ASTANA -- The head of Kazakhstan's customs service has been fired, following allegations that smugglers have been operating freely across the Kazakh-China border, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
Prime Minister Karim Masimov announced the dismissal of Customs Service Chief Qozy-Korpesh Karibozov on his Twitter account on May 6.
Financial Police spokesman Murat Zhumanbai told journalists on May 3 that authorities had detained more than 100 members of an organized criminal group involved in illegally transporting goods to and from China via the Qorghas and Qalzhat border checkpoints.
Zhumanbai said between 100 and 200 trucks with contraband had been passing through those border checkpoints daily.
Days later, the Financial Police arrested the deputy head of the National Security Committee's department in Aqmola Oblast, Baqytbek Qurmanaliev. They also launched a search for the Chief of the Almaty Oblast customs control department, Qurmanbek Artyqbaev.
It is not clear at this point whether Karibozov has been detained.
Masimov also announced via Twitter that he has appointed former Interior Minister Serik Baimaghanbetov as the new Customs Service head.Read more in Kazakh here