07ASTANA3302, KAZAKHSTAN: ASSESSMENT OF ANTI-DRUG CHECKPOINTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA3302 2007-12-12 10:37 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO9771
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHTA #3302/01 3461037
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121037Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1347
RUCNCLS/SCA COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 003302 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR INL (SNYDER, BUHLER); SCA/CEN (OMARA), ISN/ECC 
(HARTSHORNE), SCA/RA 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SNAR KCRM KZ
 
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ASSESSMENT OF ANTI-DRUG CHECKPOINTS 
 
 
1.  Summary:  From November 24 through December 4, a joint UNODC/INL 
team and an independent expert assessed six internal ("Rubezh") 
checkpoints.  The international expert will provide a report with 
recommendations to the donor community and the GoK in January, 
including proposals for training and equipment.  End Summary. 
 
----------- 
BACKGROUND 
----------- 
 
2.  INL provided a grant to UNODC in July 2007 to support the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs' (MVD) efforts to strengthen controls 
on primary narco-trafficking routes and to help improve national and 
regional law enforcement capacities along these routes through the 
provision of communications and other equipment.  As part of its 
Counter Narcotics Strategy, the GOK provided 1.5 billion tenge 
(approximately $12.5 million) for first-stage implementation of the 
strategy from 2006 to 2008.  With a portion of the funding, the 
MVD's Committee on Combating Drugs established seven internal 
checkpoints ("Rubezh-Narkotiki") including the Ulken post in the 
Almaty oblast, Syrdarya post in the Kyzylorda oblast, Kyzyltu post 
in the South-Kazakhstan oblast, Kargaly post in the Aktobe oblast, 
Ayagoz post in the Eastern Kazakhstan oblast, and Leninskiy post in 
Pavlodar in 2005.   The Sary-Arka post was established in the 
Karaganda oblast in November 2007.  MVD provided infrastructure and 
drug identification equipment.  INL will provide training of 
officers working at the Rubezh checkpoints. 
 
3.  In 2006, MVD seized a total of 126 kilos of narcotics at all 
seven posts, and approximately 125 kilos in the first 10 months of 
this year.  The Ulken post has had the best results with 115 kilos 
seized during the first 10 months of this year.  MVD seized 21.119 
kilos of heroin in 2006, including 15.504 kilos at the Kyzyltu post, 
five kilos at Ulken in the Almaty oblast and 1.804 kilos at Syrdarya 
in the Kyzylorda oblast.  In the first ten months of this year, 
7.678 kilos of heroin were seized at all posts. 
 
4.  Hardy Roehlung, an international expert from the EU Border 
Management in Central Asia Program, was contracted by UNODC to 
assess the internal checkpoints to determine checkpoint capacity, 
assess needs for specialized technical equipment, and recommend 
needed training programs.  Representatives of the Embassy's INL 
Office, the UN Office of Drug Control (UNODC), and the MVD joined 
the assessment mission. 
 
5.  Generally, the posts are independent subdivisions of the 
Committee on Combating Drug Trafficking and are directly subordinate 
to the oblasts' Divisions on Combating Drug Trafficking.  They have 
the same organizational structure as the divisions, which include 
counter-narcotics operations officers, migration police, canine 
specialists, and road police.  There are usually two officers who 
patrol the area adjacent to the post to counter the threat of drug 
couriers bypassing posts.  Though posts are theoretically located in 
areas without detour roads, the assessment showed that there are 
possibilities to avoid the posts by driving on secondary roads or 
off-road.  On average there are 18 officers working in two or three 
shifts.  Some posts have satellite phones, some have trunk telephone 
lines, and the rest use their own cellular phones.  There is not 
appropriate infrastructure and equipment to communicate with the 
regional MVD offices or between checkpoints at longer distances. 
While some posts have access to the MVD databases, some are limited 
in their functions and others do not even have electricity.  The 
assessment team also found that there are not sufficient personnel 
assigned to the checkpoints.  Some officers are working for 24 hours 
straight. 
 
----- 
ULKEN 
----- 
 
6.  The first post visited is located in Almaty oblast, 371 
kilometers from Almaty on the main road to Astana.  The post 
received INL-provided inspection equipment and a hangar for 
searching vehicles in 2005-2006.  The GOK provided infrastructure. 
The local rural district administration provides assistance to the 
post because the work of the post and the presences of police ensure 
security in the area.  The post is well equipped, but living 
conditions for the officers should be improved. 
 
-------- 
SYRDARYA 
-------- 
 
7.  The post is located 8 kilometers from Kyzylorda on the main road 
between Shymkent and Samara.  The post focuses on trucks and buses 
coming from Uzbekistan.  Post personnel have a very good 
 
ASTANA 00003302  002 OF 003 
 
 
relationship with other agencies, including Customs, Border Guard 
Service and the local police.  During its visit, the assessment team 
saw several border guards at the post who were sent from the closest 
border guard posts to strengthen the post's work during Operation 
Barrier.  The Committee for National Security (KNB) first launched 
the operation in 2003 with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Customs 
Control Committee, Financial Police and Border Guard Service.  The
 
operation proved to be effective and has since been conducted 
several times each year.  The officers working at the post use drug 
profiling techniques and canines.  Twenty minutes before the 
assessment team arrived, a canine detected eight kilos of hashish on 
a bus and officers arrested the courier. 
 
