Viewing cable 06RIGA927

06RIGA9272006-11-07 15:33:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Riga

DE RUEHRA #0927/01 3111533
R 071533Z NOV 06
E.O. 12958: N/A 
¶1.  The following is Embassy Riga's submittal for the 2006-2007 
International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Part I, 
Drugs and Chemical Control: 
¶2.  I. Summary.  Drug use in Latvia is characterized by continued 
prevalence of synthetics.  Ecstasy is the most common narcotic in 
Latvia, though amphetamines, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and LSD can 
also be found. Recreational drug use has shifted to ecstasy due to 
the latter's low cost, as well as national information campaigns 
highlighting the dangers of intravenous drug use. Heroin use, which 
had once been Latvia's most serious narcotics problem, is showing 
signs of renewed popularity.  Latvia is party to the 1988 UN Drug 
¶3.  II. Status of Country.  Latvia itself is not a significant 
producer of precursor chemicals, but Customs officials believe that 
a significant quantity of diverted "pre-precursors" originate in 
Belarus and transit Latvia en route to other countries. Heroin is 
sold at "retail" in public places such as parks, in the city center, 
or more discreetly, in private apartments; selling tactics and 
methods constantly change. Amphetamines are distributed in venues 
that attract youth, such as nightclubs, discotheques, gambling 
centers and raves.  Organized crime groups also engage in both 
wholesale and retail trade in narcotics.  Recreational drug use has 
increased with Latvia's growing affluence, with usage of 
amphetamines, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy all increasing. 
¶4.  III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2006.  Policy Initiatives. 
Latvia is in the second year of its State Program for the 
Restriction and Control of Addiction and the Spread of Narcotic and 
Psychotropic Substances (SPRCASNPS) which was approved by the 
Cabinet of Ministers for the years 2005 to 2008. This national 
strategy lists as its priorities: reducing the spread of drug abuse, 
especially among young people; increasing the possibilities for 
rehabilitation and re-socializing for drug addicts; reducing crime 
related to drug abuse and distribution, as well as drug trafficking; 
eliminating and preventing the harm caused to the general 
development of the Latvian state by drug addiction and drug related 
crime. Latvia's passage of the SPRCASNPS addressed criticism that it 
lacked a clear division of authority between municipalities and the 
state regarding budget and competencies. 
¶5.  Law Enforcement Efforts.  In the first nine months of 2006 the 
amount of seized heroin, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine 
increased compared to 2005 figures. Poppy straw, marijuana, hashish, 
ephedrine, ecstasy and LSD seizures dropped in the first nine 
¶6.  Amphetamine seizures, which jumped from 2.7 kg in 2005 to 10.1 
kg in the first nine months of 2006, were accomplished chiefly by 
four large seizures: 1.97 kg on February 7, 1.98 kg on May 24, 0.97 
kg on June 1, and 3.28 kg on June 27.  All four seizures occurred in 
Riga.  Heroin seizures increased from 28.64 grams in 2005 to 125.82 
grams in 2006. Methamphetamine seizures also increased by more than 
three times, from 1.83 kilograms in 2005 to 5.96 kg in 2006. 
¶7.  Ecstasy seizures dropped from 20,945 tablets in 2005 to 2,299 
tablets in 2006.  Marijuana seizures dropped to 3.8 kg in 2006, down 
from 25.3 kg in the previous year.  Ephedrine seizures dropped from 
18.46 grams in 2005 to 0.88 grams in 2006.  Hashish seized dropped 
to 242 grams in 2006, from 1,331 grams the year before. 
¶8.  The Latvian government acknowledges that Latvian law enforcement 
needs to show better results for its counter-narcotics efforts, 
despite resource and funding difficulties. The 2005-2008 national 
strategy takes this into account and indicates the government's 
intent to increase funding, personnel, and education for law 
¶9.  Corruption. Latvia's Anti Corruption Bureau (KNAB) was 
established in 2003 to help combat and prevent public corruption and 
has grown in its effectiveness and scope. According to the KNAB 
Director, his bureau has not found any senior-level Latvian 
officials to be involved in, encouraging, or facilitating narcotic 
crimes or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. 
 The USG also has no evidence of drug-related corruption at senior 
levels of the Latvian government.  As a matter of government policy, 
Latvia does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or 
distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled 
substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug 
¶10.  Agreements and Treaties. Latvia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug 
Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and 
the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol. A 
1923 extradition and a 1934 supplementary extradition treaty 
currently are in force between the U.S. and Latvia. On December 7, 
2005, Latvia and the United States signed a new extradition treaty 
and Mutual Legal Assistance protocol, which awaits ratification. 
Latvia is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, and to 
the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its 
protocols against trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling and 
illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms. 
¶11.  Drug Flow/Transit. Narcotic substances are frequently smuggled 
into Latvia from Lithuania, principally by ground transport. 
Seaports are used mainly to transship drugs destined for sale 
elsewhere. Latvia is not a primary transit route for drugs destined 
for the United States. Most drugs transiting Latvia are destined for 
the Nordic countries or Western Europe.  Heroin is primarily 
trafficked via Russia from Central Asia. 
¶12.  Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The current national 
strategy addresses demand reduction, education, and drug treatment 
programs. Since its passage by the Cabinet of Ministers, the 
following items have been achieved: establishment of a co-ordination 
mechanism for institutions involved in combating drug addiction 
(involving eight ministries); monitoring of the work program of the 
EMBDDA on the national level; establishment of a system for 
monitoring court directed treatment for addicted offenders; holding 
educational events for teachers and parents, as well as updated 
educational materials and informative booklets; inclusion of 
information on drug addiction in school curriculums; establishment 
of a pilot program for teaching prevention of drug addiction, 
alcohol abuse and smoking; pilot programs on drug addiction for 
local governments; education programs for members of the armed 
forces; mechanisms for information exchange amongst relevant 
institutions; and an increase in the number of employees in the 
regional offices of the Organized Crime Enforcement Department under 
the State Police. 
¶13.  In addition to the State Narcotics Center, Latvia has 
established four regional narcotics addiction treatment centers in 
Jelgava, Daugavpils, Liepaja, and Straupe. There are rehabilitation 
centers in Riga and Rindzele, and youth rehabilitation centers in 
Jaunpiebalga and Straupe.  Data from 2005 showed that Latvia had 
27,648 patients in alcoholic addiction programs and 2,441 patients 
being treated for narcotic or psychotropic drug addiction. 
¶14.  IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs. Bilateral 
Cooperation.  The United States maintains assistance on liaison 
programs in Latvia that focus on investigating and prosecuting drug 
offenses, corruption, and organized crime. 
¶15. The Road Ahead. The United States will continue to pursue and 
deepen cooperation with Latvia, especially in the areas of law 
enforcement and prosecution. The United States will expand efforts 
to coordinate with the EU and other donors to ensure complementary 
and cooperative assistance and policies with the government of 
Latvia. The United States will also encourage Latvia to work with 
regional partners to advance the mutual fight against narcotics