21:45 GMT +323 February 2019
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    Vyacheslav Lashkul, RIA Novosti observer

    Moscow recently hosted the Collective Security Treaty Organisation's first working meeting of heads of the national agencies responsible for control over drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors used to produce drugs. The organisation includes the Russian Federation, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Representatives from these states discussed the results of the Channel 2003 international operation, which involved the Russian State Committee for Counteracting Drug Trafficking, as well as CST member-states' security services, interior ministries, customs and frontier guards.

    Joint operations helped to identify over 1,400 drug-related crimes, which led to two tonnes of drugs being confiscated and the same amount of narcotic precursors. The partners solved 2,302 common crimes and confiscated 248 guns. They found and detained hundreds of people wanted for serious offences. The Channel 2003 operation was led by the CST coordination HQ, which is based in Moscow. During the operation, the law-enforcement bodies and security services of different states managed to establish efficient interaction, CST Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha told RIA Novosti.

    Indeed, Russia has signed over 30 inter-state agreements to counteract drug trafficking more effectively. Moscow sees those countries whence the drug threat emanates as its priority partners. One of them is Afghanistan, which has witnessed a sharp increase in opium poppy crops in the past two years. For example, in the province of Badakhshan, which borders on Tajikistan, they grew by 55% last year alone. In the last three years, Tajik law-enforcement bodies, in co-operation with Russian frontier guards, have confiscated 35 tonnes of drugs, more than 16 tonnes of which was Afghan heroin.

    Furthermore, CST leaders have signed new documents with the authorities of Kyrgyzstan on co-operation to counteract the drug threat, while they have established regular contacts with Afghan law-enforcement bodies. This interaction is crucial for assessing drug threats and localising them. The Russo-Kazakh border also needs to be bolstered, because drugs and psychotropic substances are smuggled through it from Central Asia to Europe. The CST has already drafted a special programme for the purpose to be implemented by the two states' security services.

    The participants in the Channel 2003 operation approved new large-scale measures to cut off international drug trafficking channels, including the method of "controlled delivery". They also did not rule out that future anti-drug operations might involve CST rapid reaction troops.

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