Authorities in Uzbekistan on Wednesday burned nearly a ton of Afghan heroin worth an estimated 300 million dollars (215 million euros) on the black market in Europe.
A total of 1.3 tons of illegal drugs, including 975 kilograms of heroin, was burned in the smelting furnace of a Soviet-era metals factory outside the Uzbek capital Tashkent before an audience of foreign diplomats and journalists.
The amount of heroin being incinerated by officials in the Central Asian country would have fetched 300 million dollars in Europe, according to the Uzbek National Security Service, or SNB.
The drugs being destroyed had already been used as evidence against drug traffickers at their trials, said SNB spokesman Olimjon Turakulov.
"Since 1994 Uzbekistan has incinerated more than 43 tons of drugs in the effort to fight illegal drug trafficking," he told reporters.
In 2008 Uzbek law-enforcement confiscated 3.5 tons of drugs, including 1.4 tons of heroin, three times more than in 2007.
Uzbekistan borders war-ravaged Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer of heroin. The amount of drugs trafficked through Central Asia has risen steadily in recent years, according to the United Nations.