Kategoriarkiv: Internationalt Nyt

Australia: Wire: NSW Psychologist Arrested Over Injecting Room

Media Awareness ProjectAustralia: Wire: NSW Psychologist Arrested Over Injecting Room

Australian Associated Press Wed, 21 Jun 2000

Newshawk: Ken Russell

NSW PSYCHOLOGIST ARRESTED OVER INJECTING ROOMPolice have arrested a man for allegedly setting up his own public safe heroin injecting room.

The New South Wales psychologist is under investigation over the injecting room in the northern NSW town of Lismore.

He is currently being interviewed by police, a police spokesman said.

The unofficial heroin injecting room comes ahead of the opening of Australia’s first legal injecting room, which is due to open in Kings Cross in October.

It follows the controversial unauthorised shooting gallery at the Wayside Chapel, which had resulted in the arrest of a Kings Cross clergyman.

In August 1999, 61-year-old Uniting Church pastor the Reverend Ray Richmond was summonsed to appear at Downing Centre Local Court charged with aiding and abetting the self-administration of a prohibited drug.

He allegedly helped two men inject heroin in the Wayside Chapel on May 12.

The charges against Reverend Richmond were later dropped.

The Wayside Chapel’s so-called tolerance room became Australia’s first church-run shooting gallery when it opened amid controversy on May 3 last year before closing ten days later.

MAP posted-by: greg

DRUG WAR Can Santa Maria Kick It’s All American Habit?

Media Awareness ProjectSanta Maria Sun CA.

Fri, 21 Apr 2000

US CA: Drug War

By John Dean

DRUG WARCan Santa Maria Kick It’s All American Habit?

[Editorial Introduction:

The term "War on Drugs" has been prevalent in our society in the last two decades. Yet, I would bet most people don't truly understand its meaning.

The overall feeling about this war is that it only rages in foreign drug producing countries, or on the streets of cities like New York or Los Angeles.

But it also rages here.

This week's cover story by John Dean brings the War on Drugs home. The story, packed with powerful numbers, shows how drugs take lives every year in Santa Maria, and ruin countless others. It also shows how drugs cause crime, and lower our overall quality of life. If you never thought the war on drugs affected you, this story may make you think otherwise.

Meet the hometown warriors [p 6] here in Santa Maria that are fighting to help those in the powerful hold of drugs, and improve the overall quality of life in Santa Maria. While the war they are fighting may nver be won, I think you’ll find the individual battles they are winning are making a difference.

Marla J. Pugh, Editor]

Santa Maria, the All America City, like other American cities, has become the front line in the war on drugs. Ours is a city known for its agriculture; its blue-collar, hardworking citizens; and, in some circles, its methamphetamines. With the methamphetamine has come crime and social problems.

According to Assistant Public Defender James K. Voysey, 75 to 80 percent of the felony cases in Santa Maria are drug related.

Those numbers have meant that Santa Maria police and other law enforcement agencies have placed the drug problem high on their priority list. Recent drug sweeps in both Santa Maria and Guadalupe have been aimed to reduce drug-related crime. In addition, two treatment programs available to those arrested are boasting high success rates.

Last year, the city’s Narcotics Unit arrested a total of 457 people on drug charges and the unit confiscated 9.5 pounds of methamphetamines. That compares to just 98.3 grams of heroin, and 702.6 grams of cocaine that was confiscated. Officials said that the drugs confiscated in Santa Maria alone last year were valued at more than $37,000.

“There used to be a fairly substantial cocaine problem,” said Voysey. “Now we don’t see nearly as much cocaine as we see meth. Cocaine is more expensive and harder to get. Methamphetamine is incredibly cheap and the high lasts a lot longer.”

It is common knowledge among those in the drug world that if you want heroin you go to Santa Barbara, but if you want methamphetamine you come here, officials said. Much of that is due to the social and economic factors that make up Santa Maria, officials say. The drug is relatively cheap and allows users to go without sleep for days at a time and work longer hours. Methamphetamine has been proven to be popular among blue collar workers and is even referred to as the “poor mans cocaine.”

The drug gives off an initial euphoric high. But when that ends, the user goes down to a state of dysphoria or depression, said Voysey.

“That’s why the drug is so dangerous. You go way high and then way down and it eats at your body,” said Voysey. “Hence when you get to that dysphoric state after a long period of use, you get real nasty and you don’t have much of a cushion, as far as your personality is concerned, for anything that goes wrong.”

That is exactly what happened about two years ago in Santa Maria when a 19-year-old man killed his mother and shot his stepfather numerous times. The man had no criminal history. According to Voysey, his actions were a direct result of the drug.

“People commit all kind of really heinous violent crimes because of that dysphoric or that depressed state of mind they get into,” said Voysey. “If they can’t get their drug and someone is in their face, there is a chip on their shoulder to begin with. A lot of them are armed to protect their dope, and then you have the paranoia, so they’re also armed to protect themselves. It’s a vicious circle.”

A circle that Voysey sees often.

“Santa Maria is typical of the meth problem that California is experiencing,” said Voysey. “It’s not more or any less here, but it is a constant ongoing problem that we deal with.”

Drug Sweeps

The Santa Maria Police Department Narcotics and Gang unit have been busy combating the drug problem in the city. About a year and a half ago, a large amount of resources were concentrated on drug abuse within Santa Maria and Guadalupe due, in part, to the high amount of residential burglaries. The burglaries were tied directly to drug users breaking into peoples’ residences and looking for money or valuables to finance their habit.

