Drug barons seek to turn Armenia into transhipment point -police
by Tigran Liloyan

ITAR-TASS News Agency
March 29, 2006 Wednesday 11:42 AM EST

Armenian police chief Gaik Arutyunyan said his country is in "the
centre of drug barons' attention and interests".

"There have been attempts to use Armenia as a transit country for the
shipment of drugs, mainly to Europe," Arutyunyan said on Wednesday
after a meeting of the Anti-Drug Coordinating Council of the Collective
Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).

Last year and this year Armenian police detained persons who
tried to carry narcotics through the country. Each year the number
of drug-related crimes is growing, and although there has been no
increase in drug addiction, "complex problems will arise tomorrow if
we do not take proper measures today," Arutyunyan said.

The head of Russia's Federal Service for Drug and Psychotropic
Substance Control, Viktor Cherkesov, who chaired the session, said the
United States and Mongolia had decided to join in the CSTO anti-drug
operation Kanal (Channel).

In his words, the operations against drug trafficking from Afghanistan
involve CSTO countries, Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan,
and Ukraine.

Cherkesov said the situation on the Iranian-Afghan border is "very
complex and tense", but "Iran's law enforcement agencies act very
firmly and decisively to protect the Iranian border from drug
contraband."

"A whole system against contraband" has been built on the
Iranian-Afghan border, he said.

However Cherkesov stressed that the fight against drug trafficking,
the use and sale of narcotics is impossible without the struggle
against their contraband.

"Our efforts to fight the use and sale of narcotics are impossible
without the struggle against their contraband, especially from
Afghanistan," he said.

"Measures taken by the government of Afghanistan and the international
community to solve this problem have not yielded any result," the
official said. "According to international experts, the drug situation
in the region aggravated after the withdrawal of Russian border guards
from the Tajik-Afghan border."

"Insufficient measures to ensure security on the borders of states
affected by drug trafficking prevent the international community from
setting up barriers to drug contraband," Cherkesov said.

He said the analysis of the drug situation in Russia proves that
illicit drug trafficking is fully controlled by different criminal
groups, which have transnational ties.

"This problem remains topical. The routes of drug transportation change
permanently. International organised criminal groups and communities
penetrate Russia's drug market," the official said.

"Russia is fighting drug-related crime in the context of an extensive
criminal network, which embraces most regions of Russia," he said. In
his words, "this network is rather organised and has vast international
criminal ties."

Cherkesov said, "The major purpose of the Russian drug control
service is to take urgent measures to stabilise the drug situation,
create conditions for curbing the growth of drug use and trafficking,
and preventing nacrotisation of the population."

Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Migranyan said illicit drug
trafficking became a global phenomenon. Illicit drug trafficking as
a dangerous social phenomenon "became global and transnational and
turned into the most acute problem of mankind."

Drug trafficking "wrecks political, social and economic stability of
states," the prime minister stressed.

In his view, internationalisation of crime and "the growth of
international elements, which commit crimes in the territory of two
or more states, evoke the need to improve and develop international
and interstate cooperation between law enforcement agencies."

Migranyan said the CSTO Anti-Drug Coordinating Council plays a
big role and is of great significance in the fight against drug
trafficking. "This will help work out and realise the common strategy
and new mechanisms to counteract illicit drug trafficking," he said.

The prime minister proposed "to think together how we can use our
accumulated experience better and more efficiently in order to deliver
a sensitive blow against drug trafficking."

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress