Uzbek officers put counter-narcotics training to good use
Uzbek law-enforcement officers, trained under a project sponsored by the NATO-Russia Council, 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 kilogrammes 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. "It is our assessment that the drugs originated from Tajikistan and were being transported across the southern regions of Uzbekistan. The amount we confiscated would have been used to produce over seven tonnes of 'street' drugs worth 10 million US dollars."
The narcotics were seized when a truck was spotted and checked by operational officers in the Kashqadarya region of south Uzbekistan. Over 368 kilogrammes of heroin were found in a metallic box hidden in the truck. Further checks discovered another 200 kilogrammes. According to the NSS, the truck was transporting cattle to disguise the illegal cargo. A criminal case against the detainees has been opened and an investigation is underway.
Several officers involved in the operation were trained in counter-drug investigation by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the NATO-Russia Council's pilot project for counter-narcotics training of Central Asian and Afghan personnel. Launched in December 2005, the pilot project aims to strengthen the capacity of law-enforcement officers from agencies involved in countering illicit drug trafficking. Experts from NATO countries and Russia train the participants. The UNODC acts as the pilot project's executive agent. By end 2007, some 330 officers from the region had been trained under the initiative.