All You Need to Know About Polish Drug Routes

July 9, 2014

Poland has recently gone from having a full ban on, and absence of, illicit substances during the Soviet era, to becoming a booming drug user society. Read the Polish drug market analysis from our Polish partner.

During the communist era, Poland was a country cut off from the international drug market. Substances like cocaine or ecstasy were unavailable for Polish users. Some addicts  were producing so called “Polish heroin” for  personal use and sometimes for sale within small groups of friends. There was no such thing as a drugs trade. After the collapse of communism and opening of the borders, new substances began to appear on the black market, and became popular.

(Cannabis and Hash routes map on the right)

Nowadays, there are numerous drug smuggling routes which pass through Poland. Illegal substances are transported from Eastern to Western Europe, and those (such as amphetamine) which are produced in Poland, are transported directly to Western Europe. Smuggling routes and methods vary, depending on the particular substance and its country of origin. Cocaine from South America (mainly Colombia, Chile and Peru) reaches us by sea or by air.

Marijuana and hashish from Morocco (the main source of European cannabis raisin products) is also usually transported by sea or air. The rest of the cannabis available in Europe comes from countries in southern Asia, and is transported overland. 

Some of the marijuana available in Poland comes from Netherlands, via Germany.

Cocaine route

 Cocaine route (see the map on the left)

Marijuana and hash routes

Heroin available on the Poland market usually comes from Afghanistan and travels by the “Balkan route”- through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, or the countries of the former USSR.  The “Balkan route” is also used for heroin from the “golden triangle” countries of Burma, Laos. Vietnam, and Thailand. Larger shipments are transported overland, while smaller quantities arrive by air. Drugs are often hidden in goods for export, such as furniture, cosmetics or electrical devices.

Poland (along with Latvia, Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia) is the biggest producer of amphetamine in Europe. It is not possible to precisely say how many amphetamine laboratories exist on Polish soil. What is known, is that in between 1995 and 2008, the police closed down 171 laboratories, including one producing methamphetamine, which is not popular in Poland and is usually produced in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Amphetamine produced in Poland goes to Germany, France, Sweden, UK, Ireland, USA and Australia. Another synthetic drug produced in Poland is ecstasy, which is generally exported to the Netherlands and Belgium.

(Heroin routes on the right)

Article 55 of the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction is intended to cover drug trafficking. Under the Act, a person who exports or transports illegal substances can face up to five years' imprisonment. It’s hard to tell what quantity of drugs are confiscated at the border, because there is no single source for this kind of data, which is separately collected by the police, customs, border guard, national security agency and military police; unfortunately, they still don’t have a uniform system. However Poland is involved in international programs targeting organised crime, such as CeCLAD-M which is aimed at drug trafficking in the Mediterranean.

Agnieszka Sieniawska/Polish Drug Policy Network/Warsaw