What is the biggest paradox in drugs

INTRODUCTION

The drug problem is getting inexorably worse every year. The international drug cartels are becoming more aggressive and, as the desire to expand, new markets with new drugs and constantly changing distribution structures are opening up; at the same time, they manage to camouflage themselves better and better and to work with their sales proceeds. There is even more concern that they are using their ever increasing resources to influence the democratic and economic processes of entire countries through political influence and the appropriation of key sectors in the business and financial sectors.

Annual street sales of illicit drugs are now valued at over $ 500,000 million. This sum is higher than the national budget of many countries.

More and more often we are witnessing the cooperation of drug cartels and terrorist groups who use the drug money to buy weapons. The drug trade therefore affects the political, social and economic stability of the nation-states. The main victims of drugs now and in the future are young people who allow themselves to be seduced into drug use and become addicted. However, while street crime may continue to stand out as a threat to our everyday security, the real main threat of our time is the steady increase in the power of large criminal organizations, the growth of which is fueled by drug smuggling.

The international drug trade is highly organized. The drug traffickers are able to make use of the intellectual elite, be it in the legal, financial, logistic or chemical and scientific fields. They have the most modern technological facilities at their disposal for the production, transport and distribution of their drugs and to support their money laundering transactions. The largest drug traffickers are now able to carry out and finance all their operations without coming into contact with the drugs, in many cases, thanks to satellite communications, they live on yachts or in countries where they cannot be effectively prosecuted. They remain undisturbed as they can rarely be linked to specific drug smuggling operations or, should this be the case, no evidence of their guilt can be produced. With their limitless wealth, the drug barons can buy protection from criminal prosecution or, if this does not succeed, eliminate annoying witnesses by force.

The flood of heroin from Asia, cocaine from South America, cannabis from North Africa and synthetic drugs from European production facilities cannot be stopped. Larger and more frequent seizures by customs authorities may indicate greater success in detecting drug transports. But these successes are often only an indication of the swelling of the drug flow. Whether or not a country's drug seizure is a real success can only be truly measured when the elements of street selling price and purity are factored into the equation. If prices are low and the drug is of high purity, larger quantities confiscated merely confirm that there are more drugs on the market.

In the area of ​​internal security, we find that the police and customs authorities are working together much more effectively in the war on drugs than they did 10 or even 5 years ago. But they are still inadequately equipped and suffer from a lack of staff. When we happily welcome the fact that customs officers are no longer needed in view of the dismantling of our internal borders, we are wasting trained personnel who will increasingly prove necessary to prosecute organized drug-related crime. If we fail to catch up with the smugglers by providing the best technical, electronic and chemical analysis equipment, we will fight with our hands tied.

All Member States and candidate countries of the European Union must be fully committed to international cooperation against drug smuggling and the growing threat of international crime. Across the European Union, multilateral cooperation in areas such as extradition, prosecution, prosecution, exchange of information, and so on must be steadily worked towards. We need fixed timetables, but for the time being, bilateral agreements with all countries on these important matters should also be drawn up. This requires a strong political will, which has not yet manifested itself sufficiently. We must of course assume that our measures must have a preventive effect and that we must not limit ourselves to merely reacting to the practical constraints created by the criminal organizations.

THE REPORT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

The report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on a European Union Action Plan to Combat Drugs for the Period 1995-1999 is a factual, unpretentious, but also less enthusiastic document. There are of course positives in it. For example, it stresses that effective drug control requires a comprehensive and integrated approach, but it does not make it clear which areas require top priority, nor does it make convincing arguments for better use of resources or increased funding. The Commission remains unmoved by the amounts wasted on crop substitution and does not make a clear distinction between those behind the drug trade, wholesalers, retailers and small dealers. It does not advocate that at least as many resources are made available for prevention and therapy. It fails to even hint at the lack of cohesion in the drugs sector between its own departments or between the Council and the Commission, which have different areas of competence under the Treaty on European Union. It does not go into the fact that our drug policy measures have so far not been sufficient to shake the increasing power of drug traffickers and to curb the steadily increasing influence of black money on our society. In short, there is no sense of urgency. It is therefore important that this Parliament and its Committee on Civil Liberties help identify the main problems and make additional and related recommendations to improve the situation.

