CEPOL course “02/2012 - Fighting Against Drugs', took place in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 27-30 March 2012. The Cyprus Police Academy undertook the organisation of this course with the support of Belgium, Poland and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drugs Addiction (EMCDDA) one of CEPOL’s sister agencies. Contributions were also made by experts from Cyprus, the United Kingdom and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from the United States of America.
The Director of the Cyprus Police Academy, Chief Superintendent Zacharias Chrysostomou, addressed the course giving a brief introduction on how the Cyprus Police are trying to implement measures against drug trafficking and stressed the importance of dealing with drug-related crimes. Mr Chrysostomou in his speech, mentioned that: “Cyprus, as a Member State of the European Union, has been watching the expansion and increase of this problem in Europe and is alarmed by the worrying indications of developments in the synthetic drugs market and more generally, in the way drug consumers now use a wider set of substances. Cyprus, like other European Member States has used for some years now, the philosophy of a balanced and integrated approach to dealing with the problem”.
Twenty six representatives from seventeen EU Member States and one representative from Switzerland attended the course. The majority of participants are considered experts in the field of combating Drug trafficking as they deal with these issues on a daily basis. It must be pointed out that the course focused on international aspects of tackling the problem. Therefore, the course was also attended by an expert from the United States. The course was organised in an effort to enable the participants to exchange experiences, to discuss but also identify possible common standards that could be adopted by all Member States.
The objectives of the course were:
- To develop a global analysis linked to drug trafficking with regards to the source and production countries, to include drug trafficking routes, modus operandi, new trends & techniques with special emphasis on the implementation of modern technology.
- To develop an approach to combating drug trafficking organisations, while strengthening the cooperation between EU agencies.
- With the use of existing resources to implement the actions included in the EU Action Plan & Strategy in relation to Supply Reduction.
The course was beneficial to both the experts and the participants, as they had the opportunity to discuss issues during the presentations and to attend workshops and exchange ideas regarding the best practices that can be adopted in combating drug-related crimes. Each participant’s expertise and competence contributed positively to the fulfillment of the above mentioned objectives.
Laurent Laniel from the EMCDDA said that, heroin is Europe’s biggest problem and currently there are 700,000 users undergoing substitution treatments. Opiates are responsible for 10-20,000 deaths annually in the EU, including 7,600 overdose deaths, while the number of cocaine related deaths reported in 2009 were around 900. Moreover, a record number of 49 new substances were reported to the EMCDDA through the early warning system in 2011. Mr Laniel also gave an overview of the state of play and the work being done in relation with the preparation of the Drug Supply reduction indicators in the EU.
Dr Waldemar Krawczyk from Poland shared valuable information regarding the new methods of production and smuggling of precursors. He also gave a brief analysis of the European Pact against synthetic drugs, a Polish initiative, which was adopted by the EU on 27 October 2011, during the Polish Presidency. He also presented the EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats) project relating to synthetic drugs.
Jaakko Sonck, a participant from Finland, said: “Everything was very well organised..., glad I participated…, my expectations were met…, thank you for everything”.
The Chief of Cyprus Police, Mr. Michael Papageorgiou in his closing speech said: “Drug trafficking remains a major activity for organised crime groups but at the same time it is difficult to establish how widely terrorist groups are also involved in the illicit drug trade as well as the nature of cooperation between these two criminal groups. The magnitude of the numbers involved makes the relationship worrisome. The enormous profits from the drug trade are such that they enable drug cartels to control or influence various centres of authority and power, thus escaping any measures and campaigns against the production and trafficking of these narcotic substances. I can assure you that Cyprus Police will do its utmost in the fight against drugs, placing great emphasis on supply reduction, international cooperation and prevention”.