Cherkesov offers hard facts on Russia's drug scene

There exists within Russia itself a significant base for the production of illegal narcotics. As reported by Rosbalt, Viktor Cherkesov spoke on this today at the first general meeting of the State Committee to Control the Use of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances, which he heads.

Citing the views of specialists, he said marijuana currently grows wild on 1 million hectares of Russian land. Moreover, he said, a second native source of raw material for drug production has increased in recent years: because of their poverty, greater numbers of people are cultivating marijuana and poppies on their private plots. Cherkesov said this raw material was then going out to the biggest cities of Russia and even to other countries.

Over the past 10 years, the committee head emphasized, the annual rate of drug-related crime is up 15 times, incidents of drug dealing is up 80 times, and incidents of criminal drug organizations are up 9 times. At the same time, Cherkesov said, the increase of drug smuggling into Russia from abroad represents an even more serious problem. If 15 years ago the proportion of smuggled drugs constituted 20%-30% of the overall trade in Russia, today it amounts to more than half of all illegal drugs sold here. And foreign sources supply almost 100% of the most serious drugs, including heroin and amphetamines, Cherkesov said.

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