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    ANTI-TERRORIST OPERATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN DID NOT STOP DRUG TRAFFICKING

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    MOSCOW, February 2, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Peter Goncharov) - Anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan did not destroy the infrastructure of the Afghan drug trafficking business or reduce the threat of the spread of narcotics, primarily heroin, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov told journalists on Monday.

    According to him, the locations where narcotics are stored, transportation points and heroin laboratories were relocated and remained untouched. Furthermore, the amount of poppy fields in northern Afghanistan has increased. The direct consequence of this is increased use of a northern route to smuggle narcotics through Central Asia into Russia and Europe, Mr. Trubnikov noted.

    He said that in recent years drug traffickers have become increasingly organized. Mr. Trubnikov thinks that this is partly explained by the fact that many of these groups are composed of participants in armed anti-government formations from the Central Asian states adjacent to Afghanistan.

    The deputy minister recalled that Moscow had put forward an initiative to develop a complex international strategy to fight drug trafficking in Afghanistan. This plan provides for measures inside Afghanistan, in particular, the strengthening primary structures and the economy and the creation of "Anti-Narcotic Zones" around Afghanistan.

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