DUSHANBE, July 18, /ITAR-TASS/. Tajik police have seized a large amount of Afghan heroin intended for shipment to Russia, the Interior Ministry said.
Police detained a car in Khudzhand, the capital of the northern Sugd Region, and found more than 20 kg of heroin stashed away in secret places in the automobile.
The ministry said it was the largest amount of heroin seized by police over the past there months.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon said the fight against the spread of drugs was “one of the priorities in the work of law enforcement agencies”.
“In the whole of the post-Soviet period, more than 102 tonnes of drugs have been seized in Tajikistan, including 32 tonnes of heroin which would have been enough to make over 43 million people addicted to drug,” the president said.
He stressed that Tajikistan was at the forefront of the fight against drug trafficking from Afghanistan, with which the country has a more than 1,400 km long border.
According to the 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey, released in Kabul by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the area under cultivation rose to 209,000 hectares from the previous year’s total of 154,000 hectares, exceeding the peak of 193,000 hectares reached in 2007.
Almost 90% of opium poppy cultivation this year remained confined to nine of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, including those most affected by the insurgency. Helmand, the principal poppy-producer since 2004 and responsible for nearly half of all cultivation, expanded the area under cultivation by 34%, followed by Kandahar, which showed a 16% rise, UNODC said.
UNODC says that farmers may have stepped up cultivation in an effort to shore up their assets as insurance against the uncertainty to be created by the withdrawal of international troops this year.
UNODC noted that the farm-gate value of opium production increased by almost a third to around 950 million U.S. dollars, or 4% of national gross domestic product, in 2013.
Together with profits made by drug traffickers, the total value of the opium economy within Afghanistan was significantly higher, implying that the illicit economy will continue to grow whereas a slowdown of the legal economy is predicted in 2014.
According to UNODC, Afghanistan accounts for more than 70% of narcotic drugs made in the world.
UNODC Executive Director Yuri Fedotov said earlier that “the flow of drugs from Afghanistan poses a serious threat to security and development throughout Central Asia and beyond, and Tajikistan is the first line of defence. We appreciate the difficulties Tajikistan faces in carrying out this dangerous and daunting task.”
Afghanistan supplies 90% of the world’s opium, most of which goes through Iran and Pakistan. The three countries have been involved in the UNODC-sponsored Triangular Initiative to coordinate their efforts to combat trafficking since 2007. “Now is the time for a more result-oriented response to the challenge of drugs, which is based on concrete actions and shared responsibilities,” Fedotov said.
Drugs pose a threat to the health and security of not only Afghanistan, but Iran and Pakistan as well, and many other countries, including Russia and the European Union.
Afghan heroin has literally flooded Russia and the European Union. Ninety percent of all drug addicts in Russia - about 660,000 people according to official information and 2-5 million according to unofficial estimates - are addicted to Afghan heroin and opium. Afghanistan makes so many opiates in just one year that it can kill 10 million drug users. Moreover, Afghanistan has turned into the sole producer of almost all of the world’s heroin before the eyes of the 140,000-strong military armada from nearly 50 countries which ventured to help that country cope with terrorism and build democracy.
Heroin production in Afghanistan has increased 40 times over the past ten years. More than 90% of all heroin is made in Afghanistan. The Helmand province alone makes more than 60% of it, Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) chief Viktor Ivanov said.