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28 Sep, 2010 03:48

Amateur “chemists” boost amphetamine craze

The number of drug addicts in Russia has already reached five million. Most of the drug traffic flows into the country from Afghanistan, but amateur chemists operating within Russia could prove just as dangerous.

And authorities have learned, when it comes to drugs a sting operation can easily turn into a family drama.

In a recent action in the Russian city of Krasnodar, police detained a pregnant woman and her boyfriend trying to sell 500 grams of amphetamines to undercover agents.

A sniffer dog found a stash of drugs under the front wheel of the suspects’ luxury car. As it turned out, the popular party drug was manufactured in a small nearby village.

All that the dealers needed to manufacture the illegal substance at home, was some merchandise from the hardware store and some cough medicine from the local pharmacy.

Drug dealers build their labs everywhere. It could be an apartment or a house in a quiet residential area.

Besides obvious criminal threats, such “labs” are extremely hazardous because of the chemicals that are explosive.

Drug enforcement agent Aleksandr Ruduch was shocked when colleagues discovered an amphetamine lab in a basement under a wooden house in a populated residential area in the city of Krasnodar.

The room was hidden three stories underground. It was equipped with video surveillance but, as the drug dealer tried to get rid of the chemicals, he almost blew up the building.

“It is in the middle of a populated neighborhood,” Aleksandr said. “The houses are old, some of them are wooden. One spark could have set the whole block on fire.”

In recent years, the street cost of amphetamine in southern Russia has risen to US$70 per gram. That is why more and more amateur chemists have been surfing the internet for manufacturing instructions.

“None of them have college degrees, let alone a degree in chemistry,” Ruduch said. “Most of these people are self-taught geniuses.”

With dozens of arrests in amphetamine-related cases, and harsh jail sentences, law enforcement agents are trying to put an end to the amphetamine craze.

However, despite the risks for both the users and the dealers, the demand for this controlled substance on the black market remains high. So it is unlikely that victory in the war on amphetamines will come any time soon.