Tajikistan produces few narcotics, but it is a major transit country for heroin and opium from Afghanistan to the West. A significant amount of opium/heroin is trafficked, primarily using land-based routes, through Tajikistan, onward via the Northern Route--Central Asia--Russia -West and East Europe. There is also evidence of Afghan opiates entering Tajikistan bound for China via Murghab in the eastern part of the country. There is no evidence yet of a significant amount of Afghan heroin transiting Tajikistan to the U.S. Tajikistan's medical infrastructure is inadequate to address the population's growing need for addiction treatment and rehabilitation. The Tajik Government remains committed to fighting narcotics, but it is ill equipped to handle the myriad social problems that stem from narcotics trade and abuse. Tajikistan continues to implement counternarcotics activities and coordinates well with all major donors. However, corruption within the Tajik government continues to complicate counternarcotics efforts, and so far no anticorruption efforts supported by the Government of Tajikistan have had a large impact. Tajikistan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, as well as the UN Convention against Corruption.
II. Status of Country
Geography and economics continue to make Tajikistan an attractive transit route for illegal narcotics. The Pyanj River, which forms most of Tajikistan's border with opium-producing Afghanistan, is thinly guarded, and difficult to patrol. Traffickers can easily cross the border at numerous points without inspection. Tajikistan's economic opportunities are limited by a lack of domestic infrastructure and complicated by the fact that its major export routes transit neighboring Uzbekistan. In the past, Uzbekistan closed its border to combat a "perceived instability" from its neighbor, although borders have remained open for at least two years. Criminal networks that came to prominence during the 1992-97 civil war, continued instability in Afghanistan, and the Government's lack of revenue to adequately support law enforcement efforts hinder the Tajik Government's efforts to strengthen rule of law and combat illegal narcotics flows.
With the average monthly income in the country at around $30, high unemployment, poor job prospects, and massive economic migration to Russia, the temptation to become involved in narcotics-related transactions remains high for many segments of society. In-country cultivation of narcotics crops is minimal. However, the Government of Tajikistan has recently indicated that it is investigating the possible existence of small mobile processing labs to refine Afghan opiates near the southern border area.
While a large portion of Afghan narcotics transit Tajikistan, the picture is still unclear with regard to precursor chemicals moving into Afghanistan. The small amount of licit precursor chemical imports, closely monitored by the Tajik Government, is destined generally for five in-country industrial sites that use such chemicals. The Government of Tajikistan does not have the capability to monitor or intercept precursor chemicals illegally transiting Tajikistan to Afghanistan. Part of the reason for the lack of seizures and information is that the Tajik government has a customs inspection agreement with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan that prohibits inspection of sealed through trucks bound for a non-Tajikistan destination (TIR), many of which carry goods such as licit and illicit precursor chemicals. There were no illegal precursor seizures in 2006. Tajik drug control officers argue that it makes little sense to traffic precursors through Tajikistan because huge amounts of precursors are needed to produce drugs and trafficking would require a developed communication system with Afghanistan, which Tajikistan does not have. This argument ignores the strong monetary incentives, which the drug traffic creates.
III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2006
Policy Initiatives. In coordination with other Tajik government agencies, the Presidential Office's Drug Control Agency (DCA) continued to implement a number of U.S.-funded programs to strengthen Tajikistan's drug control capacity, including: new facility construction; renovation of existing headquarters and regional facilities; purchase of vehicles and police support equipment; creation of new analytical centers, a national K-9 facility with trained dogs and handlers; forensics laboratory improvements; national law enforcement communications network, training academy improvements, and salary supplemental programs. The new DCA mobile response and deployment teams have considerably improved DCA's operational capacity. As a result of the final withdrawal of Russian border troops from the Tajik-Afghan border in June 2005, Tajik forces are now solely responsible for patrolling and maintaining the border and the Tajik State Committee for Border Protection (SCBP) continues to adjust to its growing needs, including participating in a new U.S.-funded initiative to provide salary supplements to border guards on the Tajik-Afghan border which will begin in 2007. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) has also begun to pursue renovation of its forensics lab and overhaul of the national police academy. The MOI held its first ever antidrug sports event for young athletes in September 2006 and plans to expand such public outreach events to improve the relations of the police with Tajik youth.
