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Fighting Moldavian Drug Dealers

Illegal circulation of drugs and drug abuse have assumed an invariable tendency to increase year in year out. If ten years ago we were talking of approximately 1000 addicts, today according to official statistics there are about 60 thousand of them. In the reality of it however that number exceeds available data due to the fact that many compulsory addicts draw from six to ten other people into trying drugs.

Specialists have been able to make more or less precise prognostications as to the consequences, which will include an irremediable debilitating effect on the genetic code of the nation as a whole and a rise in crime rate because drug abuse is directly related to it.

Many young people are apt to look for a getaway from real despondent life in drugs. A growing rate of unemployment, the failure to provide oneself with the basic needs and the demand for relief from everyday stressors bring about the desire to abandon the real world for the clouds.

At first drugs do have that effect of feeling ecstatic, well disposed and surrounded by a beautiful world. But that initial bliss is evanescent and quickly turns into a devastating craving which can only be satisfied with a larger dose every time. Scientists and doctors acknowledge that for some people, depending on the constitution and type of nervous system it may take just the first time to become addicted. Getting "hooked" is by far easier than fighting this disease.

Physical pain and cramps mixed with nervous fits and throwing up are the side effects of a virtual bliss. Food consumed is not digested properly and comes out in liquid excrements. Drug addicts are easy to single out by their outward appearance: sallow skin, emaciation and needle marks all over the body. Constant drug injections force the veins to close up. Addicts move down from their arms to the veins on their lugs and even the groin, which causes early sexual impotence.

Drug abusers make and give birth to weak and disease predisposed children. In general they do not make it out of childhood and are retarded.

According to official data Moldova is currently the poorest country in Europe that is why the younger representatives of the population pick the least expensive drugs - "poppy straw" and medical Ederphine. Trading points are scattered all over the country, including railway stations, markets and private apartments. An unstable economic situation forces hundreds of people to get involved in drug dealing. Compared to Moscow where the most widespread drug heroine goes at $150-400 per gram, in Moldova few can afford it.

The downside effects of heroine and morphine are daunting: the human body is rapidly exhausted and an overdose can easily lead to fatal results. A drug addict's life stretch is limited to 5 - 15 years. Poppy straw does not have the same detrimental outcomes but it is typically prepared with additional components like nail polish remover and various chemical substances that cloud and upset the brain. The mixture known as "hanka" among drug addicts remains in a pan from which it is extracted with a syringe for payment corresponding to the dose. It takes only one HIV positive person to infect the others sharing in this kitchen line.

It is well known that there is no cure for AIDS. In the US the disease can be hampered but few of our Moldovan citizens can afford a 10 or even 200 thousand dollar treatment. Young people are not fully aware of the dangers they face when not taking necessary precautions to protect themselves. Many falsely believe they could easily stop taking drugs when they wanted to.

There are two drug rehabilitation centers in Chisinau. The treatment costs approximately 600 lei per month. "Makler" therapy offers amount to $200-500. But unfortunately only about 2-3% of those who undertake to go through with it can return to normal life as normal members of society. Drug dealers do not let their clients off that easily and continue to pursue them even in their days of rehabilitation attempts. Only people with great will power and an aptitude for self-control can endure the physical pain that accompanies the discontinuation of drug abuse. In the US, France, Germany and other countries special drug addict groups help people past rehab treatment overcome depression. Former drug addict Alexander Maleev started a social group "Life Without Drugs" in Moldova. Having passed through several rounds of the purgatory himself he was cured of the fatal addiction. His goal was to unite different people with similar experiences to help others keep away from drugs or assist them in their endeavors to stop taking them. Planned social activities of the group were at first very effective and gained much support on the part of Moldova's business world. However the government itself imposed "Life Without Drugs". After all the most important means of holding up drug dealer barriers is building a strong block of governmental support and social aid.

Today only the Ministry of Internal Affairs continues to hunt down drug dealers whose profits add up to hundreds of millions of dollars. A special illegal drug circulation prevention department was created in the Ministry. According to the department's information crime rate related to drugs has increased by four times in the past five years. Raw material is grown in the countryside. In order to thwart this practice annual "Poppy" operations take place in Moldova. As a result of these some 600-800 sowing fields are annihilated annually. However this hardly prevents the people from sowing again.

To hinder the smuggling of drugs to Moldova from Ukraine and Romania the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Customs Department hold joint operations. Only last year over 800 people were arrested for illegal possession of drugs and several dozens of kilograms of illegal drugs were found. However these operations take place only several times a year while the inflow of drugs into the country is continuous. There is nothing customs workers can do to stop the trade (not implying that they may be in it themselves), which is attracting not only young people but also the retired part of the population in need.

On November 3, 1994, Parliament ratified all UN conventions on prevention of drug substances distribution. Unfortunately the present legislation does not correspond to either the statements of international conventions or the reality of today. As a result only small drug dealers get caught while those actually managing the trade escape scot-free.

Huge profits are derived from an ever-expanding market. One of the youngest patients at a Chisinau rehab is seven years old. Children are in danger of being offered pills and drugged sweets. But nobody cares. Moldova's measures against drug distribution today are like Don Quixote's battle with the windmills. Bribed court juries and judges issue light verdicts and let off drug dealers. According to a country corruption prevention poll, Moldova ranks 76th as to corruption rate index (Denmark and Sweden are at the top of the list as countries with the lowest corruption rates). That makes it practically impossible to set up any obstacles to the tread of death that is making the way easier for young Moldovans to walk on

Ludmila Mamaliga

Translated by Natalia Corobco

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