Russian law enforcement seized US$46 million of Afghan heroin in a series of raids, authorities announced on Wednesday. RIA Novosti reports that the Federal Drug Control Service, Russia's anti-drug agency, conducted several raids throughout multiple regions, collecting a total of about 145 kilograms of drugs.
In a statement, the agency said that six members of "an international organized crime group consisting of nationals of the Russian Federation and Central Asian republics" were arrested as a result of the operation.
In the first stage of the operation, police captured three suspected gang members and confiscated 85 kilograms of heroin. The second stage involved the arrests of three other suspected drug couriers in the central Vladimir Region. A truck belonging to one of the alleged couriers contained 59 additional kilograms of the drug.
The Federal Drug Control Service stated that the drugs had been smuggled from Tajikistan through Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in late October.
The head of the anti-drug agency’s Moscow branch, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Davydov said that the recent raids had increased the amount of heroin seized in 2013 to 900 kilograms.
Heroin use is a concern in Russia, where according to official statistics reported by RIA Novosti, 30,000 die each year from usage.