Monitoring Missions: Interagency Mobile Teams Demonstrate Effective Operations across the Country

On 14-21 February, joint delegation of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for Central Asia (UNODC), national counterparts and the Embassy of Japan in Uzbekistan concluded the series of monitoring missions to six locations of counter-narcotics Interagency Mobile Teams (IMT) in Nukus, Samarkand and Tashkent. Earlier similar monitoring missions were completed to Syrdarya, Fergana and Surkhandarya regions.

14 February, Nukus - Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia, Mr. Olim Narzullaev, Director of the National Center on Drug Control of Uzbekistan, and Ms. Yoko Yamoto, the representative of the Embassy of Japan in Uzbekistan, visited the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The joint delegation learned about the work of the IMT, deployed in the Ministry which covers the Republic of Karakalpakstan and Khorezm region. The delegation met Mr. Timur Ismailov, First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, and the IMT officers representing the Ministry of Internal Affairs, State Security Service and State Customs Committee.

As it was noted by Mr. Ismailov, "Establishment of the IMT unit in the region increased the level of cooperation and coordination between the officers of three participating agencies by allowing exchange of operative information and establishing enabling environment to organize high quality joint activities". The IMT officers also shared the results of their joint operations and acknowledged enhanced effectiveness of interagency cooperation since the introduction of IMT.

Ms. Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia said, "It is encouraging to see this unique project in Central Asia that brings positive impact and increases efficiency of the counter-narcotics law enforcement efforts by creating platform for cooperation, strengthening the officer's knowledge and practical skills and equipping them with necessary technical means".

Ms. Yoko Yamoto, the First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Uzbekistan noted: "I am glad to witness that provided equipment and conducted training courses proved their effectiveness and helped IMT officers in their collaborative work in the fight against drug trafficking".

18 February, Samarkand - The joint delegation of UNODC and national counterparts visited the Department of the State Customs Committee for Samarkand region, which hosts the IMT.

The delegation met Mr. Erkin Salihov, Head of the Customs Department for Samarkand region, and the officers of the State Security Service, Ministry of Internal Affairs and State Customs Committee from Samarkand, Bukhara and Navoi regions who work together in the IMT unit.

The IMT officers presented overview of their joint operations and seizures. They stressed that the results were achieved through effective joint operations which could be organized due to the availability of the interagency cooperation framework

Mr. Salihov noted that "Since installation of additional border check points at Afghan borders, the passenger and cargo traffic increased dramatically and increased the risks of drug trafficking through the borders. In this sense, establishment of IMT units was very timely initiative which contributed to more efficient joint work, communication and coordination."

21 February, Tashkent - The concluding mission was conducted to IMT unit hosted by the Department of Interior of Tashkent region, which covers Tashkent city and Tashkent region.

Ms. Mittal met Mr. Sherzod Nabiev, Head of the Counter Narcotics Department of the Ministry of Interior, and the IMT officers. During the visit, the delegation learned about the operational work conditions and was briefed about the results and achievements of the IMT. IMT officers presented some results of the successful joint operations.

Mr. Nabiev noted that apart from increasing interagency cooperation, the legislative and regulatory platform of the IMT units allowed the officers to engage in joint operations beyond their usual responsibility areas. IMT officers from Tashkent city can now participate in joint operations in the Tashkent region or vice versa. This allowed uninterrupted operative work in a wider region where officer can exchange operative information and work on it together.

The initiative on "Countering trafficking of Afghan narcotics in Uzbekistan through establishment of Interagency Mobile Teams" is implemented under Sub-Programme 1 of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia for 2015-2019 with financial support of the Government of Japan. The initiative aims to address the challenges of countering narcotics in Uzbekistan and facilitate enhancement of the relevant agencies in the country by providing technical assistance in establishment of Interagency Mobile Teams, creating required institutional and legal frameworks, procurement of equipment, delivering training courses and workshops.

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