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Concern over 'new drug smuggling ro

Concern over 'new drug smuggling routes'

>From the Hindu newspaper

NEW DELHI, FEB. 23: Pegged at toughly $400 billions annually, the
illicit global drug trade is also responsible for the diversion of
nearly $ 150 billions to the mafias in Pakistan, according to a member
of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

"A sizable chunk of the illegal money also finds its way to opium
cultivators in Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of opium," and
INCB member, Mr. Chinmay Chakrabarty, said here today after the release
of the INCB's annual report for 1999.

The report expressed concern over the continued supply of opium from
South-West Asia and warned that it might increase as a result of the
record poppy harvests in Afghanistan. It is estimated the 4,6000 metric
tonnes of opium, capable of yielding 460 tonnes of quality heroin, was
produced in Afghanistan last year.

Heroin manufacture has moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan, where it has
virtually disappeared. "The Board is concerned about this grave
situation, which affects not only West Asia, but also Europe and the
rest of the world," the report said. "Trafficking in raw opium and
heroin from North-Western Myanmar has been on the rise for the past few
years," it added.

Of concern to India is the new smuggling route leading from Myanmar
through the border States of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, mainly to
overseas markets. The report noted that new routes had been developed
following intensified law enforcement activities in China and Thailand.
"The illicit cultivation of opium poppy and the production of opiates
are also taking place in various parts of India and in Nepal," it said.

On legal opium production in India, the INCB noted with concern that
there had been reports of fraud involving licensed poppy growers whereby
the growers had reported less crop yield to the authorities and then
sold to drug traffickers the difference between the actual and the
reported crop yield.

While cannabis and opium have traditionally been the main drugs of
abuse, the use of heroin and synthetic drugs was rapidly increasing.
However, the abuse of stimulants ? cocaine and ecstasy ? appears to be
limited, the INCB report said.

Certain areas in South Asia had emerged as major drug trafficking
centres and had witnessed rapid deterioration of trafficking or abuse.
These areas included the Chittagong port in Bangladesh, the
North-Eastern part of India, in particular Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland
and the Indo-Pakistan border areas, as well as Mumbai and Delhi.

Despite eradication campaigns in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Illicit
cannabis cultivation had continued in these countries, the report noted.
The illicit demand for cannabis resin from Nepal had increased in other
countries, which had led to a sharp increase in the cultivation of
cannabis and trafficking in cannabis resin and herb.

The report estimated that about 70 per cent of the cannabis cultivated
in Nepal entered international trafficking routes. While the cannabis
herb smuggled out of Nepal was mainly destined for India, the resin was
shipped to markets in Asia, Europe and North America. "Sri Lanka is
increasingly being used as a transit point for illicit consignments of
cannabis and heroin from South Asia and South-West Asia," the report

Expressing concern over the abuse of codeine-based cough medicines in
Bangladesh, Nepal and India, the report said huge amounts of precursors
used for the manufacture of 'Phensedyl,' were seized at the
Indo-Bangladesh border.

The regional representative of the U.N. Drug Control Programme (UNDCP),
Ms. Renate Ehmer, said that as India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives,
Nepal and Sri Lanka were wedged between the two main opium- producing
areas ? Afghanistan and Myanmar ? there was rise in drug abuse in these