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International Drug News

Bush Congratulates Bolivia’s New President, Drug Trafficking Concerns Remain.  The New York Times (2/2, 1.19M) reports in its World Briefing section, “President Bush telephoned Bolivia's newly inaugurated president, Evo Morales, to congratulate him and express the need for constructive dialogue between the countries.  Mr. Morales, an Aymara Indian who has long opposed American antidrug practices in Bolivia, has in the past been linked to drug trafficking by American officials and in December called Mr. Bush a terrorist.  The United States is worried that Mr. Morales could reverse years of eradication efforts against coca, the plant used to make cocaine.”

Reuters (2/1) reports, “White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush congratulated Morales on his election, praised the democratic process in Bolivia and said he wanted ‘a constructive U.S.-Bolivian relationship and dialogue.’  … The United States has avoided threatening Morales.  It has also made clear to him that future U.S. aid to one of Latin America's poorest countries will depend on how well he fights a narcotics trade that helps supply cocaine to American cities, according to U.S. diplomats.”

Scottish Parliament To Debate Drug Enforcement Agency Proposal.  The BBC (2/2) reports on its Web site, “The Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill will be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.  It proposes a Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, recruiting from Scotland's eight forces.  But Chief Constable of Fife Peter Wilson said the proposals had not been thought out clearly and jeopardize the future unity and purpose of the police.  The Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency (SDEA) was set up to crack down on Scotland's drug barons.  Until now the agency has been a wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary of Scotland's eight police forces.  The new proposals before parliament will create the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, dubbed the Scottish version of the FBI.”     

London Conference On Afghanistan Includes Plan To Combat Narcotics Trade.  The New York Times (2/1, Cowell, 1.19M) reports, “The Bush administration pledged Tuesday to seek Congressional approval for a further $1.1 billion in aid to help rebuild Afghanistan next year, roughly the same amount sought for 2006.  ‘The transformation of Afghanistan is remarkable but incomplete, and it is essential that we all increase our support for the Afghan people,’ Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at an aid conference of more than 60 nations [in London].  … The conference…follows months of mounting bloodshed in Afghanistan and concern about a narcotics trade that provides almost 90 percent of global opium and heroin.”

Reuters (1/31) reports, “Afghanistan received promises of economic and military support from Western nations at a conference in London on Tuesday in return for pledges to fight corruption and the illegal opium trade.  … Afghanistan is the world's biggest source of illicit opium and its refined heroin accounts for about 87 percent of global supply.  Many farmers depend on revenue from the drug.  President Hamid Karzai told BBC radio on Tuesday it would take 10 to 15 years to develop alternative sources of income for farmers and eliminate opium from Afghanistan.”

The AP (1/31) reports, “Afghanistan set out a plan Tuesday to tackle problems from opium production to corruption and terrorism, as envoys from more than 60 nations pledged they would help the shattered nation along the road to peace and self-sufficiency.  … The five-year plan unveiled at the conference, dubbed the '’Afghanistan Compact,'’ laid out targets for President Hamid Karzai's government in areas including security, economic development and counternarcotics efforts.  … Britain announced $800 million in new aid for Afghanistan in the next three years.”

In a separate story, the AP (1/31) writes, “The compact sets out a series of targets for Karzai's government.  They include tripling the Afghan army to 70,000 troops and disbanding all illegal militias by 2007.”

Bloomberg (1/31, Zacharia) writes, “Rice said that for the ‘prosperity of Afghan democracy,’ the country's economy must rely less on the narcotics trade. Production of opium, the base ingredient for heroin, accounted for about a third of Afghanistan's $8.7 billion economy last year, according to the Asian Development Bank.” 

The BBC (1/31) reports, “UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is attending this meeting, perhaps summed up the mood best.  ‘Afghanistan is now a nascent democracy,’ he said.  ‘Yet our optimism is necessarily tempered by the serious challenges the country is facing.’  He focused on security, the threat from terrorism, the still rampant drugs trade, which he said meant Afghanistan was still in a ‘fragile state.”

Canada’s CBC News  (1/31) reports, “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to come up with nearly $2 billion US, for the troubled country.”

Afghanistan Plan Considered Ambitious.  The UK’s Guardian (2/1) writes, “British and other foreign troops will be in Afghanistan until at least the end of 2010, according to a plan agreed at an international conference which began yesterday in London.  … Goals agreed by the conference include the disbandment of all illegal armed groups by the end of 2007 in all provinces.  That is ambitious, given the number of warlords still operating in Afghanistan with private armies, some of whom are in the government but refuse to disband.  The plan is also short on details and time-related goals for the eradication of poppy crops, the biggest problem confronting the Afghan government and international forces, other than the continuing fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida elements.”

