all cases of mortality amongst the population aged between 15 and 64, and are estimated at 7 600 cases annually. In Russia, 9 263 drug-related deaths were reported in 2010.
23 Drug use contributes to the spread of HIV and hepatitis B and C: according to UNODC estimates, some 20% of 16 million injecting drug users worldwide are HIV-positive; another 20% are infected with hepatitis B, while about 50% are infected with hepatitis C.
24 Another aspect to bear in mind is the need to provide treatment to drug-dependent persons, which has a considerable cost for the individuals and their families, and for society as a whole. In Europe (excluding Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Republic of Moldova and the South Caucasus), about 1 million people received treatment for problems related to illicit drug use in 2009.
25 The rise of violent crime is another consequence of drug abuse. People under the influence of drugs, which alter the mental state and lifts or weakens social inhibitions, more often engage in aggressive or violent anti-social behaviour and commit crimes, both against individuals and property. In addition, drug addicts in need of money for buying drugs often perpetrate offences such as fraud, burglary, robbery, theft, shoplifting, extortion, etc. In Russia, it is estimated that drug-users account for about 80% of street crime.Note The costs of drug-related crime for society are very high.
26 In addition, there is violence, including murder, resulting from clashes between various criminal groups involved in drug trafficking.
27 Drug trafficking has close links with transnational organised crime and constitutes a major source of income of organised criminal groups. UNODC experts believe that drug trafficking generates between a fifth and a quarter of all income derived from organised crime, and almost half of the income from transnational organised crime.Note
28 As a result, illicit drug trafficking “generates large financial profits and wealth enabling transnational criminal organisations to penetrate, contaminate and corrupt the structures of government, legitimate commercial and financial business, and society at all its levels”.Note Consequently, it undermines legitimate economies and threatens the stability, security and sovereignty of States.
29 Drug trafficking also has a significant impact on social structures and institutions. As American researchers Coletta Youngers and Eileen Rosin put it, “international drug trafficking breeds criminality and exacerbates political violence, greatly increasing problems of citizen security and tearing at the social fabric of communities and neighbourhoods. It has corrupted and further weakened local governments, judiciaries and police forces…”Note
30 In addition, there are links between drug trafficking and the activities of illegal armed groups and terrorist organisations. The 2012 UNODC World Drug Report states as follows:
“Some well-known examples of this include the links between various rebel armies and production of and trafficking in opium and ATS in and out of the Shan State of Myanmar, the links between coca trafficking and the Shining Path in Peru in the 1990s, the use of income from the illicit drug trade to finance the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Colombia in the 2000s and the use by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of income from the heroin trade to finance illegal armed activities in Turkey. Moreover, many of the militias involved in the instabilities in Yugoslavia in the 1990s used drug trafficking – notably heroin trafficking along the Balkan route – to finance their involvement, and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been drawing some of their income from the opium and heroin trade. Profits from cannabis and cocaine trafficking have allegedly been used by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was also allegedly involved in international drug trafficking. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers were said to have derived some of their income from heroin trafficking prior to being dismantled in 2009, while in Lebanon Hizbullah has also been accused of involvement in drug trafficking.”
31 My interlocutors at Europol confirmed the existence of substantiated evidence of links between drug traffickers and international terrorist organisations, including in Europe. In Afghanistan, it is estimated that at least one half of insurgent activities against ISAF is financed from drugs production and trafficking.
32 According to law-enforcement officials in Ankara, heroin trafficking from Afghanistan is a significant source of revenue for the “Kurdistan Workers’ Party” (PKK) and the “Union of Communities in Kurdistan” (KCK), listed as terrorist organisations by a number of States and international organisations. PKK/KCK are said to intervene at all stages of heroin trafficking, and are also said to impose a “tax” on other traffickers. In recent years, Turkish law-enforcement agencies conducted about 370 operations where PKK traffickers were involved; they arrested 878 individuals and seized 4 253 kg of heroin, 4 305 kg of morphine base, and about 26 tons of precursors. In addition, Turkish officials pointed to the involvement of PKK members residing in European countries, including children, in the street drugs trade.
33 In conclusion, despite many efforts by the international community, illicit crop cultivation and illicit drug production, distribution and trafficking have been increasingly consolidated into a criminally organised industry generating enormous amounts of money, laundered through the financial and non-financial sectors. There is an urgent need to step up and consolidate joint international efforts in order to respond to the serious challenges posed by the increasing links between drug trafficking, corruption and other forms of transnational organised crime.

