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Growing Importance of Ukraine as a Transit Country for Heroin Trafficking, Final Report

NCJ Number
Mary Layne
Date Published
June 2002
28 pages
This paper reports on research undertaken to identify drug smuggling routes both from producer countries and in Ukraine, the types of drugs smuggled, and conveyances used; the research also focused on the development of a methodology for estimating the amount of heroin passing through Ukraine.
As background information, this report discusses the scope of the drug problem in Ukraine and anti-drug law enforcement mechanisms. The body of the report addresses heroin trafficking to and through Ukraine from Southwest Asia and estimates for the amount of heroin transiting Ukraine. In developing the latter estimate, the researchers worked backwards from consumption estimates for Western Europe (Crime and Narcotics Center, 2000) and then operated with the assumption that this demand is met almost exclusively by heroin from Southwest Asia, which has smuggling routes through Ukraine. Of the 75 percent of heroin smuggled via the Balkan route, the estimation methodology assumed that 25 percent transits through Ukraine. Of the 25 percent smuggled via the old Silk Road route, it was assumed that 25 percent of that was smuggled from Russia through Ukraine. To estimate the total amount transiting Ukraine, the researchers added the amounts smuggled through Ukraine from each route, plus seizures in Ukraine, to yield a low estimate of 8.9 metric tons, a mean estimate of 14.4 metric tons, and a high estimate of 20 metric tons annually. This report advises that improvements be made in the estimate of heroin transiting Ukraine. This can be done with better consumption estimates (the current model does not include any consumption along smuggling routes) and improved intelligence on the proportion of heroin in each route that transits Ukraine. The report concludes that the importance of Ukraine to drug traffickers as a transit corridor to western and central Europe continues to increase. This smuggling is primarily the activity of organized criminal groups. 4 figures, 18 references, and appended information on heroin cultivation and production