17th Anti-Drug Trafficking Task Force Meeting

BUCHAREST, May 13th – “Designer drugs”, also known as “Legal Highs” represent a new threat in South East Europe moreover that there is no uniformed international legislation in this respect.

During the meeting carried out in Sandanski, Bulgaria on 10 – 11 May, the Annual SECI Center Drug Report for 2010 was presented. Analysis revealed that almost 14 tons of opiates were seized within the region, out of which heroin toped 97% of the total seizures. Substantial amounts of Acetic Anhydride (the main chemical for heroin synthesis) were also captured. Herbal cannabis remains the most important drug in terms of quantities seized. The total amount of cannabis confiscated was more than 90 tons in over 30,000 cases. Regarding synthetic drugs, more than half of ton was seized. Despite the decline of quantities seized within the region, Southeastern European criminal groups are also involved in cocaine trafficking from South America to Europe.

The SEE annual report was drafted by SECI Center Analytical unit based on the contributions of the SECI Center member countries.

In the framework of Anti-Drug Trafficking Task Force, in 2010, SECI Center supported 14 joint investigations, including 3 controlled deliveries and more than 20 tactical and operational meetings.

The Anti-Drug Trafficking Task Force is keeping a prominent position in the operational activities of SECI Center. Law enforcement agents daily combating transborder trafficking of drugs with their dedication, determination and personal sacrifices are considered as the avant-garde in defending our societies. The accumulated ADTTF experience offers a precious legacy which will be inherited by the new SELEC – Southeast European Law Enforcement Center. We have to keep moving forward. I recommend the officers working in this field to increase their participation in the information exchange process supported by the Center”, Petros Petroff, Deputy Director and Head of Operational Support Department of SECI Center stated.

The need of closer cooperation was also underlined by Chief Commissioner Stanimir Florov, Director of Chief Directorate “Combating Organized Crime” within the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior: “We have to combine our efforts in the fight against drug trafficking, production and distribution. Bulgaria’s crossroad location on the Balkan route of drugs requires serious responsibility in countering organized crime groups involved in transborder drug smuggling“. Bulgaria coordinates the activities of the Task Force, since being set up in 2001.

During the two-day meeting, a total of 60 drug law enforcement experts from SECI member and observer countries as well as representatives of international organizations such as UNODC, EUROPOL and CARICC shared experience and best practices in dismantling transborder drug trafficking organizations.The SECI Regional Center for Combating Trans-border Crime, headquartered in Bucharest, Romania is unique operational organization in which Police and Customs liaison officers from 13 member states (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey) work together in direct cooperation by coordinating joint investigations and facilitating information exchange. Besides the member countries, there are 22 observers, countries and organizations: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, CARICC, Czech Republic, EUBAM, France, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Ukraine, UNODC, UNDP Romania, the United Kingdom, UNMIK, and the United States of America. Italy and the United States maintain permanent representation at the SECI Center, and Interpol and the World Customs Organization are permanent advisors to the SECI Center.