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|UN-aided Efforts Blocking Major Heroin Route|
VIENNA, 11 September (UN Information Service) - Tajik and Russian agencies, with help from the United Nations, are making it much more difficult for traffickers to smuggle heroin from Afghanistan to Europe via Central Asia. With aid from the Vienna-based UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), drug and border control services in Tajikistan have already quadrupled seizures of heroin over last year.
Through the combined efforts of the newly established Tajik Drug Control Agency and the Russian Federal Border Service (RFBS) operating at the Tajik-Afghan border, a total of almost 600 kilogrammes of heroin were seized at in the first eight months of this year , an increase of 400 per cent over the same period in 1999. About 2,000 kilogrammes of narcotics of various kinds were seized by the two agencies since the start of the year, doubling the amount confiscated in the same part of 1999.
"The assistance provided by the United Nations to Tajikistan and to the Russian border guards in the field of drug control gave immediate and excellent results," ODCCP Executive Director Pino Arlacchi announced today.
In June 1999 ODCCP began helping Tajikistan set up the Drug Control Agency, with an investment of $2.5 million. The Programme also provided $850,000 worth of specialized equipment, including vehicles, computers, two-way radios and electric generators to the Russian Border Service.
"Thus, with an expenditure of less than $3.5 million, we have managed to strengthen the interdiction capability on the trafficking routes from Afghanistan to Central Asia and Europe, to the point where some 600 kilogrammes of heroin have been seized in a few months," Mr. Arlacchi said.
To give an idea of the meaning of this figure, it should be considered that in the whole of 1999, the average amount of heroin seized by a western European country was about 370 kg. Each of these countries, in order to obtain the above results, spends in the average 200 million $/year. "This confirms once again my fundamental conviction that the problem of drug trafficking must be addressed at its source", added Mr. Arlacchi.
According to reports from the border areas, clandestine laboratories have stopped refining opium into heroin following a dramatic drop in heroin prices from 700 to about 450 $/kilogramme prices caused by the new difficulties met by traffickers in crossing the northern Afghan border into Tajikistan.
The effective work of the Tajik Drug Control Agency in the field of narcotics control has also played an important role in strengthening the country's democratic institutions and contributing to the on-going peace process.
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