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GEOS WEEKLY BRIEF

Turkmenistan - Drug trafficking - 6/10/2016

Niveau 3

The arrest of 12 drug traffickers was announced on 10/4 by the authorities of Turkmenistan, illustrating the persistence of traffic activities, widespread on the territory, particularly concerning drug.
GEOS analysis:
Turkmen authorities did not communicate the exact location of theses arrests but they stated that 2 individuals were arrested on 10/4 and almost 8kg of heroin and 40,000 pills of Tramadol were seized. On the same day, police forces also announced the previous arrest of 10 alleged drug traffickers and the seizure of 20kg of opiates.
Due to its geographic situation and its proximity with production countries of the Golden Crescent (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan), Turkmenistan remains a privileged transit route for conveying narcotic substances to the Russian and European consummation markets. Traffickers mostly use the route from Serhetabat and Tagtabazar (Mary Region, Southeast), on the Afghan border, to Türkmenabat (Lebap Region, East) near the border with Uzbekistan, or directly to Türkmenbaşy (Balkan Region, West), on the Caspian Sea. Arrests are sporadically reported, notably along the border with Afghanistan but also in some transit places such as Ashgabat Airport, which has been recently renovated to be equipped with new control and security equipment as part of the fight against trafficking.
Since 2015, the government of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow also proceeded with strengthening of security at the border with Afghanistan. This decision comprises the deployment of additional policemen and soldiers and the building project of a 745km wall along the two countries’ border, where some incidents are sporadically reported. An exchange of fire between border-guards and a group of traffickers has been reported in the area in the night of August 4th to 5th, leaving 1 killed and 3 wounded.
If the proliferation of criminal groups – particularly drug trafficking networks – and the infiltration risk of potentially radicalized people concern all of the Central Asian republics, Turkmenistan remains particularly affected due to lasting porosity of its border with Afghanistan. Furthermore, the neutral attitude adopted by Turkmen authorities and the authoritarian nature of the regime contribute to limit the country’s involvement in regional border securing initiatives and mechanisms.
Therefore, in case of local presence and regarding the regional security context, any travel to border areas is strongly discouraged. If necessary, these should be thoroughly prepared, and an adapted security accompaniment is recommended. Furthermore, an authorization from the authorities is necessary for any stay in the South of the country. Finally, due to the authoritarian nature of the Turkmen regime, an increased level of vigilance is advisable under any circumstance throughout the territory.

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India - Crime - 6/10/2016

Niveau 3

Several robberies were committed in recent weeks on the Indian intercity rail network, particularly in the States of Karnataka (Southwest) and Uttar Pradesh (North).
GEOS analysis:
A gang of armed robbers attacked 3 trains stopped near the station of Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh, North) between 0:30am and 1:30am (local hour) on 10/5. These incidents involved lines trains of Gorakhpur-Lokmanya Express Terminal, Vaishali Express and Lucknow-Kanpur. At least 12 passengers were robbed and at least 5 of them were injured when they shown resistance to their attackers.
A similar attack had also been reported in the previous evening, on a Mumbai-Nagercoil Express train, between the Gulbarga and Shahbad stations (Karnataka, Southwest), during which a gang of 7 to 8 robbers also stole money and personal effects of about 70 passengers. Several of them were slightly injured by the attackers.
The intercity lines of the Indian rail network, whose trains run day and night, are regularly targeted by such attacks, usually carried out by armed gangs (firearms or knives). These incidents occur most frequently between two secondary stations of the concerned line in the early morning or late evening and are favoured by a lack of control over the entire network. The latter, which has its own security staff (the Railway Protection Force), suffers from a shortage of officers. The States of Mahārāshtra (Centre-West) and Uttar Pradesh (North) remain the most affected by this type of crime, followed by Madhya Pradesh (Centre), Delhi and Bihar (East), while thousands of thefts are reported each year nationally. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has recorded 29,686 theft cases among 39,239 criminal incidents across the railway network in 2015, numbers steadily increasing since 2012.
Moreover, the Indian railway network (trains and stations) is affected by other types of crime, such as kidnapping (270 cases reported in 2015), murder (247 cases in 2015) and sexual assault (73 cases in 2015). Although these incidents primarily affect local populations, because of the generally indiscriminate targeting in robbery cases, foreign nationals remain likely to be affected when traveling by train in the country.
Therefore, in case of train travel on the territory, an increased level of vigilance is recommended. In context of business travel, it is advisable to hire a qualified local driver or prefer air flights in case of long distances. Generally in India, it should adopt a discrete attitude and avoid any ostentatious signs of wealth in order to limit criminal risks.

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