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Drug control agency makes its mark

The first seven months of the Drug Control Agency (DCA) of Tajikistan has coincided with a 70 percent increase in the volume of drugs intercepted compared with the same period last year, according to the executive director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Under-Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi.

Arlacchi told journalists in the Tajik capital Dushanbe that the various Tajik law enforcement agencies had made 100 arrests and seized 1,500 kg of narcotics to the end of September, placing Tajikistan among the world leaders in the seizure of narcotics.

The establishment of the DCA, the impact of which has been felt so quickly, came about in April as a result of a protocol signed between Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Arlacchi to stem the flow of illegal drugs from Afghanistan.

"Cooperation with the Russian border forces has been excellent. As a result of these joint efforts, the drug trafficking route through Tajikistan has been disrupted and the price of heroin inside Afghanistan has collapsed", said Arlacchi, speaking at the official opening of the DCA in Dushanbe on Friday.

Roberto Arbitrio, regional representative of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), told IRIN on Monday that the price per kilo of heroin inside Afghanistan was estimated to have dropped from $700 to $400, due primarily to the difficulty of smuggling drugs over the
Tajik border.

In Dushanbe, Arlacchi said the DCA's activities included establishing protocols with the Kazakh Drug Control Agency and the Russian Ministry of the Interior, and development of an awareness programme for schools and the media to tackle drug addiction in Tajikistan. Strategies for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug abusers were also being developed, he added.

Addressing the drugs problem at source was often more cost-effective than trying to break the supply further down the distribution chain, and had brought major results with little investment in Tajikistan, Roberto
Arbitrio told IRIN.

"US $3.5 million has been spent on drug control in Tajikistan. Far more would need to be spent in European countries to achieve the same results,"
Arbitrio said.

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