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Around 269 million people used drugs worldwide in 2018, which is 30 per cent more than in 2009,  while over 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders, according to the latest World Drug Report, released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Report also analyses the impact of COVID-19 on the drug markets, and while its effects are not yet fully known, border and other restrictions linked to the pandemic have already caused shortages of drugs on the street, leading to increased prices and reduced purity.

“Vulnerable and marginalized groups, youth, women and the poor pay the price for the world drug problem. The COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn threaten to compound drug dangers further still, when our health and social systems have been brought to the brink and our societies are struggling to cope,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly. “We need all governments to show greater solidarity and provide support, to developing countries most of all, to tackle illicit drug trafficking and offer evidence-based services for drug use disorders and related diseases, so we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, promote justice and leave no one behind.”

The market for opiates in Central Asia appears to have been transformed between 2008 and 2018, and the market in stimulants appears to be booming. Heroin trafficking through Central Asia destined for the Russian Federation appears to be decreasing over the past decade, although recent large seizures suggest that the region may be emerging as a transit route to Western and Central Europe. Once accounting for 10 per cent of global seizures, the so-called northern route from Afghanistan made up just 1 per cent in 2018. The prevalence of people who inject drugs (PWID) aged 15–64 in 2018 continues to be the highest in Eastern Europe (1.26 per cent) and Central Asia and Transcaucasia (0.63 per cent). Those percentages are, respectively, 5.5 and 2.8 times higher than the global average.

“It is our joint shared responsibility to ensure that Central Asia remains safe from illicit drugs and organized crime. The only way forward is to foster greater international, cross-border and inter-agency cooperation for achieving our shared vision to strengthen progress security, health and sustainable development, to guarantee safe and secure lives, prosperity of people, and especially, the young generation,” said UNODC Regional Representative to Central Asia, Ms. Ashita Mittal. “In the COVID-19 recovery, we need all countries to act on their commitments, and show shared responsibility to tackle illicit drug supply and reduce demand.”

Though, the current COVID-19 crisis has caused sharp decrease in drug seizures in Central Asia, due to the pandemic, traffickers are exploring new routes and methods, and trafficking activities via the darknet and shipments by mail. The pandemic has also lead to opiates shortages, which in turn may result in people seeking out more readily available substances such as alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs, extracted opium (poppy seed), or mixing with synthetic drugs. More harmful patterns of use may emerge as some users switch to injecting, or more frequent injecting.

Looking at further effects of the current pandemic, the Report says that if governments react the same way as they did to the economic crisis in 2008, when they reduced drug-related budgets, then interventions such as prevention of drug use and related risk behaviours, drug treatment services, the provision of naloxone for management and reversal of opioid overdose could be hard hit. Interception operations and international cooperation may also become less of a priority, making it easier for traffickers to operate.

Trends in drug use

While cannabis was the most used substance worldwide in 2018, with an estimated 192 million people using it worldwide. Opioids, however, remain the most harmful, as over the past decade, the total number of deaths due to opioid use disorders went up 71 percent, with a 92 per cent increase among women compared with 63 per cent among men.

Drug use increased far more rapidly among developing countries over the 2000-2018 period than in developed countries. Adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs, while young people are also the most vulnerable to the effects of drugs because they use the most and their brains are still developing.

Availability of pharmaceutical opioids for medical consumption varies across the globe

The Report also points out that low-income countries still suffer a critical shortage of pharmaceutical opioids for pain management and palliative care. More than 90 per cent of all pharmaceutical opioids available for medical consumption were in high-income countries in 2018 comprising around 12 per cent of the global population. While the low and middle-income countries comprising 88 per cent of the global population are estimated to consume less than 10 percent of pharmaceutical opioids. Access to pharmaceutical opioids depend on several factors including legislation, culture, health systems and prescribing practices.

Socio-economically disadvantaged face greater risk from drug use disorders

Poverty, limited education and social marginalization remain major factors increasing the risk of drug use disorders and vulnerable and marginalized groups may also face barriers to getting treatment services due to discrimination and stigma.


The World Drug Report and further content is available here: wdr.unodc.org

The 2020 World Drug Report provides a global overview of the supply and demand of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances (NPS), as well as their impact on health, taking into account the possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights, through improved research and more precise data, that the adverse health consequences of drug use are more widespread than previously thought.

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CARICC delegation headed by Director Major-General of Police R. Miralizoda took part in the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs held in Vienna (Austria) from 2 to 6 March this year.