4 Heroin in overall drug consumption in Europe

34 The countries of Western Europe have been the key market for heroin consumption. While the average global prevalence of opiate use is estimated between 0.3% and 0.5% of the adult population, the figures for Europe vary between 1.2% and 1.3%. These figures are even higher in Russia,Note where the number of addicts has multiplied by 10 in the past 10 years.
35 As a result, opioids remain the most problematic drugs in Europe, as they are the primary substances responsible for demand for treatment for drug use, and a major cause of drug-related deaths in European countries. From 1.3 to 1.4 million Europeans (European Union) are considered as problem opioid users. About 700 000 opioid users received substitution treatment in 2009.
36 In about 7 600 yearly drug-related deaths in the European Union countries (plus Croatia, Norway and Turkey), opioids are believed to be involved in three out of four cases.Note For instance, out of 2 334 drug-related deaths in the United Kingdom in 2010, more than 83% were due to opiates. As mentioned above, in Russia, 9 263 drug-related deaths were reported in 2010, of which 6 324 were attributed to opioid use.Note In Turkey, 88% of drug-related deaths are believed to be caused by heroin consumption.Note

5 Dynamics of production of drugs in Afghanistan over recent years

37 Today, Afghanistan is by far the world’s main opium producer. According to the data published by the UNODC, over the period 2005-2010, Afghanistan accounted for 88% of global opium production.Note While the potential global opium production in 2011 is estimated at 7 000 tons, Afghanistan produced 5 800 tons.Note
38 Opium output grew steadily in Afghanistan between 2001 (185 tons) and 2007 (when it reached the all-time high of 8 200 tons), then it dropped slightly in 2008-2009.
39 According to UNODC estimates, in 2011, opium production in Afghanistan increased by 61% compared to 2010, when it had considerably dropped due to a disease of opium poppy plants which destroyed almost half of the opium harvest. It amounts to about 16% of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is a very high proportion, even if this figure needs to be compared to 60% in 2004.Note More than 190 000 households (5% of total population) are believed to be involved in opium cultivation. Overall, the opium trade (including poppy cultivation, transformation and traffic) involves 3.3 million of Afghanistan's 23 million population (more than 14%).
40 Afghanistan is also a major consumer of drugs: almost 3% of its population use opiates and this number is increasing.
41 During the Taliban rule in the second half of 1990s, taxation of opium export was the main source of foreign currencies for the regime (about US$75-100 million per year). However, under threat of an UN-imposed embargo in 2000, the Taliban banned opium cultivation. Afghan farmers respected the order and refrained from planting. As a result, the 2001 harvest was close to zero. In the post-Taliban period, drug trade taxation became the primary source of revenue for warlords.
42 The new Afghan authorities have, since 2003, developed efforts to reduce the illicit cultivation of the opium poppy, and eradicate poppy plantations, but those have so far brought limited results (15 300 hectares eradicated in 2006, 19 000 ha in 2007, and 9 600 ha in 2012, while the surface of plantations where the opium poppy is cultivated is estimated at 154 000 ha in 2012Note). At the same time, eradication teams were attacked 48 times in 2011, with 20 people killed and 45 injured.Note However, the effectiveness of eradication is rather doubtful, since there is a high probability that, in the absence of equally profitable substitution crops, these areas will be replanted with opium poppy.
43 Currently, 95% of poppy cultivation is concentrated in the most insecure southern and western regions of the country, where the power of the government is limited and international experts have virtually no access. Progress has been achieved in reducing poppy plantations in the north, but there are still dozens of clandestine laboratories in this area where opium is transformed into heroin. One half of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces are considered “poppy-free”, which means that opium cultivation there covers less than 100 ha.Note
44 Most opium is now processed in Afghanistan itself: the number of clandestine laboratories is estimated at between 300 and 500, and the annual heroin output reaches 380-400 tons. Heroin is easier to smuggle than opium, and higher value products bring more profits.
45 In addition to immediate shipments, some law-enforcement experts believe that there exist massive stockpiles of opium and heroin hidden in remote Afghan mountains, with capacities for up to two years of production.
46 The weakness of Afghan law-enforcement agencies in combating poppy cultivation and drug production is the most significant obstacle to international efforts in this field. According to the former UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, “While 90% of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan, less than 2% is seized there. This is a major law-enforcement defeat, as it is incomparably cheaper and easier to detect and interdict an illicit activity at the source, rather than at destination”.Note However, there have been some improvements in interceptions in Afghanistan in recent years.
47 While the Taliban is believed to control the opiate trade, and earn up to US$150 million per year, it seems more and more clear that the Afghan officials, including in law-enforcement bodies, are also very involved in the process. Therefore, in addition to the training of Afghan law-enforcement agencies, the fight against corruption must be made a priority in all co-operation programmes with Afghanistan.
48 Bearing in mind the forthcoming withdrawal of the ISAF forces by 2014, there is little hope, if any, that the effectiveness of the Afghan authorities in the eradication of poppy plantations and the dismantling of clandestine production and trade in opiates can be improved. It is therefore crucial, while continuing to support the enforcement efforts, to put an emphasis on an alternative development of the Afghan economy, in particular, sustainable agriculture and integrated rural policies. In this context, the Lima Declaration and the International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development adopted at the United Nations High-level International Conference on Alternative Development (November 2012) are of utmost relevance.

