MOSCOW, May 16 (RIA Novosti) – A total of 80 kg (over 176 lbs) of heroin were discovered on a train en route from the Tajik capital of Dushanbe to Moscow on Wednesday, the Russian Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
The ministry said that law-enforcers found a cache with plastic bottles “containing a dark gray substance, presumably heroin, weighting 80 kg in total.” The amount is equal to 800 000 average single doses, according to the Russian legislation.
Two train conductors, both of them Tajik nationals, were detained.
The train, popular among migrant workers, drew fierce criticism from various top Russian officials for sanitary and border security reasons following a major inspection in mid-April. Some even suggested that Tajik trains should be barred from entering Russia.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said earlier in the day that 50 kilograms (110 lbs) were seized.
“This is a very large batch… which proves that the criticism that we had voiced during an inspection of this train by the state commission of the Russian Federation is well-grounded and serious,” he said.
Rogozin, also the head of the state border commission, said after the April 15 inspection that Tajik trains should “never be allowed into Russia,” because they pose a “serious” sanitary threat, a statement echoed by Russia’s chief sanitary official Gennady Onishchenko.
Global Drug Trafficking
At the same time, deputy head of the Russian Border Guard Service, Vladimir Mochalov, suggested a total entry ban for Tajik trains which he said were being “systematically used by drug traffickers to smuggle drugs.”
Rogozin said that an inter-departmental working group plans to put forward its proposals on future actions by the end of this month.
“Early next month, [these proposals] will be considered by the State Border Commission, so that the final decision could be made, an optimal decision to benefit the whole state and, more specifically, Russian citizens who have to withstand this heroin aggression,” he said.
Changes source, headline, lead, adds paras 2-3