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Tendencies of Development

E.G. Gasanov

This and many other very interesting materials have been published in the book "Drug Abuse: Tendencies and Ways to Overcome It (based on materials of the Republic of Azerbaijan)" (Мoscow: "JurInfoR" Educational and Consulting Center, 1998)


Some tendencies of development can be traced by using the statistical method, whereas others, which are not clearly evident, can be discovered by sociological studies, expert evaluations, interviews, studies of documents or by content analysis of mass media publications.

An analysis of statistics shows that certain tendencies in drug abuse in the Republic of Azerbaijan and in other successor states of the former Soviet Union, are the same. For example, between 1991 and 1995 the number of drug-related crimes increased from 862 to 2827, that is nearly an increase of 4 fold, with an increase of dangerous crimes and drug sales in 5 times. In the Russian Federation the number of all such crimes rose over the same period from 17047 to 74430 that is an increase of more than 4 times on the previous number, with the number of convicted criminals rising from 9864 to 46360. The share of the drug related criminal acts in the overall crime structure went up from 1 to 2.7%, and the amount of drugs seized rose from 2 to 49 tons. In Azerbaijan, there was roughly a doubling of crimes committed by drug addicts over the same period. In the category of serious offenses there was a 6 fold rise in crimes committed by persons under the influence of narcotics. Among drug-related crimes, the largest percentage is of the mercenary crimes (nearly 4/5th) with the stealing of private property being predominant (about 9/10ths)[032].

The Structure of Narco-crime

In the structure of narco-crime, the predominant criminal actions are the illegal preparation, acquisition, storage, transportation and dissemination of narcotics by mail. The percentage of such crimes is high and is increasing all the time. It varies between 87 and 96%. Actions not with the intent to sell constitute an overwhelming share (from 96 to 99%)[033].

On the one hand, this fact gives reason to assume that the actions listed above were taken to obtain narcotics for personal use. On the other, a conclusion can be drawn that the main efforts against the spread of illegal drug trafficking "have actually shifted towards intensifying repressive measures against drug users"[034].

However, illegal activity with drugs and their deliberate sale is much more intensive. But for various reasons, both objective and subjective, these fall under a different legal assessment. A major factor is that it is difficult to prove that there was an intent to sell. This is compounded by subjective views of "intent to sell" in special situations and the absence of a clear-cut stand by the law-makers. 93% of the polled narcotic officers believe that proving "intent to sell" is difficult especially since this question is of decisive importance in final judicial rulings.

Besides, 63% of the respondents charged with illegal drug operations without the aim of selling drugs, admitted that they not only had such an intent but had been engaged in these operations on a regular basis all the way up until they were arrested.

It is interesting to note that in police seizures, drugs obtained from natural plants have prevailed so far.(nearly 9/10ths). Today the amount of seized raw materials for making drugs is estimated in tens of tons and has grown more than 5 times in the last few years. This is well above even the over-estimated needs and norms of known addicts.

Specialized studies on the subject underline how difficult it is to investigate and uncover the above-mentioned crimes because of "the ingenuity of methods used to carry them out, attempts to conceal them and also because criminal behavior is multifaceted."[035].

One should also take into account the absence of well-conceived methods, and the shortage of professionally trained personnel to uncover and investigate such crimes, especially, in the present-day conditions when there are political collisions caused by the Soviet Union's disintegration, when there are "transparent" and ill-defined borders between the former sovereign Soviet republics, when the internal affairs agencies are not well equipped technically, and when the customs and border control services are vulnerable.

The Structure of Crime and Latency

Among the registered crimes there are none related to violations within the system of medical care of the rules of drug-making, drug acquisition, storage, keeping stock of, dispensing, transporting or sending by mail, at pharmaceutical factories or medical and bio industrial enterprises, etc. The absence of information about drug-related crimes, however, does not mean at all that there are no crimes present.

The point is that all these rules are regulated mostly by the Public Health Ministry of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This Ministry also controls the implementation of the rules. In cooperation with law-enforcement agencies and other interested agencies and organizations, this Ministry carries out joint checks of safe storage of drugs.

However, in practical terms this cooperation remains ineffective. The officials concerned, including those of internal affairs agencies, are far from being aware that these rules exist. This seriously hampers their implementation. In fact, there are no activities carried out by the law enforcement agencies to expose possible violations of these rules, nor do they advance any initiatives in this area.

A study of the problem has shown that there is no reason to believe narcotics are safely kept out of reach of addicts. This has been confirmed by more than one-third of the polled officers of internal affairs agencies. Every second drug taker who was forced to undergo treatment, did not deny that he had received drugs from medical personnel. Similar cases of drug acquisition were noted by over 10% of persons charged with drug-related crimes, whereas 17% of people from the same group of drug abusers confessed that they used to steal drugs from hospitals, small medical centers and pharmacies. The share of other crimes in the structure of drug-related crimes total is insignificant, though they play a rather negative role in the spread of narcotics. For example, during one year, the crime of solicitation to use drugs was recorded only once or twice and 3 or 8 times the crimes involving the organization or running dens for addicts or providing premises for that purpose.

All the same just over 98% of the polled people charged with drug abuse and intent to sell drugs said they had persuaded 3 to 7 persons to start using drugs. In more than 70% of such cases, a special effort was made to invite potential "victims" to homes belonging to different persons. These people received remuneration for granting premises especially arranged for this purpose and where conditions were conducive for the use of narcotics. Practically one out of every 4 persons charged with drug abuse but without attempting to push drugs, admitted in talking to officials, that he had persuaded at least 3 or 4 persons to use drugs treating them to narcotics that he had bought or made for his own use.