6 Main routes of trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe, the leading consumer of Afghan drugs

49 There are three main export routes for smuggling opiates, including pure heroin, from Afghanistan to its consumer markets, mainly Europe.
50 The southern route goes across Pakistan, which is a major consumer of opiates.Note Drugs are then shipped by sea through various trans-shipment destinations in Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf. Main destination countries are Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. At the same time, there is an increase in direct trafficking to some European countries by air. It is estimated that about 40% of drugs produced in Afghanistan are transported via the southern route, which is considered to be relatively safe for traffickers due to the porosity of the border and permanent transfrontier movements of the local population (about 30 000 Afghan nationals are estimated to cross the border into Pakistan every day). The southern route is also believed to be the main point of entry of precursors.
51 As the former UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, put it, “Most of the Afghan borders with Pakistan are wide open, enabling low-risk smuggling back and forth across the Durand Line, especially in Balochistan. Almost no drugs are seized in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), although thousands of tons transit the region. Abuse of the Afghan Trade Transit Agreement (ATTA) as well as exploitation of centuries-old kinship ties, have turned the Afghanistan/Pakistan border – already known for the unimpeded movements of insurgents – into a massive, illicit, free trade zone of drugs, chemical precursors, money, people and weapons”.Note
52 The western, or Balkan route, running through Iran and Turkey and then the countries of south-eastern and western Europe, accounts for about 35% of drug exports from Afghanistan. Iran, the first transit country on this route, is also a major consumer of Afghan opiates. According to the UNODC, the Balkan route has been the major route for opiates and heroin to western Europe. The Turkish police identifies the Netherlands as being the main destination country on this route (2 113 kg seized in 2011-2012), followed by Germany (721 kg), Albania (262 kg), Slovenia (136 kg) and Greece (122 kg).
53 However, the authorities of Iran and Turkey have stepped up efforts to dismantle this traffic and have obtained significant results as regards seizures of important amounts of drugs (in 2010, 27 tons of heroin were seized in Iran and 13 tons in Turkey). Iran and Turkey jointly account for more than one half of global heroin seizures. At the same time there have been no major seizures of precursor chemicals in Turkey in the last years. However, organised criminal groups from various ethnic originsNote continue to operate along this route, and seek to diversify both the routes from Turkey to western EuropeNote and the means of delivery.Note Interception ratios further down the route (Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and the western Balkans) are less than 2%.
54 Finally, the northern route (also known as the Silk route) passes across the countries of central Asia (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan) to the Russian Federation, its main target, then some portion of the drugs continues to the countries of northern and eastern Europe. At the same time, the central Asian countries along this route, which were previously only transit countries, have now become major consumers. Criminal groups composed of ethnic Tajiks are believed to be the main actors in this traffic. Authorities of central Asian countries lack the necessary capacities to control the flow of drugs through their territories, and may even be involved in it. Seizures along this route are far less sizeable (only 4-5% of the total amount of transported heroin is seized). The northern route is also believed to be used for trafficking precursors into Afghanistan. According to experts, heroin trafficking through central Asia is likely to increase in the coming years, further fuelling health, economic and security problems in the region.