The European Commission's report covers three areas:

  • Measures to reduce demand
  • Measures to combat illegal trafficking
  • Action at the international level.
In this working document and in our resolution, we will be addressing the last two areas, NOT the first, because the Commission has drawn up a separate program of action in the field of public health, which this Parliament has reported on, and because your rapporteur in submitted a comprehensive report to the Committee on Youth and Education during the last parliamentary term on health education and drug abuse as a whole. Our recommendations have not changed since then. Unfortunately, we are also limited by the rules of procedure on the length of reports.

We would like to make it absolutely clear from the outset that, although this report focuses primarily on the legal and police aspects of drug abuse, the greatest progress can be made in the area of ​​prevention and therapy in the fight against drugs. We believe that at least 50% of all drug policy funding, from both EU and national budgets, should go to health, education and therapy, and we will work hard and hard to do this throughout Parliament's term. If the demand for drugs among our youth cannot be restricted, there will continue to be a large market served by the drug traffickers.

We would also like to strongly express our view that mitigation measures must be pursued vigorously and wisely. Young drug addicts need help. This help can be offered in the form of therapy places. However, it can also consist of controlled delivery. It would be wrong to prescribe a uniform approach to controlled delivery, as the societal framework and the needs of drug addicts vary according to circumstances. There is no alternative to the open debate about treatment and therapy in any form, including giving up both methadone and heroin. However, it will be the task of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction in Lisbon to carefully collate all indications of success or failure in this context in order to identify which methods are most promising, why and under which conditions.

MAIN BODIES FOR COMBATING CROSS-BORDER DRUG TRADE INTERPOL AND EUROPOL

Around 60% of all inquiries to Interpol are related to drugs and around 80% of the million or so messages sent by this organization concern Europe. Interpol is indispensable because it operates internationally and unites employees from all over the world. Europol, on the other hand, is supposed to operate as an EU body and, it is hoped, collect and analyze information on drugs and drug trafficking and initiate or even conduct investigations on the basis of this analysis. The two organizations have separate and complementary roles in this regard. Europol can only work effectively and profitably if it is legitimized by the signature and ratification of a convention. It is extremely regrettable that national governments have so far delayed the signing of this convention because of data security issues or for the sake of maintaining powers. If Europol is only to serve the purpose of exchanging information, it would have been better to have customs and police officers close to Interpol in Lyon. The French Presidency has announced that it will ensure that a Convention on Europol is signed by July 1995. We call on our French colleagues to do everything in their power to ensure that this agreement does not turn into a toothless paper tiger. Europol must, at the very least, have access to a comprehensive database and, over time, should be able to co-ordinate investigations by national police and customs officers.

TREVI

A very positive result of this group was the establishment of a system of drug liaison officers from the national customs and police authorities posted to producing or transit countries. The network of drug liaison officers, however, needs both streamlining and strengthening. In some cases, unnecessary rivalries arise. In a city like Bangkok, liaison officers step on each other's toes when they are badly needed elsewhere. We therefore recommend better cooperation, less duplication, but also a coordinated expansion. It should also be noted on the positive side that Trevi initiated the agreement on the establishment of drug information centers as a link with Europol. There are now such drug information centers in all EU countries, but they are worlds apart. All EU countries need to upgrade their drug information centers to the highest standard and be measured against how well they work in the UK. All candidate countries must also be encouraged to set up drug information centers, offering them support and training.

