Uzbeks seize big consignment of Russia-bound heroin

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TASHKENT, Nov 14 (Reuters) Uzbekistan's secret service today said it had seized 235 kg of heroin bound for Russia, one of the Central Asian state's biggest seizure of the drug.

The heroin was discovered hidden in crates of persimmons at a food market in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, the SNB secret police said in a statement. It did not say when the narcotic was intercepted.

The consignment had been smuggled into Uzbekistan via mountain passes from neighbouring Tajikistan and had been due to travel to Russia by railway.

''The delivery of the drug was coordinated by a Tajik citizen who is a member of an influential local group of drug traders,'' SNB said. Two Uzbeks were arrested.

The SNB did not say whether the seized heroin was the largest amount of the drug intercepted in Uzbekistan. Local drug control officials had earlier reported seizures of up to 50 kg of heroin.

The United Nations urged Russia and Central Asia last month to stem drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe via their territories, saying the proceeds from heroin and other opiates were funding global terrorism.

The UN says some 200 tonnes of heroin, or 20 per cent of this year's Afghan output of the drug, will travel to Europe.

Only 4 percent of heroin travelling from Afghanistan to Europe is intercepted, according to UN estimates.

Reuters ARB RN1547

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