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Afghanistan is the source of most of the heroin consumed in Europe. It is the world’s largest illicit producer of opium from which heroin is made. Large quantities of heroin are produced from Afghan opium in Afghanistan itself and in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan. This is then trafficked to Europe by a variety of land, sea or air routes.
The Makran Coast
The Makran Coast is a region of Baluchistan on the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, straddling Pakistan and Iran. Fishing and container ports along this coast, such as Gwadar in Pakistan or, further west, Bandar Abbas in Iran, are departure points for large maritime heroin shipments destined for Europe, either directly or via the Arabian Peninsula and East, Southern and West Africa.
The Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula, especially Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, is a landing and transhipment point for large maritime heroin consignments from the Makran Coast. The heroin may then be re-exported to Europe by sea or by air, either directly or via Africa.
East Africa, especially Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania, is a landing and transhipment point for large heroin consignments originating from the Makran Coast. Smaller heroin consignments may also reach East Africa by air, especially from Pakistan. From East Africa heroin may be shipped by air or sea to Europe, either directly or via Southern and West Africa. Some heroin is also trafficked by rail and road to Southern Africa.
Southern Africa, especially South Africa and Mozambique, is a landing and transhipment point for large maritime heroin consignments originating in the Makran Coast, and for consignments trafficked by land from East Africa. From Southern Africa heroin may be shipped by air or sea to Europe, directly or via West Africa.
West Africa, especially Nigeria, is a landing and transhipment point for large maritime heroin consignments originating in the Makran Coast and for smaller ones trafficked by air from Asia, especially Pakistan, or East Africa. From West Africa, heroin is exported to Europe by sea and air, directly or via North Africa.
Large consignments of opiates are trafficked by land from Iran into countries in the Caucasus such as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Some heroin may also be smuggled into the Caucasus from Iran and Central Asia across the Caspian Sea. Heroin may then be exported to Turkey or Russia by sea or by land, or to the Ukraine and Moldova across the Black Sea.
Turkey is a key transhipment and storage point for heroin shipments trafficked mostly by land from Iran along the Balkan route and, to a lesser extent, by sea, for instance from the Caucasus. From Turkey, heroin may be trafficked to Europe, by land, sea or air. Istanbul is a key location used by criminal organisations to arrange heroin transports to the EU.
Belgium and the Netherlands are key landing points and distribution hubs for heroin consignments travelling by land, sea or air along the Balkan and Southern Routes. Large heroin consignments are broken down in smaller batches and trafficked in multiple ways to other countries of Western Europe and to Scandinavia.
Tajikistan is a key transit country on the Northern Route for opiates leaving northern Afghanistan and destined for the Russian Federation. The UNODC has estimated that 85 % of the opiates trafficked north through Central Asia pass through Tajikistan. From Tajikistan, large quantities of opiates are smuggled by land into Kazakhstan via either Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan and then into Russia.