Anti-drug inspectors “reduced by almost a half” in last decade

Despite Portugal’s pole position on international drug trafficking routes, the truth is that drug-squad detectives have been steadily reduced over the last 10 years to the point that they are now running at “half the capacity”, writes Diário de Notícias.

It is just down to “sacrifice and overtime” that they still manage the “triumphs” that national media regularly reports.

Of the 110 inspectors and coordinators that the PJ used to have working in UNCTE – the national drug trafficking unit – numbers are now down to “a little more than 60”, police syndicate president Carlos Garcia explained.

UNCTE has been the target of the “largest bloodletting” in terms of the PJ’s human resources since 2005, he added, as he gave details of this year’s “successes” at a criminology conference.

In numbers, UNCTE this year has arrested 144 suspected traffickers (21 more than for the same period last year) and apprehended a ton of cannabis (less than last year’s 2.3 tons), 1.2 tons of cocaine (more than double last year’s 460kg), 3kg of heroin (less than last year’s 5 tons) and 10,000 tabs of ecstasy (over 100 times last year’s total of just 99 tablets).

Garcia explained that the drug force’s dip in manpower came because PJ focus is centred on economic crime, and “every time the government says it is going to clamp down on economic crime, it takes inspectors off the drug squad”.

But he told DN he cannot understand the political thinking behind this status quo, as “drug trafficking should remain a priority”.

Meantime, the PJ is actually creating a new unit, to crackdown on IT crime which will include 120 inspectors, all undergoing training within the next two years.

The unit demands graduate entries in 86 different subjects, adds DN.

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