Officers made 174 arrests in drug sweeps throughout Santa Maria and Guadalupe last year and residential burglaries are now down 40 percent. This years’ sweeps have netted approximately 70 to 75 drug arrests in Santa Maria and Guadalupe.

Drug sweeps involve weeks of preliminary investigations after which the department goes out and makes numerous arrests in one day. This method protects informants from being identified. Most informants have been arrested for being under the influence, a misdemeanor, and then cut a deal with the police to go undercover and make buys from people they have purchased dope from before. In return for their help, the informant gets a lesser punishment.

The police corroborate the informant’s information by going undercover and trying to buy drugs themselves. If they are able to collect evidence, then a search warrant can be issued. But all tips have to be corroborated with evidence before a search warrant can be given.

Santa Maria officers are also currently training Guadalupe police officers in locating narcotics users. The city’s Narcotic Unit spend time in the classroom with Guadalupe officers teaching about the drug and the characteristics of the user. Those same officers are then partnered up with Narcotic Unit officers for field training.

The police use a seven-step process in identifying meth users, which includes identifying the telltale signs of meth abuse, along with other physiological changes to the body.

“Overall it’s a good thing,” said Guadalupe mayor Sam Arca. “As a society we need to function and feel relatively safe.”

Arca sees treatment as the long term answer to the problem.

“Intervention and prevention is the way to go,” said Arca. “Incarcerating them is not necessarily going to help them.”

Drug Court

Arca’s opinions on drug rehabilitation is shared by many. That is why, in 1996, the Substance Abuse Treatment Court, otherwise known as Drug Court, was created simultaneously in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. It’s a minimum 18-month, five-phase outpatient program administered by Cottage Care. The program gives those arrested an opportunity to kick their habit and avoid jail time. If they don’t complete the program successfully, they are sent to jail to serve their time.

Graduates must also complete a GED program if they are not already high school graduates, and be gainfully employed upon completion. Social services such as job training and parenting classes are also accessible.

Even acupuncture, as a way to help relieve stress and calm withdrawal symptoms, is available for those who need it.

The treatment seems to be working. Drug Court has graduated a total of 120 people and has a success rate of 70 percent.

The program was patterned after the first drug court created by Janet Reno in Florida many years ago. Now there are almost 500 drug courts nationwide.

The fact that the program is working has not been lost on politicians. Recently, Gov. Gray Davis proposed a $10 million increase to the $8 million spent on drug court programs in the state. The funds will be used to add 15 new drug courts to the 65 that already exist in California. Included in that will be 15 drug courts specifically for juvenile offenders.

“The nice change is that there’s now accountability in treatment,” said Sue Green, Program Director. “Clients can’t hide in treatment to avoid legal action. This is a place where everybody puts it on the table and you have got to want to be here to succeed.”

Green has seen the success stories first hand.

“We have clients that are getting reunited with their children, getting custody back of their children. They’re reconnecting with their families,” said Green. “We have clients working everywhere in the community. It’s very difficult to go anywhere and not find some our clients working. That’s a nice feeling.”

One of the program’s best success stories is Mark Casto of Santa Maria, the first graduate of drug court. Casto says he is at a place five years ago he doubted he would ever get – he’s clean and sober. He looks back at his journey and is astounded that he has come so far.

“It’s just a miracle, said Casto. “It’s amazing.”

He began shooting up heroin at the age of 15 and admits to trying just about every drug possible, including methamphetamines. He made numerous attempts to get clean, even spending 13 years on a methadone maintenance program.

“I’ve tried every imaginable way to control my use of drugs and none of them worked,” said Casto.

At the age of 41, he moved here from southern California to kick his habit, but three or four days later he was back using again. Then his life took a turn for the better when he was arrested for being under the influence. Facing jail time, Casto adopted to go into the new program.

There were more than a few skeptics, and Casto was one of them. He didn’t put much faith in his own treatment because he had tried to stop so many times before and failed.

“No one thought that I was going to make it,” Casto said. “I was one of the harder cases. I was actually in there for like 20 months.”

He attributes the success of his recovery to the fact that drug court held him more accountable and educated him about his disease.

“I was basically monitored and educated,” said Casto. “A person can’t do better until they know better.”

Although his drug of choice was heroin, he sees little difference in the drug culture today and the one he came of age in. The drug has changed, but the problem remains the same, said Casto.

The only difference is in the education of police officers in fighting this problem. Specifically, he commends officers in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County.

“I think the drug problem is the same everywhere, but the police here do a very thorough job,” said Casto. “The police are becoming very educated.”

Casto now works closely with the police and people in the justice system in improving treatment programs and educating the young. He sees educating children as young as 10-years-old as a preemptive attack against future drug abuse.

The recovering addict now has a new lease on life and admits that if it had not been for Drug Court, he would be in prison.

“I was 42 years old before I ever experienced total freedom,” said Casto, referring to the freedom he now has over his habit.

But Drug Court has strict guidelines. No violent offenders and no one who was arrested for selling drugs for profit are allowed in. That leaves a large element of people – and some may argue the worst element – still in the powerful grip of the drug.

Substance Treatment Program

For those offenders who have a history of violence, or who have sold drugs for profit, their last hope may be David Vartabedian.

