Russian official sees declining trend for drug trafficking after US pullout

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Head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service Viktor Ivanov blames the US for a major part of the narcotics smuggled from Afghanistan to his country, saying that the volume of the drug cargos destined for Russia will decrease after the withdrawal of the US forces from the war-stricken country.
“I am convinced that the flow of (Afghan) drugs to Russia will decrease as soon as Americans withdraw from Afghanistan,” Ivanov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
Ivanov, who had also previously criticized the anti-drug measures taken by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, strongly hailed the US withdrawal scheduled for the end of 2014. He also said that more than 100,000 people aged 15-34 died of drug abuse in Russia in 2011.
Ivanov said earlier that 30 tons of drugs, mostly from Afghanistan in the form of heroin, are trafficked into Russia annually.
The US has already withdrawn 33,000 troops from Afghanistan, with some 70,000 still remaining in the country.
Afghan drug production increased dramatically after the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001, and Russia has been one of the most affected countries, with heroin consumption rising steeply.
To combat Afghan drug-traffickers and drug lords, Russia has recently intensified its anti-drug cooperation with Iran.
Iran is also one of the countries seriously affected by the drug trafficking activities in Afghanistan as well. Eastern Iran borders Afghanistan, which is the world’s number one opium and drug producer. Iran’s geographical position has made the country a favorite transit corridor for drug traffickers who intend to smuggle their cargoes from Afghanistan to drug dealers in Europe.
Tehran spends billions of dollars and has lost thousands of its police troops in the war against traffickers. Owing to its rigid efforts, Iran makes 85 percent of the world’s total opium seizures and has turned into the leading country in drug campaign.
Over the past five years, it has contributed more than $50 million annually to Afghan anti-narcotics efforts, but Iranian police officials maintain that drug production in Afghanistan has undergone a 40-fold increase since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.