Indo-Pak thaw boosts drugs trade: UN | india | Hindustan Times
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Indo-Pak thaw boosts drugs trade: UN

Both the sides are aware of the problem and have held talks in recent months on how to control it, says an UN official.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2006 02:23 IST

Peace on the India-Pakistan border has kept the guns silent for years now, but it has also led to a surge in the illegal drugs trade in a region called the "golden crescent", the United Nations said on Tuesday.

"Three to four years ago, when there was tension on the border, the average seizure of opium routed from Afghanistan into India, was about 50 kg per year," Gary Lewis, regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said.

"Today, the seizure is about 300 kg a year. That's enough to say the confidence-building measures have led to an increased flow of drugs. But this is also because of increased opium production in Afghanistan, which is a country addicted to its own opium."

Lewis was speaking at a function in New Delhi to release the World Drug Report for 2006, which once again highlighted Afghanistan as the epicentre of the opium trade in the region.

The official said both India and Pakistan realised the drugs problem. Officials on both sides have held talks in recent months on how to control the narcotics trade.

The latest official figures available, for 2001-02, show 62.5 million Indians were abusing alcohol, 8.7 million were addicted to cannabis and two million to opiates. And the numbers are increasing, Lewis said.

This month, authorities in Mumbai seized 200 kg of cocaine, valued at $20-25 million on the international market.

"The bags of cocaine were concealed in a container of logs," Om Prakash, Deputy Director-General of India's Narcotics Control Bureau, who was also present at the function, said.

"This is the biggest-ever seizure we have done. Normally we seize about 3-6 kg of opium. This is 200 kg. Three people have been arrested and a thorough probe is on," he added.

Theoretically, Lewis said, if the consignment was meant for India, it means there are at least 6,000 cocaine users in India.