U.S. Department of State

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
March 1997
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs


I. Summary

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 amphetamines.

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 police division.

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 equipment.

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 Iceland.

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.

USIS, American Embassy, Strandvägen 101, 115 89 Stockholm
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