7 Precursors

55 Drug precursors are licit industrial chemical products which are necessary to manufacture illicit drugs. These products have a wide range of licit uses and are legitimately traded on markets; their trade cannot be prohibited. However, as these products are diverted from licit distribution channels for the production of illicit drugs, controlling precursors is a key element in combating drugs.
56 The main precursor used in the manufacture of heroin is acetic anhydrite (AA). It also has many licit uses, in particular in the pharmaceutical industry. According to the UNODC, about 216 000 tons of AA per year are legally produced in 13 countries.Note Between 1 and 4 litres of AA is required to produce 1 kg of heroin.
57 According to Europol, central and south-eastern Europe appear to be the main transit hub to divert AA out of the intra-European Union trade. In 2008, Slovenia and Hungary seized 156 tons of AA (more than a third of that required to convert Afghan opium into heroin).
58 The UNODC believes that AA is delivered to Afghanistan along the same routes as those used to transport opiates, but in the opposite direction. It is also likely that the same organised criminal groups are involved in this trafficking. Pakistan is considered to be the major consolidation point for smuggling precursors from Asia (China and Korea) into Afghanistan. However, during our contacts in Ankara, the Turkish law-enforcement officials stated that there have been no sizeable AA seizures in their country in recent years.
59 Consolidating an international framework of control of AA trade with a view to disrupting its diversion into the illegal market and heroin production should be a key element of an anti-heroin policy. At the European Union level, efforts are being taken to establish a monitoring system of all EU-based registered AA manufacturers, traders and end-users. Similar measures should also be taken at international level.

8 Need to enhance international co-operation

60 Drugs trafficking from Afghanistan is transnational by nature: illicit products cross many borders and are handled by organised criminal groups of different ethnic origins, if not multi-ethnic. An adequate response to it requires enhanced co-operation between national law-enforcement agencies of the countries involved and the competent international bodies.
61 Such co-operation does exist in various forms and at different levels, from global (UNODC, Paris Pact Initiative) to European (Europol, Eurojust, EMCDDA), regional (Southeast European Cooperative Initiative – Regional Centre for Combating Trans-border Crime (SECI); Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC); Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO); Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO); Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors (CARICC); “Heart of Asia”–Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for A Secure and Stable Afghanistan, etc.), as well as on bilateral levels. However, it needs to be considerably strengthened and made less bureaucratic and more operational and results-oriented.
62 During my visit to Europol, I was told that this EU body had developed good institutional relations with a number of countries involved in the Afghan drugs traffic, but that it was not enough to react in real time to rapidly evolving realities. Therefore, Europol had concluded, or was in the process of concluding, operational agreements with these countries which would allow rapid intelligence sharing, provide support to cross-border law-enforcement operations, and thus increase the effectiveness of co-operation. While prospects were good of concluding such an agreement with Russia, the one with Turkey seemed more difficult to reach.
63 While in Ankara, I stressed to my Turkish counterparts the importance which Europol attached to concluding an operational agreement with their country. To my satisfaction, I was informed that the Turkish Government had prepared draft legislation on data protection which was in line with EU standards and would remove obstacles to concluding an operational agreement with Europol. At the same time, the Turkish law-enforcement officials were worried that such an agreement would not allow them to take part fully in the decision-making process at Europol, which is an EU agency.
64 In the meantime, the Turkish law-enforcement agencies have developed bilateral co-operation with colleagues from 19 European countries, and reported 180 joint investigations with European partners in recent years, including 70 controlled deliveries, which led to 876 arrests.
65 During my visit to Ankara, I was also impressed by the work performed by the Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organised Crime (TADOC), which is a part of Turkish National Police Anti-Smuggling and Organised Crime Department (KOM). In addition to in-service training of the Turkish law-enforcement personnel and scientific research on drugs and organised crime, it offers international training programmes, both on a bilateral basis and in co-operation with international organisations,Note to police officers from other countries. Over the last few years, it had provided training programmes to more than 7 100 participants from 86 countries, including from Afghanistan (1 009 trainees), Turkmenistan (300), Kazakhstan (263), Pakistan (226), Uzbekistan (197), Tajikistan (184) and Kyrgyzstan (164), that is countries involved in drugs trafficking from Afghanistan. In addition, it provides a series of 6-month basic police training programmes for 500 Afghan police cadets. These initiatives are extremely important for upgrading the operational skills of law-enforcement officers of these countries, and should be followed by other partners.
66 As mentioned above (see paragraph 15), the Council of Europe is not the main actor in international efforts to counter drug trafficking from Afghanistan. At the same time, some of its instruments and bodies could be better used to contribute to this process.
67 First, the Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs (the Council of Europe partial agreement known as the Pompidou GroupNote) should contribute more to combating Afghan drugs trafficking through its activities on prevention of chemical precursor diversion and illegal production and on the improvement of drug detection in European airports, as well as by providing training to drugs experts from Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.
68 The activities of Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms such as the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)Note and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL)Note should be streamlined so as to keep high on their agendas the fight against money laundering in the context of the Afghan drugs trafficking, and co-operation in preventing the proceeds from being re-injected to finance crime and terrorism.
69 Furthermore, the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (CETS No. 198, “Warsaw Convention”) is an important tool to be used in order to step up co-operation in disrupting financial flows related to drugs traffic from Afghanistan. It was opened for signature on 16 May 2005 and entered into force on 1 May 2008. Currently, 23 Council of Europe member States are Party to the convention, and 13 moreNote have signed but not yet ratified it. The following member States have yet to sign the convention: Andorra, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Monaco, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In addition, the convention is also open for signature by the non-member States which participated in its elaboration,Note and for accession by other non-member States.

