10 Feb 2017 21:21

Interior Ministry exposes drug ring KhimProm with supply routes to 14 Russian regions

MOSCOW. Feb 10 (Interfax) - Police and security officers have busted an international drug ring which made profits of up to two billion rubles a year, Russian Interior Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk told Interfax.

"The Russian Interior Ministry's Main Directorate for Control over Drug Trafficking, in cooperation with regional anti-drug units in the Moscow, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, Voronezh, Chelyabinsk, Rostov, Omsk and Irkutsk regions, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District - Yugra, and with participation of the Interior Ministry's Main Directorate for Criminal Investigation and the FSB of Russia [Federal Security Service], in the course of deliberate and systemic efforts, exposed and busted an illicit drug syndicate, KhimProm," Volk said.

The organization ran a clearly-structured drug-trafficking scheme from production to distribution, she said.

"The annual turnover stood at over two billion rubles," Volk said.

KhimProm started as an online shop in Ukraine in 2015, posting information on drugs' types, prices and acquisition methods for potential customers in Russia.

"To recruit members of the drug ring, they advertized in the Ukrainian media highly-paid jobs as a courier or shipping agent on Russian territory. Recruitment offices were based in the city of Kyiv," the spokeswoman said.

Candidates would be interviewed on a lie detector, then trained at short-term courses where they were shown how to maintain electronic correspondence, use payment systems, transport and package drugs, and also how to organize a cache, Volk said.

"The hired people were given bank cards issued in the name of figureheads, false Russian passports and driving licenses with signs of forgery, as well as telecommunication devices with installed Internet messaging apps, via which they would subsequently receive instructions from the drug ring organizers," she said.

During the operations officers from the Interior Ministry's Main Directorate for Drug Control and territorial offices raided and shut down three KhimProm laboratories for synthetic drugs in the Istra, Krasnogorsk and Odintsovo districts of the Moscow region, which produced between 150 and 500 kilograms per week, and busted the organized-crime group's logistic units which ensured the delivery of massive amounts of drugs, inside caches in vehicles, to 14 Russian regions.

"Wholesale warehouses have been located in ten regions of the Russian Federation. Officers seized over four tonnes of synthetic narcotic drugs, 3,500 kilograms of precursors, 250 laboratory equipment units, nine vehicles, over two million rubles in cash, and 18 Russian Federation passports with signs of forgery," Volk said.

The operation led to 67 arrests, including of 47 Ukrainian citizens, she said.

The Interior Ministry's Investigative Department has taken charge of the criminal inquiries against suspects arrested in the Moscow and Sverdlovsk regions, and is analyzing those launched in the other regions with a view to merging them into one case. Investigators are considering launching the inquiry under Article 210 part one and part two of the Russian Criminal Code (organization of a criminal network), Volk said.