Current Affairs Czechs and Germans intensify the fight against rampant cross-border drug trafficking
The Czech and German interior ministers on Thursday pledged to intensify cooperation at all levels to curb a flourishing cross-border drug trade in crystal methamphetamine. Despite tightened border controls, Czech suppliers are meeting growing demand in the southern and eastern parts of Germany which border on the Czech Republic and where an increasing number of young people are falling prey to the highly-addictive stimulant.
The law of supply and demand is proving a powerful obstacle in Czech-German efforts to curb cross-border trafficking in crystal methamphetamine, a stimulant known as “pervitin” in the Czech Republic and “czecho” in neighboring Germany. The drug, made in illegal home-labs, has a similar effect as cocaine, but is cheaper and easier to acquire on the black market. Czech producers are supplying not only an estimated 40,000 crystal meth users in the Czech Republic but a growing clientele across the border. Annually Czech police uncover some 300 to 400 home labs and new ones crop up all the time. The deputy head of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Petr Kočí explains.
“Pervitin or crystal methamphetamine is made in illegal home labs across the Czech Republic. It is being produced in large quantities, several tons annually, according to our knowledge. Originally the drug was produced for local needs but with growing demand from Germany its production has soared. German users have the finances, Czech producers the know-how which has created something of a vicious circle. It is not a problem that can be resolved on one side of the border.”
It will by all accounts require an international joint venture. The Czech Republic and Poland have already joined forces to fight the problem since Czech crystal meth producers go to Poland for the basic ingredient needed to make the drug –pseudoephedrine – present in over-the-counter flu medicine that is only sold on prescription in this country. The Vietnamese community has also been asked to help since Vietnamese sellers at open air markets close to the Czech-German border are heavily involved in peddling the drug to German tourists. And primarily the Czech and German authorities will have to deepen cooperation between their police, customs officials and judiciary to combat what Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice on Thursday described as “epidemic levels of drug-related crime in border areas”. A special anti-drugs police squad operating in the western border area is to be re-enforced by several dozen officers, the two countries have agreed to a faster information exchange and faster trials and expulsions of people caught trafficking the drug. The Czech side has selected a liaison state attorney who would specialize in these cases and Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice said on Thursday that the ultimate goal was to achieve mirror image drugs legislation with Germany to facilitate the joint drive. German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said he welcomed the way the Czechs were tackling the problem.
“I am very glad to see that the Czech authorities are employing all their resources to crack down on illegal home labs, on people involved in the production, possession and trafficking of drugs.”
The Czech side has also promised to tighten its laws on drug-possession limiting the small amount one may hold for one’s own use. Presently the law allows possession of up to 2 grams of crystal meth. The limit is to be reduced to 0.5 grams, which should bring Czech norms closer to German ones.