Ms. Ghada Wali, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, made an opening statement to the 63rd session of the CND, and Mr. Cornelis de Joncheere, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), delivered a video message from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

A total of about 1,500 participants representing more than 130 countries, 17 international organizations and civil and scientific community members attended the 63rd session of the CND.

In addition to plenary, more than 100 international counter-narcotics events were organized and held on the sidelines of the session, some of which were joined by CARICC delegation.

In particular, five different side events organized by the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Japan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Japan in cooperation with the UNODC, the SCO and the European Union that covered efforts of the respective countries and organizations in combating illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors.  

A series of bilateral meetings of CARICC Director Mr. R. Miralizoda and heads of delegations from participating countries and high-ranking officials of international organizations were arranged on the sidelines of the forum.

The Centre's positive impact in combating illicit drug trafficking at the international and regional levels was cited. CARICC Director, in turn, reiterated his willingness to continue taking an active part in strengthening regional and international cooperation and providing a platform for conferences, trainings and other events in the areas under discussion.

In total, the 63rd session of the CND adopted five resolutions on such topics as partnerships with private sector; improving data collection and analysis to strengthen responses to world drug problem; involvement of youth in drug abuse prevention efforts; access to and availability of internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes; and promoting alternative approaches to illicit crop cultivation.

The Commission also scheduled 13 new substances.

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A round table was organized on March 2, 2020 in the UN Office in Almaty with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan involving representatives of UN agencies, diplomatic corps, non-governmental and international organizations, scientific circles and mass media, which was also attended by a representative of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors.

The occasion was dedicated to the 28th anniversary of Kazakhstan's accession to the United Nations and the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations.

Mr. Yerlan Iskakov, head of Almaty Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, opened the round table. He highlighted that Kazakhstan emphasizes position of regional partnership in sustainable development.

Mr. Vlastimil Samek, representative of the UN Department of Public Information in the Republic of Kazakhstan, in his speech stressed that Kazakhstan has become an active participant in the organization over the years of close cooperation and is taking relevant initiatives to strengthen cooperation and conflict resolution in the region.

H.E. Ambassador Madina Dzharbusynova, permanent representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations (1999-2003), also addressed the event, adding that, having become a member of the United Nations, Kazakhstan obtained right and a real opportunity to participate fully in development of solutions to pressing world problems and for 28 years makes a real contribution to multilateral effort of the primary international organization.

Mr. Abror Fatkhullaev, consul general of Uzbekistan in Almaty; Mr. Ali Riza Akinci, consul general of Turkey in Almaty; Mr. Alexis Chahtahtinsky, consul general of France in Almaty; Mr. Evgeny Bobrov, consul general of Russia in Almaty; Mr. Geng Liping, consul general of China in Almaty; Ms. Kuralai Baizakova, professor at KazNU after Al-Farabi; Ms. Ainur Saabitova, director of the Sorbonne-Kazakhtsan Institute of KazNPU after Abai and others offered their welcoming speeches and congratulations.

Expert community commended close cooperation between Kazakhstan and the UN, which contributes to peace and security consolidation.

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On 20-21 February 2020, a high-level international conference was held in Rome, organized by the Central Directorate for Coordination of Anti-Drug Services of the Ministry of the Italian Republic Internal Affairs, with the participation of CARICC Director Mr. R. Miralizoda.

At the conference, heads of counternarcotics agencies from 56 states, OSCE executive structures, OSCE partners for cooperation, international organizations and civil society discussed issues of international cooperation in combating transnational drug crime, drug trafficking, as well as problems of drug abuse prevention faced by the international community.

The CARICC delegation presented a report on "Threats. Routes. Cooperation".

Director of the Center Major-General of Police Miralizoda Rustam Aziz in his speech informed the participants of the symposium about joint operations with the competent authorities of CARICC member states in the field of combating drug trafficking, analytical work and information exchange, as well as projects implemented with international partners.

At the end of the meeting the sides noted the need for integration of international structures, establishment of inter-grid partnership and interaction, which will create a prerequisite for more effective cooperation in combating transnational drug threat.

Also, on the margins of the conference, the Director of CARICC R. Miralizoda held a number of bilateral meetings, in particular with:

  • heads of delegations from competent authorities of CARICC member states:

- Head of the GUBN of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Colonel of Police Gumbatov I.M;

- Deputy Head of the Main Drug Control Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, Major General of Police S.N. Savochkin.