9 Conclusions

70 Throughout my visits, my interlocutors broadly agreed that, over the last decade, illicit trafficking of opiates from Afghanistan has been one of the world’s greatest transnational drug and crime threats which had caused severe consequences for health, safety, public order and governance. It is therefore a major threat to security at national, European, and international levels.
71 Almost all Council of Europe member States suffer from the consequences of illicit drug use, and pay a high price for this scourge, which attacks individuals, families, institutions and society at large.
72 Opiates, mainly heroin, are the most harmful drugs used in Europe, and are the cause of three quarters of drug-related deaths.
73 Afghanistan is by far the main source of heroin and other opiates consumed in Europe. Europe, including Russia, it is the main target market for opiates from Afghanistan.
74 There is an urgent need to mobilise efforts of all European countries to curb the production of opium and heroin in Afghanistan and to dismantle networks of drug trafficking from that country.
75 Accordingly, the Assembly should call on the authorities of Council of Europe member States:
as regards Afghanistan, to

  • make anti-drugs policy a priority in programmes of co-operation with, and of assistance to, the Afghan Government;
  • strengthen Afghan law-enforcement agencies with a view to disrupting channels of drug traffic at source, with particular emphasis on combating corruption;
  • increase support for the capacity building of law-enforcement agencies in Afghanistan, and to step up training programmes for Afghan law-enforcement staff;
  • step up joint operations with the relevant Afghan law-enforcement agencies focusing on clandestine heroin-producing laboratories and organised criminal groups involved in the drugs trade, and to combine them with increased efforts aimed at integrated rural development, building infrastructure and supporting farmers engaged in alternative production;
  • assist Afghanistan in developing its economy and diversifying agriculture so as to reduce dependence on revenues from the illicit drugs trade, in line with the Lima Declaration and International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development (November 2012);
  • provide full support to, and co-operate effectively in the framework of, the “Paris Pact Initiative”, aimed at combating opiates originating from Afghanistan;

as regards the neighbouring countries, to:

  • increase support for the capacity building of law-enforcement agencies of the countries of central Asia, and to step up training programmes for central Asian law-enforcement personnel;
  • promote further anti-drugs co-operation at the regional level, involving the countries of central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, India and China, as well as existing co-ordination and co-operation frameworks;
  • create conditions, by concluding specific agreements as appropriate, for enhanced operational co-operation between law-enforcement agencies, including information and intelligence sharing, exchange of best practice and joint investigations;
  • step up international co-operation against the diversion of drug precursors, and to consider ways to tighten the monitoring of the acetic anhydrite (AA) trade by establishing databases of, and sharing information on, licit AA manufacturers, traders and end-users;
  • step up co-operation as regards the confiscation and recovery of assets from the illicit drugs trade.

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