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Tajik Servicemen Convicted of Drug Trafficking

By Zokirjon Dustmurodov











A court in southern Tajikistan recently sentenced Nizomiddin Yoqubov to a hefty 21-year prison sentence for cannabis trafficking, and four of his associates to five years each.

What makes this case somewhat unusual is that all those convicted were members – and Yoqubov a unit commander – of the Border Guards, the elite front-line force charged with securing the frontier with Afghanistan and preventing drug consignments from coming in.

It is only the latest in a string of similar arrests of members of Tajikistan’s security forces.

Experts say the flow of heroin, in particular, is unstoppable given that prices of opium – the raw material – are rising, and driving up production in Afghanistan.

Interceptions in Tajikistan are increasing. Between January and September, the security forces seized 5.5 tons of narcotics, 1.5 tons more than in the same period in 2011. This year’s total breaks down as 500 kilograms of refined heroin, 600 kg of opium and over four tons of cannabis – the latter figure reflecting a growing industry in Afghanistan.

The head of Tajikistan’s Drug Control Agency, Rustam Nazarov, points out that United Nations figures show that 80 per cent of Afghan heroin and other opiates are exported west through Iran, rather than through Central Asia.

Zokirjon Dustmurodov is an IWPR-trained radio reporter in Tajikistan.

The audio programme, in Russian, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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