Vartabedian runs the Substance Treatment Program (STP) in the Santa Barbara County Jail. The program offers counseling, education on addiction, and 12-step meetings for inmates.

The program began in 1996 with facilities for 21 inmates. That number has grown in four years to 83. Participants in the program are segregated from the general jail population. The treatment program has 53 beds for men and 30 for women. STP is perpetually full with an ongoing waiting list.

Before the program was created, jail officials noticed that 75 percent of those incarcerated had a problem with alcohol or drugs. From that percentage, 70 percent returned to jail after their release for charges that were somehow alcohol or drug related.

“The sheriff recognized that their was a problem that needed to be addressed,” said Vartabedian.

After a year and a half in operation, approximately 220 people completed the STP program and of that amount only 38 percent were re-arrested and returned to the county jail.

“That gave me a barometer that said this program is doing something,” said Vartabedian.

After completion of their jail time, about 60 percent of the graduates of STP enter into a transitional home for sober living, which helps to ease their transition back into society.

“The transition homes all say that the clients they get from the STP program have a good foundation toward recovery,” said Vartabedian. Because the first and foremost job of the jail is to protect the public, it is in the best interest of society to safely transition drug offenders back into our community, he said.

Vartabedian also points out that tax-payers do not pay for the inmates treatment. The program is funded from profits from the commissary and phone calls by inmates, as well as from a grant from the county.

The treatment program also differs from other programs because Vartabedian, three counselors, and an intern, are all Sheriff Department employees and their salaries are worked into the jails’ budget.

“So if funding runs out, we don’t go away,” said Vartabedian.

Vartebedian said the first thing the counselors do in the program is to get the participants to recognize there is a problem and to take responsibility for their actions. There are no victims in the program, he said.

“I think addiction has a lot to do with unachievable goals in society,” said Vartabedian. “We push that this is success and when you can’t achieve that you seek other outlets.”

Vartabedian also sees education and awareness as the key in fighting drug use.

“It [addiction] has been recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association for years, but as a society we’re still in the dark ages about addiction.”

He admits that sometimes the job can be tough. A jail drug counselor deals with travesties every day and are seeing people at the lowest point of their life.

“But going to the STP Alumni Association meetings and seeing the productive people they’ve become it’s a boost,” said Vartabedian. “They’re givers now instead of just takers.”

[Inset #1: Facts About Meth

Methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected. The drug is very easily manufactured in home-made labs.

The precursor for meth is ephedrine, which often times comes in through Mexico or can be bought at some drug outlets or even over the Internet. The ephedrine is then "cooked" in a lab to create this drug.

Meth usually appears as a white powder or as whitish crystals in the case of "ice," a slang term for the smokable form.

Meth has been known to cause nausea, tremors, dizziness, hypothermia, heart failure and stroke.

Because the drug is produced in home-made labs, users take a chance that the substance is cooked incorrectly and that other chemicals or drugs are substituted.

The signs of meth use are very recognizable and include shrunken eyes, loss of weight and scabs on the skin. The drug causes paranoia and users think they have bugs underneath their skin, causing them to scratch and sometimes cause open sores.

Long term users mirror the symptoms of a paranoid schizophrenic. Users can experience severe paranoia, and audio and visual hallucinations. Although these symptons usually stop when the drug is cleared completely out of the body, they sometimes linger for weeks or even months. Scientists attribute this to damage of the neurotransmitters in the brain.]

[Inset #2: The Numbers

174 ... the number of arrests from drug sweeps throughout Santa Maria and Guadalupe last year.

70 - 75 ... drug arrests in Santa Maria and Guadalupe from sweeps so far this year.

40% ... the reduced amount of residential burglaries since police started doing drug sweeps in Santa Maria and Guadalupe.

75 - 80 ... the percentage of felony cases in Santa Maria that are drug related.

457 ... people arrested on drug charges in Santa Maria by the city Narcotics Unit last year.

9.5 lbs ... amount of methamphetamines confiscated by the city Narcotics Unit last year. That compares to just 98.3 grams of heroin and 702.6 grams of cocaine confiscated.

$37,000 ... the value of all drugs confiscated just in Santa Maria last year.

120 ... the number of people who have graduated from Santa Maria's Drug Court since it's creation in 1996.

70% ... the success rate of people staying clean after going through the Drug Court program.

220 ... the number of people who have completed the county jail's Substance Treatment Program in just it's first year and a half of operation.

38% ... the number - down from 70 percent - of people who were arrested again for drug-related offenses and returned to jail after going through the Substance Treatment Program.]

MAP posted-by: Jo-D

France: Spain Is Now Europe’s Drug Bazaar, Says Report

Media Awareness ProjectIrish Examiner (Ireland)

Wed, 26 Apr 2000
France: Spain Is Now Europe’s Drug Bazaar, Says Report


SPAIN IS NOW EUROPE’S DRUG BAZAAR, SAYS REPORTSPAIN has become Europe’s ”primary clearing house,” for drugs, with Spaniards themselves largely responsible for letting international criminal organisations infest the country, according to the Geopolitical Drug Watch, a non profit organisation that monitors drug trafficking.

In a 248 page report, the Paris based organisation said that Spain has emerged as a ”gigantic drug bazaar” where criminal groups trade goods and services.

