In the period from March 11 to March 15, 2019, the CARICC Information and Analytical Division conducted a second stage of training for Department on Counteracting Drug Offenses of the Republic of Kazakhstan Ministry of Internal Affairs employees.
As part of the course, CARICC staff and a UNODC expert for police officers conducted a practical course on studying methods for collecting and analyzing information using the “i2 iBase” and “i2 Analyst Notebook” software, and methods of countering criminal activities carried out using modern communication technologies and DarkNet Internet networks.
The training was organized with the support of the Division for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement of the US Embassy in the Republic of Kazakhstan (INL), as well as the component “Law Enforcement Systems for the Collection, Analysis and Exchange of Operational and Other Information in the Field of Counter-Narcotics”, UNODC Program for Central Asian States, Partnership Framework for Successful Activities in Central Asia 2015-2019, Sub-program 1.
From 11 to 15 March 2019, at the site of the Central Asian Regional Information Coordination Center for Combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors, instructors from DEA USA conducted a training seminar for law enforcement officials of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the topic “Working with confidential sources and undercover operations ".
According to the participants, the workshop turned out to be very useful and productive in order to apply the acquired knowledge in the daily operational-search activity by law enforcement officers of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In addition, a high level of training of instructors and the organization of the event were noted.
As part of the Component of Sub-programme 1 of the UNODC Regional Programme for Central Asia 2015-2019 “Countering the trafficking of Afghan opiates via the northern route by enhancing the capacity of key border crossing points and through the establishment of Border Liaison Offices”, CARICC specialists jointly with research liaison officer of the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia conducted a training course for officers of the Border Guard Service of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan on skills in using specialized software for processing and analyzing information. The training course was held at the Nazarbayev University in Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan.
Possibilities of using software products in information and analytical work on collection, analysis and preparation of tabular data for reports were considered in the course of training.
According to the participants, the course fully complied with functional tasks of the participants and was effective as part of daily service.
Mr. Tatsuhiko Kasai, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Republic of Kazakhstan, and Mr. Y. Kurbonov, UNODC International Programme Coordinator, also visited the course to welcome participants, and noted high level of expertise of instructors and organization of the event. They also presented certificates of attendance to participants.
Mr. G. Pustovitov, Director of the Central Asian Regional Information Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors met with Mr. William Warren, Regional Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), during a working meeting on February 18, 2019 at CARICC. The meeting was also attended by the CARICC staff - heads of units of the Centre; and the DEA members - Assistant Regional Director and DEA Country Attachés in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia.
During the meeting, the DEA delegation was presented information on goals and objectives of the Centre under its mandate, results of work, operations carried out in the region with active participation and coordinating role of CARICC, as well as initiatives CARICC plans to implement in the nearest future.
DEA Regional Director Mr. William Warren briefed participants on their official work in the field of project and program monitoring with participation of US DEA.
The parties came to the conclusion that it is necessary to intensify cooperation in combating drug trafficking and constant timely exchange of relevant information.
Upon conclusion of the meeting, the parties recognized importance of strengthening international cooperation in the fight against illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and expressed intention to further develop cooperation between CARICC and the DEA.
One of the tasks that member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which unites Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, set for itself, is to conduct special operations to combat transnational drug crime.
To organize an effective opposition to this drug threat, it is necessary to more deeply uncover its causal relationships.
We have to admit that it was precisely the instability and armed confrontation of the last years that created in distressful Afghanistan ideal conditions for an unprecedented scale of drug production.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2016-2017 alone, global opium production increased by 65% and amounted to 10,500 tons. Of this volume, the “lion’s share” of opioid products (9,000 tons) was registered in Afghan provinces.
At the same time, 99% of all opium poppy is cultivated in precisely those areas where the vast majority of clashes occur. Thus, the conclusion is obvious that the main cause of global Afghan drug production is the ongoing geopolitical tensions in Afghanistan caused by growing rejection from the population, especially Pashtun tribes, the presence of more than 100 thousand foreign troops in this long-suffering country, inevitably giving rise to many hotbeds of resistance and military microconflicts.
