Police seize over 1 tonnes of drugs in Moscow since start of year.

18/7 Tass 151

MOSCOW, July 18 (Itar-Tass) —— Police have seized more than one tonne of drugs in Moscow since the beginning of the year, including 20 kilograms of heroin and about one tonne of poppy straw.

“Counter-narcotics police have seized more than 1.1 tonnes of narcotics in Moscow in the first six months of this year, including over 20 kilograms of heroin, 992 kilograms of poppy straw, 104 kilograms of hashish, about 15 kilograms of marijuana, and 5.5. kilograms of smoking mixtures,” Vyacheslav Davydov, head of the Moscow division of Russia’s Federal Service for Control of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, said on Monday, July 18.

About 5,500 crimes were registered in Moscow during the same period of time, including more than 4,600 grave and very grave ones and over 3,600 drug-related ones.

Davydov said the number of crimes related to drug trafficking has increased eight timers.

Drugs are usually spread by ethic groups consisting of citizens of Ukraine, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

About 2,500 people have faced criminal charges this year for drug-related crimes, including 333 foreigners.

Davydov expressed concern about the growing number of teenagers involved in illegal drug trafficking.

According to official statistics, 547,081 people are registered at drug abuse clinics in Russia, and another 196,700 people are registered as potential drug users.

Unofficial data suggest that the actual number of drug users in Russia cay be four to six times bigger. A total of 7,192 people died from drug poisoning in 2010.

According to statistics, there are 30,000 registered drug addicts in Moscow and 1.5 million people who have tried narcotics at least once.

Teenagers use mainly cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, and hallucinogens. Ninety percent of officially registered drug addicts use heroin.

According to the Federal Service for Control of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (FSKN), young people first take drugs at the age of 13. The number of drug addicts has been growing at an unprecedented rate over the past decades.

The number of drug addicts in Russia increased nine times in 1993-2009.

FSKN Director Viktor Ivanov said earlier that there are 20 percent more drug addicts in Russia than there were in the former Soviet Union.

“Drug addiction increased by 20 percent in 20 years, but this growth occurred mainly in the 1990s,” he said.

According to Ivanov, the number of drug addicts has practically not increased over the past ten years. “The number of drug users has increased by about 2 percent [in the 2000s]. But this cannot appease us because their number of very big, including those of heroin users,” he said.

Experts say that there are about 2.5 million drug addicts in Russia. About 600,000 drug users are registered at medical facilities.

Ivanov suggested creating a national system of rehabilitation for drug addicts in order to fight the spread of narcotics in Russia more effectively.

“We won’t be able to solve the problem of drugs in Russia just by targeting supply alone. We have to reduce demand. There are more than two million drug users in our country who are not engaged in rehabilitation and need a daily doze,” Ivanov said.

In his opinion, “with such demand, a shortage of heroin will not only push up the price of a dose, but it will also lead to gang wars for the super profitable market.”

“In order to reduce the number of drug users, we have to create a full-fledged national system of rehabilitation for drug addicts in order to bring them back to society and re-socialise them,” Ivanov said.

He admitted that there is not enough help and support to drug addicts in Russia. “This led to a spontaneous response from society in the form of non-governmental organisations that try to help drug addicts. The work of such organisations falls in a legal vacuum,” he said.

Ivanov said public organisations that treat drug addicts might get government grants next year.

He said this would require treatment standards to be worked out. “We need standards that have to be worked out at the federal level. Organisations that will work in accordance with these standards have to be supported by the government,” he said.

Ivanov believes that such support can have the form of governmental grants.

He recalled that the FSKN calls for a national anti-drug budget in Russia. “This budget will have room for support to non-governmental organisations engaged in rehabilitation,” he said.

Ivanov also hopes that regions, too, will support such centres.

According to Ivanov, there are around 600-700 non-governmental organisations in Russia that deal with this problem. “This basically means that there are up to ten of them in each region,” he added.

At he same time, he stressed that Russia had no plans to introduce compulsory treatment for drug addicts.

“If we make treatment compulsory, people will try to evade it. Besides, specialists believe that drug addiction cannot be cured by force,” he said.

“It is necessary to bring these people back to normal life because otherwise they will serve as a base for recruiting new drug dealers,” Ivanov said.

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