Czech Republic hails success of international drug-bust operation

09-04-2008

Czech customs officials have concluded an ongoing international operation designed to bust drugs networks smuggling cocaine to Europe. They have hailed the action as a success, with 31 people arrested for serious drug-related offenses. The police now view the Czech Republic as not only a transit country, but increasingly also as a final destination for many of the world’s illegal narcotics.

The operation, nicknamed “kufr” or “briefcase” lasted for two years and encompassed countries across Europe as well as South America. 16 Czechs were arrested as part of the action, with around 30kg of drugs, mainly cocaine, being seized.

Viktor Mravčík is the head of Czech Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. I asked him to explain the recent trend of the Czech Republic becoming a target country for drug-traffickers:

“To be honest, it’s not really a very recent trend. The Czech Republic became a target country for international drug-dealers and traffickers at the end of the 1990s. Now, what we see mainly concerns new trends. Lately, the increase in cocaine use and cocaine supply in the Czech Republic and cocaine is really the new thing here when we are talking about trends.”

So why is cocaine becoming so popular in the country?

“This is a kind of mutual trend together with increasing supply, at least in the mid or long term. Prices are going down. It seems that at least concerning cocaine, supply is increasing; there is a lot of cocaine coming to the Czech Republic. Demand for that cocaine exists as it is kind of in fashion and the decreasing price is accompanying this trend.”

Police have also announced the role played by Nigerian gang members living in the Czech Republic. They believe that many of these gang members hired couriers from across the world to transport drugs into the country. The recent story of a 68 year-old Czech man arrested in Peru on suspicion of drug smuggling has again underlined the problem. Viktor Mravčík again:

“Czech citizens have for many years been involved in drug trafficking often as part of international groups. This is also the case with cocaine trafficking - these couriers have existed for many years and again, coming back to the cocaine, increasing popularity and supply also increases the involvement of Czech inhabitants in this illegal trafficking.”

And with the country’s entry into the border-free Schengen area, the success of “operation briefcase” may prove to be just a drop in the ocean. As sociologists and politicians know all too well, targeting supply is just half the problem.

09-04-2008