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UN anti-drug agency steps up fight against narcotics trafficking in Balkans

UN anti-drug agency steps up fight against narcotics trafficking in Balkans

United Nations officials and police chiefs from seven Balkan countries have taken a further step to enhance intelligence-based policing in the battle against illegal narcotics trafficking through the region.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) yesterday hosted the 2nd Steering Committee Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, of its ongoing regional project, "Strengthening of Capacities for the Collection and Analysis of Criminal Intelligence in South-Eastern Europe."

The $2.2 million project, funded by the British Government and Liechtenstein and launched in October 2001, seeks to assist interior ministries in the region in using modern intelligence-based policing methods to efficiently target key criminal organizations in order to disrupt their operations.

The latest Opium Poppy Survey, published by UNODC in October 2002, indicates a high level of opium cultivation in Afghanistan, which might result in increased trafficking of heroin in the Balkan Region. UNODC is running a range of activities in Afghanistan and Central Asia aimed at strengthening the capacity of countries there to monitor and interdict drug trafficking. By virtue of its geographical position, southeastern Europe remains pivotal to UNODC’s strategy.

The meeting was attended by criminal police department chiefs and criminal intelligence experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia.