MOSCOW, January 5 (RIA Novosti) – A man driving a car containing more than 45 kilograms of heroin worth about $1.5 million has been arrested and charged in Moscow, Russian officials said Sunday.
The 30-year-old man, a member of a crime gang, was detained during the New Year holiday period as part of a large-scale operation, the Moscow branch of the Federal Drug Control Service said in a statement. Law enforcement officers are searching for other members of the gang, it said.
Officers discovered the heroin concealed inside the vehicle’s door panels, as well as in the space for the air filter, the anti-drugs agency said.
The haul, which bore markings that suggested it was from Afghanistan, was enough for several million doses, the statement said.
Russia holds the first place worldwide for the number of heroin addicts per capita, and is a major conduit and destination for drugs originating in Afghanistan, the world’s leading producer of heroin, according to the UN’s World Drug Report 2013. A government report last September estimated the number of drug addicts in Russia at 8.5 million people, or almost six percent of the population. Over 90 percent of drug addicts in the country are believed to use heroin.
The heroin market in Russia is valued at $6 billion by various sources.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 Russians die every year from drug-related illnesses, according to official statistics.