What is more, 37% of the examined complaints and statements by citizens addressed to various agencies, especially, those made directly to the local police officers have remained unread, though they specifically mentioned people who had turned their homes into drug pads.

Negative Tendencies

All these facts highlight: 1) an increase of the degree in danger posed to the public by drug-related crimes; 2) the appearance of new narcotics, giving way to diversity of drugs; 3) increase in the number of people involved in the use of narcotics through persuasion; 4) the rising level of organization of such crimes; 5) the expanding boundaries of illegal drug trafficking on the world- wide scale; 6) an increase in the number of illegal labs used to make drugs; 7) the perfection of methods used for selling drugs and an increase in the establishment of illegal and semi-legal shops intended for selling drugs; 8) the rising number of cases of illegal acquisition, including theft of narcotics from medical institutions; 9) the increase in numbers of corrupt officials involved in illegal drug trafficking; 10) the greater degree of masked laundering of money; 12) and a higher degree of latency of drug-related crimes.

The danger to the public from drug-related crimes is manifested by an increase of crimes committed for the sake of selling drugs, and, second, by the total quantity of narcotics in circulation.

The appearance new drug substances and the corresponding rise in variety of drugs is reflected in the constant growth of the List of Narcotics (narcotic substances and drug medicines both synthetic and natural) produced by the UN International Drug Control Committee.

The spreading of the cultivation of drug-bearing plants in places which are difficult to physically access is confirmed by the discovery of plantations sown with such plants in various regions of the world. These discoveries have been made with the help of space and aerial photography.

The fact that the ever larger number of people use narcotics is manifested in the rising figure of medical patients using drugs and recreational drug users. The growing number of drug patients is registered by statistics and the rise in numbers of recreational drug users is evident from opinion polls among experts (medics at out-patient clinics for addicts and law enforcement officers who specialize in combating drug-related crimes).

The greater degree of organization in drug-related crimes is manifested by the growth of criminal groups and associations, in the setting up of syndicates and cartels, in the toughening of discipline within syndicates and cartels and in the rising cohesion of their members and the coordination of their actions. Tougher methods of pressure are exerted on members violating the rules of conduct within groups. Criminal groups, associations, syndicates, and cartels are also placed under control along with the people who commit drug related crimes on their own.

The expanding boundaries of illegal drug-trafficking on the international scale are evident in the fact that drugs are smuggled into practically all the countries of the world. This smuggling includes attempts to carry drug consignments through the customs and across national borders of a number of countries by various means and by different kinds of transportation. This has been established by controlling deliveries of narcotics and by polling experts (law-enforcement and customs officers).

Law-enforcement agencies in various countries, including the Republic of Azerbaijan discovered the rise in the number of drug-making labs and new methods of selling and circulating drugs. Shops, that were camouflaged as book or perfume stores have been seized.

The increase in the number of cases in which narcotics are acquired illegally, including theft from medical institutions is supported by statistical data. In 1994, for example, not a single criminal case of selling drugs was registered in the Republic of Azerbaijan, whereas in 1995 there were already 6 such cases.

Corruption - as a Way to Protect Drug Dealers

Growing number of corrupt officials, aspiring for higher posts tend to improve methods to protect persons taking part in illegal drug-trafficking. Polled experts and narcotic squad police officers, admitted that over the last few years, there was a rise in the number of requests to them by high ranking officials suggesting that criminal responsibility be lifted from persons involved in drug deals and against whom suits had been filed.

Ever more sophisticated methods to legalize the money from drug trafficking is manifested by laundering such money which makes it difficult, impossible at times, to trace its primary source. At present one can speak of the three major methods. First, cash is put into financial institutions or into retail trade and is immediately converted into foreign currencies or transferred abroad. Second, there is a stratification of the money, i.e. increasing the number of transactions that are often carried out in several countries to obscure the source of the illegally earned money. And, third, illegal earnings are integrated into investments in economic operations with the aim of making the money look legal.

The polled experts, and the narcotic police squad officers explained the increased latency of drug-related crimes by the following examples. There is mutual interest in keeping crimes a secret both among drug-pushers and addicts; none of them have any desire to cooperate with the law-enforcement agencies. There are special mutually beneficial and inter-dependent relations between users and suppliers of narcotics. This kind of relationship requires thorough secrecy due to the fear of criminal punishment for both users and suppliers. Small wonder that the addicts taken to hospitals, often in critical conditions, dangerous to their life and health, do not reveal, as a rule, the source of getting drugs. And this silence is due not to some sort of moral principles, honor, duty or solidarity but rather, in most cases, to the fear of losing the already established drug source or to the fear of being victimized for revealing the source. Also much is yet to be done to develop proper legal, personnel, tactical, material and technical programs that are effective in combating drug trade. There is the obvious need to find a way to expose latent drug-related crimes. For without realizing the actual state of affairs with drug-related crimes, adequate measures of combating them will remain insufficient.

This view of the tendencies of development of drug use applies not only to the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the Russian Federation and other states that once formed the Soviet Union, but also to most countries of the world. Actually these tendencies highlight the spread of narcotics throughout the globe. The world community needs to intensify efforts to combat narcotics.


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