A trend towards a reduction in drug trafficking in comparison with the previous year has been registered in Russia's Far East. The Far Eastern Operational Customs Service told RIA Novosti that in the first 9 months of 2001 its employees had suppressed 58 attempts to smuggle drugs and seized 51 kg of substances containing narcotics and other controlled substances. In the same period of 2000, 68 attempts were stopped and 58 kg of drugs seized. Nonetheless, the problem of narcotics in the territory of Russia's Far East remains on top of the region's crime list. During the last two years, joint efforts of Russian customs officials, employees of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, and the Japanese law enforcement have led to a liquidation of several drug trafficking channels to Japan. Drugs were smuggled from Afghanistan via Primorye. Last year, four drug traffickers were arrested and over 20 kilograms of unprocessed opium seized. In late September 2001, a Russian drug trafficker, Japanese citizen, and an Iranian with a French passport were arrested in Japan when attempting to exchange 5 kg of opium. In March 2001, a sailor from the Brest steam ship was arrested in Vladivostok. He was hoping to smuggle 8 kg of unprocessed opium to Japan. Later, in Primorye, law enforcers detained an Iranian citizen, who organised the smuggling and lived illegally in Russia. In October, servicemen of the Department for Illegal Drug Trade carried out a successful operation to seize a large shipment of heroin in Vladivostok. Two Tajiks, who were transporting Afghan heroin from Tajikistan, were detained. Vitaly Nomokonov, the director of the Vladivostok centre for study of organised crime, told RIA Novosti in an interview that organisers and participants in the international narcotics business on the territory of Russia's Far East include representatives of local Chechen, Tajik, Korean, and Azeri groups, which are connected to Iranian-Pakistani Mafia. They control opium trafficking from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. There has been a significant decline in the amount of Chinese-made ephedrine hydrochloride taken across the Russian state boundary. This is a result of dynamic work by customs and law enforcement staffers in China and Russia.