DRUG TRAFFICKING IN ALGERIA

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09ALGIERS1071 2 December 2009 Confidencial Embassy Algiers

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DE RUEHAS #1071/01 3361154
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P 021154Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8182
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ALGIERS 001071

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AG, PGOV, PINS, SNAR
SUBJECT: DRUG TRAFFICKING IN ALGERIA

REF: SECSTATE 105731

This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please handle
accordingly.

Summary


1. (U) Algeria serves as a transit point for drug
trafficking, both for cannabis and cannabis resin from
Morocco, and increasingly for South American-origin cocaine
and heroin, which both transit Algeria to Europe. Algeria’s
long, remote and difficult-to-secure borders facilitate the
drug trade and the ability of terrorists in Algeria to
benefit from it. End summary

Smuggling Routes


2. (SBU) The majority of drugs trafficked through Algeria
consists of cannabis and cannabis resin that enters from
Morocco and departs the country from northern coastal cities,
often in private boats. Some is consumed in Algeria, and
there is some cannabis cultivation here as well. Previously,
these narcotics moved directly from Morocco to Spain, and
from there to other European countries. Responding to
Spanish government measures in the last three to four years
to stem the flow from Morocco, smugglers are attempting to
reroute their drugs through Algeria. Most seizures of
cannabis and cannabis resin take place in the wilaya of
Bechar, along Algeria’s western border with Morocco.

3. (SBU) There has been a recent and rapid growth of South
American-origin hard drugs that enter West Africa and then
transit Algeria for Europe. Cocaine and heroin originating
in Columbia, Bolivia, or Brazil is transported to Mauritania,
Senegal, or Burkino Faso by private jet and then smuggled on
to Algeria, sometimes via Mali. Cocaine or cannabis is
sometimes also transported by illegal migrants entering
Algeria from the south and seeking to finance their journeys
north.

4. (SBU) Drug smuggling is common along the southern desert
borders of the Algerian Sahara, where security services have
difficulty securing the lengthy and porous frontier.
Smuggling of hard drugs along this southern route is coming
to involve far greater amounts of money than the cannabis
trade in the north of the country. The Algerian cities and
ports of Bechar, Oran, Algiers, Bejaia, Setif, and Annaba act
as hubs for drug traffickers. These drugs are then
transported by high-speed boat to southern European countries
like France, Spain, Italy, or Malta by land or sea to other
Arab states along the Mediterranean like Tunisia, Libya,
Egypt or Lebanon.

Ties to Terrorism


4. (SBU) Drug trafficking in Algeria is part of the larger
phenomenon of cross border smuggling and general lawlessness
in some regions of the far south and west of Algeria.
Embassy believes that narcotics are a small part of the range
of goods smuggled in the south that include vehicles,
cigarettes, weapons and ammunition, fuel, and people.

5. (SBU) Algerian officials believe that branches of
al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) operating in the far
south of Algeria near the borders with Mali and Mauritania
exert significant influence over smuggling and work with
local criminal gangs that smuggle drugs and other contraband.
Algerian law enforcement officials say that narcotics
smuggling finances terrorist activities and weapon purchases
and that terrorists also launder the proceeds from drug
smuggling. However, these officials do not provide examples
of drug proceeds financing terrorist organizations or
activities. They say that terrorist leaders use hard drugs
to aid religious indoctrination and often distribute them to
recruits, sometimes without their knowledge, to persuade them
to carry out violent attacks.

Low Level Corruption


6. (SBU) There are periodic reports of low-level drug-related
corruption involving police, military and customs officers.
Currently, there is no direct evidence of participation by
high-level security or executive/judicial branch officials in
drug trafficking.

Government Efforts to Stem Drug Trade


7. (SBU) The Algerian government is acutely aware of the
threat of cross-border crime in all its forms, has augmented
security forces devoted to the problem and created
specialized law enforcement units, and has seen a steady rise
in drug-related criminal prosecutions and investigations over
the past two years. The highest counternarcotics agency is
the National Office for the Fight Against Drugs and
Addiction, within the Ministry of Justice. The government
has provided new equipment and training, particularly to the
National Gendarmerie, Customs, and Border Patrol. Algerian
government officials have participated in drug-enforcement
training in European countries like Germany and France, and
in turn, trained Algerian civil organizations on how to build
domestic projects to address drug-related problems.

8. (U) The Office of International Cooperation, within the
National Office for the Fight Against Drugs and Addiction,
collects and analyzes information, coordinates public and
private anti-drug efforts, reports to senior levels of the
Algerian government, and represents Algeria at the
international level on all things drug related. Algeria also
is a member of Med Net, a network of Mediterranean countries
established in 2006 to address drug trafficking in the
region.

Drug Treatment Facilities


9. (U) Drug use in Algeria is currently not of a level that
affects large sectors of public health. However, the
government has established two drug treatment centers in
Blida and Oran with 30 rooms each, which include
hospitalization facilities and three-week treatment programs.
Over the past nine years, the facilities have treated about
25,000 patients. The government plans to establish 15 new
centers with hospitalization facilities throughout the
country. By 2010, it plans to have opened 53 outpatient
facilities, with at least one center in each of Algeria’s 48
wilayas, for which funding has already been allocated. More
than 150 doctors have received drug treatment training.
JORDAN