DUSHANBE, August 15, 2008, Asia-Plus  -- A court of the Dushanbe military garrison has completed consideration of criminal proceedings instituted against eight members of the transnational drug-trafficking group, including four Tajik border officers, and sentenced them to long terms in prison.   

According to the Tajik Supreme Court, members of that drug-trafficking group were involved in smuggling more than 400 kilograms of opium and heroin into Tajikistan out of Afghanistan in January this year.  The narcotic drugs were supposed to be transported to Uzbekistan.  

The Dushanbe military court on August 14 ruled that the ringleader Anvar Shoimardonov, retired colonel of Tajik border service, be given a jail term of 19 years and that he will serve it in a high-security penal colony.  The sentence followed his conviction on charges of drug trafficking and illegal foreign currency dealings.  The court also revoked his rank of colonel.  

Three other border guards, including Colonel Fayzullo Halimov, chief of border unit # 2720 deployed in Khatlon’s Shahritus district, Abdujabbor Mahmadaminov, driver within this border unit, and Amriddin Qirghiziov, a serviceman with border unit # 2720, have also got long jail terms. 

Halimov was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment, while Mahmadaminov and Qirghizov were sentenced to 15½ years each.  They will also serve their sentences in a high-security penal colony.  

The other members of this criminal group – Zokirojon Tourayev, Ismatullo Ortiqov, and Izatullo Allayev got the jail term of 16 years each and Parviz Toshev was sentenced to 15 ½ years in prison.      

According to the case materials, members of this criminal group were purchasing narcotics from Afghan nationals and were going to transport them to Uzbekistan via Tursunzoda.  

The drug traffickers were caught red-handed in the territory of Tajikistan in January 2008.  

We will recall that Tajik security authorities reported in late January this year that their officers have seized more than 400 kilograms of opium and heroin in the biggest drugs haul since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.  The stash contained mainly opium as well as about 73 kilograms of heroin.