The Geopolitical Drug Watch, or OGD, cited alleged corruption among elected officials, police, the judiciary – and even chemistry professors. It cited, for example, police officers and judicial officials in Galicia, in northern Spain, acting as informants for drug traffickers.

The report also cited joint ventures between Galician smugglers and Colombian producer exporters with unprecedented profits in 1999.

”World attention has always been focused on the Netherlands, with Rotterdam as the gateway to Europe because of its liberal drug laws, but the truth is that the seizure of cocaine, heroin and hashish in Spain last year broke all records,” said OGD Director Alain Labrousse.

Following the death of eight Colombians in Spain in 1999, Spaniards took over the Colombian cocaine networks in Europe, especially in the area of money laundering, the report said.

Because of its geography as well as its tourist industry, Spain has become the preferred point of entry into Europe for North African, Latin American and Turkish drug traffickers, Mr Labrousse said.

Last year, 400 tons of hashish, 17 tons of cocaine and one ton of heroin, were seized at various entry points in Spain, according to the report.

”It’s up to Spain’s European neighbours to help enforce the fight against drugs,” Mr Labrousse said.

MAP posted-by: Jo-D

Iran: Iran Fights Lonely War Against Drugs

Media Awareness ProjectSource: Detroit News

Thu, 20 Apr 2000

Iran: Iran Fights Lonely War Against Drugs

By John Daniszewski / Los Angeles Times

IRAN FIGHTS LONELY WAR AGAINST DRUGSIt Captures And Destroys Tons Of Opium Before It Can Reach The West

SORKHE KALAT, Iran — A war is being waged on the barren wastelands of eastern Iran, but few outside this country are aware of it.

On one side are the forces of the Islamic Republic, in their kelly green uniforms, baseball caps and military boots, flying ancient U.S.-made Huey helicopters or hunkered down in newly built versions of medieval fortresses.

Marshaled against them is a criminal enemy — clever, ruthless and formidably armed — made up of Afghani and Pakistani drug smugglers and their Iranian accomplices.

The criminals are intent on getting hundreds of tons of opium and heroin that are produced each year in Afghanistan safely to the desert interior of Iran, to be sold for local consumption or shipped to Turkey and Western Europe. The Iranian forces are trying to staunch the flow of drugs across their border, as a matter of religious duty and of self-interest for the Islamic government, which is vexed by signs that many bored, underemployed young people are falling into the grips of a drug epidemic.

But closing the border to traffickers is a daunting task; there are more than 1,100 miles of unpopulated, unforgiving frontier with Afghanistan and Pakistan to defend. The region is among the most brutal terrains on Earth, a melange of craggy mountains and parched desert, where temperatures can range from below freezing in the winter to well over 120 degrees in summer.

On this harsh tableau, on any given day the smugglers may kill the Iranians or the Iranians may kill the smugglers. This nation has lost more than 2,500 police officers and soldiers in the war against drug traffickers during the last 15 years, from police privates to army generals whose helicopters were shot down with Stinger missiles. More than 100 died in 1999, including 36 police officers captured in an incident in November by traffickers and executed after being tortured.

No one knows how many smugglers have died. But Iran’s prisons are bulging with the 9,000 or so apprehended since the early 1980s.

To give an example of the scale of the struggle, according to the UN:

* Each year the Iranians seize 90 percent of all opium confiscated worldwide by law enforcement agencies, and 10 percent of all heroin.

* The drugs seized by the Islamic Republic represent vast potential wealth. The Iranians say they have stopped 3 million pounds over the last two decades. The 77,000 pounds of seized uncut heroin alone — at more than $90,000 a pound — would sell on the street for about $7 billion. The Iranians destroy it in bonfires.

* Iran has deployed 30,000 police officers along its border and mounted a massive construction effort — including earthen barriers, concrete walls, barbed-wire fences and deep trenches — in an effort to dam the flow of drugs.

The problem is so acute for Iran because its neighbor, Afghanistan, accounts for three-quarters of the world’s annual production of opium, a crop that last year was estimated at a record 4,600 tons. Experts say the Taliban, the extremist Sunni Muslim movement that has conquered most of Afghanistan, uses the drug trade as a funding source. Ninety percent of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghanistan, and U.S. officials fear more of it is crossing the Atlantic to North America.

MAP posted-by: Greg

Australia: PUB LTE: America No Longer The Land Of The Free

Media Awareness ProjectSource: Canberra Times (Australia)

Pubdate: Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Australia: PUB LTE: America No Longer The Land Of The Free

By Dave Michon

AMERICA NO LONGER THE LAND OF THE FREEYOUR editorial on the American Gulag is important (“It’s political if US jails 1.9 million”, CT, April 24). Australians should understand just what America seeks to export to other countries under the guise of the “Drug War”.

Last year’s veiled threats when Australia dared to hold public discourse on Drug War alternatives should convince your people what our Government is capable of.

The Soviet Union no longer exists as an exporter of tyranny. In a twist of fate, the US has inherited that position, but it seems that our people here have taken little notice.

Much of the heavy-handed nature of our Government today, they merely accept, as each new “War on X” mandates some little portion of our lauded Bill of Rights be voided.

Your editorial missed one point: the population which is not yet imprisoned has come increasingly to live in fear of this Government. There is a huge cost in basic daily living.

