A Transit Point for Cargo or Drugs?
The Russian Ministry of Defense plans to sign an agreement with the USA to establish a return “trans-shipment point” in Ulyanovsk for goods going from Afghanistan has attracted public attention. A discussion on financial, political and military aspects of the issue has flared up. The issue of drug trafficking is tackled too. The flourishing heroin industry in Afghanistan and the export of its production abroad is a really serious problem. Even such a separate issue as a return military cargo transit point in Ulyanovsk needs to be considered with great attention.
There are things that are indisputable. For instance, the existence of the most influential drug-trafficking networks in the USA that supply the world’s biggest (56%) army of addicts consuming about 86% of the world drug production. It’s a real big business.
Almost a half of all crimes are committed by narcomaniacs. The USA has the second largest HIV-infected drug addicts number in the world - 22% (Russia leads the race with 74% of formally registered drug users being HIV-infected). Still the statistics are not full, nobody really knows how many drug users hide in dirty quarters where “chicanos” live, or among the beau monde of California or in the sex minorities meeting points in San Francisco. According to experts’ estimates there are about 24 million addicts in the USA.
The official statistics say the cocaine’ market share is 40%, heroin – 28%, amphetamine and marihuana make up about a third of it.
Afghanistan produced heroin’s share is fast growing bringing the highest profit: the producer sells it at phenomenally low prices, $150 per kg, but the cost is a hundred times higher in the USA. The specific feature of this “commodity” is the existence of a chain of its supply from Afghanistan into the USA through clandestine structures of the US armed forces and special services.
The system of drugs transit had been established before the war against Al-Qaeda started in 2001. The first heroin supplies from Asia to the USA started during the war in Indochina by the end of 1960s. A half a million of US servicemen and special services agents were concentrated in South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Actually there was no control over their activities. The most businesslike of them established criminal contacts among ethnic Chinese making up a great part of population with rich experience of so called triad operations. A new high yielding smuggling channel to the USA appeared as a result. It started in the mountainous area of the “Golden Triangle” where Burma, Thailand and Laos borders converge. Actually there was no state control there and the Mao Shan separatists and brigands from former Gomindan army were freely conducting their activities. The poison was transited to the US military installations in Saigon and Bangkok, as well as to Hong Kong through the CIA and US army channels. From there the triads took it to San Francisco where the Chinese diaspora was numerous. As a result heroin addiction became wide spread. The Burmese province of Shan was a world leading producer till the late 1980s. At present “the Golden Triangle” is under the Chinese control and it should be noted the drugs flow from this area continues. Since 2001 the American drug traffickers seized the opportunities offered by the Afghan heroin market that had been under the Taliban control. The Committee of 300 by former British intelligence officer John Coleman describes in detail the extent of influence possessed by those interested in developing the Afghan drugs market. The richest US and UK clans provide funds, the biggest UK, US and Swiss banks are involved in money laundering schemes. There are a dozen and a half of US families who have made fabulous fortunes thanks to drug trafficking. They are the Du Ponts, the Forbes, the Appletons, the Bacons, the Boylestones, the Perkins…At present the major part of 300 richest US clans and 100 richest UK families, that in reality rule their countries, have fortunes that appeared thanks to drug trafficking.
That’s why the super profitable Afghan heroin market is paid great attention to. A story came to light when the Taliban exploded a CIA armored jeep nearing the Kabul airport in 2006. The jeep was smashed to pieces and 200 kg bundles filled with heroin scattered in the air. All residency officials in the jeep were killed. Police rushed to the place and kept reporters away. The next day a piece of information that flickered in one of Kabul newspapers was “put out”. There was no response and no investigation whatsoever. Afghanistan has become a giant heron producing workshop with linkage to military transport aviation, ground routes, special services and diplomatic offices. Since the country was occupied in 2001, the heroin production has increased 40-fold to about 6000 tons a year.
The US and Russian anti-drug agencies have cooperation agreements, but, though often compromising in the cases of other drug trafficking channels, the US officials don’t let Russian authorities into Afghan operations.
The occupational authorities arguments that the peasants cannot be forbidden to grow poppy, because if so, they will start to starve and join the Taliban are the tales destined for innocents at least. It was the Taliban who reduced heroin production to a minimum and peasants didn’t starve. The problem of heroin plague in Afghanistan could be solved only by political agreements with tribal leaders but no such decisions take place. It al becomes clear if you take into account the fact that the next of kin of President Hamid Kharzai are involved in drug business. The biggest in the world heroin syndicate has been established in Afghanistan encompassing influential sectors of local and occupational powers. The country has been transformed into a drugs producing workshop. All air and ground routes out of it are illegal trafficking channels.
No wonder heroin is going out of the country in great quantities and there has never been a single case of interception by Afghan customs officials or NATO military. There is nothing easier than cargo aircraft and military trucks control.
How much of the 6000 tons produced in 2011 went to Europe and the USA is a secret for world public. The only thing known is that of 75% of heroin consumed in Europe is made of Afghan opium.
The drug addicts numbers grow by leaps and bound in Russia and they all consume the Afghan poison. Viktor Ivanov, Federal Drug Control Service Director, said: "The production of hard drugs such as heroin, opium, and hashish in Afghanistan remains at a high level. Opium production in Afghanistan went up 61 percent in 2011.” According to the Federal Drug Control Service 5 million of Russians are regular drugs consumers, 100 thousand Russian citizens die yearly because of the addiction. The high mortality rate is due to heroin that comes into Russia from Afghanistan through Central Asia.
Having it all in mind does a new US military transit route going through the Ulyanovsk transit station poses a danger? Some think nothing would happen in case “sufficient control” is exercised. But “sufficient control” is possible only when there is no corruption among customs officials and border guards. Is it the case? Actually Ulyanovsk serves the purpose: you can transship the cargo into ground or railway transport right in the airport and move “the commodity” in various directions. Just get the drugs out of an aircraft and then – go and chase the wind in the field!
Here it’s appropriate to remember the refusal of the Uzbek government to provide a transit point for US military on its territory. The Republic suffers (along with its neighbors) from the influence that drug business exerts on government echelons and special services, it becomes clear what invisible collision of interest the country’s leadership had to overcome in order to take the decision. Still it was taken.