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Growing Importance of Ukraine as a Transit Country for Heroin Trafficking

NCJ Number
Trends in Organized Crime Volume: 6 Issue: 3/4 Dated: Spring/Summer 2001 Pages: 77-93
Date Published
17 pages
This paper addresses the scope of the drug problem in Ukraine, the country's anti-drug law enforcement mechanisms, heroin trafficking from Southwest Asia, and estimates for the amount of heroin transiting Ukraine.
International organized crime groups have exploited Ukraine's relatively weak law enforcement and loose border controls to replace traditional points of entry for smuggling drugs into Western Europe, where customs and law enforcement have become stronger. Ukraine is at a strategic crossroads between Southwest Asia (the primary heroin producing region) and markets in Western Europe. Because of the many roads that connect Ukraine with its bordering states in the north, east, and southwest, along with the absence of customs facilities on most of these roads, smugglers can travel virtually unchallenged into and out of Ukraine. Ukraine is a party to the 1988 United Nations Drug Convention, and it has followed the provisions of the convention in enacting anti-narcotics legislation. Countering narcotics trafficking continues to be a national priority for law enforcement agencies, but insufficient funding seriously impedes law enforcement efforts. Drug smuggling to and through Ukraine is primarily done by organized criminal groups. A major law enforcement priority must be to dismantle these groups. Improvements must be made in the estimate of the amount of heroin that passes through Ukraine. This can be done with better consumption estimates (the current model does not include any consumption along smuggling routes) and improved intelligence on the proportion of heroin smuggled on each route that transits Ukraine. 4 tables, 11 notes, and 18 references

Date Published: January 1, 2002