The perennial confrontation makes it impossible for the population to survive on traditional agricultural production, forcing peasants to grow unpretentious opium poppy demanded by international criminal groups. That is why Russian and foreign analysts agree that eradication of the drug economy in Afghanistan is possible only when main part of peasants switch to cultivating useful crops, which, unlike the opium poppy, imperatively requires a peaceful life as a condition for more expensive and time-consuming labor, functioning irrigation systems, developed infrastructure and systems for processing, storage, transportation and sales of products, i.e. ultimately ending armed confrontation.
Despite a slight reduction in drug production in Afghanistan in 2018 caused by drought, there are enormous stocks of opiates produced in previous years in its territory.
Smuggling of opiates from Afghanistan to countries of the Central Asia, Russia, Western Europe, the USA and Canada along the so-called “northern route” has acquired a wide and stable nature. This undermines demographic potential, delays resources to counter drug crime, treat, rehabilitate and re-socialize people who allow non-medical drug use. According to expert estimates, around 25-30% of Afghan opiates are distributed to drug users through this channel.
In addition, organizers of drug trafficking are increasing drug smuggling along the Caucasian-Black Sea branch of the “Balkan route”, which also directly affects the anti-drug security of the CSTO states.
Actualization of anti-drug measures of states parties to the Collective Security Treaty began from the moment this document was signed in 1992. Even then, the CSTO states agreed that the Afghan drug threat has a pronounced regional character. However, a real breakthrough in the field of practical fight against illicit drug trafficking within the CSTO occurred only ten years later, when a package of relevant decisions was adopted at the session of the Collective Security Council (CSC) held on April 28, 2003 in Dushanbe.
The Organization was tasked with strengthening foreign policy integration and expanding areas of counteraction against international terrorism, extremism, organized transnational crime, illegal migration and drug business. The Council made a separate decision on coordination of activities in the anti-drug sector, in accordance with which an Action Plan was developed to combat external drug threat.
Under this plan, a comprehensive operational and preventive operation under the code name “Channel-2003” was carried out for the first time in 2003, aimed at identifying and blocking routes of illegal drug trafficking in the regions directly adjacent to Afghanistan. An international coordination headquarters was established to guide and manage the operation, consisting of representatives of competent authorities of the six CSTO states, national and regional interdepartmental headquarters, operational groups of relevant ministries and departments of the CSTO member states. Competent agencies of Iran, China, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan were also informed about preparation of the operation, its main tasks, ways of solving them and timing of the operation.
The effectiveness of the operation carried out in 2003 was recognized as successful, and the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board subsequently recognized it as the largest and most effective in countering Afghan drug trafficking.
Considering effectiveness of annual coordinated activities of the CSTO member states, other countries expressed their readiness to join the “Channel” operation. Including observers from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Bolivia, Venezuela, Iran, Spain, Italy, China, Colombia, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Poland, Peru, Romania, USA, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Finland, Estonia as well as representatives of Interpol, the OSCE and the Eurasian Group on combating money laundering (EAG).
Having regard to the obvious progress that accompanied the conduct of the “Channel”, this annual operation was given a status of a permanent CSTO regional anti-drug operation (decision of the Heads of the CSTO member states of September 5, 2008).
In total, from 2003 to the present, 28 stages of Operation “Channel” have been conducted. As a result of these activities, law enforcement agencies of the CSTO member states and observers seized 373 tons of narcotic drugs, psychotropic and potent substances, including 16.5 tons of heroin, 55.5 tons of hashish and 6.5 tons of synthetic drugs.
The fact that the Channel every year becomes an increasingly effective tool in combating drug epidemics in entire regions of Eurasia is shown by the results of a regular stage of the international special anti-drug operation “Channel Red Barkhan”, which took place from September 10 to September 14 year on the territory of Kazakhstan. Its planning was carried out on the basis of results of preparatory phase, during which an analysis of operational situation was conducted, a set of operational search measures were developed aimed at identifying and blocking channels for smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, in particular, through the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and exchange of necessary information between interacting authorities was also conducted.
During the operation, special measures were taken to identify habitats of wild-growing drug-containing plants, including “Indian cannabis”.
As a result of coordinated actions of law enforcement bodies of the participating countries, more than 11 tons 132 kg of drugs were seized, of which 6 tons 533 kg of opium, 930 kg of hashish, 1 ton 137 kg of marijuana, 88 kg of heroin, 144 kg of synthetic drugs, 2 tons 262 kg of other species, including 1 ton 663 kg of morphine and more than 33 kg of psychotropic and potent substances.