- First Deputy Director of the Drug Control Agency under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Major General Samad Z.T.;

- Director of the National Information and Analytical Centre on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan, O. Narzullaev.

  • heads of delegations from competent authorities of CARICC observer states, other countries and international organizations:

- Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Major General Hashim U.;

- Chief of the Anti-Narcotics Police of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Brigadier General Zahedian M.;

- Head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Ministry of Interior of Spain. Colonel Antonio Cortez R.;

- Head of the Central Office for Drug Control of the Ministry of Interior of the Italian Republic, General Gucciar J.;

- Head of the Federal Directorate for Organized Crime and Cross-Border Cooperation, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Arkand M;

- INTERPOL representative Ms. Misho L.G.;

- Head of the Strategic Police Matters Unit at OSCE Headquarters, Guy Vinet.

During the meetings, topical issues of interaction in various areas of joint activities, both organizational and practical, were discussed.

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Regional training course for law enforcement investigators of CARICC Member States, Observer States and counterparts on investigation of illicit trafficking of NPS facilitated by Darkweb and the use of cryptocurrencies was held in the premises of the Central Asian Regional Information Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (CARICC) in Almaty on 17-21 February 2020.

The event was attended by representatives of competent authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan and Mongolia, and also by SCO RATS.

The course was organized by the Strategic Police Matters Unit of the Transnational Threats Department of the OSCE Secretariat in cooperation with CARICC and with the support of the Nizhny Novgorod Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Participants assessed that the training course is very relevant to countries of the region, as it addresses the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes, including those related to drug trafficking, including NPS.

Illicit use of cryptocurrency and Darkweb is becoming a challenge to states in the region. Such trainings contribute to professional development of employees of competent authorities of CARICC member and observer states and spread best practices to counter this threat.

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A meeting of experts from the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Georgia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan was held on 29-30 January 2020 at the initiative of the Drugs Research Section of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime headquarters in Vienna. The meeting was attended by independent scientific experts, a representative of CARICC and UNODC employees.

The expert meeting discussed current drug situation and recent trends in opiate traffic along the so-called “Northern Route”.

In addition, an issue of increasing trafficking in synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances in CARICC Member States was also raised.

Outcome of the expert meeting will serve as a basis for further monitoring of the situation and research work on trafficking in opiates along the “Northern Route” from Afghanistan through Central Asia to the Russian Federation.

Tuesday, 04 February 2020 17:01

On assuming the office by CARICC Director

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Chairman of the Council of National Coordinators of CARICC Member States, Major-General Tlegen Matkenov presented new director of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, Major-General Rustam Aziz Miralizoda to CARICC employees, authorized representatives of competent authorities of CARICC Member States, liaison officers of observer states at CARICC, employees of UNODC Programme Office in Almaty on January 31, 2020.

Mr. Rustam Aziz Miralizoda is a representative of the Republic of Tajikistan, who has been appointed on a rotational basis by heads of CARICC Member States upon recommendation of the Council of National Coordinators and will take up his duties from February 2, 2020.

During the event the chairman of the Council of National Coordinators of CARICC Member States, authorized representatives, liaison officers, employees of the DEA Office in Almaty, Middle East region of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as well as the acting Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Almaty welcomed the newly appointed Director of CARICC, Major-General Rustam Aziz Miralizoda and expressed gratitude to Colonel Grigory Pustovitov for his productive work as former director in coordinating efforts of competent authorities of CARICC Member States in combating transnational drug crime.

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CARICC hosted a training course on interagency cooperation in detecting and investigating drug proceeds laundering in December 9-13.
The event was organized by the Academy of Law Enforcement Agencies under the Prosecutor General's Office in cooperation with CARICC, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Financial Monitoring Committee of the Ministry of Finance with the support of the INL Section of the U.S. Embassy to Kazakhstan, the OSCE Programme Office in Nur-Sultan and UNODC.
The training was attended by representatives of the Prosecutor's Office, police, economic investigation and financial monitoring units from 4 regions of the Republic of Kazakhstan: Shymkent city, Almaty, Zhambyl and Kyzylorda regions.
Participants of the training worked out mechanisms of interaction between different agencies, including law enforcement agencies, financial intelligence units, economic investigation services, prosecutor's offices and the judiciary in a single case on contactless sale of drugs, followed by analysis of its financial component, determination of money-laundering schemes based on practice and typology of completed criminal cases.
In the long run, such training will enable to develop an effective mechanism for interagency cooperation and increase detection of drug proceeds laundering.




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