The FINANCIAL — Georgia is vulnerable to transnational drug trafficking and drug trafficking-related money laundering, according to the U.S. Department of State’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.
The two-volume, Congressionally-mandated report, released by the Department of State on March 28, covers the developments of 2018 and provides an overview of drug control and anti-money laundering efforts undertaken by several dozen countries across the world, including Georgia.
According to the report section on Georgia, the country’s “location along traditional smuggling routes in the Caucasus leaves it vulnerable to transnational criminal organizations that continue to traffic opium, heroin, and the main precursor chemical used to produce heroin, acetic anhydride.”
The report also said the Georgian government and non-governmental organizations “report substantial drug and substance abuse challenges with an estimated 50,000 illicit drug users in the country,” with synthetic and club drugs remaining the most popular drugs. It also said drug seizures in Georgia have declined since 2016.
“The Government of Georgia actively cooperates with a wide range of actors to combat drug trafficking and consumption and to develop comprehensive responses to drug dependency,” the State Department also noted, adding that the U.S. will continue to support Georgia in its efforts against illicit drug use and trafficking.
The report referred to drug-related money laundering as well, saying “because Georgia is located in a significant and well-established trafficking corridor, bulk cash smuggling and money laundering are highly likely.”
The document also said there is little hard evidence to suggest that “a significant volume of illegal narcotics proceeds is laundered through the formal financial system,” but suggested more governmental efforts on pursuing links between organized crime and money laundering.