Police arrest drug smuggling gang

29-05-2001

This week, the police's anti-drugs unit completed a six-month operation, El Paso, after the arrest of a Czech gang suspected of smuggling cocaine from Ecuador to the Czech Republic. As police spokeswoman, Ivana Zelenakova told me earlier today, the gang of 15 people used unusual methods to smuggle the drugs:

"The cocaine was smuggled here using Czech carriers, or so-called swallowers. This is very unusual, as the people who are asked to swallow the little bags of cocaine and then bring them to the Czech Republic are normally citizens of the country of origin. In April, three carriers who tried to smuggle 1.5 kg of cocaine in this way were arrested at Prague's international airport. In mid-May, thirteen more people were arrested in Prague and in Brno, including the 33 year-old head of the gang."

Mrs. Zelenakova also told Radio Prague that along with the cocaine, which had an estimated street value of some 60,000 US dollars, the police seized illegal firearms, forged documents and counterfeit official stamps. But apparently the most commonly smuggled drug isn't cocaine but heroin:

"The most popular drug smuggled across the Czech Republic is heroin. It is smuggled along the so-called Balkan route, which changes frequently. Lately, we've noted that it's smuggled across the Ukraine and Poland Unfortunately, because of its geographical location, drugs are often smuggled through the Czech Republic. Last year, the most popular medium was the postal service, as the majority of smuggled hashish was sent by post. But, the Czech Republic is not only a transit route but also a target area. Here one can find all the drugs that are found abroad where the most popular drugs are, besides Marihuana, heroin, pervitin, and recently, ecstasy."

When asked whether the police co-operate with their foreign colleagues, Mrs. Zelenakova said that most frequent co-operation is with Scandinavia, Germany, Britain, Italy, Switzerland and the United States. She added that the Czech police force is a member of a number of permanent international work groups, co-operation works on a case-by-case scenario, and experts always take part in international narcotics conferences.

29-05-2001