THE WORLD CUSTOMS ORGANIZATION

(Formerly the Customs Cooperation Council)
The WCO was recently restructured. It is now divided into six regions, each with a headquarters responsible for organizing the collection of specific information in its area. The headquarters of the WCO are still in Brussels, the European headquarters in Warsaw. The international customs and police authorities have been working in parallel but separately for far too long. Cooperation in the fight against drugs was inadequate with different goals set. Customs were looking for the drugs, the police for the dealers. This situation has changed over the past five years. WCO and Interpol are in the process of drawing up an official agreement. Both organizations now operate an electronic monthly reporting system on drug movements and seizures. This system is affiliated with the UN. However, different software and computer systems still cause certain communication problems. These need to be addressed if further progress is to be made. Even better cooperation between customs and police can lead to the seizure of even larger quantities of drugs and better knowledge of the drug cartels and how they work. This can be done by working out and analyzing techniques without necessarily knowing names when this is not possible. In Germany there are now 24 mixed customs / police task forces for drug searches. In addition, mixed units are deployed from Wiesbaden to combat money laundering and pre-product trading. But despite all this, much more could be done across the EU to locate drug traffickers and learn about their transport techniques and camouflage and how their funds are routed. We need to know better about people traveling with false passports. Therefore, efforts should be made to station mixed customs / immigration / police forces at the main border posts for entry into the EU. At the borders with Eastern Europe these should be reinforced by mixed East-West groups. These mobile and well-trained groups should be equipped with the most modern equipment, such as communicating via satellite, so that information can be transmitted immediately from the most distant border posts to a central data collection point for analysis.

LEGAL SYSTEMS AND APPROACH

Modern drug traffickers can band together in rings because we are unable and unwilling to adapt our legal system in such a way that they can be stopped. Most or even all countries of the European Union have effective laws against drug smugglers, traffickers and small dealers. The methods and requirements for police, customs and lawyers in investigating, prosecuting, arresting and investigating drug-related crime vary widely. This makes effective collaboration difficult. Again and again we hear of cases in which, due to different laws and legal practices, a hot lead in a criminal case was able to cool down or a mastermind was able to escape drug-related crime. Differences of opinion or inability to act in the case of controlled drug transports (surveillance of a cross-border cargo in which drugs are known to be hidden), target tracking devices on vehicles, cross-border tracking, the impossibility of quick access, different search regulations are just a few examples of the legal failure of cooperation. Of course, we fully understand the sensitivities associated with protecting national sovereignty. Nonetheless, the Treaty on European Union expressly requires closer cooperation between the Member States in areas of Union competence such as terrorism and drug smuggling, which certainly includes mutual measures to adapt laws to combat drug smuggling.

So far there has been no systematic assessment of the penalties threatened in the various countries under different conditions for smuggling, trafficking, distribution and possession of drugs. At present, for example, the UK and the Netherlands have huge differences in the penalties for the various drug offenses. But even within a single country like Germany very different penalties are imposed. Countries like Bavaria are much stricter than North Rhine-Westphalia, for example. We need a full analysis, but we need to understand that even those caught in possession of large quantities of drugs are seldom the leaders of the drug rings who stay away from the drug smuggling they organize .

The question of the penalties for using and possessing drugs for personal use continues to be the subject of an ongoing debate and wide disagreement. We welcome the growing awareness in courts across the European Union that incarceration for the use or possession of small quantities of drugs can be counterproductive. It is not uncommon for prisons to be a breeding ground for drugs, and not only are all kinds of drugs available, but hypodermic needles are also used several times, which is sure to lead to the spread of AIDS. A study in the UK shows that 43% of male inmates had been using drugs prior to arrest and that 23% of women were drug addicts prior to their imprisonment. In addition, non-criminal addicts come into contact with and are influenced by the criminal subculture in prison. The detention of non-drug addicts young men and women for relatively minor offenses such as shoplifting is also problematic. They often come into contact with drugs in prison and become addicted. It is also known that the availability of drugs in prison and the associated drug debt lead to violence and blackmail among inmates. We also question the benefit of being suspended on condition that the person agrees to therapy. Experience has shown that drug addicts can only be freed from their addiction if they have the will to do so themselves. If they do not, the therapy is in almost all cases useless. In addition, the paradoxical situation often arises that addicts seek a place in therapy without a trial and of their own free will, but cannot find one because there are no free capacities. Thus, an addict actually has to become a criminal before he is offered a place in therapy.

