U.S. Department of State
Iceland is not a significant producer or transit site for
illicit drugs. Iceland's drug problem, while small relative to
many countries, does have an impact on the domestic population,
especially the young. The Government of Iceland (GOI) made little
progress in 1996 to advance counternarcotics initiatives, and
there is growing concern that Iceland is becoming a transit point
for trafficking between Europe and the US. Iceland is expected to
ratify the 1988 UN Convention in 1997.
II. Status of Country
On a per capita basis, Iceland has a relatively small drug
problem, but narcotics use has grown steadily in the past few
years. There is limited drug trafficking but it seems to be on
the rise. In most cases, however, addicts purchase drugs abroad
for their exclusive use, and do not sell them in the domestic
market. The most notable and alarming trend is the increase of
drug abuse among young teens, particularly of ecstasy (MDMA) and
The Ministry of Justice and police have begun re-evaluating
laws, court procedures, and punishment guidelines in an attempt
to gain flexibility in police counternarcotics efforts and to get
stiffer sentencing. There is also a growing focus on educational
programs, and obtaining additional funding for the narcotics
While seizures of cocaine declined in 1996, there were record
seizures of hashish, ecstasy, and amphetamines. Seizures of
ecstasy rose again dramatically, although they remain well below
the seizure levels of amphetamines and hashish.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1996
Policy Initiatives. While Iceland has not
ratified the 1988 UN Convention, it is expected that it will be
ratified in 1997. Parliament has discussed softening Iceland's
tough anti-entrapment laws, which do not permit the narcotics
police to purchase drugs and then prosecute the sellers.
Discerning how drugs transit Iceland is a matter of police
guesswork. Iceland's narcotics police run a Joint Information
Coordination Center (JICC) charged with monitoring aircraft
transiting Iceland and reporting the information to the El Paso
Intelligence Center (EPIC). The program has proven ineffective to
date in part because of inadequate cooperation between the
narcotics police and the customs service, inefficient, antiquated
equipment used by the JICC, and frequent delays in obtaining new
Agreements and Treaties. Iceland is a party to the 1961 Single Convention, its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The USG and GOI have an extradition treaty dating from 1902, and a supplementary treaty signed in 1905. Iceland participates in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Law Enforcement Efforts. The narcotics police
report the following drug seizure data for 1996: 36.4 kgs of
hashish, up from 10.9 kgs in 1995; 3.4 kgs of marijuana, up from
.30 kgs of marijuana in 1995; 6.1 kgs of amphetamines, up from
5.1 kgs in 1995; .10 kgs of cocaine, down from .14 kgs in 1995;
as in 1995 there was no confiscation of heroin; 5,587 units of
prescription drugs down, significantly from 47,644 in 1995; and
2,199 ecstasy pills. Ecstasy and hashish are inexpensive.
Authorities believe that residential production is limited to
some indoor growing of marijuana plants.
Money laundering is not in itself a crime in Iceland. In order
to consider it a crime, laundered money must be connected to some
activity which violates Icelandic law. Recent and current cases
of money laundering in violation of Icelandic laws do not involve
drugs. There were no reports of assets seized in 1996.
Corruption. The USG is not aware of reported
cases of drug-related corruption among public officials in
Drug Flow/Transit. Some officials believe
most illicit drugs transiting Iceland are destined for larger
Western European markets, while smaller amounts of drugs are
bound for the US. Icelandic authorities seize most illicit drugs
in small quantities from passengers on commercial airlines.
Cultivation/Production. Although authorities
seized 116 cannabis seeds and 1,020 cannabis plants during the
year, the USG is not aware of any reported cultivation or
production of illicit drugs in Iceland.
Demand Reduction. The Ministries of Education
and Health are responsible for Iceland's counternarcotics
educational programs. The chairman of an Inter-Ministerial
Committee on Drug Abuse has expressed interest in various US
demand reduction programs, especially the "Lion's
Quest," a program sponsored by Lions' Club International
that attempts to bolster the self-esteem of students. USIS works
with GOI officials in developing drug abuse prevention materials.
IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. GOI and USG law
enforcement cooperation is excellent. USG counternarcotics
efforts in Iceland have focused on revitalizing a moribund JICC
operation, particularly by encouraging the timely sharing of
information between narcotics police and customs authorities. The
narcotics police are interested in using information obtained
from the El Paso Intelligence Center to conduct searches of
suspicious aircraft and work more aggressively to interdict drug
trafficking. In fact, in 1996, Icelandic Customs officials for
the first time took action based on information from EPIC and
searched a suspicious aircraft. While the search uncovered
nothing illegal, news that Customs officials are searching
aircraft should have a deterrent effect on those considering
using Iceland as a transit point for narcotics.
The Road Ahead. The USG will encourage the GOI to ratify the 1988 UN Convention. In addition, the USG will share information, and work to try to improve the performance of the JICC program to increase controls over potential trafficking through Iceland.