Illicit Traffic in Heroin

Sections

I. INTRODUCTION
II. THE PRINCIPAL ILLICIT MARKETS
III. PRINCIPAL ROUTES
IV. COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN
V. CLANDESTINE MANUFACTURE

Details

Pages: 45 to 48
Creation Date: 1953/01/01

Illicit Traffic in Heroin

I. INTRODUCTION

In spite of the fact that in 1951 "no less than fifty States reported to the World Health Organization that they had discontinued, or declared their willingness to discontinue its medical use,"[1] and that in a number of States, its manufacture has been suspended or prohibited, diacetylmorphine or heroin continues to be found in substantial quantities in the illicit traffic throughout the world, as shown in the following table:

WORLD TOTALS

Year

Manufacture kg

Consumption kg

Seizures kg

1936 870 853 867
1946
471*
553*
27
1947
581*
565*
106
1948
839*
657*
35
1949
523*
553*
77
1950 450
400*
80
1951
381*
412*
120

* incomplete.

The period, 1946 to 1951, is selected for review in this article as the first five-year period of supervision by the United Nations of the international control of narcotic drugs since it was transferred from the League of Nations in 1946.

The period, 1939 to 1945, that of World War II, immediately preceding this, was covered in two memoranda, namely "Review of the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs Throughout the World During the Years 1940 to 1945, inclusive, and the First Half of 1946,[2] and "World Trends of the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs During the War, 1939 to 1945.''[3]

For comparison, references are made to the situation in 1936. The year 1936 has been chosen because it was two years after the 1931 Convention, which provided for the most stringent regime of control for international trade in heroin yet devised, had come into force, and about three years before World War II commenced.

The table above points up the fact that while legal manufacture of heroin is a source of supply to the illicit traffic in this drug, the rise or fall in the volume of legal manufacture is not necessarily followed by increase or decrease in amounts found in the illicit traffic. As a matter of fact, the table shows that, although the volume of legal manufacture for 1951 reached the lowest level in five years, the amounts found in the illicit traffic in the same year aggregated to the highest total during the same period. Moreover, reports from governments during the last two years indicated that, thanks to stricter measures of control over manufacture of and trade in heroin put into effect by various governments, diversions from legal into illicit channels due to thefts, robberies, forged prescriptions or laxity in respect of issuance of medical prescriptions have been reduced to the minimum. If legal manufacture no longer forms an important source of supply to the illicit traffic in heroin, an explanation of this continuing nefarious traffic and its sources of supply must be sought elsewhere.

Report of the Permanent Central Opium Board to the United Nations Economic and Social Council on the Work of the Board During 1951 (E/OB/8, page 9).

This memorandum was prepared by Mr. John W. Bulkley, assistant deputy commissioner, Bureau of Customs, U. S. Treasury Department, and printed in the United Nations document E/CN.7/68, pp. 3-22.

A paper prepared by the Secretariat of the United Nations for the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, first session, 1946, and printed in the same document above on pages 23-36.

Accordingly, an analysis is made in this article not only of the principal illicit markets throughout the world, as far as official information is available, and of the quantities involved, but also of the routes followed of the countries of origin and of the clandestine manufacture.

II. THE PRINCIPAL ILLICIT MARKETS

On the basis of information supplied by Governments,[4] the principal illicit markets for heroin during 1951 were: France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Canada, United States of America, Japan, Hong Kong, Egypt, and Tunisia. Lesser amounts of heroin were seized in: United Kingdom, Mexico, and China (Formosa).

In 1936, the principal markets were China and the United States of America, although Canada, Bulgaria, Egypt, the Netherlands Indies (now Indonesia), and Hong Kong also reported seizures of heroin within their jurisdiction.

The world markets, by countries and continents, and the quantities of seizures in the post-war years compared with those of 1936, are shown in the table on page 46.

Seizures in France during the post-war years increased steadily, the largest total being that of 1951, although it amounted only to about 11% of the total of 1936.

In Greece, the amounts also increased steadily, the largest being that of 1951, although it was only about 5% of that seized in 1936.

