South Kazakhstan is often used as a place for the cultivation of Indian hemp, which can reach about four meters in height. Drug dealers even use drop irrigation to nurse the best harvest, according to Daniyar Oralov from the interior ministry.
Every year, the government organizes a large-scale operation called Karasora to prevent criminals from harvesting, storing and selling of hashish and marijuana during the period from June to October. As the official noted, Karasora is a tough barrier for any drug dealer who tries to bring unauthorized things into Kazakhstan or cultivate these substances within the country.
“Over the 2.5 months of the operation, we identified 607 crimes associated with drugs, including 299 cases of sale, 76 cases of possession and 167 cases of cultivation of drugs. Thanks to Karasora, the police seized 2690 kilograms of drugs including 1,098 kilograms of Indian hemp, 113 kg of hashish, 19 kg of synthetic drugs and 278,000 bushes of drug-containing crops. More than 60 tons of wild hemp have been destroyed. However, there are still illegal plantations of Indian hemp in some remote areas in the south of the country,” he said.
In order to get a good harvest, criminals use drop irrigation and hiding places for ready-to-use products. Also, they hire people who work out there continuously from May to October.
“They provide workers with food and everything they need, so those people do not need to travel to towns. Together with special forces from the police and the National Guard, we are searching for such illegal plantations. For example, we often explore the entire Kyzylorda region and some neighboring regions with helicopters. Moreover, we rely on every opportunity to get the best result. For instance, we rely on special equipment and specialists from the National Security Committee and Ministry of Defense. We are even partnering with the National Company Garysh Sapary for land surveillance from space,” Oralov says.
Apart from field operations, the Kazakhstani police have been monitoring the Internet to identify suspicious websites or ads which might be linked to drug dealers. Since the beginning of the year, the police have identified more than 1,600 illegal websites, accounts and other online resources. In total, 153 criminal investigation cases have been launched.
On June 20, Bakhytzhan Amirkhanov from the Anti-Drug Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that over the period from January to May, 16 drug labs were liquidated in Kazakhstan. However, he admitted that the inflow of new synthetic drugs, cannabis and opium from Afghanistan poses a serious threat.