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Illegal Drug Trade In Russia Worth $15 Billion Annually

Seized opium in Afghanistan, a source of much of the Russian drug trade (file photo) (AFP) 16 February 2006 -- Officials say the value of Russia's illegal drugs trade is more than $15 billion a year.

The deputy director of the Federal Drug Control Service, Vladimir Zubrin, told journalists in Moscow that his agency seized about 1,600 tons of heroin last year.

Zubrin said that flows of heroin have increased since Russian troops stopped patrolling the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan last year.

He added that Russia's drug agency will open an office in Kabul this year.

Opium from Afghanistan, the world's leading producer, is refined into heroin and smuggled through Central Asia to Russia and often on to Western Europe.