COMPARATIVE TABLES OF SEIZURES

 

1936

1946

1947

1948

1949

1950

1951

Country

kg

gr.

kg

gr.

kg

gr.

kg

gr.

kg

gr.

kg

gr.

kg

gr.

Europe
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Austria
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
2
Belgium
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
15
-
-
-
-
Bulgaria
-
210
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
France
15 181
-
850
-
420
-
940 1 579 1 540 1 651
Germany
-
-
-
500
-
50
-
16
-
1
-
1
-
-
Greece
20 303
-
242
-
217
-
289
-
187 1 157 1 109
Italy
-
-
-
-
-
-
1 000
-
700 5 000 2 900
Turkey
10 000
-
-
-
-
1 302 2 202 24 384 57 038
United Kingdom
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
11
Yugoslavia
-
-
5 000
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Total
45 694 6 592
-
687 3 547 4 684 32 083 62 711
North America
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Canada
-
214
-
530
-
285
-
437
-
958 1 572 1 970
Mexico
-
-
-
-
-
808
-
894
-
13
-
140
-
4
United States
58 843 9 427 24 279 29 525 31 094 22 454 28 870
South America
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Argentina
-
18
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Colombia
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
-
-
Total
-
18
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
-
-
Asia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
China
704 538 9 273 80 329
-
-
-
-
-
527
-
30
Indonesia
3 783
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
Japan
-
383
-
625
-
60 2 992 2 762 7 611 8 783
Hong Kong
21 918
-
4
-
-
-
-
35 000 22 390 18 427
Korea
1 141
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Total
731 763 9 902 80 389 2 992 37 762 30 529 27 240
Africa
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Egypt
26 737 1 268 1 592
-
220 4 019
-
637
-
402
Tunisia
4 109
-
-
-
-
-
122
-
226
-
-
1 413
Total
30 846 1 268 1 592
-
342 4 245
-
637 1 815
Oceania
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Australia
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
6
-
-
-
-
New Zealand
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
50
-
-
-
-
-
-
Total
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
50
-
6
-
-
-
-
Grand Total
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Europe
45 694 6 592
-
687 3 547 4 684 32 083 62 711
North America
58 843 9 427 24 279 29 525 31 094 22 454 28 870
South America
-
18
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
-
-
Asia
731 763 9 902 80 389 2 992 37 762 30 529 27 240
Africa
30 846 1 268 1 592
-
342 4 245
-
637 1 815
Oceania
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
50
-
6
-
-
-
-
TOTAL
867 164 27 189 106 947 36 456 77 791 85 706 120 636

In Italy, the largest total for any one year was that of 1950, which was 5 kilogrammes. In 1951, it decreased to 2 kg 900 gr.

Turkey had by far the highest figure for 1951, which was 57 kg 038 gr., as compared with 1 kg 302 gr. in 1948, 2 kg 202 gr. in 1949, and 24 kg 384 gr. in 1950. The 1951 figure was almost six times that of 1936, which was 10 kilogrammes.

Seizures in Canada were made up of small quantities. The total increased steadily in the post-war years. From 530 grammes in 1946, it rose to 1 kg 970 gr. in 1951, as compared with only 214 grammes in 1936.

Seizures in Japan also increased steadily, the highest total being that of 1951.[5] In Japan the figure in 1936 was incomplete.

In Hong Kong, the largest total was that of 1949, namely, 35 kilogrammes. In 1951, it was almost 18 kilogrammes - not far behind that of 1936, which was almost 22 kilogrammes. Heroin pills continued to be encountered in Hong Kong.

In 1946 the Prefectural Officials delivered to the United States Armed Forces in Japan 705 kg 290 gr. of heroin, part of which was from the Japanese Army stock and the remainder was collected by the Japanese Army in China during occupation.

In Egypt, during the post-war years, seizures of heroin decreased. In 1951, it was only 402 grammes.

In Tunisia, the total was 1 kg 413 gr., almost one-fourth that of 1936.

By continents, it may be observed that in Europe heroin seizures increased steadily in the post-war years, that of 1951 having exceeded the total of the pre-war year of 1936.

In North America, total seizures remained almost constant and were less than those of 1936.

