A vicious circle and an organized pyramid of the Ukrainian drug business
Ihor Klymenko, the Head of the National Police of Ukraine
I chose such geometric definition of the problem of combating drug crime most deliberately. After all, these two figures most accurately characterize the main difficulties of work in this direction: a vicious circle of supply and demand and an organized pyramid of the criminal groups that have built an extensive network of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Of course, it is important to block the transnational channels of sale or transportation of illicit drugs, but I personally believe that first and foremost we should focus our efforts on overcoming the "street" drug trafficking, which affects hundreds of thousands or even millions of our fellow citizens.
Since the beginning of the year, the staff of the Counter Narcotics Department seized almost 1,000 kg of narcotic and psychotropic substances, liquidated 54 drug laboratories and 68 organized groups and criminal organizations related to the drug trafficking. But the trouble is that the drug mafia is constantly reviving its activities. After all, if there is demand, there will be a supply quickly. This is exactly the vicious circle. Therefore, in order to detect the facts of drugs or psychotropic substances trafficking as quickly and effectively as possible we have changed our approach to detecting this category of crimes. The basis of the operational development is the tracking the entire vertical reaching of illegal drugs their end user. And we go along this criminal pyramid from the bottom to the top. From an ordinary stasher of drugs to a main organizer and supplier.
This does not mean that we will stop reacting or bring to responsibility "small-time" drug traffickers. No, we will systematize this work and solve the problem comprehensively. As an example, I can cite the resonant detention in April of this year of two criminal organizations of drug dealers consisting of 40 organizers and participants. During the searches, we seized the largest consignment of methadone in the history of the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies – over 60 kg, amphetamine - over 300 kg, as well as more than 2.5 tons of precursors. Although these figures are significant, I decipher to understand the real picture: about 240,000 doses of methadone, more than 1,200,000 doses of amphetamine were seized, and an average of more than 500 kg of various banned substances could be made from that number of precursors. And this is only one sale.
I recognize the fact that it has now become more difficult to detect criminal connections between members of a group because the drug traffickers have minimized personal contact with the customers. It's all thanks to the Internet: the orders, sales and "delivery" messages come through the anonymous channels in the messengers. And in such cases, the cyberpolice experts help not only to track down a lawbreakers, but also to quickly block the online store. Fewer platforms for sale – fewer opportunities to buy drugs or psychotropic substances. But the problem is that in place of a blocked channel or website another appears after a while. And so it will be until we get to the top of the pyramid that supplies and manages the illegal drugs trafficking. Because no one will voluntarily stop the criminal business which generates superprofits. On average, the daily income from the illegal activities related to the drug trafficking via the Internet is almost 7 million Hryvnias. For a month this figure reaches about 210 million Hryvnias.
I would like to note that the process of documenting a drug group (as a rule, there are very few single drug dealers, the drug dealers are working in whole groups) is complex, laborious and requires collection of the most complete evidence base. That's why sometimes we don't immediately block online drug and psychotropic substances sale platforms. We need time to procedurally record illegal actions.
It is one thing knowing the problem. We need to find ways to solve it comprehensively. And that’s where we need the legislative changes. For example, the relevant committees of the Verkhovna Rada are currently considering a bill to amend the Article 183 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine – "Detention". It proposes to give the right to the investigating judge, the court not to determine the amount of bail in criminal proceedings opened for the sale of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. This means that those involved in the drug investigations will not be able to be released on bail and will have no chance to avoid justice in the future.
In addition, we urgently need the introduction of a legislative mechanism to ban the circulation of the "Nasvai" substance, which has become especially popular among young Ukrainians. Although it is not officially considered a drug, Nasvai has a negative effect on health and it is addictive. The average age of people who start using banned substances is 14 years. And the teenagers start just with such "light" drugs and psychotropic substances, and then most switch to the "heavier" substances, becoming drug addicts.
The list of toxic and potent substances with the definition of the mechanism of control over their circulation has long been in need of updating. Due to this existing gap, the investigators are still sometimes unable to classify the actions of the criminals in accordance with the Article 321 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which provides the liability for illegal production, manufacture, purchase, transportation, shipment, storage for sale or sale of the toxic or potent substances or toxic or potent pharmaceutical drugs. It is also time to introduce an electronic prescription for the controlled release of the narcotic and psychotropic drugs from the pharmacies in order to exclude the possibility of forgery of the document or its repeated use.
The drug business is deeply ingrained into the life of the country, so the fight against the drug crime is a process of more than one day or even a year. You can get out of this vicious circle by knocking down the organized drug mafia pyramids. Of course, you need to be realistic: it is impossible to eradicate such a phenomenon as the drug addiction. But it is possible and necessary to minimize its spread. We are working on this. And we hope that our legislative initiatives will find support within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada, and the police will receive additional tools to combat the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.