In the Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates (2/1), Mohammed A. R. Galadari writes, “As Karzai has admitted, he has a task at hand to rein in the warlords-not just Taleban, but others too.  He has a task at hand to eradicate the system of illegal drug trafficking.  And, this is over and above his task to wipe out poverty and facilitate development.  What stands in the way today, however, is both mal-administration and the evil of corruption.  Good administrative systems will not come into being overnight.  It takes sustained efforts over a period of time, which is what Karzai must take more interest in now.”

Moss Returns To Britain, Discusses Cocaine Allegations With Police.  Kate Moss’s discussion with police concerning cocaine allegations made against her received wide coverage in the U.S. and UK.  Some examples: The AP (1/31) reports, “Kate Moss met detectives in London to discuss her alleged cocaine use, but wasn't arrested or charged with any offense.  The 32-year-old British supermodel voluntarily attended the talks Tuesday, Metropolitan police said.  … The Daily Mirror tabloid in September published pictures allegedly showing Moss using cocaine in a west London music studio where her then-boyfriend, rock musician Pete Doherty, was recording with his group Babyshambles.  … Police said they would eventually submit a file to prosecutors depending on the investigation's outcome. Prosecutors will eventually decide if any charges should be brought against Moss.” The AP story was published in newspapers and/or posted on the Web sites of more than 50 news outlets, including CBS News, The New York Times, Forbes, San Diego Union Tribune, and San Jose Mercury News.

CNN (1/31) reports on its Web site, “The model has been in the United States, where she attended a drug rehabilitation clinic.”

The BBC (1/31) reports on its Web site, “A spokesman for Moss's agency Storm said the model had spent 80 minutes at the police station.”

Reuters (1/31) writes, “Earlier this month, police investigating a drugs ring urged Moss…to return to Britain and answer questions.”

The Glasgow Daily Record (2/1) writes, “On the advice of her lawyers, it is understood that she refused to comment on her own use of cocaine.”

The UK’s Scotsman (1/31) reports, “The 32-year-old voluntarily attended a London police office on Tuesday afternoon for a meeting with Scotland Yard officers.”

UPI (1/31) writes, “Moss reportedly answered questions about photos published in the Daily Mirror last year that showed her cutting lines and snorting what appeared to be cocaine.”

Cable TV Coverage.  CNN Live From (1/31, 2:00 p.m.) reported, “The 32-year-old model appears to have chosen the time she would meet detectives.  Scotland Yard says she attended the interview voluntarily.  Since the pictures of her seemingly taking cocaine, she's had a remarkable comeback.  The police say she has not been charged or cautioned, and the inquiries continue.  We don't know what the evidence is they have got against her, but if it is simply that photograph that appears on the front page of a newspaper last year, it's not a lot.  It's certainly not enough to back up prosecution against her for either possession or supply of cocaine.”

Canadian Crime Stoppers Program Offers Rewards For Tips On Meth Dealers.  Canada’s Brandon Sun (1/31) reports, “Methamphetamine dealers and those who make the highly addictive street drug now have a special bounty on their heads thanks to the province’s cash-for-tips Crime Stoppers program.  Crime Stoppers will double the reward for information on the making and sale of methamphetamine anywhere in Manitoba.  It means a tipster — all tips are anonymous — can earn as much as $4,000 with a single call, if that information pans out with a significant seizure or arrest.  This doubling up of reward money runs until the end of February and also features a public information campaign on the drug.”

Colombian Farmers Seek New Markets For Coca Leaves.  The BBC (2/1) reports on its Web site, “The Fernandez family has found new markets for the coca leaves, the main ingredient used to make cocaine, which are piled up in front of their home in the mountains of western Colombia.  But the project ought to worry Coke, Pepsi and Seagram's more than drug enforcement officials.  The leaves are destined to become ingredients in coca-flavoured wine, soft drinks, tea and cookies.  … The indigenous Nasa people, about 30,000 of whom live in the mountains of western Colombia, are betting that coca-flavoured foods and drinks can not only change the leaf's image, but also help alleviate their poverty.  The products provide new markets for the coca leaf, which the Nasa traditionally grow on small plots for chewing, religious and medicinal rites and to barter with neighbouring peoples - although in remote parts of Nasa territory, larger coca plantations serve narcotraffickers.” 