The national psyche has begun to cower, like all societies which have come under the boot. There has been no malignant revolution or coup d’etat; the transformation has occurred by degrees.

The Drug War has extended its influence into all areas of our society, excepting, of course, the upper strata. Your televisions will show you Americans enjoying the fruits of our burgeoning economy and, it is true, the wealthy have little to fear yet from the regime. Our country is richer than ever before, yet our Government has yanked all support for the poor.

What your editorial did not present is how the fear of government has crept into our national psyche here in America. I, for one, feel it just driving down the road. I know that if one of the ubiquitous squad cars hails me, anything is possible.

Our incredible laws of forfeiture, more “friendly fire” from the Drug War, have turned the highways into a sort of game-show for local police authorities. They get money from the seizures, incredible as that may seem.

A recent law designed to blunt criticism is a farce. The news of police tactics in Los Angeles, with that city’s planting of drugs and guns by police and its police murder of civilians, is horrifying to anyone who fits a certain profile.

To the average American our police are paramilitary thugs.

The Drug War was the seed from which the excess police powers sprung.

The average American is just like the average Australian. We want, more than anything, to be let alone. It was that way here once, but those days are gone.

I hope you learn from our experience here in the former “Land of the Free”.


Spooner, Wisconsin, USA

MAP posted-by: Derek Rea

Russia – The Siberian Side Of Aids

Media Awareness ProjectThe Moscow Times, Russia

29 Apr 2000

Russia – The Siberian Side Of Aids

By Michael Wines

THE SIBERIAN SIDE OF AIDSRelatively sheltered from the AIDS epidemic threatening the rest of the country, the Irkutsk region had – until a year ago – less than 100 registered cases of HIV infection. Now the influx of heroin has led to a dramatic rise in the spread of the deadly virus. New York Times correspondent Michael Wines reports from Eastern Siberia.

Thirteen months ago, a young man from Irkutsk’s rough-and-tumble north side appeared at the government railroad workers’ hospital complaining of a head wound suffered in a family fight. A blood work-up soon showed that it was the least of his problems: He was also infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

This in itself was unusual for the Irkutsk region – a Siberian expanse big enough to accommodate France and England in one gulp. Since health officials started keeping AIDS statistics in 1991 – four years after the country’s first case was officially recorded – the region had seen fewer than 200 HIV infections. But when a second north-side man checked into another hospital for an operation a few days later, only to test positive for HIV, the officials decided to investigate.

What they found is still resounding through Irkutsk. The two men, it turned out, attended Vocational School 44, a training institute for river-transport workers. Further tests uncovered six more HIV cases among their class mates. All eight shared another deadly trait: They were addicted to heroin, which first appeared in the city’s drug subculture only six or seven months earlier.

Today, a region that had hardly heard of AIDS a year ago has recorded 5,000 new cases of HIV infection and registered more than 8,500 drug addicts. Those are the official statistics: The true figures could be 10 times higher, officials say.

Why are the official statistics so much lower? Partly because many of those in the high-risk groups are reluctant to be tested. They are not only afraid of knowing the results, but of the consequences of being targeted as a carrier of HIV. Anonymous testing centers are still few and far between – with only 300 cites throughout the country. In many cases those who obtained positive test results from less than anonymous clinics have been reported to the local authorities.


Perhaps nowhere else throughout the country have HIV infections grown as explosively as they have in Irkutsk. Heroin has proved to be the deadly catalyst in this epidemic. It has fueled a sharp rise in drug use and encouraged the needle sharing that helps to spread AIDS.

“It’s a fire there,” said Arkadiusz Majszyk, the UN AIDS representative. “And nobody is paying attention.”

If it is a fire, then the rest of the country is surely smoldering. The number of HIV-infected people is small so far – 33,000 by official estimates, perhaps 300,000 by international ones – but the potential for growth is huge.

The United Nations says the virus’ spread is accelerating and could move beyond drug users if preventive measures are not taken. Already 40 percent of the country’s prostitutes, who often use drugs, are HIV-positive.

The growing prevalence of venereal diseases makes sexual transmission of the virus even easier. “Our experience shows that a rise in the infection rate of diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis is usually an indicator that a jump in HIV infection rates will follow,” said one Moscow doctor who treats prostitutes and their clients for sexually transmitted diseases.

“Many clients are aware of the risk of getting AIDS, but they still prefer not to use a condom when the seek they services of a prostitute,” he said. “And for a little extra cash, the women are willing to engage in unsafe sex.”

“In the regions where the outbreak of the epidemic among intravenous drug users was registered earlier, a new stage of the epidemic is now developing driven by the sexual transmission of the virus,” said Majszyk, explaining that commercial sex workers are the gateway through which the virus that causes AIDS reaches the rest of the population. “Clients, who are generally not drug users, come back home and transmit the disease to their wives and partners.”


The United Nations recently joined local counterparts to announce a new effort to halt the epidemic. This June the U.N. will support a conference bringing together regional and federal officials along with potential foreign donors to tackle the problem.

“We try to help get people together to speak the same language and attack the HIV-related problems without overlapping,” said Majszyk. “A two-tiered strategy is required, including systemic HIV prevention measures and an adequate response to urgent needs. The most urgent issue to address is the problem of prevention among intravenous drug users and commercial sex workers,” said Majszyk.

