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1998 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
United States Department of State
February 26, 1999


I. Summary

Tajikistan is the usual first leg on the drug transit route for opiates and cannabis products from Afghanistan, via the NIS, to Europe. The volume of drugs following this route is increasing. Given the reduction of border forces and the 1998 opening of a new road between eastern Tajikistan and China (increasing access to South Asia), a slight rise in the number of drug seizures is certainly not keeping up with the increased flow. The amount of opium poppy and cannabis cultivation within Tajikistan is small, and the government claims to have reduced it through vigorous law enforcement efforts over the past year. Drug abuse within Tajikistan is at a low level, but growing, and medical infrastructure to deal with this problem is inadequate. Opiates are the primary drugs of abuse in Tajikistan. Tajikistan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and government actions in 1998 show a willingness to combat drug trafficking and other narcotics-related problems, albeit with very limited resources.

II. Status of Country

Tajikistan's geographic location and difficult economic situation make it an extremely attractive transit point for drug smugglers. An estimated 75 percent of the drugs coming from Afghanistan via Tajikistan go through Shurabad, Muminabad, and Pyanj districts. Tajikistan's undeveloped banking and financial sectors will prevent it from becoming a significant money laundering country for the foreseeable future. In-country cultivation is minimal, and the government is unaware of any processing or precursor chemical production facilities.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1998

Policy Initiatives. The state drug control commission has worked since 1996 based on a government plan to combat illegal trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substances. In November 1998 a more comprehensive master plan jointly devised by the commission and UNDCP was launched to organize state structures under an overall strategy to combat drug-related crime. In addition to programs to fight narcotics trafficking, the plan also includes provisions for drug treatment and social rehabilitation of drug abusers. The strategy is to be implemented over 24 months.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Illicit cultivation and production: Tajikistan produces a small amount of opium, primarily in the Aini and Penjikent districts. According to local officials, there are two or three opium poppy harvests each year. The government claims to have reduced by 65 hectares the amount of land, already quite limited, which is devoted to this crop through its "mak-98" initiative. Under this program 974 people were charged with opium cultivation in 1998. Local abusers, who treat opium poppy straw with chemicals in order to prepare an injectable morphine solution, conduct the only processing reportedly talking place in Tajikistan.

Distribution, Sale, Transport, and Financing. Transportation of drugs through Tajikistan is on the rise. The country's primary defense against this flow is the Tajik and NIS border forces. These forces are, however, unequal to the task and, given that the average monthly wage for troops is less than one dollar, often part of the problem. Arrests and seizures are widely publicized, but they represent only a small fraction of the estimated total drug volume.

Asset seizure: In 1998 there were 1,285 arrests of would-be smugglers, resulting in 3,126 kilograms of drugs confiscated. Of this total there was 1,565 kilograms opium, 954 kilograms marijuana and hashish, 296 kilograms heroin, and 311 kilograms other types of drugs. The change from 1997 levels (3,465 kilograms opium, 922 kilograms marijuana, 60 kilograms heroin, and 17 kilograms other) shows a shift away from opium and toward heroin smuggling.

Mutual Legal Assistance and Law Enforcement and Transit Cooperation. In 1998, in cooperation with UNDCP, the state drug control commission approved three regional programs, two of which are currently being implemented. The first of these aims at improving coordination between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan border forces in drug interdiction. The second on-going project is the production of detailed maps of drug cultivation areas in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Agreements and Treaties. Tajikistan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and the other UN narcotics agreements. It has signed the Central Asian Counternarcotics Protocol with UNDCP and neighboring central Asian countries, as well as a bilateral cooperation agreement with the United States. Tajikistan is a party to the World Customs Organization's International Convention on Mutual Administrative assistance for Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of Customs Offenses (Nairobi Convention), Annex X on Narcotics Cases.

Corruption. Tajikistan does not encourage or facilitate production of illicit narcotics or psychotropic substance as a matter of governmental policy. It is difficult to know with any degree of precision how pervasive drug corruption is among top officials. It is a standard charge made by all against enemies of any stripe, and there are cases where officials and others were accused on what appear to be trumped up charges. On the other hand, salaries for even top level government officials are low, and often seem inadequate to support the lifestyles they maintain. Even when arrests are made, the cases are sometimes not brought to satisfactory legal conclusion. For example, ministry of interior personnel detained in late 1998 was released soon afterward, following threats from high-profile interested parties. On the other hand, there has been a vigorous pursuit of a high official in the ministry of defense and others who were accused of using a ministry helicopter to transport opium and heroin in April 1998. The case will be tried in Tajikistan's Supreme Court.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation: Our goal is to build Tajikistan's capacity to combat illicit narcotics trafficking through targeted training. In 1998 sixteen Tajik specialists participated in DEA-funded regional training seminars in Hungary and Kyrgyzstan. The seminars focussed on basic law enforcement and border control. In September 1998, six Tajik customs and police officials participated in an INL-funded U.S. customs Regional Narcotics Interdiction Course and Train-the-Trainer Workshop conducted in Kyrgyzstan.

The Road Ahead. UNDCP will remain the principal agency supporting counternarcotics efforts in Tajikistan and Central Asia, The UNDCP supported projects appear to be taking hold. The U.S. will continue to provide law enforcement training, (training will be focused regionally), encourage similar support form Western European countries, promote regional cooperation as essential to improve counternarcotics performance for all countries in the region.

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