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VISUALLY VERSION
CUSTOMS AGAINST DRUGS

On March 19, 2012, the press conference of Mr. Vladimir Charykov, Deputy Head of General Department for Smuggling Control of the Russian FCS, Customs Service Colonel, took place in the RIA Novosti press center. The results of the law enforcement activities in regard to drug smuggling in the year 2012 and the beginning of the year 2013 were discussed.

About 1,400 attempts of drug smuggling were precluded by the Customs Authorities in the year 2012, including the withdrawal from the illegal turnover of 115 kg of heroin, 30 kg of cocaine, 100 kg of hashish and hash oil, 22 kg of marijuana, and more than 23 kg of synthetic drugs, including “spice” smoking mixtures. The FCS Law Enforcement Authorities initiated 1,009 drug smuggling criminal cases.

In 21 cases, more than 287 kg of drug precursors and psychotropic substances were seized, thus 3 criminal and 7 administrative cases were initiated.

Still, the major supplier of opium group drugs (opium, heroin) is Afghanistan. In June 2012 the General Department for Smuggling Control of the Russian FCS in close collaboration with the Russian Federal Security Service departments carried out a special operation for the dissolution of a big international criminal gang that was involved in the shipment of Afghan heroin to Russia. The gang was working in the territory of Central, Ural, and Siberian Federal districts. During the operation, the recess that was organized in the fuel tank of a vehicle was found, and a 31-litre plastic bottle with 29 kg of drugs inside was taken away. One more kilogram of heroin was found in the place of residence of one of the criminals. More than 30 kg of heroin in total was confiscated. Its price in the “black” market is estimated at 20 million roubles. The citizens of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia constituting the gang were arrested. A criminal case was initiated upon the aforementioned facts.

It is more common that the people who are involved in the drug turnover are the citizens, who live in the areas under difficult socioeconomic conditions, as well as those, who come to Russia from neighbouring countries, primarily from Central Asia. Thus, at the end of August 2012, Domodedovo Customs officers fulfilled the customs inspection of the flight Kulyab - Moscow; among personal belongings and products of a Tajikistan citizen, they detected four scones with 229 rubber round containers of morphine, weighing totally 1.2 kg. In February 2013, during the customs inspection of passengers, arriving by the flight Kulyab - Moscow, the officers of the Domodedovo Customs Smuggling Control Department arrested a 17-year-old Tajikistan citizen, who was trying to carry more than a kilogram of heroin in his stomach. After undertaking some special medical procedures in the hospital, 150 cylindrical containers were taken out. A criminal case under Article 229.1 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code was initiated in regard to the arrested person.

At the end of January, 2013, when the customs inspection in the “green” channel was in process, Sheremetyevo customs officers apprehended a priest from Colombia following Bogota-Paris-Moscow itinerary. 18 cylindrical containers with cocaine, weighing about 780 grams, were taken out from the man’s stomach. The priest explained that the Colombian mafia had forced him to do so. The criminal case under Article 229.1 Part 4 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code was initiated upon this fact.

Last year the law enforcement divisions of the FCS of Russia together with Russian and foreign law enforcement agencies carried out 108 successful investigative operations, using “controlled delivery” method. Consequently, nearly 147 kg of drugs were withdrawn from the illegal turnover.

During the year 2012, six attempts of cocaine smuggling were prevented only along the passenger traffic channel. As a result, ten people involved in the drug trafficking organization were apprehended; nearly 27 kg of cocaine was confiscated from the illegal international turnover.

Four international operations were organized and carried out, six drug smugglers were arrested, and 13 kg of cocaine was confiscated in the course of analysis of the information about possible drug trafficking attempts via the international airports of the Russian Federation. The data was received within the framework of the operational collaboration with the Customs Authorities and authorized services of Hong Kong, Estonia, Belgium, and Turkey. Currently, the law enforcement departments of the aforementioned states in cooperation with the Russian Federal Customs Service are taking measures to reveal the contraband channels’ organizers.

Increasing international customs cooperation contributed to the detection and elimination of the illegal cocaine supply channel via the international mail. In 2012, together with the USA Customs Service, the international “controlled delivery” operation was organized and carried out in regard to the cocaine, hidden in sport equipment, transported via the international mail to Russia. As the result of such successful actions fulfilled by the Customs officers in the Russian territory, all the people involved in the smuggling organization, and those who intended subsequently to continue to use this channel for regular shipment of larger quantities of cocaine from the USA to Russia, were arrested.

Drug gangs have started to use more frequently the international mail channel for transportation and concealment of drug smuggling, while the organization of drug deliveries is actively carried out via the Internet resources.

In January 2012, the Federal Customs Service of Russia and the Russian Federal Security Service, in collaboration with the Customs Service of Germany organized and carried out a set of actions aimed at the detection and suppression of trafficking of drugs in the international mail channel, coming from the territory of Peru to the Russian Federation. As the result of the operation, a group of Russian citizens, who were organizing the delivery of drugs from Latin America to Russia and their subsequent sale in the Internet store, were disclosed. Psychoactive substances of the vegetable origin, weighing in total more than 100 kg, including such drugs as mescaline, mitragynine, hashish, marijuana, amphetamines, and psilocybin, were detected and confiscated.

In October and November 2012, three more joint operations with the use of the international “controlled delivery” method were held in cooperation with the Customs Service of Germany. As the result of these operations, the total amount of 1 kg 849 grams of mescaline, which was also transmitted in the mail from Peru to Russia, was withdrawn from the turnover.

In 2012, the integration processes continued to be strengthened in the CIS and Eurasian Economic Community territory. The Councils of Customs Services’ Heads of CIS and the Councils of Customs Services’ Heads of the EurAsEC Integration Committee worked actively on their level. The ongoing process of the economic integration and simplification of customs procedures is making radical changes in the activities of all the law enforcement and regulatory authorities of the Customs Union member-states. Thus, the establishment of an effective mechanism of the interdepartmental and international cooperation for the illegal drug trafficking control is of prime importance.