An emergency on the road between Orekhovo-Zuyevo and Moscow attracted the attention of Russia's Federal Service for Control of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Traffic. Members of its staff and Interior Ministry officers had detained a KamAZ loaded truck with 400kg of heroin. It transpired that the drugs had been hidden in a fuel tank that was not connected to the engine.
In a separate incident, the drug control service's members in Yekaterinburg and their colleagues from the Federal Customs Service stopped another KamAZ from Central Asia with 150kg of heroin. The drugs, stored in 1kg packs, were discovered in flat iron containers, in wooden boxes amongst tomatoes and in bags of flour. An expert analysis established that the confiscated heroin was highly refined and could contain about 3.5 million doses. The approximate street value of the haul was put at over 150 million rubles.
According to Russia's law enforcers, nearly 80% of drugs are smuggled over the Russian border on the roads. Drug traffickers have become so audacious that they even risk transporting hundreds of kilograms over distances of up to 2,000km. According to the Russia's drug control service, which co-operates with its counterparts in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, many underground labs producing Afghan and Pakistani drugs have been moved to provinces bordering on these countries. They have trans-shipment points in some border settlements, in particular, Kunduz, Imamsakhib, Taklukan, and Faizabad. To transport heroin and opium to Tajikistan, smugglers use the road in the Pamir Mountains (Khorog-Osh), and Horog-Kalai and Gumb-Dushanbe highways. Drugs are delivered from the Tajik capital to Russia and Western Europe via Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
The Russian border-guard group on the frontier between Tajikistan and Afghanistan provides the key shield against the smugglers, in particular, Afghan heroin couriers.The drug situation could improve if a political initiative to organise an anti-drug belt around Afghanistan were implemented. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and representatives of China, Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan adopted this initiative in April 2004 in Berlin, as it is the best protection for Russia against the drug aggression from Central Asia.
The problem of exposing and preventing illegal drug trafficking from Central Asia was one of the most important issues on the agenda of the latest session of the drug control service's board, which also featured representatives from the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Transport Ministry and other departments. The session emphasised the importance of closer co-operation between the Drug Control Committee and competent bodies of Russia and other countries, and also the need for a common database on countering the drug threat.
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