Book: Communists set up first drug, arms traffic in Bulgaria

8th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

The book, entitled "The Empire of Communist International Trade Companies," by investigative journalist Hristo Hristov, claims that it was the communists and state secret services who created the first arms and drug smuggling routes.

Sofia -- A new book published in Bulgaria says that it was the communist regime which set up many of the drug and arms trafficking routes that are still today widely used in the country and beyond.

The book, entitled "The Empire of Communist International Trade Companies," by investigative journalist Hristo Hristov, claims that it was the communists and state secret services who created the first arms and drug smuggling routes.

And the networks did not disappear with the fall of Communism in 1989, but were taken over by private racketeers with links to the secret services.

For his book, Hristov ploughed through the secret archives of former communist governments and intelligence services, which have been opened up to journalists and historians.

Seeking "high profits in foreign currencies," the cash-strapped communist leadership of the early 1980s was actively involved in producing and trafficking synthetic drugs to the Middle East, Hristov claimed.

The author cited a contract signed by Bulgaria's two largest pharmaceutical companies in 1981 regarding the production of the synthetic drug, Captagon.

The intelligence services vetted all potential buyers before approving any shipment, Hristov's book claims.

Other documents from the secret archives showed the existence of a special interior ministry directorate, called "Major Currency and Contraband Activity," which controlled illegal deliveries of drugs and arms, hidden among other legally traded goods.

Hristov claimed that a 1978 document showed that the government ordered the use of offshore companies to do the trafficking "in order to avoid compromising the Bulgarian state."

According to the archived documents, a Syrian immigrant called Ismet Shaban, collaborated with the secret services in organising the first shipment of synthetic drugs from then-West Germany to the Middle East via Bulgaria in 1981.

Shaban died in 1998, long after the fall of the regime. But his son Fatik Ismet Shaban took over his father's activities and became known as one of the major figures in the traffic of amphetamines, Hristov said.

Fatik was gunned down in 2003 and the investigation into the shooting said at the time that drug trafficking was the most probable motive.

The collapse of communism in Bulgaria in 1989 simply saw the trafficking routes switch into private hands, the book said, citing a top secret intelligence document from 1991.

 

AFP/Expatica

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