Andrey Kisliakov, a columnist specially for InfoSCO
The Heads of the SCO member states are resolved to put an end to transnational illicit drug trafficking. This cardinal course is confirmed by the recent important events: the conference under the aegis of SCO dedicated to problems of the situation settlement in Afghanistan (the end of this March), the working meeting the SCO member states Attorney Generals and the meeting of the Heads of the Defense Agencies of the SCO member states that were held in April in Moscow.
An important step of principle was elaboration of common approaches to the fight against the drug menace. The primary regional stability threat comes from Afghanistan, where drug trafficking begins financing other organized crimes and international terrorism.
Full-scale attack on the Afghan stronghold of drugs began not today. The signed as early as in June 2004 agreement between the SCO member states on cooperation in struggle against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is of paramount importance in organization of an effective collaboration in struggle against it. Mechanisms for the implementation of this agreement are regularly worked through at meetings of heads of the counternarcotics agencies of this organization countries.
For example, at the end of March in the Russian capital city a representative conference under the aegis of SCO was held, dedicated to problems of the situation settlement in Afghanistan. It was directly said there that the Afghan drug trafficking turned into a very serious endangering Central Asian countries’ and Russia’s security. And efforts made to struggle against this evil, both within the framework of the international coalition, and by the Afghan government, are still utterly inadequate.
Russia’s position concerning this matter was clearly formulated by speaking at the conference Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. “It is reasonable that SCO, which consolidates practically all Afghanistan’s neighbors, could not keep out of participating in teamwork. In a few years within the frame of the SCO— Afghanistan contact group, cooperation development objectives have been considered to struggle against common threats, in particular, along the perimeter of the Afghan borders. It is exactly in this tideway through joint work with Kabul, and not through creation of some sanitary cordons, that SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization offer to form anti-narcotic, anti-terrorist and financial security belts in the region.”
In this regard Tajikistan’s position remains key — it is just through this state’s territory that herb-drug spreads worldwide. But the situation changes, and by no means in favor of drug cartels.
In January Tajikistan sent to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization headquarters all the documents required for the creation of the SCO Regional counternarcotics center under the aegis of the Drug Control Agency (DCA) of the Republic of Tajikistan. Such a decision was taken last August at the Organization summit.
Head of Tajikistan's Drugs Control Agency, Lieutenant General Rustam Nazarov informed of creation of the Central-Asian regional information coordination center on struggle against illegal circulation of drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. According to expectation, in the near future this project will be open officially.
According to Nazarov, in struggle against illicit drug trafficking Tajikistan cooperates with all transiters. “In cooperation issues we do not place a priority on one state or another. We are open to cooperation and ready to cooperate with representatives of law-enforcement authorities of those states that express interest in work with us,” he said.
An important event in the international practice of struggle against drug dealing became the Channel operation that has been conducted since 2003. Its peculiarity is that for several years already the organizational and headquarters as well as investigation and search mechanisms of blocking the drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe have effectively functioned.
Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Service for narcotics traffic control Colonel General Alexander Fedorov said that only in the Channel-2006 operation, which is today unique by its design, scale and geography, over 74 thousand officers of specially authorized and security agencies, internal affairs bodies, customs and frontier services participated.
About 6 thousand joint operations groups were organized in border areas, as well as on rail, air and automobile transport objects. 4065 fixed stations exercised control in vulnerable segments of state borders and carried out examination of crossing the border natural persons, luggage and cargo, as well as vehicles using military working dogs and special technical equipment.
In the course of the operation, a detailed coordination of law enforcement and power structures was reached both inside particular states and at the intergovernmental level. Altogether in the issue of the Channel-2006 operation 19 285 kilograms of narcotic drugs, psychotropic and drastic substances were confiscated from the illicit trafficking, of which about 605 kilograms of heroin, 3 834 - opium, over 808 - hashish.
Alexander Fedorov said that “neither of the world countries is capable to successfully struggle alone against the international drug dealing. Only through joint efforts this phenomenon can be stopped. That is why we believe that conducting joint operations by the SCO member states is one of the effective ways to counteract the drug menace.”