Georgia’s Narco Unit Sees Trafficking Spike Despite Agency Overhaul

TBILISI – Georgia has become a major transit country for illicit drugs with significant shipments of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, amphetamines and other drugs flowing through the country despite a government program designed to curb narcotics smuggling, according to the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, compiled by the US’ State Department.

Georgian authorities seized a record 2.8 tons of heroin, 37 kilos of cocaine and 60 kilos of amphetamines in 2014-2015.

Despite a campaign launched in December 2014 aimed at reinforcing and training the federal police’s counter narcotics division, the number of large quantity drug busts continues to rise.

The overwhelming number of drug shipments coming into Georgia originates in Afghanistan or Iran; destined for Western Europe, Turkey and Russia.

The report indicated that while Georgia’s drug enforcement agencies have been more successful in intercepting and impounding illicit narcotics trafficking, the situation in the country’s breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions remains dire as the Russian-backed governments in the two secessionist districts refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in Tbilisi.

Georgia’s police and customs service recently completed a US-led two-year overhaul of their respective counter narcotics divisions.

According to local NGOs. Georgia has experienced a spike in the number of habitual drug users over the last three years, climbing to 50,000 people out of its total population of 4.7 million.

By Nicholas Waller

05 March 2016 22:51