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Youth and Drugs (Sociology of Narcotism) »


S. B. Reshetnjak

* Originally in Russian:
Reshetnjak, S. B. (2000). Illegal drug turnover in Kharkiv region: the opinion of lawyers. In: Youth and Drugs (sociology of narcotism) (eds. V. A.  Sobolev and I. P. Rushchenko), pp. 255–271. Kharkiv: Torsing.

The illegal drug turnover is well-known, but at the same time it’s not enough researched problem due to the deep latency of the situation, characteristic of “victimless crime”. Traditionally the problem is viewed within the limits of criminal law and criminology. The field sociological research of the illegal drug turnover in Ukraine has not been done. The sociological approach, suggested in the work, is based on the use of expert interrogation as a leading method of obtaining the primary sociological information. Data of criminal statistics, other sources of information were used as well. The subject of the expert evaluation is the expert group, consisting of 15 lawyers-practitioners: workers of the Regional and city Department on fighting against illegal drug turnover, the Centre of Expertise and Criminology.

The legal aspect of the research is connected with the short evaluation of the legal basis of fighting against the illegal drug turnover, quantitative and qualitative characteristics of various corpus delicti. The antidrug legislation of Ukraine in modern conditions is represented with three laws, adopted by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine on the 15th of February, 1995. They represent: the system of criminal and legal norms defining the responsibility for illegal actions; changes and additions to the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal and Judicial Procedure and other normative acts: bodies, which are fighting directly against the illegal turnover of drugs (the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Security Service of Ukraine, General Procurator’s Office, the State Customs Department), their rights and responsibilities; some ways of counteraction to the illegal drug turnover. The integral element of this base is the Decree of the Ministry of Health (the Committee on Drug Control), dated the 27th of January 1997, Number 1, which regulates the amount of the drugs in illegal turnover.

The antidrug legislation of Ukraine defines the illegal drug turnover as actions, connected with cultivating plants, containing drug substances, production, manufacturing, preservation distribution, trade, use, moving on the territory of Ukraine and abroad drug substances which are made breaking the Law of Ukraine “About the Turnover of Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, Their Analogues and Precursors”.

All the spectrum of the given forbidden actions is present in Kharkiv region. Statistics for last years testifies to the steady growth of crimes connected with drugs. If in 1993 there were registered 1001 crimes, in 1994 — 2142, in 1995 — 2119, in 1996 — 2208, in 1997 — 2524, then in 1998 — 2796. In 1999 in the Kharkiv region there were registered about three thousand crimes. So, for the last five years the number of crimes increased almost in 2,8 time, and the number of the detained persons — 2,2 time (in 1993 — 726 people, in 1998 — 1642 people). During January-July 1999 in Kharkiv region there were detained 988 persons (68 — foreigners, among them 25 — from such countries as Afganistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and others.); revealed 1349 crimes, connected with illegal drug turnover. In 1999 there were confiscated 1,5 ton of drugs and raw stuff. Mainly these are poppy heads (almost 13 centres) and hemp-marijuana (about 250 kg). There were withdrawn almost 700 g of heroin and 12 “brands” of LSD. In 1999 the workers of Kharkiv Department on Fighting against Illegal Drug Turnover rendered harmless 6 criminal groupings with the total number of 30 persons.

Social aspects of the research are dedicated to the analysis of the geography of the “black market”, the social structure, organisational forms of the illegal drug turnover in Kharkiv region and social portraits of the main acting figures of the drug field.

The geography of sale and buying places of drugs is rather diverse. To the larger extent, the sale and the trade in the city of Kharkiv is taking place at the place of residence of traders and drug addicts and in rented flats in state and private houses. In 1999 the breeding ground for drug trading in Kharkiv markets has been put an end to.

There are both individual and family forms of committing crimes, connected to illegal turnover of drugs, in Kharkiv their shares are nearly equal. The most typical are Gypsy families, though you can meet expanded family unions on the other ethnic basis. Narcobusiness as an organised group criminal activity is available in the region. The most typical in this respect is the Gypsy narcobusiness, whose organisers are leaders, having wide connections among people with criminal records, dealers of the “shadow” economy of the region, criminal “authorities” of the region.

Illegal drug turnover includes definite structuring of drug dealers by their status, social role. Narcocourrier (“ants”, “mule”) is a person who is a direct carrier of drug. Usually narcocourriers are people, representing the low income sections of the population and being in a drastic need of money. The women with secondary and secondary special education of various ethnic origin (Ukrainians, Russians, Gypsies), whose age varies in a very wide range (from 20 to 70), but the average age is 40–45. Often enough you can see unemployed, people without permanent place of residence, other representatives of the marginal strata of society.

Social characteristics of people, selling and buying drugs, is connected with a correlational dependence with a sort of a drug. For example, the heavy drugs are sold by men of 18–35 years of age, physically healthy, strong people, by nationality — Nigerians, Afgans, Tadjics, Turkmen, Uzbeks. Male and female of Gypsy, Ukrainian and Russian origin whose age doesn’t exceed, 30 sell heroin and cocaine. In 1999 the number of Russian families, selling drugs, has increased.

Among dealers of other sorts of drugs you can see males and females of various age (from 20 to 45) and nationality (Russians, Ukrainians, Gypsies), representing various strata of society. Among them, for example, you can see workers of enterprises, students; drug addicts with experience, various marginals play an important role. Marijuana is sold by unemployed Gypsies (aged from 10 to 70, mainly females), people from other cities (from the Crimea, Dnepropetrovsk, Nikolaev), students of Kharkiv colleges and universities.

The contingent of consumers of psychostimulators, cannabiods and barbiturates is evaluated as rather stable. Usually, these are males and females of 16 to 30 years old, you can see 13–14 years old teenagers as well. The social status of these people is quite diverse: teenagers from middle class and working families, students of colleges and universities, drug addicts, former prisoners, people without a definite place of residence, marginals and others.

The scientific analysis made and further sociological development of the research topic have both theoretical and practical importance.

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