“The most effective means of avoiding an epidemic among drug users is harm reduction,” said Majszyk. This technology, which uses syringe exchanges to protect and educate the high-risk population, has proven to be a very effective means of prevention in other parts of the world, said Majszyk.

To date some 30 syringe exchanges have sprung up throughout the country providing information about avoiding HIV infection along with clean needles and syringes – but these efforts have not been able to reach the masses.

“Take the St. Petersburg bus,” said Majszyk, referring to one of the first syringe exchange programs implemented. “Some 150 drug users come to the bus every day, but there are 70,000 people injecting drugs daily throughout the city. Over the next few years we want to reach 60 percent of the drug user population with prevention programs and information.”

But in order for these prevention programs to work, Majszyk says, they take time. And time is in short supply in Irkutsk. Heroin and HIV have already penetrated virtually every corner of this vast region, a hodgepodge of pristine forest and permafrost, dying company towns and smoky industrial cities.

Heroin has surfaced in Bodaibo, a mountain-ringed gold-mining outpost reachable only by small plane, and in Ust-Kut, a northern river port whose shipping business has all but dried up. There is HIV in Mama, a moribund mica-mining village some 640 kilometers north of here, and in Bratsk, a good-sized manufacturing center far down the north-flowing Angara River.

The Irkutsk region is home to about 2 million people. Simple math says the rate of HIV infection is somewhere between one in 40 and one in 400. “But you really have to measure it against the number of youth,” because drug use and HIV are largely confined to the young, said Yelena A. Lyustritskaya, who heads a government commission on drug abuse. “And in the Irkutsk region there are 300,000 people between the ages of 14 and 28. So it turns out that every third or fourth young man at age 18 or 20 takes drugs.”

No one knows the infection rate among those users. But Dr. Maxim Medvedev, who screens addicts for a private rehabilitation program called Siberia Without Drugs, says roughly three of every 10 people he examines have the AIDS virus.

At the government’s principal rehabilitation center, 40 of the 62 inpatients are infected with HIV. Talk to some of the current and reformed addicts at that center, a tidy but rundown and cheerless place, and those numbers do not seem so outlandish.

“We used to be the department for glue sniffers,” one of the center’s doctors said. “There is only one sniffer here now. There are no alcoholics. They are all drug addicts.”


A buzz-cut 16-year-old who switched from opium to heroin said he believed that he had gotten HIV by sharing his needle late last year. He may understand how the virus is transmitted, but there are many outlandish theories circulating among the infected – a sign that AIDS prevention programs have a long way to go before they reach the high-risk groups. One common theory explaining the rise of the epidemic, said one 17-year-old with HIV and hepatitis, is that outsiders salted the heroin with the ground-up bones of African AIDS victims.

“The countries that supply us don’t have anything, only fruits,” he said. “Siberia’s rich, and they want everybody here to die.”

Natalya Kozhevnikova, a 27-year-old from a small diamond-mining town, said many addicts there began using drugs at age 12 or 13. “There is nothing to do – no movie theaters, no discos, nothing,” she said.

Lelia Starodumova, 23, was a swimming champion and model before she started taking opium four years ago. Now she and her husband are heroin addicts, and she carries HIV. “Ninety-nine percent of drug addicts have HIV,” she said blandly. “The only ones who aren’t sick are the ones who haven’t had their blood tested.”

In a bleak two-room apartment across town, opposite the ramshackle factory that produces the country’s top fighter jet, the Su-30, Andrei Kurnosov, a 30-year-old addict, said he had been on drugs for nine years. When he began, he said, he was among the top five in his law class, hoping for a chance to study in the United States. Now he practices petty thievery and rolls small-time drug sellers for the 150 rubles – about $5 – he needs daily to finance his habit. Kurnosov says he has avoided HIV through blind luck. He has shared needles with other addicts, the last time three months ago, although he knows the dangers. “You don’t care, when you need a dose,” he said. “The fear of remaining sober and in pain overwhelms any fear of sickness.”

Heroin’s death grip on its victims offers some explanation of why HIV has raced through Irkutsk’s addict population. Opium, whose less insistent craving grants a user some time to find a clean syringe, once was the drug of choice. But unlike heroin, which needs only water for it to be injected, opium must be carefully cooked and mixed.

So when heroin suddenly appeared some 18 months ago, addicts switched en masse. It first came in liquid form – in bottles or already-loaded syringes – and groups of users filled their syringes from the same bottle, raising the odds that one infected addict would contaminate many others.

Today heroin comes as a powder wrapped in paper “checks,” Russian slang for the cash-register tapes that they resemble. Fifty-ruble and 100-ruble checks are sold almost brazenly, from newsstands and bread kiosks and by loitering dealers, in any number of open-air drug markets around town.

Addicts say many police officers have been bought off, and this may be true. In one muddy north-side market named Trety Posyolok, or Third Settlement, a militia jeep cruised past knots of dealers and addicts twice in 10 minutes one recent afternoon.

Officially, of course, the police deny being on the take. They claim the heroin trade is ballooning despite their best efforts to stop it.


The drug comes by truck from Afghanistan and Tajikistan, far to the west of Irkutsk, and is distributed throughout Siberia from the western Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

Irkutsk’s militia seized about 180 kilograms of drugs last year, well ahead of previous years but a pittance in comparison with the total traffic. Smugglers vacuum-pack heroin or hide it in shipments of rotting onions to deter drug sniffing dogs. More and more, the trade has shifted from individual freelancers to organized crime.

