Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

UNODC participates as an observer in the regional anti-narcotic operation "Channel"

Issyk Kul, Kyrgyz Republic, 1 June 2018

Building and enhancing cooperation between countries on countering drug trafficking is a core element of UNODC's mandate. Criminals do not respect national borders, so sharing information between countries in real time is critical to effective counter narcotics operations. One of the major counter narcotics operations conducted in West Asia, Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries is Operation "Channel," which is coordinated under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). This operation has been conducted every year since 2003. Operation Channel has had a significant impact over the years, resulting in significant illicit drug seizures, and strengthening the capacity of participating countries to conduct real-times joint operations.

In line with the bilateral Protocol on joint projects against drugs and crime between UNODC and the CSTO signed in 2006, UNODC, through the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, participated as an observer in the latest phase of Operation "Channel" which ran from 28 May to 1 June 2018, with the Coordination Centre this time at Issyk Kul, Kyrgyz Republic. The Regional Programme also joined as an observer in the previous phase in Saratov, Russian Federation.

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic Mr. Almazbek Orazaliev during the "Channel" operation Coordination Headquarters meeting has noted the need for further work to unite efforts and develop mechanisms of comprehensive response to illicit drug trafficking. He mentioned that the main problem in the CSTO's area of responsibility continues to be drug production in Afghanistan, which, according to the UNODC, increased significantly last year.

Through this phase of operation "Channel" 2018, law enforcement units of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan together with competent authorities of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and China, as well as financial intelligence units of the member countries of the Eurasian Group on Combatting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, Interpol,  and the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC), implemented a comprehensive investigation and search measures aimed to expose and block channels of narcotic supply to the states participating in the operation. As a result of the coordinated actions of the law enforcement agencies of the participating countries during this phase of the Operation, more than 5 tons of narcotic drugs, psychotropic and potent substances were seized from illegal trafficking, including 4 tons and 753 kg of opium, 416 kg of hashish, more than 83 kg of heroin, 169 kg of marijuana and 5 kg of synthetic drugs. 

Operation "Channel" has made significant inroads into blocking illegal drug smuggling from Afghanistan to Europe. CSTO and its member state actively involve states from outside the region, as well as international organizations, in their operations, adding to their effectiveness. Since the start of the operation in 2003, more than 360 tons of drugs have been seized. UNODC, through the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries also supports regional operations tackling precursors (Operation Substitute) and synthetic drugs (Operation REFLEX).