Bulgaria Strategically Situated along Balkan Drug Trafficking Route – US Department of State
Bulgaria is strategically situated along the Balkan Route for illicit drugs and other contraband trafficked from Southwest Asia into Western Europe, according to a report of the U.S. Department of State.
According to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), an annual report by the Department of State to Congress, international drug trafficking organizations continue to traffic cocaine, heroin, synthetic drugs, and increasingly chemical precursors through Bulgaria into consumer countries in Western Europe.
In 2014, drug trafficking organizations with ties to Africa and the Middle East continued to partner with Bulgarian organized crime networks to transport cocaine and heroin into Europe from South America.
Domestic production of illegal drugs continues to be confined primarily to cannabis cultivation—which is mainly for local consumption—and synthetic drugs such as amphetamines, which are manufactured in small laboratories for both personal use and local sales.
According to the report, an institutional restructuring of law enforcement services in 2013 led to several months of inactivity and generally slowed investigative work in Bulgaria.
The division of duty between the Ministry of Interior and the State Agency for National Security remained unclear into 2014, which further fragmented drug law enforcement efforts.
The Customs Agency, under the Ministry of Finance, has authority to investigate drug trafficking along Bulgaria’s borders.
Internal restructuring within the Agency and prioritization of taxable contraband (i.e. cigarettes) has resulted in relatively low drug seizures in recent years, but in 2014, successful interagency joint operations led to the interdiction of several hundreds of kilograms of drugs, including quantities of heroin seven times higher than what was confiscated in 2013, according to the INCSR.
Authorities also continued to seize many new psychoactive substances, including popular synthetic cannabinoids.
There has not been significant research into drug addiction within Bulgaria since 2009 when authorities estimated that the country had approximately 30,000 regular drug users.
Marijuana is the most widely used drug in Bulgaria, followed by synthetic drugs and heroin, according to the 2015 edition of the INCSR.
According to government statistics, while the number of regular drug users in Bulgaria has not fluctuated much in recent years, poly-drug use has increased and presents a challenge for traditional methods of treatment.
The authors of the report remind that Bulgarian law enforcement agencies continue to collaborate closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on counternarcotics issues and investigations.
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