“It’s difficult to control the flow,” said the deputy chief of the eastern Siberia militia, Pyotr Kobalchok. “We’ve even arrested members of the Tajikistan special services who were escorting the smugglers. It’s that well organized.”

Beneath such frustration over Irkutsk’s plight runs a subtle but pointed undercurrent: This region never had such problems when the Soviet Union existed. Addiction and AIDS are among the consequences of freedom and capitalism that Westerners neglected to mention when communist rule ended a decade ago.

Indeed, it is not just in Siberia where officials are blaming the spread of AIDS on the country’s open borders. The fear of HIV, which is perceived to be an imported disease, led to the implementation of a controversial law passed in 1995 requiring all foreigners requesting a visa for longer than three months to take an AIDS test. Among the many outspoken critics of the law were medical experts who accused legislators of trying to shut the barn door after the horse was loose.

Law-enforcement officials unanimously blame the drug problem on the opening of Soviet borders and the loosening of government control over ordinary people.

“Back then, there were no charter flights,” said Nikolai Pushkar, chief of the eastern Siberia transport militia, which battles drug smuggling. “Everything was state-owned, and it wasn’t possible to negotiate with the state. In the past only the president could have his own plane. Now anyone with money can have a plane.”

“No matter how much we criticize the Soviet system, there was a certain ideology. We were educated in an absolutely different way,” Pushkar added. “Of course, there were abuses when the state interfered with family life.

“But there were standards then.”

Irkutsk has declared its own war on both of its epidemics, hiring new narcotics police, printing educational brochures and changing the school curriculum to promote what officials call “the healthy way of life.” But beyond telling people to just say no to drugs, officials have not done much to prevent the spread of HIV among addicts and have no immediate plans to do so.

Proven AIDS-preventive measures, like providing drug addicts with sterile needles or bottles of virus-killing bleach, remain on the drawing board – in part, some critics say, because politicians believe they amount to an endorsement of drug use.

Indeed, although prevention is the best method of battling the virus, many regions throughout the country are reluctant to endorse public AIDS awareness campaigns. “In many schools the theme [of sex and drug use] is still taboo,” said Irina Savchenko, the health ministry’s representative to the federal center for AIDS prevention. “They believe that just discussing these subjects will result in greater sexual activity and drug use among pupils.”

“We had contact with different people last year, including people from foreign countries where such programs are implemented,” said Dmitry Piven, the Irkutsk region’s deputy head of health care. “Since there are different schemes, we are choosing an optimal one for ourselves.” Piven said officials would try to put new preventive measures into effect among addicts before year’s end.

The addict Kurnosov – his gaunt, rheumy face a contrast to hands swollen grotesquely by repeated injections – said that would be too late for many addicts. For many others, it already is.

“The generation of the ’70s is dying,” he said. “The generation of the ’80s is already dead – not all, not 100 percent. But 50 percent are killing themselves.”

MAP posted-by: Derek Rea

Australia: For Users, Writing Is On The Wall

Media Awareness Project27 Apr 2000

The Age, (Australia)

Australia: For Users, Writing Is On The Wall

By Sally Finlay, Urban Affairs Reporter

In the grounds of Wesley Mission in central Melbourne a small shed has a sign that reads: “This is not yet an injecting facility.”Now that independent MP Russell Savage has stated his opposition to injecting rooms, it looks unlikely to ever become one.

Wesley Mission yesterday urged Mr Savage to further consider backing a carefully controlled trial between now and the spring session of Parliament, when he will cast a vote on the controversial legislation.

“Mr Savage is right when he says something is going very wrong – there is a very serious heroin problem,” said Judy Leitch,the managing director of Wesley Mission in Melbourne.

Wesley has spent $400,000 on an injecting facility that remains unopened in the Lonsdale Street church grounds.

Ms Leitch said supervised injecting facilities were one part of an overall drug strategy and her recent tour of European cities had convinced her that Australia should commit itself to a trial.

“We heard from city council officers that communities who were initially opposed to them are now very supportive of them,” she said.

On the other side of the building that Wesley has designated for an injecting room a different sign was painted. In large green letters it said: “Residents say no.” By the time The Age left, the sign was already being painted over.

Last week Ross, who says he has been a heroin user for 14 years – almost half his life at 30 – had reason to believe the small shed and adjoining building would become a room where he could use heroin privately and safely.

“It wouldn’t be in any one’s face then,” he said. “You wouldn’t get stood over by someone threatening to bash you for your hit and it would help save lives.”

Yesterday Ross said the response from Mr Savage to the recommendations in the Penington report was disappointing. “He probably has no idea what goes on, most of them (politicians) wouldn’t,” he said.

Ross and fellow user Karen, 29, said they would both use an injecting room, and now use laneways because there is no alternative. “It would clean up the dirty needles you see everywhere and make it safer for everyone,” said Karen.

Felony charges in Sweden for drug-free hemp products.

Felony charges in Sweden for drug-free hemp products.
May 2000

Thomas G, the owner of the Swedish company Psychedelic Bookstore was raided by police with a search warrant on April 7, and then locked up in a jail cell for 12 days.

His company sells mainly books about entheogenics and the psychedelic experience (books
which are perfectly legal in Sweden), but as they are a part of the pro-hemp movement they also have sold items such as Swiss sweet cannabis pastilles and the german product “Knaster Hanf”
which is a smoking mixture based on hemp.

