Uzbek officers put UNODC training to good use

19 March 2008 - UNODC-trained law enforcement officers recently intercepted a large amount of heroin being smuggled through Uzbekistan. The investigation uncovered one of the biggest drug smuggling cases in the country.

"Almost 570 kilograms of heroin were seized in a joint operation by the National Security Service (NSS) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan," an NSS official said.

The narcotics were seized when a truck was spotted and checked by operational officers in Kashqadarya Region, south Uzbekistan. Over 368 kilograms of heroin were found in a metallic box hidden in the truck. Further checks discovered another 200 kilograms. According to the NSS, the truck was transporting cattle to disguise the illegal cargo.

Several officers involved in the operation were trained in counter-drug investigation by UNODC under the NATO-Russia Council pilot project 'Counter-Narcotics Training of Central Asian and Afghan Law Enforcement Personnel'. The project aims to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement officers from agencies involved in countering illicit drug trafficking. Experts from NATO countries and Russia trained the participants.

"It is our assessment that the drugs originated from Tajikistan and were being transported across the southern regions of Uzbekistan," said the NSS official. "The amount we confiscated would have been used to produce over seven tons of 'street' drugs worth 10 million US dollars."

A criminal case against the detainees has been opened and the investigation is under way.