Tajiks seize biggest drugs haul since independence

Tajikistan Materials 3 December 2008 13:21 (UTC +04:00)

Tajik security forces have seized more than 500 kg (1,100 lb) of drugs in the biggest drugs haul since independence from the Soviet Union, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

The impoverished nation lies on the main trafficking route out of neighbouring Afghanistan, the world's top producer of opium and its refined form, heroin, reported Reuters.

The ministry said a Soviet-era truck loaded with 530 kg of drugs was intercepted while travelling from the Tajik capital of Dushanbe to the northern city of Khujand.

"The driver ... has been arrested. Hundreds of kilograms of hashish and dozens of heroin were discovered in the truck's body," said a ministry spokesman. "It is the biggest haul in terms of volume that has ever been seized in Tajikistan."

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan has struggled to contain heroin smuggling from Afghanistan, with poverty and unemployment making it an easy conduit for trafficking.

After passing through Tajikistan batches of heroin are spirited to the north across Central Asia and Russia until they reach the streets of London or Paris where a kilo of heroin can fetch as much as $300,000.