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Cablegate: Unodc Reports Greater Cooperation From Central

VZCZCXRO0116
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHYG
DE RUEHNT #1192/01 2910525
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170525Z OCT 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TASHKENT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0419
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 4398
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 0614
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 5015
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0873
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0609
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0894
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 4609
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 2900
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0912
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 7627
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1559
RUEABNE/DEA HQS WASHDC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0085
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2847
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC 0459
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0310

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TASHKENT 001192

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR INL ANDREW BUHLER AND ELIZABETH CARROLL
ASTANA FOR NAS ANTHONY BEAVER
DUSHANBE FOR NAS SCOTT WALDO
ASHGABAT FOR P/E KRISTINE MARSH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KCRM TX IR TI UZ ASEC
SUBJECT: UNODC REPORTS GREATER COOPERATION FROM CENTRAL
ASIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ON COUNTER-NARCOTICS

TASHKENT 00001192 001.2 OF 002


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (U) Summary: On September 19 poloff attended a donor
coordination roundtable hosted by the United Nations Office
on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office in Central Asia.
UNODC Senior Law Enforcement Advisor, Mark Colhoun, reported
increased cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the
five former Soviet republics and was optimistic about higher
quality data being reported more promptly. Colhoun shared
fresh statistics on heroin and opium seizures for the region
and noted the quiet increase of cannabis cultivation. He
also described how the skyrocketing black market price of
acetic anhydride may encourage illicit homemade production of
the precursor chemical. End summary.

Fresh Data
----------

2. (U) UNODC hosted a donor coordination meeting on September
19 at its Central Asian headquarters in Tashkent. Poloff
attended along with diplomats from France, Germany, Italy,
Ukraine, and China. Colhoun shared recently compiled data on
heroin seizures during the first half of 2008, in rank order
as follows: Kazakhstan - 1,111 kilograms (kg); Tajikistan -
1,030 kg; Uzbekistan - 771 kg; Kyrgyzstan - 133 kg; and
Turkmenistan - 112 kg. He mentioned that heroin seizures
seem to be getting larger, citing as an example a recent 300
kg seizure in Uzbekistan outside of Tashkent. He reported
that a Tajik chemist was recently arrested after illegally
manufacturing five liters of acetic anhydride, a precursor
chemical. UNODC believes that, due to stringent controls,
the black market price for acetic anhydride has risen to USD
600 per liter, a tempting profit margin for Central Asians
seeking to supplement meager incomes.

3. (U) Colhoun also provided data on opium seizures during
the the first six months of 2008, as follows: Tajikistan -
1,359 kg; Turkmenistan - 496 kg; Uzbekistan - 433 kg;
Kyrgyzstan - 38 kg; and Kazakhstan - 13 kg. Colhoun noted
that the figures were almost negligible in the two countries
-- Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan -- which do not share a common
border with Afghanistan. He added that the large figure in
Tajikistan could suggest that abuse of opium is on the rise
and/or that labs may be relocating there from Afghanistan.

4. (U) Uzbekistan was the only Central Asian country to
report an increase in drug-related crimes for the first half
of 2008 relative to the same period in 2007, with the number
rising from 5,405 to 5,737 (an increase of six percent
according to UNODC figures). UNODC staff attributed the
increase in part to higher quality data collection and
reporting by Uzbek authorities rather than a deteriorating
public safety situation. Colhoun also noted that cannabis
cultivation is on the rise in Central Asia, which is often
overlooked due to the focus on heroin and opium trafficking
through the region.

Cooperation on the Rise
-----------------------

5. (U) Colhoun observed that, overall, "a noticeable increase
of cooperation" is occurring between UNODC and law
enforcement agencies throughout Central Asia on
counter-narcotics issues. He expressed optimism that this
trend will continue, but he cautioned that it is difficult to
discern whether increasing seizure statistics reflect an
increase in trafficking volume or a marked improvement in

TASHKENT 00001192 002.2 OF 002


enforcement efforts (as well as a more complete data set as
agencies are more forthcoming with information).

On Turkmenistan
---------------

6. (SBU) Colhoun cited Turkmenistan in particular as a
country that is increasing its cooperation on
counter-narcotics. For instance, he noted this year marked
the first time Turkmen authorities provided seizure
statistics for the first half of the year, which is valuable
for UNODC's analysis of regional trends. In general, he said
the Turkmen seizures are not large (although there was
recently a 243 kg opium seizure near the Iranian border), but
authorities are now reporting them very quickly. Colhoun
added that Turkmen officials claim two-thirds of heroin
seized originates in Iran, which raises the possibilities
that labs are operating inside Iran. While there is no hard
evidence of this, Colhoun noted "the possibility has to be
looked at."

7. (SBU) Some diplomats present did not share Colhoun's
optimism about Turkmenistan, however. The Tashkent-based
German Law Enforcement Attache, Gerhard Neurehr (please
protect), who also covers Turkmenistan, recently met with the
head of the new Turkmen state drug control agency. Neurehr
called the entity "disastrous," adding that "they have no
idea about law enforcement." He also lamented that
"everything is still a state secret" and stated "there are no
genuine investigations." He said the Turkmen authorities
relied on Turkish intelligence as a basis for marquee
seizures rather than information gleaned on their own. The
Tashkent-based Italian Law Enforcement Attache, Raffaelle
Ungaro (please protect), who also covers Turkmenistan, added
that during a recent training session for 50 young Turkmen
officers (in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council) he
found "the level was very low" and "most knew nothing about
narcotics or what an investigation means."

Mobile Precursor Teams
----------------------

8. (SBU) Colhoun informed the group that UNODC has recently
approached all five Central Asian governments to discuss a
proposed project to establish mobile precursor teams. He
said the idea was well-received in all five capitals, and he
was surprised that there was even openness to multi-agency
teams amongst often territorial law enforcement entities.
UNODC plans to provide equipment and training before the
teams are deployed.

Comment:
--------

9. (U) It is good news that UNODC is observing increasing
cooperation from the five former Soviet Central Asian
republics on counter-narcotics, but much work remains to be
done. UNODC's regional mandate makes it a valuable
coordination entity in a region where bilateral relations are
often strained, bureaucratic, or underdeveloped. The new
information demonstrates that the narcotics threat in Central
Asia is constantly evolving, and laboratories producing drugs
or precursor chemicals can shift locations in response to
market forces and enforcement efforts.

NORLAND

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