Representatives of law enforcement agencies of Iran and China as well as representatives of international organizations such as the OSCE, EAG, UNODC, Interpol, the Central Asian Regional Information Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (CARICC), Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP) took part in the operation “Channel Red Barkhan” as observers.
All this demonstrates broad international recognition of the effectiveness of the CSTO efforts in countering global threat of drugs and indicates high professionalism of structures and special services of the states constantly tackling this most serious challenge to their national security.
Protection must be collective
The most important document designed to create prerequisites for transferring cooperation of the CSTO member states in the anti-drug sphere to a new stage of development was the CSTO Anti-Terrorism Strategy for 2015-2020 approved by the CSTO on December 14, 2014. This document has incorporated all positive experience accumulated on the anti-terrorist track. With its main goal, the Strategy outlines a set of measures aimed at a drastic reduction by 2020 of the scale of illicit drug trafficking as well as their non-medical consumption.
It is planned to achieve this goal by stemming illegal production and trafficking of drugs, by curtailing cultivation of drug-containing plants and their production in Afghanistan, and also by strengthening border regime, undermining economic foundations of drug-related crime, by combating trafficking of new types of drugs, and uncontrolled psychoactive drugs.
CSTO member states are planning further development of multilateral cooperation in through the “Channel” operation and other anti-drug activities of departments and services, internal troops and internal affairs bodies allocated to the Special Forces KSOR CSTO formations.
A key element of the Strategy implementation mechanism is concerted approaches of the CSTO member states in countering drug crime at leading international platforms, including the UN and the OSCE, as well as activities of the Coordinating Council of the CSTO Competent Authorities for Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking (KSOPN).
The CSTO anti-drug strategy was the first regulatory legal act of its kind adopted in by an international regional organization. After the CSTO in 2018, a similar document was adopted by the SCO, participants of which are no less concerned about the drug threat emanating from Afghanistan and turned into a serious security challenge throughout the Eurasian space. Combining efforts of these two organizations will allow Eurasia to ensure a systematic comprehensive approach to improving architecture of international security undermined by destructive global drug trafficking and to create a powerful barrier to transnational drug crime.
On February 7, 2019, at the initiative of the Almaty Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan named after M.Esbulatov, senior local police inspectors of the GROP of territorial units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan carrying out their professional activities in the field of countering illegal distribution of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors visited CARICC.
CARICC staff during this visit organized an introductory tour for police officers taking advanced training courses at the Interdepartmental Center for Combating Drug Trafficking of the Almaty Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan named after M.Esbulatov.
Delegates were presented information on main directions of the Centre’s tasks, its development prospects and results of work in the field of combating transnational drug crime.
From January 28 to February 1, 2019, staff of CARICC’s Information and Analytical Division held the first stage of training for teachers of the Academy in acquiring skills and practical application of specialized software “i2 iBase” and “i2 Analyst Notebook» at the Academy of Law Enforcement Agencies of the General Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Astana).
In the process of learning, use of certain functions of the specialized software “i2” was considered as well as the use of this system in information and analytical work in collection, analysis and preparation of tabular data for compiling reports and references.
Following main (theoretical) lectures, representatives of CARICC conducted practical exercises with target group.
The main focus during practical classes was on analysis of criminal cases and establishment of interrelations, since this is the most relevant and sought-after line of activity. During the study, corresponding objects and connections were developed in database and an algorithm for processing, uploading and analyzing data into the “i2” software database was developed.
Participants noted the training fully corresponded to functional responsibilities and proved very constructive and useful in daily service of the staff of the agency.
In addition, a high level of training of instructors and organization of the event was noted.
The participants of the training recognized interesting and easy way of presenting educational material as well as moving away from standard lecture methodology and method of consolidating material by solving practical introductory data directly using specialized software.
A meeting of the Working Group on organization of anti-drug operations and other activities within the scope of competence of the Coordination Council of Heads of Competent Bodies on Countering Illicit Drug Trafficking of Member States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization was held in CARICC on January 17, 2019.
Trends and changes in drug situation on the territory of CSTO member states in the second half of 2018 were discussed during the meeting. Information was provided on measures taken by competent authorities of CSTO member states in prevention of illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. Recommendations for addressing abuse of new psychoactive substances were also presented along with measures taken to schedule new NPS in lists of prohibited substances.
