Fight against illegal drug trafficking in the SCO region: International Anti-Drug Operation Spider Web

International Anti-Drug Operation Spider Web

On 8-12 July 2019, the International Anti-Drug Operation Spider Web was carried out in the SCO Member States as part of the SCO Member States' Anti-Drug Strategy Programme for 2018-2023 (14 June 2019, Bishkek).

This event, which was held in such a large format within the SCO for the first time, was initiated by First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and gained support of the SCO Member States' heads at the SCO Summit (10 June 2017, Astana).

The aim of the operation was to practically address the job of cutting off the channels used to sell and distribute narcotic drugs, above all synthetic ones, and new psychoactive substances in the SCO Member States, to adopt measures preventing the use of internet websites and online payment systems in the drug trade and to increase the effectiveness of the responsible agencies' joint actions in fighting the illegal drugs trafficking.

The International Coordination Office (ICO) of the SCO anti-drug operation was located at the HQ of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre to fight the illegal trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors (CARICC) in Almaty. ICO was comprised of highly qualified officers of SCO law enforcement agencies and representatives of the SCO Secretariat, who carried out daily coordination, statistical and administrative work against drug trafficking in the SCO region.

The operation also involved representatives of the anti-drug agencies' competent bodies, law enforcement agencies (public security), national security, customs and cross-border services of the SCO Member States and the observer state of Afghanistan and such international organisations as CSTO, UNODC and CARICC.

According to the preliminary data, a total of 6,422 kg of narcotic drugs have been withdrawn from illegal turnover since the operation was launched, including:

— 2,440 kg of opium

— 639 kg of poppy straw

— 833 kg of marijuana

— 764 kg of hashish

— 1,278 kg of heroin

— 810 g of cocaine

— 84 kg of synthetic drugs

— 41 kg of psychotropic substances

— 67 kg of other narcotic drugs

— 11,066 kg of precursors.

The SCO law enforcement agencies have also confiscated $68,834 earned from selling drugs. In addition, they identified 1,359 crimes related to drug trafficking, including 108 gang crimes, 85 cases of drugs smuggling and nine crimes in postal deliveries.

In total, 3,241 arrests were made, 1,176 held administratively liable and 32 wanted persons arrested for crimes related to drug trafficking.

The ICO employees exchanged information on drugs confiscation online and held joint operations to arrest drug dealers.

In order to further develop the anti-drug cooperation, the parties exchanged their experience and best practices in fighting drug trafficking: for example, they examined the activities for the Kazakhstani Interior Ministry's Canine Centre. The centre was established in 2002 to improve skills and train canine handlers as well as police dogs for Kazakhstani law enforcement agencies, with 1,040 specialists trained since then.

The operation participants also learned about the activities of KazHemp, a company that has been processing technical hemp growing in Kazakhstan since 2015. The project is based in the global experience of using drug-free types of hemp in the textile, timber and construction industries.

Following the Spider Web International Anti-Drug Operation, the ICO experts acknowledged that such international operations were a good platform for joint efforts in combatting the drugs threat and developing effective measures to strengthen international security and stability in the SCO region and beyond.

The Bishkek Declaration of the Member States' heads reaffirms the importance of holding the International Anti-Drug Operation Spider Web at the initiative of Kazakhstan (8-12 July 2019).