Accomplishments. Although the SCBP are poorly equipped and trained, enforcement operations have increased substantially since the Russian troops' withdrawal, as have arrests and seizures of narcotics and related counternarcotics operations, thanks in large part to new initiatives and programs. From May 23-29, 2006 the Drug Control Agency, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of State Revenue and Tax Collection and the State Committee for Border Protection participated in the first stage of the "Channel 2006 Operation" conducted among Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member states--Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Armenia. The operation resulted in the seizure of 243.2 kg of drugs, including 129.9 kg of heroin, disclosure of 105 drug related crimes, seizure of 12 firearms, and detention of 11 suspects. The second stage of this rapid response operation occurred October 9-15, 2006 during which Tajik agencies were able to work cooperatively and seize 441 kg of narcotic substances, including 125.4 kg of heroin as well as more firearms and ammunition. This multi-agency participation confirms the growing professionalism of Tajikistan's law enforcement agencies and their ability to coordinate a "common front" approach on combating drug trafficking.
Despite all obstacles, cooperation between Tajik law enforcement and Afghan counterparts is slowly developing: in March, a successful joint operation conducted between Tajik and Afghan special forces resulted in the seizure of 91 kg of heroin and 44 kg of marijuana. In July, the presidents of Tajikistan and Afghanistan signed a joint communique, which calls for the creation of a regional counternarcotics center.
Law Enforcement Efforts. During the first 9 months of 2006, the DCA, SCBP and MOI reported the following seizures: DCA--405.482 kg of heroin; 926.213 kg of opium; 234.774 kg of cannabis. SCBP--117.853 kg of heroin; 189.458 kg of opium; 356.740 kg of cannabis. MOI--1,071.19 kg of heroin; 1,461.304 of opium; 472.585 kg of cannabis. Total drug seizures by all law enforcement agencies in 2006 (January to November 2006), was 3,747.705 kg, as opposed to 3,416.355 kg during the same reporting period in 2005. Overall, the DCA is progressing at a notable rate with some arrests of traffickers and major seizures. The SCBP is still hampered by considerable corruption at the lower levels and its Soviet top-down management style. On the whole, law enforcement and security ministries contributing to management of border smuggling and organized crime have demonstrated greater capacity and willingness to be proactive in comparison to previous years. Much needs to be done in training and capacity building to reinforce this positive trend by Tajik forces. Tajikistan seizes roughly 80 percent of all drugs captured in Central Asia and stands third worldwide in seizures of opiates (heroin and raw opium). Although drug seizures are significant, the lack of a conspiracy law severely limits law enforcement's ability to target upper echelon drug traffickers. So far, no major narcotics trafficker has been apprehended and brought to trial--a move that will require the backing of the President in order to happen.
Corruption. As a matter of policy, the Tajik Government does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances and has continued to seek international support in augmenting its efforts to combat narcotics trafficking. However, some senior officials in the SCBP, MOI, DCA, and the Ministries of Security (MOS) and Justice (MOJ) live in modest houses and apartments and drive modest vehicles, while others in the same customs, law enforcement and security agencies have expensive new homes, cars and other investments. Due to this apparent disparity there is a good deal of public speculation about the involvement of government officials in narcotics trafficking, money laundering and corruption. Speculation focuses on prominent public figures involved in Tajikistan's 1992-97 Civil War. It is impossible to determine authoritatively just how pervasive drug-related corruption and other forms of corruption are within government circles. However, there is certainly a striking difference in the life styles of low salaried government officials and the extravagant lifestyles many senior officials appear to maintain, although their nominal government salaries could hardly support such lifestyles. Even when arrests are made for narcotics trafficking, the resulting cases are not always brought to a satisfactory conclusion. There have been some arrests of Border Guard and Customs officers in the last year by the DCA; however, these are low level officers, and investigations rarely proceed beyond indictment of the courier and foot soldiers involved. Tajikistan signed the UN Convention Against Corruption in accordance with the President's Executive Order No. 1601 of September 10, 2005, and fully ratified it in September 2006.
Agreements and Treaties. Tajikistan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1972 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Tajikistan is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan signed an agreement in September 1999 on cooperation in combating transnational crime, including narcotics trafficking. The five Central Asian countries, as well as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey, are members of the Economic Coordination Mechanism supported by the UNODC.
Cultivation/Production. Opium poppies and cannabis are cultivated in very limited amounts, mostly in the northern Aini and Panjakent districts. Law enforcement efforts limited opium cultivation, but cultivation has also been limited because it has been far cheaper and safer to grow opium poppies in neighboring Afghanistan. In the course of the continuous "Poppy Operation," about 460,000 illicit drug plants--mostly wild hemp, have been eradicated. This eradication program has been implemented for the past several years. All law enforcement structures participate under the lead of the Drug Control Agency, which, in 11 joint operations, destroyed 356,653 plants in 2006.
