Abu Dhabi — The US is concerned that conflicts and the rise of terror groups in the Middle East may lead to an increased volume of drug trafficking.
Luis Arrega addressing the media at the US embassy in Abu Dhabi . — KT photo by Shoaib Anwer
Arriving in Abu Dhabi from the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice being held in Doha until April 19, Luis Arrega, principal deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of State - Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affaires, explained that terrorist organisations use drug trade to get money.
It is already happening in parts of Africa, where they also use illegal wildlife trade to get cash.
“We are very much watching this because drug trade has become a source of income to terrorist organisations to operate,” said Arrega.
He doesn’t recall, though, any drug case arriving in the US via the UAE.
What it has been noticed, though in recent years is a major shift in the trafficking patterns of heroin out of Afghanistan. In the past, the northern land routes through the central Asian regions and Iran were the preferred trafficking route for Afghan heroin.
However, over the last four years there has been a dramatic shift away from the northern land routes to the southern routes to Africa and overland to Europe and North America.
The increased presence of naval forces to counter the threat of terrorism in the Indian Ocean region has resulted in significant seizures of heroin consignments over the last two years.
Heroin consumption is on the rise in the US, although only a small portion of it comes from Afghanistan. His visit here does not involve signing any new agreements or discussing new methods of cooperation with Emirati authorities, but he stressed that the US already has a strong relationship with the UAE in terms of combating narcotics.
“Our law enforcement agencies work very closely with the UAE, sharing the information and working together on cases, in particular for people who want to use Dubai or Abu Dhabi as transit points for drugs,” mentioned Arrega.
The next big challenge not just for the US and UAE, but the entire world, though, is cyber-drugs, which are mostly digitally transmitted pulses that affect the brain, creating hallucinations and other similar affects that are usually induced by traditional drugs.
They are referred to as psycho-active substances.
“Right now there are over 500 new substances out there. They are extremely dangerous. We, as a community, are trying to figure out how to deal with them. There are many problems with them: number one they are dangerous, number two they are very hard to detect, so if you take them and you do a medical test, they won’t show,” pointed out Arrega.
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