Ukraine Secret Police Bust Drug Ring, Net Heroin Worth $15 Million Dollars

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian secret police, acting on tips from foreign intelligence agencies, have cracked a narcotics supply network and confiscated $15 million dollars worth of heroin, the Interfax news agency reported Monday.

Agents from the Ukrainian spy agency, SBU [former KGB], arrested a Ukranian and a Turkish national and took in 125 kilograms of heroin in raids carried out in the southern Kherson region.

A further 12 suspected members of the network were being questioned or "actively being tracked," SBU spokesman Valentin Nalivaichenko said.

The SBU used data provided by government intelligence agencies in Germany, Turkey and the United States to track the activities of the drug-running ring during a three-month investigation.

Law enforcers said they moved in after traffickers dispatched a microbus loaded with heroin for delivery to a foreign customer.

The investigation also culminated in the discovery of a laboratory used by alleged ring members to manufacture heroine from morphine believed to have been imported from Afghanistan, police spokesman Anatoly Pokhilko said.

The largest-ever Ukrainian interception of trafficked heroin - 203 kilograms worth at least 20 million dollars - took place in 2003, when customs agents in the sea port Odessa opened a shipping container and found the narcotics hidden under food packages.

Ukraine has in recent years increased in popularity as a transit corridor for drug traffickers moving supplies from Central Asia to European markets.

The country's practically open border with Russia and its poorly patrolled borders with European Union member states, Poland and Hungary, is seen as a contributing factor.

Source: dpa German Press Agency