UNODC and Japan Continue Supporting Interagency Mobile Teams of Uzbekistan

10 th December, 2019 - The UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia handed over the fifth round of the strategic tactical equipment and off-road cars to the four law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Uzbekistan, under the Interagency Mobile Teams (IMTs).

"Today we are glad to point that another milestone of the initiative is achieved. We hope that off-road cars and specialized equipment, provided to the IMT units for the total amount of 150,000 USD, will also serve our ultimate goal of ensuring strengthened measures on countering drug trafficking from Afghanistan along the "northern route" by IMTs and OCT" - noted Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia

The initiative Interagency Mobile Teams (six IMTs)" is the UNODC's flagship program in Uzbekistan on countering trafficking of Afghan narcotics which introduced new approaches by promoting counter-narcotics cooperation between UNODC ROCA and the Government of Uzbekistan, supported by the Government of Japan.

Six IMTs and Operations Coordination Team (OCT) united forces of the three law enforcement agencies: State Security Service, Ministry of Interior and State Customs Committee, coordinated by the National Information-Analytical Center on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan (NCDC). 

After the two and a half years, IMTs have showed significant achievements and approached completion of its Phase 1.  Results of Component activities, review achievements under Phase I, and prospects for further improving the activities under the planned Phase II were also discussed during the Debriefing Meeting.

"Today's activity once again shows the level we have reached, the level of our cooperation within the framework of IMT project. The IMT initiative is the relevant approach to the current drug related situation in the country, and this initiative allows to combine and join efforts and initiatives of both beneficiary countries and donor countries in terms of gaining success in combating drug trafficking" - said Mr. Azizbek Erkabaev, Head of International Department of the NCDC.

UNODC provided its technical assistance in setting up legislative and institutional frameworks for the IMTs, increased technical capacities of IMTs and OCT through procurement of specialised equipment and vehicles for the total value of 1,27 mln USD. Initial success of the initiative is witnessed in the numbers of the joint operations and seizures. This is the result of delivered 12 training courses for the IMT and OCT officers on drug detection methods, risk assessment, physical surveillance, operative tactics, investigative methods and other practical topics.

"Since I have been delegated to work in Uzbekistan, I have seen the project development and believe this project is successfully coming towards the end of the Phase-I. Thanks to the cooperation of the IMTs. As you may know, the President of Uzbekistan is going to visit Japan next week. Along with all, agreement on cooperation, drug control and terrorism prevention issues are also important. Uzbekistan can play a leading role in Central Asia for cooperation in this area. I hope that equipment to be handed over will be effectively used in IMT places" - said Ms. Yoko Yamoto, the First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Uzbekistan.

Drug trafficking through Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus, including through the Northern route, remains a concern due to the persisting high level of opiate production in Afghanistan. Communication, coordination and cooperation between law enforcement agencies are key elements in countering drug trafficking.

The initiative on Establishing Interagency Mobile Teams is an example of successful partnership with the Government of Uzbekistan in countering drug trafficking in the country. The IMTs are designed to be involved in counter narcotics and transnational organized crime investigations. Each law enforcement agency comes with its own mandate and comparative advantages that is being successfully utilized to achieve overarching objectives.

Parties have agreed to further their mutual efforts in consolidating the current successes and ensuring sustainability of the outcomes of the Initiative through launching its second phase, which - among others - is expected to be focused on scaling up its scope to cover all other regions of Uzbekistan and give an impetus towards developing its regional aspect in terms of distributing the best practices to other countries of the Central Asian region.

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