Towards conclusion of the meeting, parties expressed intention to further strengthen and develop cooperation and interaction with regional international organizations and formats in combating drug trafficking.
From time to time, the “Modus Operandi” of security forces is replenished with new arsenal, and drug traffickers then have troubles. In the late 1980s, I remember, over the years, operatives who did not change their “course of action” adopted from advanced Western colleagues and secured “Controlled Purchases” by law.
Before that, police could surveil distributors as much as they could, identify their connections, caches, etc., but when it came to buying drugs, which allowed checking its purity, show money and, by doing so, push deeper into trust - STOP! The law did not allow us to do this. It was necessary to "take" the seller, even with a minimum dose. Or let go. This was used by criminals and, checking, they often brought fake or insignificant quantity of prohibited substance to the meeting - barely enough for forensic examination.
Over the years, criminals have become accustomed to such an algorithm of investigators. And when it came to controlled purchases that allowed buying small quantities of drugs “to try”, the stereotype worked: “since money is paid, it means that it is not cops.” Effectiveness of raids soared tremendously! But not for long – crime soon learned to conduct its "counter-intelligence activities".
Apart from that, “controlled deliveries” secured by a UN Convention proved to be well recommended, when a drug trafficker is allowed to cross a state border, get to the main recipient and thus reveal the entire criminal chain.
So, it is in the "who is smarter" mode that police operational services worked for many years.
Today, many unique methods have appeared on their arsenal, increasing efficiency by several times. One of the most productive, in my opinion, is the study and analysis of risk profile used in tracking large trucking companies, sea containers, railway and air cargo.
I will not disclose the method itself here for obvious reasons. And not only did it turn out to be the “golden key”. In an operation, the results of which I want to share, whole arsenal of police forces and equipment was involved, operatives of several countries worked together to solve the case.
... For some time interests of Moroccan hashish distributors and Belgian drug cartels supplying synthetic materials to the black market have come together in the Pyrenees. Traffic volumes, methods of transportation and strictest conspiracy of the drug business was astonishing! Anasha was delivered from North Africa into Europe on small boats via Gibraltar.
This route was previously well known to border guards and customs. But usually smugglers preferred to work alone, not uniting in gangs. Doing the will of the contractor, most often remaining incognito even if they were caught, “drug captains” acted at their own peril and risk.
But this time it was different. Number of smuggler was massive and they were organized. Under the cover of night or in fog, dozens of motorboats not controlled by radars went out into the sea, each having a personal route, unloading point was determined with trucks waiting for consignment. Product was instantly overloaded and immediately went deep into the continent. It is clear that all operations were ordered, coordinated and controlled from one center. The final destination of the potion delivery was Russia...
Thus, with participation of colleagues from several countries, the operation “Pyrenean break” that lasted for long nine years began.
At the beginning, using risk profile analysis, we determined means of drugs transportation. Gradually, we found out that each batch was sent to Russia on 10-15 cars filled with briquettes with hashish mixed with synthetic drug. Such a "brick" weighed from thirty to one hundred and fifty kilograms. Each consignment contained tons of deadly cargo.
Ingenious caches ... In the process of equipping them, not only car trims were filmed. Body elements, technological cavities were opened, gas tanks were altered. The shipment became almost invisible and intangible: when it was treated with chemicals specially developed for drug cartel, it became inaccessible to service dogs. Only thorough, layered, inch by inch, X-ray...
As if in mockery, narcotic cargo was packed in bright marking materials with the emblems "Porsche", "Audi", and Euro. Controlled deliveries made it possible to track routes, transshipment points, identify specific individuals involved in drug trafficking, and establish operational surveillance of them.
The apotheosis of the operation was the seizure of five tons of Moroccan hashish and a particularly large load of Belgian synthetics, as well as weapons and ammunition. Following this joint group of police from Spain, Moldova, Belarus, Russia and other countries arrested throughout Europe and in the Russian open spaces already well known to the investigation ... 45 heads of the syndicate.
Behind the bars are the so-called “thieves in law” Mikka, Patron, Turk, criminal authorities Tsyn, Lika ... And on October 1, 2017, the drug cartel was finally beheaded: at the suggestion of Russians, Moldovan special forces in Chisinau disarmed “Parteigenosse Borman”, who is also known as Oleg Prutyanu in more than twenty criminal cases.
The leader is clearly facing life sentence...
Bishkek, December 2018