The Government of Tajikistan suspects that drug processing may occur on the Tajik side of the Afghan border and has begun investigations in the southern part of the country to obtain definitive evidence. There is significant evidence that close family and clan ties between Tajiks and Afghans in the border region have aided, and continue to aid, traffickers in moving their product across Tajikistan. However the U.S. currently has no evidence of major drug processing taking place within Tajikistan.
Drug Flow/Transit. The Tajik government estimates that a significant share of narcotics produced in Afghanistan is smuggled across the border into Tajikistan's southern Shurobod, Moskovskiy, Ishkashim and Pyanj districts. There is some evidence that some portion of Afghan opiates transiting eastern Tajikistan is entering western China, but due to the remoteness of the region, there is little data on the scale of the trafficking through this route. The government may be seriously overestimating the percentage of Afghanistan's drug production that transits Tajikistan. Although most observers believe the largest single share of Afghan drugs passes through Iran the total volume of drugs transiting Tajikistan is certainly high and growing. One UN estimate put the amount of heroin from Afghanistan going through Tajikistan at roughly 80 to 120 tons a year. Hashish from Afghanistan also transits Tajikistan en route to Russian and European markets.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). The DCA continued to expand and develop its initiatives aimed at increasing drug awareness, primarily among school children. The Tajik Government also encouraged the involvement of domestic and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in this effort. USAID-funded, Population Services International (PSI) is running four "Youth Power Centers" in Dushanbe (1), Khudjand (2), and Khorog (1) aimed at prevention of drug use among youth and other at-risk groups. Each center supports up to 1000 young people aged 15 to 25. The Tajik government spent $11,000 through the "Decrease of Demand for Drugs in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Program" for the creation of a Rehabilitation Center for drug users in Badakhshan, and another $5,000 for the construction of a sports complex in Khorog. From September 20-26, 2006, the U.S. Embassy and Tajik Ministry of Interior cosponsored the sport event held under the slogan: "Youth Against Drugs" aimed at advertising a healthy lifestyle among Tajik youth. Despite such efforts, the number of young addicts continues to grow, and over 60 percent of Tajikistan's drug addicts are in the 18-30 age group.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan has a growing Narcotics and Law Enforcement Section, with a full-time narcotics and transnational crime assistance officer and a Senior Law Enforcement Advisor to coordinate law enforcement and counternarcotics assistance. The section expects the addition of a Resident Legal Advisor as well. The DEA plans to establish an office in Dushanbe with a permanent Country Attache, two special agents, and support staff in 2007 and has maintained temporary personnel in country since February 2006. Overall, U.S. security assistance to Tajikistan continues to expand with additional resources coming from the Department of Defense (DOD) and other sources. The Office of Defense Cooperation is implementing installation of a major communications system that will link all border posts and border guard Headquarters. Eventually, this system can be expanded to link all law enforcement/security agencies in Tajikistan and feed into regional efforts such as the UN-supported Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) meant to improve information flow and operational intelligence across Central Asian borders to better combat the increase of transnational organized crime networks in the region. DOD and INL also fund renovations of border outposts, provide training and substantial operational and investigative equipment to various security-related government agencies.
The Embassy's Border and Law Enforcement Working Group (BLEWG) provides a coordination mechanism for all USG assistance on counternarcotics and border assistance. The Embassy played a large role in creating a donor working group, the Border Security International Working Group, (BIG) that meets monthly to coordinate multilateral assistance with IOM, the UN, the OSCE, EU and other major donors to better meet Tajikistan's greatest security assistance needs and avoid duplication of assistance. The USG provided training for a number of Tajik law enforcement officials through the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest.
The Road Ahead. The United States remains committed to working with the Tajik Government to increase its law enforcement and counternarcotics capabilities. The United States will continue to focus on building basic capacity of the major law enforcement agencies in particular, the Ministry of Interior and the Tajik border guards and to expand mid-level management and leadership training to these entities. A permanent DEA presence, more sophisticated training and mentoring of the DCA, and a greater emphasis on building cases against major trafficking organizations is a key goal for the future of the DCA program. With INL funding, DEA plans to implement drug investigation seminars in 2007. The U.S. will also begin its first project in the rule of law area to strengthen Tajikistan's ability to investigate and prosecute major drug traffickers and organized crime syndicates as well as improve and reform judicial sector training and Tajikistan's corrections facilities. The United States will continue to coordinate closely with European countries, and expand coordination efforts with Russia, Japan and China to maximize available resources for narcotics and border control-related projects.
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|Title Annotation:||Europe and Central Asia|
|Publication:||International Narcotics Control Strategy Report|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|