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Russian Official: Afghan Drugs Still Flow

January 29, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) _ The U.S.-led anti-terror operation in Afghanistan has done nothing to reduce the flow of illegal drugs from that country, Russia’s Border Guard Service said Wednesday.

Russia is a major transit point for Afghan opium and heroin making its way from Central Asia to the lucrative markets of Western Europe, and Russian officials have repeatedly complained about the continuing drug trade in Afghanistan.

``To our great regret, the operation of the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan has not led to significant changes in combating the drug trade,″ said Alexander Manilov, a senior border guard official.

``Afghanistan has preserved not only plots of land for growing drugs but also warehouses, bases and laboratories with equipment for producing drugs,″ the Interfax-Military news agency quoted him as saying.

Russia has 10,700 border guards stationed in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan, to try to stem the flow of illegal drugs and weapons. Another 10,000 Russian army soldiers are deployed in Tajikistan to help the impoverished country’s hardline government maintain security following a five-year civil war that ended in 1997.

Manilov said Russia had provided the U.S. and its allies with data on drug storage and production sites in Afghanistan without result.

He said Russian border guards in Tajikistan had prevented about 90 drug smuggling attempts, detained 65 illegal border crossers, and seized more than 4 tons of illegal drugs last year.

Update hourly