None of these products are psychoactive drugs in any sense of the word, but they do of course contain material from the cannabis plant.

This was enough for the prosecutor to charge Thomas with aggravated crime against the Swedish laws against narcotics, which has a mandatory sentence of at least 2 years in prison, and up to 10 years.

Apart from selling books and drug-free hemp products, Thomas is also the most active and visible member of the Swedish legalization movement.

There is therefore serious concern that he was raided not by mistake, but for calculated political reasons.

Web links

Psychedelic Bookstore:

Knaster smoking mixtures:

Swiss cannabis pastilles:

Myanmar: Notorious Drug Lord At Death’s Door

Media Awareness Project03 May 2000 Straits Times (Singapore)

Myanmar: Notorious Drug Lord At Death’s Door

Author: James East

NOTORIOUS DRUG LORD AT DEATH’S DOORMYANMAR’S most notorious drug lord, Khun Sa, is semi-paralysed and is not expected to last the year, according to sources close to him.

Friends say he is becoming increasingly feeble and forgetful and cannot get out of bed without help.

Khun Sa, once the most-wanted man on the United States’ list of international drug dealers, lives in Yangon inside a military intelligence compound.

The military junta has refused consistently to extradite him following a 1996 deal in which he abandoned his ethnic Mong Tai Army (MTA) and his Homong base in Shan state. The MTA, a former enemy of the junta, then broke apart.

Plans for him to retire to his former stronghold in eastern Myanmar, where he once commanded 15,000 heavily armed troops, had apparently been abandoned, said the Thai-based Shan Herald News Agency.

It quoted a former attendant as saying that Khun Sa was on his last legs.

“He has to be spoon-fed. If he tries to help himself, he ends by spilling everything over his clothes,” she said. “His mouth keeps going awry making his speech unintelligible. He also has trouble remembering anything.”

She added that Khun Sa’s physicians were whispering that it would be a miracle if he lived out the year.

The agency, an independent news service partly-funded by financier George Soros’ Open Society organisation, is respected by human rights groups for its information gathering.

Even if Khun Sa wanted to return to the Shan state, sources say there is little left for him.

His three homes in Homong and two other houses south in Mongmai were cleared out by his mistresses.

They whisked his valuable furniture off to Thailand or to Tachilek on the Myanmar side of the border. The homes are now surrounded by overgrown grass and bush.

Khun Sa’s life now is a far cry from his glory days in the 90s when his army trafficked hundreds of tonnes of heroin into Thailand and onto the international market. Shan Herald Agency founder, Khuensai Jaiyen, said Khun Sa’s present home was “nothing flashy”.

“It is not his normal standard of living,” he said.

In a letter written reportedly to one of former aides in Thailand he spoke about his desire to return to the Shan state.

“Even if I got nabbed by US drug agents, my life in the American jail would fare even better than here in Yangon?” Khun Sa wrote.

However, in spite of his poor health, his legacy appears to live on.

Last year the Myanmar Defence Ministry stated that his surrender terms included a no-trafficking clause.

But observers claim Khun Sa has been granted public transport concessions in Shan state by the government, which allows him to control trafficking. He is also involved in gem trading and construction businesses.

According to the Shan Herald Agency, Khun Sa’s second son, Chang Weikang — one of eight children — is now building a power base in Shan state.

A new militia, ultimately falling under his control, is being established.



Born Chang Chi Fu

Former head of the now-defunct Shan United Army (SUA), also known as the Mong Thai Army (MTA), which for 20 years fought against the authorities in Yangon. MTA was a dominant force in South-east Asia’s narcotics trade and the world’s largest producer of heroin prior to capitulating to government forces in 1996.

Wanted on US federal drug violations in the Eastern District of New York, including conspiracy, importation of, and possession with intent to distribute heroin in US.

Tops a US list of five wanted narcotics kingpins

US$2 million (S$3.4 million) reward had been offered for information leading to his arrest or conviction in the US.

MAP posted-by: Richard Lake

Malaysia: Teen Jailed For Life Gets Extra Caning

Media Awareness Project04 Apr 2000 Source: Star (Malaysia)

Malaysia: Teen Jailed For Life Gets Extra Caning

TEEN JAILED FOR LIFE GETS EXTRA CANINGMUAR: A teenager who was sentenced by a Sessions Court last week to

life imprisonment and six strokes of the rotan for having a ganja plant received another two years’ jail and three more strokes yesterday–this time from a magistrate’s court — for possessing 37gm of ganja.

Mohd Naziff Ahmad, 18, from Jalan Temenggong Ahmad, who was charged under Section 6, read together with Section 39A(1)(f) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, pleaded guilty before magistrate Abdul Ghafar Abdul Latif.

Mohd Naziff was arrested on Nov 10 last year with 16 packets of ganja weighing a total of 37gm.

Prosecuting officer Chief Insp R. Balakrishnan told the court Mohd Naziff was charged on March 30 with having a ganja plant and was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sessions Court.

The magistrate ordered the two-year sentence to run concurrently with the life imprisonment which Mohd Naziff received from the higher court four days ago.

On March 30, Mohd Naziff pleaded guilty when he was charged under Section 6D(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 in the sessions court with having the ganja plant.

MAP posted-by: Allan Wilkinson