Drug Scene: Another Redistribution. A.ZELICHENKO

It has been noticed long ago: the drug scene or in other words, the types of drugs used, the ways of their production and transportation, the distribution differs from time to time. The reasons for this are a few - globalization, fashion, politics, economics ... Our observations show that it is now redistribution takes place. What does it bring in!?
Let’s try to understand.
.... In 30-40-ies of the last century, in the Kirghiz and Kazakh SSR it was decided to establish bast-fiber production. A whole branch of industry had arisen, a network of so-called lub-fiber factories and kenaff (hemp) -jute factories were built. Old-timers of the Frunze city of the Kyrgyz SSR, for example, well remember such facility at the site of the current Dordoy-Plaza - with a developed infrastructure (kindergarten, club, shop), with a large number of jobs. They produced environmentally friendly linen, strong ropes and many other things. Raw materials and hemp were imported to us from outside, and here it was actively cultivated. And if initially the content of the active, drug-causing substance was not high therein, then under the influence of a number of local climatic factors this effect quickly had gone beyond. It is possible therefore, but most likely because of the changed economic conjuncture, in the early 1960s, the hemp crops in our Republic have been ceased. The remaining wild-growing “appendicitis” have since strongly been disturbing the law enforcement agencies. So much that real army operations were implemented in the hemp jungles, freely sprawled in the Dzhambul region of neighboring Kazakhstan, where during the ripening of the plant drug traffickers from all over the Soviet Union flocked - I myself was a participant in those events - ... with the use of armored personnel carriers, helicopters, cadets and service dogs from all distances and all places of a huge country.
In parallel, “opiuprobism” was developing. In 50-60s of the twentieth century, Kyrgyzstan legally produced up to 16% of the world’s raw opium harvest, which was distinguished by a high content of morphine. The science persistently striving to increase crop yields was developing, collective farms and state farms engaged in the cultivation of “scarlet poppies were strengthened, a state-owned enterprise “Lekrastprom” flourished. Unfortunately, the drug mafia flourished simultaneously. A significant share of raw poppy entered the “black market”. Sophisticated methods of its theft and transportation existed. Cunning, sophisticated caches were made. One day, policemen when inspecting a bus touring from Przhevalsk (now the Karakol town) to Frunze (Bishkek), paid attention to a young woman with a baby in her arms. According to the passengers, during a long journey the child never shed a tear, he was never fed ... When inspecting a bus, it turned out that 7 kilograms of potion was transported in the gutted corpse (!)...
In 1966, an all-Union conference on the problems of drug addiction was held in Frunze. For the first time, a deadly statistics on the theft of raw opium, a huge number of potions seized from drug dealers, and a rise in drug use was articulated at this conference. Hearing this, Ms. N.D. Davydova, Representative of the USSR in the Committee on Drugs to the United Nations, soon filed an application for resignation. The statement provided by the state official pointed out that she could no longer lie to the international community, as if the distribution and consumption of drugs is not peculiar to a socialist society. In 1974, following the UN resolutions, poppy cultivation in Kyrgyzstan was discontinued. Immediately, mafia “bite the dust”, although rare seizures of hidden opium for a while still were carried out. By the way, already in early 1990s, when determining the financial and economic basis of the newly acquired sovereignty, Kyrgyzstan turned to the possibility of reviving the legal drug crops of the opium poppy. To this, the “red professors”-academicians of the old school and zealous bureaucracy called out. Not wishing to reckon with the realities, they argued “froth-spewing” that this is the only way to raise the economy. Opium was presented as a panacea for all misfortunes, a measure of well-being, a ticket to future business success. The state then had enough common sense not to slide down to cheap populism and false patriotism. They established a working group, which included the best specialists. They reviewed the problem in a comprehensive way - from economic expediency to modern methods to reduce losses. They worked so hard and comprehensively that they even found traces of elite poppy seeds that before the collapse of the Soviet Union they were secretly exported from the Republic ...
The conclusion of the Commission was categorical – “it’s more profitable to plant potatoes”. Procurement of opium for medical purposes, firstly, is rigidly quoted, and even at that time there was an overproduction of opium. Kyrgyzstan would only have to trade at dumping prices, which secondly, would inevitably lead to a conflict with the producing countries - India, Pakistan, Turkey, Australia, obstruction of the world community, represented by the leading countries of the world and the United Nations, who invested a lot in Kyrgyzstan. Today, even Afghanistan, which produced more than 5,000 tons of cheap drugs last year, is not able to go out to the legal opium market.
And finally, thirdly, in order to ensure a reliable level of protection along the whole process chain - field - factory – pharmacy it was required to invest so much that planting the potatoes would be truly cheaper, and more profitable. But even super technologies applied, for example, in Australia, do not ensure 100% preservation of the crop. If we grow and collect it with grandfather methods, we would very quickly turn into a zone of special attention of the international drug trafficking mafia. And the Batken intervention in 1999-2000, when the armed narcotics terrorists invaded the Republic, would seem to us as a harmless “Zarnitsa”, something like a Boy Scout game ...

