Cyprus Uphill Battle Against Drug Traffickers


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THE Drug Law Enforcement Unit (YKAN) is fighting an uphill struggle against the traffickers, with Cyprus no different to the rest of the world, and latest statistics revealing that authorities around the globe are only managing to seize up to an estimated 25 per cent of all drugs produced.

YKAN Commander, Charalambos Ioannou called for increased checks by Customs at ports and airports, saying that new methods of drug trafficking were constantly being devised by dealers worldwide, with the police at times coming across drug caches in hard-to-imagine places such as chocolate, fruit and computer housing.
"Cannabis is the world's most popular drug and we managed to seize 35 kilos of the stuff last year," he said. We also managed to intercept other drugs."

When asked where the drugs come from, Ioannou said there exist several sources.

"For sure, since European Union accession in 2004, more drugs have been flooding into the island as there are fewer checks at ports and airports due to the free movement of people and goods," he said. Another source is the non-controlled-areas, via Turkey, and we have found that it is difficult to police the 70-kilometre Green Line in its entirety."

He added that Cyprus was not a producing country apart from several cases where it was discovered that cannabis was being grown on the island. "Last year we confiscated 332 cannabis plants," Ioannou also spoke of the problem of foreigners and tourists bringing drugs into the island. "Some tourists will smuggle drugs for personal use, but will also assign a certain amount as being for sale in order to cover their holiday expenses. Most drugs are discovered on people or in houses and cars he added."

When Ioannou was asked whether YKAN should concentrate more on tracking down large scale smuggling operations rather than allocating resources to prosecute people caught with less than a gram of cannabis, he responded by saying: "The law is clear. All drugs are prohibited, no matter how small the amount and we follow the guidelines set out in the law."

Last year, 17 people lost their lives to drugs, compared with 14 in 2005.
Europol and Interpol are constantly sending information on ways to identify certain drugs to YKAN, recently informing them on new logos used.

Additionally, weekly meetings take place with liaison officers from foreign agencies, such as America's Drug Enforcement Agency, where issues such as trafficking tendencies and seizures are discussed.

Raising drug awareness
THE DRUG Prevention Office of the Cyprus Police was formed in 1991 to educate young people and their parents on the effects of illegal drugs and their use, to spread drug awareness among the general public and provide early intervention in high-risk areas. This is achieved through:
* Police officers travelling around the island speaking in schools
* Developing and implementing successful education programmes geared towards youngsters and those classified as at risk
* Designing nationwide seminars and workshops to educate and train teachers, parents, police officers, soldiers, organisations, NGO's and local communities
* Promoting campaigns through the media aimed at increasing awareness of the dangers associated with drug misuse
* Participating in fundraisers providing activities for children and handing out leaflets and promotional literature.
By using the above methods and activities the Prevention Office seeks to promote and create a healthy lifestyle in children, young people and the general public.
"The facts of our national drug problem must no longer be hidden," they claim. "The prevention of drug use and associated health risks are a long-term process and is a community issue and not solely the responsibility of parents, schools and educators."

Earlier this week it was stated that Britain's drugs laws are driven by "moral panic" and should be replaced by a more flexible approach that recognises most drug users harm neither themselves nor those around them, a two-year study concluded.
Drug use should be treated as a health issue and not just as a matter for police and courts, said a commission formed by the Royal Society of Arts.
It said the current Misuse of Drugs act was "not fit for purpose" and should be scrapped.
Professor Anthony King of Essex University, who chaired the Commission, said the great majority of people who used illegal drugs did not harm themselves nor cause anyone else any trouble.
"Their only problem is that they are breaking the law in possessing drugs," he said.

NEWSHAWK: Shadylady 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
SOURCE: Cyprus Mail Internet Edition
AUTHOR: Leo Leonidou
CONTACT: Cyprus Mail Internet Edition
COPYRIGHT: © Cyprus Mail 2007
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