Opium’s journey

From the Afghan border to the mountains of Tajikistan to the night clubs of Moscow – opium’s journey

The process is repeated all over Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan in Central Asia. The powder is heated, drawn into the syringe, and then into a vein made plump by the tying off of an arm or a leg. En-route to Europe, Dushanbe is not the intended market for the Afghan produced drug. The impoverished state on the border with war torn nation does not hold enough wealth to make any real money. The target is Moscow and then Europe. Smuggling heroin over the porous 800 mile border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan is the easy bit: guards are easily bribed, lorries barely searched. Getting it to Moscow requires more effort. ‘Mules’ are employed to fill capsules with the white powder, and then fill their stomachs with the capsules. They must endure the short flight and then down a bottle of vodka once they reach Russia’s capital in order to throw up and offload their cargo. Often they are themselves addicts – the uncomfortable process helps pay for their addiction.

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