March 9, 2013 - 18:48 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia is not a major drug-producing country, and domestic abuse of drugs is modest, Department of State’s 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).
“Because Armenia is landlocked and the two longest of its four borders (with Turkey and Azerbaijan) are closed, the resulting limited transport options make the country less attractive for drug trafficking. With assistance from the United States and European Union, Armenia continues to develop and implement an integrated border management regime, improving its ability to detect illegal narcotics shipments. In addition, in July 2012, the United States provided narcotics interdiction training at Yerevan’s international airport and bus station.
The most common illicit drug in Armenia is marijuana, most of which is grown locally. Both marijuana and poppies grow in the wild, and the government sponsors an annual eradication event in August. In 2012, a combined total of nearly 82 metric tons were destroyed.
Narcotics seizures declined overall in 2012. Police credit the arrest and dismantlement of several trafficking rings in late 2011 and early 2012 as the reason for the decrease. According to police, the overwhelming majority of illicit drug imports are opiates originating from Afghanistan transiting through Iran, with a smaller volume entering from Turkey via Georgia (as the Turkish border is closed to all traffic). In October, a large seizure occurred on the Iranian border at the Meghri crossing, when opium was discovered in a false-bottomed suitcase.
A new smuggling trend along the Iranian border involves plastic balls with light-emitting diodes attached: the balls are thrown across the Arax River at night, with opiates going one way (into Armenia) and payment going the other (into Iran). In addition, authorities have seized smaller quantities of the synthetic opioid buprenorphine from flights originating in France and from parcels mailed from France and Spain. In the past, amphetamines were trafficked from Iran to Europe via Armenia, but this transit appears to have diminished significantly following a major bust. Precursor chemicals are strictly regulated and industrial users must provide status reports every three months,” the report reads.