Since then, 18 years hemp and marijuana derivatives from wild cannabis dominated at the national drug scene, and later – “Ephedrone”, produced both from pharmacy medications and from the medicinal plant “ephedra horsetail”.

Militia took measures to tackle drug-related crime. However, their efforts were not purposeful, drug addiction was still considered a phenomenon that does not adorn the socialist society, and therefore was not particularly puffed out. Anecdotal today is a real case from the author’s experience of this article, when in one day at the Red Bridge in the Boom gorge, 29 drug couriers of light drugs were arrested. As soon as this information reached the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan, the leadership of the Republican Ministry of Internal Affairs was called “onto the carpet” and subjected to obstruction. The active work to interdict illicit drug trafficking has been curtailed for some time.

I would like to note that prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, thanks also to the efforts of the author of this article, the emphasis in combating crime was shifted to drug addiction and drug trafficking. A unique, completely independent operational and investigative structure was established - Counter-Narcotics Service (CNS), which during the first months of its existence, positioned itself by seizing an unprecedented amount of drugs - over 2 tons of cannabis and marijuana being prepared for exportation abroad.

Already in 1993, to strengthen the coordination segment, under the Government of the Republic, the State Drug Control Commission (SDCC) was established, which was later transformed into the Drug Control Agency (DCA). Having been eliminated by an evil will, it “arose from the ashes” in 2010 in the form of the State Drug Control Service (SDCA), but in 2016, it was closed again. Currently, an independent Drug Enforcement Service (DES) based at the Ministry of Internal Affairs operates, which among other things, performs the functions of a coordinator of all counter-narcotics activities in the country.

In the early 1990s, the drug scene had been changed dramatically again: Opium “Made in Afghanistan” began to penetrate to our Republic. Operational officers, who had never laid eyes on this drug for almost 20 years, were in a panic: there is no information to draw from; methods to counteract this type of drug have not been elaborated. The old schemes, referring to the “scarlet poppies” times, did not work. Meanwhile, spontaneous single seizures often exceeded 10-15 kilograms. The intensity of drug supplies, their cynicism, and the amount of smuggling cargo gave rise to the name “Narcotics Expansion”.

Interaction with neighbors from Gorny-Badakhshan, from where at the initial stage mainly Afghan opium crossing the Afghan-Tajik border entered, did not work: there was a Civil War and power belonged to field commanders. The fighters against narcotic drugs learned everything by themselves, and soon they were able to identify caches skillfully concealed in various details of cars scurrying along the high-mountain route “Khorog-Osh”; they knew local drug traffickers and second-hand dealers; contrasted the active explanatory work with the tactics of involving in the drug-related business mothers with many children; a harm reduction tactic has emerged to mitigate the risk of HIV infection and death from overdose ...

And then - a new narcotic spiraling: heroin appeared on the stage. While a volume of cargo was diminishing (it is much more difficult to uncover “caches”), its danger increased multi-fold: due to the huge price of “white death”, organized crime appeared on the drug scene, transnational organized crime groups appeared; the scale of drug-related abuse has increased; heroin persistently nurtured terrorists of all stripes. “Nacronomics” appeared- an economy based on drug production and drug trafficking, in which environment today entire countries are already living ...

And again, precious time was spent, while the law-enforcement agencies was able to orient themselves and chose a purposeful tactic to counteract heroin expansion so far. For example, the practice of implementing “controlled deliveries” has proven itself well: with the involvement of operational officers of several countries, when the entire criminal chain in the territory of each of country is identified and brought to justice. International cooperation, in-depth operational work, the latest equipment, staff training, intensive exchange of best practices and many other things produce good results also.

May be it sounds blasphemous, but the “heroin umbrella” has protected us for many years from any other, much more harmful, psychoactive substances (NPSs), such as spices, ecstasy, methamphetamines, from all this chemistry, which after the first administration is able to cause addictive, irreversible processes in the psyche and cause the destruction of internal organs.

The spread of drugs using the latest Internet technologies makes their producers and sellers difficult to understand, and ignorance of how the personality changes under the influence of NPSs results in late detection of drug consumers. One important detail attracts attention: if, during all changes in the drug scene described above, the problems were experienced mainly by law enforcement agencies, then under the current situation these problems are inherent not only for them, but and for narcologists, and drug-service non-governmental organizations. Recently, for example, I heard how doctors were astonished, when parents literally dragged their child “influenced by spice” to them on the arcane: they who master the art of heroin detoxification and follow-up therapy, the Aesculapian who did not know what to do in this case. At least they found the strength to admit it, and did not rush to “treat”. None of the most experienced NGOs could offer anything. It was lucky that at this time a seminar was held here, which was attended by a well-known doctor from Ukraine, who himself had passed all the circles of the drug hell. He advised the detoxification scheme in a psychiatric clinic that allowed at least to save the patient’s life ...

To some extent, international organizations, including the European Union, which funds, for example, the Central Asian Drug Action Programme (CADAP), are called for filling gaps in knowledge. Within its framework, invaluable foreign experience is generalized and passed on to our narcologists and representatives of the non-governmental sector.

Delay is tantamount to death...


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