Azerbaijan's Struggle Against Drug Trafficking: A Call for New Tactics

Azerbaijan's Struggle Against Drug Trafficking: A Call for New Tactics

*Baku, June 25, 2024* - Despite significant government funding for the State Border Guard Service, Azerbaijan's fight against drug trafficking remains ineffective, according to Aygun Muradhanli, owner of Prime TV. Speaking at a discussion of the film "The Narcotic Side of Hybrid Wars" produced by her company, Muradhanli emphasized the need for alternative strategies.

The film highlights the alarming statistic of 280,000 registered drug users in Azerbaijan, as reported by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This figure, representing a third of all crimes in the country, may only scratch the surface, with experts suggesting the real number could be five times higher. Notably, even schoolchildren are involved in drug trafficking. In recent years, over 140 private drug addiction clinics have opened in Azerbaijan, with more planned.

Former Azerbaijani Ambassador to Iran, Nasib Nasibli, pointed out Iran's significant role in the drug problem. Following Azerbaijan's victory in the Karabakh war, drug trafficking from Iran surged, including synthetic drugs. While Tehran denies involvement, claiming to be a victim in the drug route from Afghanistan to the West, Nasibli asserted that 95% of drugs in Azerbaijan originate from Iran. He described this as an element of Iran's hybrid warfare against Azerbaijan.

Nasibli also noted the challenge posed by thousands of Azerbaijanis who received religious education in Iran and returned home. These individuals, often barred from working in mosques, remain Azerbaijani citizens. Addressing their potential influence is crucial for solving the broader drug problem.

The film argues that the closure of land borders with Iran over the past four years has not curbed drug addiction, suggesting potential complicity by Azerbaijani officials in the drug trade. Nasibli asserted that without internal cooperation, such a dramatic increase in drug addiction is unlikely.

Milli Majlis deputy Vyugar Iskenderov acknowledged the state's efforts against drug trafficking but stressed the difficulty of eradicating this issue. He highlighted the role of society in reducing drug distribution and praised the Gurtulush Drug Treatment Center for its effective rehabilitation programs.

Former deputy head of the drug control department of the State Security Service, and now deputy of the Milli Majlis, Arzu Nagiyev, reported that a gram of cocaine costs $400 on the black market, with users consuming 3-4 grams weekly. Nagiyev proposed mandatory, covert testing of 11th-grade students and school teachers through blood samples. He also highlighted the problem of drug addiction within the army, advocating for regular testing of military personnel.

While Nagiyev believes that the Border Service and State Security Service are making substantial efforts, the persistence of drug trafficking indicates a need for enhanced measures. The film and subsequent discussions underscore the complexity of the drug problem in Azerbaijan and the necessity for multifaceted solutions involving government, society, and international cooperation.


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