No information was available in respect of South America in the post-war years.

In Asia, the totals of 1947, 1949, 1950 and 1951 were all impressively large. The figures in respect of 1949 to 1951 were far from complete, as there was no information available on this subject in respect of a large part of the eastern and most populous part of the continent of Asia.

As regards the situation on a global scale, the total reported for 1951, though incomplete, must be considered large as even against the total for 1936; because out of the world total of 867 kilogrammes for 1936, Asia alone reported 731 kilogrammes. The remaining 136 kilogrammes was only 16 kilogrammes more than that of 1951 which, unlike the 1936 figure, did not include information normally available in respect of a large part of the continent of Asia.

III. PRINCIPAL ROUTES

In Turkey, the centers of illicit traffickers' activities were located in the provinces of Istanbul, Gaziantep and Ankara.

Heroin, completely prepared in finished form under the name of Bazon, was smuggled into Greece from Turkey by way of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. During the last three months of 1951, however, the route seemed to have changed its course away from Greece and pointed in the direction of the Western Hemisphere, the United States of America.

France, owing to her geographical situation and coastline on the Mediterranean, is a country of transit for illicit narcotic drugs, including heroin mainly from the Near East and destined to the Western Hemisphere, primarily the United States of America. One route runs from Metropolitan France to Tunisia, and another from Marseilles to Algiers, which is also used as a transit point.

In 1950, one important case involving 10 kilogrammes of heroin reported by the Government of Italy indicated a route originating in Trieste, which branched out into several routes leading to different cities throughout Italy. In 1951, heroin was found to have been smuggled by land from Nice in France to Genoa, and by air from Milan to Palermo.

Ninety percent of narcotic seizures in Canada had to do with heroin. The route originating abroad reached Canada by way of the United States of America. The brown type of heroin in the earlier part of the post-war period came from Mexico by way of the United States.

An important route of illicit traffic in heroin, according to the Annual Report of the United States of America for 1951, extends from the mainland of China through Hong Kong and the Japanese ports to the United States.

According to the Annual Report of Japan for 1951, routes by sea and air existed between the mainland of China and Japan, passing through the northern part of Korea and Hong Kong.

Less traffic occurred on the route from Italy to the United States, since the Italian Government tightened its control over the manufacture of and trade in heroin within its borders. No traffic was reported from Mexico, the Government of the latter having also made stricter its control.

Sea route by the Mediterranean, land route across the eastern frontier through the Sinai desert and air route having been followed by traffickers in bringing into Egypt white drugs, including heroin, along with the black ones, opium and hashish. In recent years, heroin has, however, dwindled in amount in the illicit traffic in Egypt.

IV. COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN

Italy has been a country of origin of heroin seized in France and the United States, although in recent years, owing to strict control exercised by the Italian Government over the manufacture and trade in this drug, the amounts from this source are greatly reduced.

Turkey is a country of origin of heroin seized in Egypt, France, Greece and the United States.

A "brown" type of heroin, which used to be frequently found in Canada, originated in Mexico. This traffic has also ceased in recent years, thanks to the strenuous efforts of the Mexican Government.

A new brand of heroin bearing the label, in Chinese characters, of "Red Lion Company" appeared in the illicit market in the United States. According to the Annual Report of the Government of the United States, this type of heroin under the Red Lion label was derived from sources located on the mainland of China.

Hong Kong and Japan, according to their annual reports, encountered heroin from the same sources.

V. CLANDESTINE MANUFACTURE

If reduction in legal manufacture of heroin does not explain why illicit traffic in this drug has not yet substantially decreased, clandestine manufacture probably furnishes at least a partial answer.

Ever since the United Nations took over the narcotic supervisory functions from the League of Nations, reports of discoveries of clandestine factories have been received from a number of Governments.

