Russian law enforcement authorities said they have uncovered scores of new types of drugs in the past year and a half.
Prison officials have estimated that nearly one-third of the 600,000 people incarcerated in Russia are serving drug-related sentences, while around 260 kilograms of illegal substances were seized in 2017. The Russian government has struggled to crack down on synthetic drugs as dealers continue to develop new compounds to circumvent bans.
“Sixty-two previously unknown drugs and psychotropic substances, which can be used to manufacture more than 1,000 drugs, were brought under the Russian Interior Ministry’s control in the past year and a half,” Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said on Monday.
The discovery has led to the seizure of more than 140 kilograms of synthetic cannabinoids as part of a single criminal case, he said at the ministry’s anti-narcotics committee session.
Kolokoltsev added that only one out of four Russian regions had the tools to detect and identify so-called designer drugs.
The head of the committee bemoaned the anonymity offered by cryptocurrencies used in online drug marketplaces that make the industry next to impossible to police.