More than 11 kilograms of heroin have been seized from five people in an operation in Russia's Urals city of Yekaterinburg, local drug police said on Tuesday.
Drug and special police forces arrested five men, one Russian national and four citizens of the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan, in Yekaterinburg on Saturday in an operation they said had been prepared for four months.
"We had to track the people involved and the channel through which drugs have been supplied to the region from Tajikistan," a police statement said.
The heroin was found in the trunk and under the hood of one of the men's cars. The 19 packets weighed a total 18.5 kg but had been diluted with a cutting agent. The police statement said there was 11.6 kg of pure heroin, and the drugs had a street value of 5.5 million rubles ($180,000).
If convicted on illicit drug production and trafficking charges, the detainees face up to 20 years in prison.
Russia's Urals region is a major transit point for heroin from Afghanistan. Most of the drugs are sold in Moscow and St. Petersburg and other large Russian cities, or shipped on to Europe.
The director of Russia's state antidrug committee said on Tuesday that illicit drug flows into Russia, mainly from Afghanistan, have almost doubled in the past year. Viktor Ivanov said this has led to a rise in violence in the North Caucasus.
YEKATERINBURG, December 15 (RIA Novosti)