Al mashriq - The Levant
(From The State Department at gopher://

(This document is abridged and contains only information relevant to Lebanon. Information for the rest of the Levant may be found under the "Health" topic.)

MARCH 1995

I. Summary

Lebanon remained a major nexus for narcotics production and trafficking in 1994 . Lebanese success in dramatically reducing the cultivation of both opium and cannabis in 1994 was offset by the continued processing of imported narcotics. Lebanese production facilities maintained pre-eradication levels of output. T he Syrians have been cooperative in facilitating some advances in the Lebanese counternarcotics effort. However, no processing laboratories in Lebanon were dismantled, and the number of heroin and cocaine laboratories increased signifi cantly during 1994. The volume of raw opium and cocaine flowing into Lebanon f or processing and reexport offset the decreased volume of opium and cannabis cu ltivated in the Biqa' Valley.

In addition to significant successful eradication efforts, positive development s in Lebanon during 1994 include the lifting of immunity to permit prosecution of a legislator alleged to be corrupt, and the initiation of investigations of other public figures. There was also a marked increase in the number of small seizures and arrests reported in Lebanon, a major seizure of cocaine base in th e port of Beirut was recorded, and a major importer of pharmaceuticals was also arrested on suspicion of diverting chemicals to illicit laboratories.

Although Lebanon has signalled its intent to accede, it is not yet a party to t he 1988 UN Convention and has not met some of the goals and objectives of the C onvention. Lebanon does not have a bilateral narcotics agreement with the Unit ed States.

II. Status of Country

The Bekaa Valley remains a center of international drug production and distribu tion. Shipments of illicit narcotics from the Bekaa Valley find their way to E urope and the United States.

Lebanese and Syrian scrutiny in and around the Bekaa Valley has contributed to significant decreases in the cultivation of drugs, but credible reports of the participation of Lebanese and Syrian officials in the drug trade persisted. A recent visit by the UNDCP senior legal advisor addressed Lebanon's need to focu s on money laundering and precursor chemical legislation, and prosecutorial gui delines. The Lebanese have not reconciled bank secrecy laws with the need to d evelop safeguards against money laundering. There have been repeated high leve l statements that Lebanon will maintain its traditional banking secrecy laws.

III. Country Action Against Drugs in 1994

The joint Lebanese/Syrian eradication program initiated in 1992 attained its gr eatest success in 1994. USG agencies estimate that as a result of the 1994 era dication campaign less than 90 hectares of opium poppy were available for harve st with the potential to produce less than one metric ton of opium, an 80 perce nt decrease from 1993 totals. USG agencies also estimate that 1994 hashish cul tivation dropped some 50 percent from 15,700 hectares in 1993 to 8,100 this yea r with a similar production decrease from 565 metric tons in 1993 to 275 tons i n 1994.

It was recently reported that the GOL has tentatively agreed to accept the 1988 UN Convention on Narcotics. UNDCP officials are engaged in an extensive effor t to establish sentencing guidelines for narcotics offenses and announced that the GOL has identified a prosecutor for these offenses. At present there is a draft law residing with the parliamentary committee for administration and judi cial matters targeting money laundering in connection with narcotics violations . The recent assignment of a UNDCP official in Beirut further echoes the gover nment's willingness to address illicit drug matters in the international arena.

Lebanon's coordinated efforts with the UNDCP crop substitution program have con vinced some farmers to cultivate staple crops, but the amount of future remuner ation for the substitution of crops will determine the continued success of the program.

Extradition. There were no known extraditions during 1994 as all narcotics off enses committed in Lebanon are prosecuted locally.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Cooperation between Lebanon and Syria resulted in a m arked increase in the number of seizures during 1994. The numbers of arrests a nd seizures in 1994 rose from 250 in 1993 to approximately 1,100 in 1994. Alth ough the majority of seizures were small, in November this cooperation, along w ith efforts with other governments and organizations, resulted in the seizure o f 100 kg of cocaine aboard a Colombian vessel. Three individuals were arrested locally as a result of the seizure and the investigation continues. Lebanese authorities have begun to work closely with European narcotics officials and ha ve made numerous visits to the Bekaa with their European counterparts.

Agreements and Treaties. Lebanon and the US have no existing agreements on nar cotics or extradition. Lebanese authorities have stated that the Chamber of Mi nisters has adopted the 1988 Convention on Narcotics but there has been no offi cial announcement.

Drug Flow/Transit. This year witnessed the first seizures at airports and seap orts and the creation of a narcotics unit assigned to the ports and airport.

Domestic Programs. It is difficult to determine the extent of drug addiction i n Lebanese society, but anecdotal and media-derived evidence suggest a signific ant, growing problem. At present the extent of the GOL anti-drug campaign is l imited to education and posters in the schools.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs.

Embassy and DEA officals continue to stress the necessity of interdicting shipm ents of narcotics base chemicals and precursor chemicals in visits with Lebanes e narcotics authorities.

Bilateral Cooperation. The US and Lebanon do not have a bilateral narcotics ag reement. DEA and embassy officials maintain close liaison with Lebanese counte rparts and have worked in concert with them on numerous controlled deliveries i n the region. Embassy and Lebanese counterparts have also worked closely toget her on matters of mutual concern involving transit of drugs to the United State s. The GOL has repeatedly stressed its willingness to combat narcotics and to work closely with USG and third country narcotics efforts.

Road Ahead. The progress that the Government of Lebanon is making in counterna rcotics through the steps being taken toward acceding to the 1988 Convention on Narcotics and the drafting of laws addressing money laundering schemes, consti tute grounds for cautious optimism. The willingness of the Government of Leban on to pursue the prosecution of a member of Parliament is another indicator of its increased seriousness in its counternarcotics efforts. The posting of a UN DCP official will assist the Lebanese authorities in crafting narcotics statute s consistent with international standards.