Authorities in Uzbekistan on Thursday incinerated nearly a half tonne of Afghan heroin worth an estimated $US150 million ($A169.66 million) in Europe.
More than 700 kilogrammes of illegal drugs, including 497 kilos of heroin, went up in smoke in the smelting furnace of a Soviet-era metals factory outside the Uzbek capital Tashkent before an audience of diplomats and journalists.
The drugs being destroyed had already been used as evidence against drugs traffickers at their trials, said Olimjon Turakulov, a spokesman for Uzbekistan's domestic security services, the SNB.
Since 1994 Uzbekistan has incinerated more than 46 tonnes of drugs in the effort to fight illegal drug trafficking, he told reporters.
Uzbekistan borders war-ravaged Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer of opium and heroin, and sits on one of the key routes for shipping illegal drugs into Russia and western Europe.
Security forces in Uzbekistan, ex-Soviet Central Asia's most populous country, has seen a continuous increase in overall drug seizures over the past eight years, said Masood Karimipour, a spokesman for the United Nations.
The drugs being incinerated today represent only a part of about 2.5 tonnes of drugs that have been seized in the first six months of this year alone, he told reporters.
This represents a great increase over a total of 3.5 tonnes drugs seized in Uzbekistan in entire 2009, he added.
The amount of drugs trafficked through Central Asia has risen steadily in recent years, according to the UN, as the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan has ramped up production to fund their battle with coalition forces.
August 26, 2010
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