-------- 
KYZYLTU 
-------- 
 
8.  The checkpoint is located 58 km from Shymkent on the main road 
from Almaty to Tashkent and Termez, Uzbekistan.  During the 
assessment team's visit to the post, the head of the post presented 
a plan for a model Rubezh post that will include an administrative 
building, a hangar, a dormitory, and dog kennels.  The model post 
also would have an access road to the hangar, sufficient lighting, 
barriers, and other necessary equipment.  Unfortunately, the present 
situation at the post is quite the opposite.  The inspection hangar, 
which was built with GOK funds, was shoddily constructed and appears 
ready to collapse.  MVD has complained that none of the six hangars 
constructed with their funds in 2006 meet minimal safety 
requirements and the MVD is currently taking legal action against 
the contractor. 
 
9.  MVD officers stated that the biggest problem is with trucks 
operating under the TIR convention (The Convention on International 
Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets), which MVD officers 
cannot inspect.  If MVD receives intelligence information that a 
truck is carrying contraband, officers must ask the driver of the 
truck to drive 150 kilometers to a customs checkpoint on the 
Kazakhstani-Uzbek border to inspect the truck with a fixed x-ray 
machine. Drivers can refuse and claim not to have sufficient fuel or 
time.  Approximately 150 vehicles pass through the post daily, 
including 30 trucks - 25 of which operate under the TIR convention. 
The post is the first on the route from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan 
and must be strengthened.  MVD plans to construct an administrative 
building and reconstruct the hangar for inspection of vehicles, but 
does not have sufficient funds to purchase fixed X-ray equipment. 
 
------- 
AYAGOZ 
------- 
 
10.  The post is located 360 km from Semey city on the main road 
from Almaty to Semey.  The location of the post is not effective 
because it is located 90 kilometers from a main route from China to 
Almaty.  The majority of traffic passing through this checkpoint are 
fully loaded cargo trucks, which are difficult to examine.  Though 
the post has modern equipment, officers are fearful of misusing or 
breaking the equipment and continue to use traditional drug 
profiling techniques and dogs in searching vehicles. 
 
------- 
KARGALY 
------- 
 
11.  The post is located 4 kilometers from the customs checkpoint on 
the main road from Aktobe to Orsk, Russia.  One of the officers 
believed that a better location for the post is in Karabutak.  The 
post is ill equipped; there is no infrastructure or buildings; and 
the living and working conditions are very poor.  The traffic volume 
at this post is low. 
 
---------- 
SARY-ARKA 
---------- 
 
12.  The checkpoint is located outside of the city of Karaganda on 
the main road from Almaty to Astana.  The post was relocated from 
the Arasan checkpoint in Atbasar.  Due to the implementation of the 
"Astana - Drug-Free City" program to reduce demand, treat addiction, 
and fight drug trafficking and with the aim of creating a barrier 
around Astana, the MVD relocated the post to a city much closer to 
Astana.  The head of the post pointed out the number of trucks with 
a TIR carnet passing through the checkpoint. 
 
---------- 
LENINSKIY 
---------- 
 
 
ASTANA 00003302  003 OF 003 
 
 
13.  The MVD established the Leninskiy post outside of the small 
town of Shiderty in the Pavlodarskaya oblast.  The assessment team 
did not visit the post because UNODC and INL did not receive an 
official request to provide assistance to the post.  However, the 
MVD colonel accompanying the assessment team stated that this was an 
oversight and that the post should be assessed.  INL will work with 
UNODC and the international expert to arrange an assessment trip in 
the future. 
 
---------- 
TIR ISSUES 
---------- 
 
14.  Post personnel are unable to legally unseal and inspect the 
contents of vehicles with a TIR carnet because customs officers are 
not present.  However, upon receipt of intelligence information, 
they do inspect vehicles with an X-ray machine when possible.  There 
appear to be two possible solutions: the purchase and installation 
of X-ray machines or the assignment of customs officials to the 
checkpoints. 
 
15.  Article 5 of the TIR Convention stipulates that goods carried 
under the TIR procedure under seal shall not, as a general rule, be 
subject to examination at customs offices en route.  However, 
customs authorities may, in exceptional cases and when irregularity 
is suspected, carry out an examination of the goods.  There are 
clear advantages for the countries which entered this Convention. 
TIR trucks avoid long delays at borders and physical inspection of 
goods in transit.  However, police officers in Kazakhstan suspect 
that some of these trucks are carrying contraband goods or 
narcotics. 
 
16.  In addition to the TIR trucks, officers at the checkpoints also 
face the difficulty of searching fully loaded trucks.  There is not 
enough manpower to unload the cargo, search the truck, and reload 
the cargo in a timely manner.  Such procedures could unduly delay 
shipments traveling to, from, and through Kazakhstan. 
 
---------- 
NEXT STEPS 
---------- 
 
17.  The issue of strengthening the internal checkpoints will be 
raised at the next Counter Narcotics Donor Coordination Meeting in 
January, where we hope to find additional funds from other donors. 
Currently, INL does not have sufficient funds to cover the needs of 
the posts.  In addition, the MVD will also receive the assessment 
and have an opportunity to address the deficiencies at the 
checkpoints. Only by joining forces will it be possible to 
sufficiently strengthen these checkpoints. 
 
 
ORDWAY

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