MOSCOW, November 11 (Itar-Tass) - Almost five tonnes of opiates was seized in a joint Russian-U.S. special operation in the north of Afghanistan late last month, head of the Russian federal drug control service Viktor Ivanov said Monday.
The operation to liquidate drug production facilities, a third one this year, took place on October 29 in Badakhshan province. Afghanistan’s anti-drug police in cooperation with the Russian drug control service and with technical support of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration eliminated two drug laboratories, seized over 4.7 tonnes of opiates (or four tonnes in heroin equivalent) and 1.2 tonnes of opium poppy seeds.
By expert estimates, this amount would suffice to sow about 300 hectares, Ivanov said, adding a would-be crop might be enough to produce about 7.9 tonnes of opium, or 1.1 tonne of highly concentrated heroin. The wholesale price for this amount in the black market might reach 1.5 billion roubles ($50 million), Ivanov added.
Since September 2010, joint operations in Afghanistan’s north have liquidated 24 drug labs, seized and eliminated over 28 tonnes of opiates in heroin equivalent and detained 20 active members of illegal groups producing and trafficking drugs.
Russian law enforcement authorities seize about three tonnes of heroin annually, while a much larger amount is intercepted by the federal drug control service on the way to Russia, Ivanov said.