Jakarta Authorities Seize 57,000 Ecstasy Pills.  The Jakarta Post (2/1) reports, “City police have taken another swipe at the city's ecstasy trade, seizing 57,000 pills in a raid on a penthouse apartment.  Three suspects were arrested in Friday's drug bust at the upmarket Artha Gading Apartment in North Jakarta, in a joint operation by the Jakarta Police and the city drug agency.”

Afghanistan Opium Production Called A Serious International Threat.  UPI (1/30) reports, “Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah urged the international community Monday to endorse the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year blueprint for efforts to stabilize and reconstruct the country.  … Habibullah Qaderi, the Afghan minister for counter-narcotics, said the country's opium production represented a ‘serious threat’ to the international community.  Some 70 to 80 percent of the heroin on Britain's streets originated in Afghanistan, he noted.  … A criminal justice task force was being trained and a special tribunal being set up to prosecute those in possession of over two kilos of opium, he said.  Questioned about reports of high-level government complicity in the drugs trade, Qaderi said that where there was evidence against officials, they would also be prosecuted.  Pressed on the issue by United Press International at a later briefing, Afghan Justice Minister Sarwar Danish acknowledged there were cases of complicity by some government officials.  Counter-narcotics initiatives would be discussed at the conference, from which would hopefully emerge a clearer plan to tackle the problem, he said.” 

Differences Emerge Between US, Britain Over Opium Crop Eradication. The UK’s Independent (1/31) writes that some say “attempts to eradicate Afghanistan's opium crop have abjectly failed and British soldiers who take part in such operations may face legal action.  Britain is sending a task force of almost 6,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight the resurgent al-Qa'ida and Taliban and also take part in tackling the country's poppy crops.  These supply 90 percent of heroin to this country and the UK is planning to spend £20m a year on eradication.  But at the eve of the London Conference on Afghanistan ­ co-hosted by Tony Blair, the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President ­ differences are emerging between Britain and the US.  American officials are pressing for aerial crop-spraying.  But aid agencies and human rights groups point out that poppy fields are often adjacent to ones growing vegetables and wheat.  British officials are against spraying.  But a report by the Senlis Council, the think-tank, showed yesterday that the US administration was advertising for aerial spraying jobs in Afghanistan.”     

Criminal Networks In Colombia Expected To Gain Ground In Upcoming Election.  Reuters (1/31) reports, “The militias, organized in the 1980s by drug smugglers and cattle ranchers to fight Marxist rebels, are disbanding in return for reduced jail sentences for crimes such as a massacre and kidnapping.  The government says fewer than 4,000 paramilitaries remain armed, down from 20,000.  But human rights groups say militia criminal networks remain intact and paramilitary-friendly candidates, who benefit from the intimidation of politicians …will likely gain ground in the March vote.”

UN Commission Invited To Witness Cocaine Destruction In Kenya.  The Angola Press (1/30) reports, “The Kenyan government has invited the United Nations drug agency to witness the destruction of a 92 million U.S. dollar cocaine haul, government spokesman Alfred Mutua Mutua said in a statement on Monday.  ‘The government has invited the United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drugs to inspect, verify and oversee the destruction of the six billion shillings (about 92 million dollars) cocaine haul that was confiscated by the Kenyan police,’ he said.  Mutua said the Colombian cocaine was seized by police in the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi about two years ago.” 

Moss Expected To Discuss Alleged Cocaine Use With London Police.  Several UK news outlets are reporting on Kate Moss’s expected return to Britain to discuss cocaine allegations. For example the Scotsman (1/31) reports, “Supermodel Kate Moss is due back in Britain this week to meet detectives investigating allegations of cocaine use.  The 31-year-old, who has been out of the country since the allegations surfaced last September, will reportedly meet senior officers at a London police station in the next few days.  She is unlikely to be arrested, but instead will be formally interviewed under caution, according to a London newspaper.  Scotland Yard, whose officers are investigating the claims, refused to discuss the report. Moss's London agency, Storm, also refused to comment.”  The UK’s Mirror and Sun also reported on this. 

German Tennis Player Accused Of Doping Offense.  SportingLife.com (1/31) reports, “Holger Fischer has been found guilty of a doping offense by the International Tennis Federation.  The 25-year-old German tested positive for cannabis at the Swiss Tennis Satellite Circuit in Montreux last September.  As a result Fischer, who was ranked 611 in the world at the time, has had to forfeit the prize money and ranking points he won during the tournament.  Fischer was also handed a three-month suspension but the ITF have now deemed him eligible to play again after he voluntarily withdrew from competition following his failed drugs test.”