In view of the importance of clandestine manufacture as a source of supply to the illicit heroin traffic a summary of cases recently reported follows:

  1. In 1945, in the District of Darica, Vilayet of Kad-jaeli, Turkey, a clandestine factory for the manufacture of heroin was found on a farm. Both the paraphernalia and heroin (400 grammes) were seized. (E/NS.1946/Summary, 3 July 1947, page 4 A)

  2. In Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey, a clandestine factory for the manufacture of heroin was discovered in a private house: 120 grammes were seized. (Ibid., page 4 B)

  3. In Ayazpasa, Istanbul, Turkey, another clandestine heroin factory was found in a private house (Ibid., page 4 C)

  4. In April, 1945, in New York, U.S.A., the police discovered a clandestine heroin factory in an apartment house. (Ibid., page 5)

  5. In December, 1946, a secret laboratory for the manufacture of heroin (and cocaine) was discovered in the residence of a textile merchant in Athens. Heroin manufactured in this clandestine laboratory was for use by addicts within the country. (Ibid., page 3)

  6. In December, 1947, three clandestine factories were seized in Mexico. In one of them, 625 grammes of heroin sulphate were seized. (E/NS. 1948/ Summary 4, 30 October 1948, page 3)

  7. In August, 1948, officers of the Greek Security Police discovered in Athens a clandestine heroin factory installed in the house of a trafficker. The equipment found on the premises proved to be exclusively used for the acetylisation of morphine base into heroin. (E/NS. 1948/Summary 5, 1 February 1949, page 2)

  8. In August, 1949, in Kowloon, Hong Kong, a clandestine heroin laboratory was seized. (E/NS. 1949/Summary 6, page 5)

  9. In October, 1949, in Istanbul, Turkey, a clandestine heroin factory installed in the kitchen of a private residence was found. The raid "uncovered large quantities of materials, utensils, and chemicals ordinarily used in the manufacture of heroin, as well as large quantities of pure or semi-processed heroin." (Ibid.)

  10. In March, 1950, at Silivri, Turkey, a clandestine heroin factory installed also in a private residence was discovered: 10 kilogrammes of heroin together with other materials and utensils were seized. (E/NS. 1950/Summary 4, 15 September 1950, page 41)

  11. In March, 1949, in Guadalajara, Mexico, a clandestine factory for the manufacture of opium alkaloids was seized.

  12. On 23 May 1951, in Marseilles, France, a clandestine factory for the manufacture of heroin from crude morphine was seized. According to the Report of France, "...it is believed that an important source of the illicit traffic in narcotics was uncovered." The report also revealed that the equipment had been used for a fairly long time and that the accused was known to have had connexions with large-scale traffickers. (E/NS. 1951/Summary 4, page 3)

  13. On 20 June 1951, a clandestine laboratory for the manufacture of heroin was seized at Konya, Turkey. The laboratory was installed in cellars of private houses surrounded by vineyards. (E/NS. 1952/Summary 1, 15 March 1952, page 4)

  14. On 6 November 1951, at Emet, Turkey, another clandestine heroin laboratory was seized. (Ibid.)

  15. On 18 March 1952, a clandestine laboratory for the manufacture of heroin from crude morphine was discovered in a shop, apparently used for repairing scales, at 29 rue des Envierges, Paris. According to the report of the Government of France, "the discovery of the laboratory in Paris, following the discovery of a laboratory in Marseilles last year (above), shows how easy it is to install an illicit laboratory for the purpose of converting morphine into heroin." The report concluded with the following significant sentence, "it seems that the installation of clandestine laboratories in France dated from 1951 and is a consequence of the cessation of diversions in Italy during the previous years." (E/NS. 1952/Summary 3, pp. 2-3)

  16. Another clandestine heroin factory was seized on 29 June 1952 at Montgeron, France. The illegal activities started even before 1952. (E/NS. 1952/ Summary 4, 15 September 1952, page 1)

  17. On 22 July 1952, another clandestine factory for the manufacture of heroin for export to Algiers and to the United States was discovered and seized in Marseilles, France. (E/NS. 1952/Summary 5, 15 November 1952, page 2)

This array of cases concerning clandestine heroin factories is, of course, far from being complete. It does, however, partially explain why illicit traffic in heroin continues to flourish in the face of reduction in legal manufacture of the drug and in spite of vigorous efforts at suppression of illicit traffic on the part of a number of governments.

r004

Annual Reports on the working of the Narcotic Conventions and Seizure Reports.