Over 200 kilograms of heroin confiscated outside Moscow

More than 200 kilograms of Afghan heroin, the largest drug haul confiscated in Russia in recent years, has been seized in the Moscow region, Lt. Gen. Vasily Yurchenko, head of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service's (FSKN) branch for the Moscow region, said.

"Over 200 kilograms of Afghan heroin was confiscated in Bronnitsy," he told journalists in Moscow on Thursday. "A Tajik criminal group, a major supplier, has been neutralized," he said. Twelve criminal cases have been opened against secondary members of the gang since June 2011, Yurchenko said.

"We received a tip-off that more than 200 kilograms of heroin was taken off a Dushanbe-Moscow train at the Bronnitsy station at 3:00 a.m. on August 22," he said. "A regular route used to smuggle high quality heroin into the Moscow region has been shut down," he said.

Investigators will now have to establish how such a large haul of heroin managed to cross the Tajik-Russian border and the administrative borders of six Russian regions, the general said.

"We detained this group of suppliers. They are not the "infantry", but large, wholesale, suppliers responsible for smuggling heroin into the Moscow region and distributing it there," Yurchenko said. "These Tajik people are quite well-off," Yurchenko said, adding that they own expensive cars and rent high-end apartments in Moscow.

Russia is troubled by the growing volume of heroin trafficking from Afghanistan through Central Asia. FSKN Director Viktor Ivanov said earlier that Russia had become "the world's No.1 heroin consumer."

Up to 100,000 people die from drug abuse in Russia annually, FSKN said. A total of 8.5 million people in the country take drugs either regularly or occasionally, it said. As many as 18.5 million Russian citizens have tried drugs at least once in their lives.

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