We recommend the following steps:

1.A full investigation of drugs in prisons across the EU and their impact on inmates as soon as possible. The recommendations should take into account the need for prison measures to go hand in hand with drug addict treatment and drug education initiatives.
2.A comprehensive overview of the different penal practices and the impact of the different penalties on the drug addict with the aim of determining which practices produce the best results and should be recommended.
3.A unified approach to convicting the masterminds of drug trafficking. This also includes an effective extradition policy.

MONEY LAUNDERING

The financial and business world is increasingly contaminated by the swelling stream of black money. DG VII's Financial Action Against Money Laundering Task Force estimates that annual sales of cocaine, heroin and cannabis alone generate $ 120 billion in revenue in the US and Europe, and that $ 85 billion is available for money laundering could. These amounts are channeled into legal structures of various kinds. There are about 1,000 new banks in Russia, two-thirds of which are likely to be financed or at least heavily influenced by criminals. Finance houses, construction companies, hotels, casinos and office buildings across Europe are increasingly financed with laundered black money. Dollars and European currencies from drug trafficking are exchanged at exorbitant rates for rubles and other eastern currencies, with which large parts of the economies of Russia, Ukraine and other Central and Eastern European countries are then bought up.

We recommend that all EU governments agree on a common commitment to fight money laundering and comply with the UN Convention on Money Laundering. A profound change in the profession of banks and financial institutions is required. The scientific elite must be used to develop and operate a Europe-wide system for the detection and tracking of the extremely rich variety of techniques for laundering and transferring black money, and to propose ways to combat it. There is an urgent need for greater transparency of financial sources so that the authorities can get a clearer picture of a company's financial position and so that companies are deterred from black market deals.

The training of law enforcement officers in the field of money affairs needs to be significantly improved. A code must be drawn up and agreed. Computer programs are required to track payments and determine the whereabouts of funds so that structures can be worked out and suspicious circumstances brought to the attention of those who can act on this information. New investigation and information structures need to be worked out and agreed not only across Europe but also with the United States and the many tax havens around the world. We need a thorough review of banking secrecy laws and professional ethics in this sector based on today's needs. If we do not act quickly in this area, the financial institutions themselves will become so contaminated that such action will be impossible.

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

There are no effective controls on the borders of the former communist countries, police and customs are completely unaware of drugs, and there is naivety towards drug traffickers and couriers, in part because western traffickers are still part of the new free, non-repressive ones Culture, and partly because one expects financial gain in one way or another. However, the situation is slowly starting to improve, particularly at the borders of Scandinavia, Germany and Austria, where support is offered in the form of face-to-face information, training and equipment.

There are almost no legal processes for combating drugs. New laws are being drafted, but there is a great need for assistance with the necessary legal processes such as the training of judges and prosecutors. It will take a good two to three years before customs and police can actively investigate, and five years before they have sufficient experience. By then the drug smugglers will have a firm grip on all former communist countries and trade will exceed every conceivable level. In addition, there are almost insurmountable communication problems in law enforcement, both human and material, between the former communist countries. The problem on a human level is that, under the communist system, these countries were constantly busy storing information that they could use against each other. Therefore, there is neither a willingness nor a legal opportunity to pass on information. From a material point of view, the level of equipment and the outdated land telephone connections reveal abysses. Language problems create additional, almost unbelievable bottlenecks. For example, reports on drugs and drug seizures can be sent to Warsaw in Russian, but there is almost no translation capacity there. Messages from Warsaw in English are also not understood in Russia.

The following steps would be required to improve this situation:

1.A substantial increase in funding. We propose reallocating the funds earmarked for crop substitution, which should be used to reinforce police and customs investigation operations; Of course, the funds available under the PHARE and TACIS programs must also be fully used.
2.Priority is given to improving communication and information collection.
3.The link between control measures at the external borders of the European Union and the collection of relevant information in Central and Eastern Europe needs to be improved.
4.The aim of the police and customs investigation operations must go far beyond the pure ban on drugs; it must be to identify, prosecute and bring to justice the leaders of the organized crime involved in drug trafficking in Central and Eastern Europe, rather than just arresting couriers and confiscating loads and vehicles.