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Official Text

Text: 1996 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (Incsr) Taiwan

I. Summary

Due to its geographic location relative to the Golden Triangle and its role as a regional transportation/shipping hub, Taiwan is a transit point for international narcotics trafficking. Taiwan's authorities say that its ongoing aggressive domestic counternarcotics program led to a decline in drug trafficking, exhibited in a statistical decline in seizures, prosecutions, and percentage of prison population incarcerated for drug-related offenses in Taiwan. Taiwan cannot be a party to the 1988 UN Convention because it is not a UN member. In 1996, however, it passed several pieces of legislation (including new laws addressing money laundering, organized crime and asset forfeiture) which, while not specifically targeted against narcotics, nonetheless will bring Taiwan into closer conformity with the goals and objectives of the 1988 Convention. These laws also could enhance the authorities' ability to attack those most responsible for illicit drug trafficking in and through Taiwan. Legislation on control of precursor chemicals is also under consideration in Taiwan.

Taiwan's operational cooperation expanded with US law enforcement agencies in the area of counternarcotics, through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The unofficial offices representing the US and Taiwan continue negotiations on a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide a more precise legal basis for even broader counternarcotics cooperation. The Taiwan authorities have been willing to cooperate informally in the area of joint operations. The UN in 1996 removed Taiwan from its list of major drug transit countries. The Taiwan authorities dispute US claims that the island is a significant transit point for heroin to the US. There is no dispute, however, that Taiwan has been a lucrative market for traffickers, and Taiwan nationals clearly are involved in international narcotics trafficking.

II. Status of Country

Taiwan is not a significant cultivator or producer of illegal narcotics, but the illegal consumption of both heroin and methamphetamines is a serious social problem. In the past, amphetamines were produced on-island; due to aggressive police efforts and shifting market forces within the drug trade, production facilities in recent years moved to mainland China.

Although the UN in 1996 removed Taiwan from its list of major drug transit countries, US experts continue to believe that Taiwan is a major transit point for international narcotics trafficking. This assessment is due to the pattern of trafficking in the region and concern that Taiwan's ports, like other busy container ports in the region, are being used as transit points for narcotics shipments en route to other destinations, despite the efforts of Taiwan law enforcement authorities. Kaohsiung is the world's third busiest port in terms of container traffic, after Hong Kong and Singapore, and is a major transit and transshipment center for shipping to and from other ports in the region. Official Taiwan figures show that of the 3.8 million shipping containers entering Keelung and Kaohsiung ports each year, a significant percentage are "in transit"; in accordance with standard international practice, these are not normally subject to inspection by Taiwan Customs. Of the remaining 2 million containers entering Taiwan which local authorities are legally permitted to inspect, Customs examines approximately 15 percent.

Taiwan authorities recognize that money laundering -- which in the past has been linked in Taiwan not only to narcotics trafficking but to illegal manufacturing and insider trading on the securities market as well -- has become a growing problem. The legislature in October passed a new money laundering prevention law which criminalizes the laundering of money gained through these and other illegal activities. While the law enhances the authorities' ability to deal with this problem, it will not take effect until April 1997 and requires a number of revisions to enable Taiwan to meet international standards.

Taiwan has cooperated with US law enforcement agencies in conducting investigations related to illegal narcotics trafficking and financial crimes.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1996

Policy Initiatives. Taiwan continued an aggressive nationwide counternarcotics campaign that includes both harsh sentences for narcotics trafficking and social rehabilitation programs. This year Taiwan passed new legislation which, while not specifically narcotics-related, will serve to augment existing counternarcotics laws and bring Taiwan into closer conformity with the 1988 UN Convention and the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force. This new legislation includes bills against money laundering and organized crime (including provisions for asset forfeiture) and revisions to the anti-hooligan law which provide greater protection for witnesses. Additionally, at the National Security Conference held in December, the Minister of Justice called for the creation of a National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) in order to facilitate the collection of intelligence against narcotics traffickers.

Accomplishments. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) reported a decline of 17.9 percent in overall drug convictions in the first eleven months of 1996, which it attributed to a decline in both drug consumption and drug trafficking into Taiwan. Taiwan authorities seized 131 kgs of heroin (down 41.7 percent from 1995's total of 248 kgs) and 1,869 kgs of amphetamines in 1996. Over the past year, there has been good cooperation and information exchanges between US and Taiwan law enforcement authorities (via the unofficial offices representing both sides). In 1997, Taiwan will sponsor and pay the costs for a DEA-taught training seminar for Taiwan law enforcement officers.

Law Enforcement Efforts/Corruption. The MOJ plays a major role in formulating counternarcotics-related policies and legislation. The Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) and the National Police Administration's Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) are Taiwan's lead counternarcotics law enforcement agencies. Through November, it investigated 34,452 narcotics-related cases and obtained 24,279 convictions. Taiwan is currently engaged in a major nationwide anti-organized crime campaign and is aggressively prosecuting cases of public corruption. To date there have been no reported cases of official involvement in narcotics trafficking in Taiwan, nor does public policy support the production or distribution of illegal drugs.

Agreements and Treaties. In 1992, Taiwan's unofficial representative office in the US signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on counternarcotics cooperation on criminal prosecutions with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents US interests in Taiwan. AIT and its Taiwan counterpart, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), have been negotiating a new counternarcotics MOU intended to expand and make more explicit counternarcotics cooperation. Taiwan is not now party to any other formal bilateral counternarcotics agreements. Nevertheless, the Taiwan authorities state they are committed to the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Convention and have enacted legislation which has brought Taiwan's counternarcotics laws into closer conformity with the provisions of the Convention.

Cultivation/Production. There is no information indicating Taiwan is a significant producer of any illegal narcotics. According to MOJ, law enforcement efforts and shifting market forces have caused amphetamine labs to move to mainland China, where they are financed in part by Taiwan traffickers.

Drug Flow/Transit. From January to November, Taiwan authorities seized 131 kgs of heroin. Of the amount seized, 26.3 percent came from mainland China. While most heroin is smuggled into Taiwan on cargo ships, fishing boats are the principal means of smuggling methamphetamines from mainland China to Taiwan. From January to November, 68.7 percent of the methamphetamines smuggled into Taiwan came from mainland China. Taiwan law enforcement authorities recently have expressed concern, however, that Hong Kong-based drug traffickers may be collaborating with Taiwan organized crime groups to transfer their base of operations to Taiwan before Hong Kong reverts to mainland Chinese sovereignty in July 1997.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). While the figures for drug-related crimes have all shown a decline, and juvenile usage has continued to drop yearly, methamphetamine usage in particular continues to be a serious social problem. In recent years, Taiwan implemented an aggressive media campaign to educate the public on the negative consequences of illegal drug use. Taiwan authorities also undertook programs to reduce narcotics-related recidivism.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The American Institute in Taiwan vigorously pursued closer working-level cooperation on counternarcotics matters, including increased information exchanges and joint operations. Under the aegis of AIT, DEA expanded its working-level contacts with Taiwan law enforcement agencies. In addition, DEA will provide training to several Taiwan law enforcement agencies in February 1997, and Taiwan officials informally indicated an intent to seek assistance from US law enforcement agencies in setting up Taiwan's new National Drug Intelligence Center.