Central Asian drug trafficking at $20 billion yearly – Russia’s anti

Drug trafficking in Central Asia generates up to $20 billion every year, Russia’s anti-narcotics chief, Viktor Ivanov, said on Thursday.

Ivanov was speaking at a meeting of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission’s Drug Trafficking Working Group in Moscow.

He said the money “was being pumped into organized crime in the region.”

Russia and the United States are planning a series of joint operations to destroy drug laboratories in Afghanistan, Ivanov said, without specifying the timeframe.

Ivanov said he and U.S. drug control chief Gil Kerlikowske signed the 2010 report in order to submit it to the presidents of Russia and United States, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama.

Afghan drug production increased dramatically after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001, and Russia has been one of the most affected countries, with heroin consumption rising steeply.

Around 30,000 Russians die from heroin abuse every year, 90% of it coming from Afghanistan smuggled through other Central Asian countries, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

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