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The world of drugs in Cyprus: How they come to the island, what is the profile of users – What says the Commander of YKAN Michalis Katsounotos

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The drug market is the most dynamic and evolving market and the Republic of Cyprus could not remain unaffected by this development, he said on the show “Morning Inspection” of the Citizen 107.6 & amp; 97.6 the commander of the Anti-Drug Service (YKAN), Michalis Katsounotos .

“We must,” he said, , so that we can deal crucial blows or prevent those who can be led to drugs. “

Nearly four thousand cases in 4 years

In the last 4-5 years, with the exception of 2019, there has been a steady course of criminal cases. For example in 2018 we had 1168 criminal cases, in 2019 we had 1053, 853 in 2020 and 861 in 2021.

In 2020-21 which were years of pandemic, “due to the special circumstances and circumstances that prevailed due to the restrictive measures “and the lockdowns obviously affected the import of drugs in the Republic of Cyprus”, said Mr. Katsounotos.

The links of the chain

Asked whether all these criminal cases are tried in court or eventually dropped, Mr. Katsounotos said that “the vast majority of small cases that end up in court are tried, while for large and serious cases it takes a long time to be registered, to be referred. and be tried “. He went on to say that for YKAN it is important to identify all the links in the chain in order to find out who is the moral perpetrator, the agent and the trafficker in each case.

240 cases this year

From the beginning of this year until March 31, we had a total of 240 cases, compared to 226 cases in the corresponding period last year. That is, there is a small increase of 5.8%. “However,” Katsounotos added, “there is a significant increase in the number of serious cases. That is, cases where the amount of drugs found and confiscated is of such a form that it is presumed by law that you possess it for the purpose of supply. In this case we had a total of 32 cases from the beginning of the year, compared to 24 in the corresponding period last year. In other words, we have an increase of 25% “.

Quantities confiscated in 2022

The commander of YKAN also stated that there is an increase in the quantities of drugs seized, with 155 kilos of cannabis, 4 kilos of cocaine, 1 kilo and 700 grams of the drug “mykonos sleepwalker” and 8 kilos of methamphetamine.

All substances lead to addiction

Then Mr. Katsounotos stated that there are no heavy and light drugs, nor mild and hard substances. “All of them,” he added, “are drugs that lead to addiction and dependence and each has an impact on public health and the health of the user.” Beyond that, he said, “they are treated differently by law than they are classified, depending on whether they are class A, class B and so on.”

According to Mr. Katsounotos, cocaine is included in the list of class A and cannabis in the list of class B.

Minor users and cigarettes

From to date, at least for this year, there are 11 cases involving minors, whether they are victims in the sense that they are users, or in possession of drugs for the purpose of supply to another person.

Asked if the minors involved in drug cases are users and boats at the same time, the YKAN commander said that “there are cases where minors are users, but also cases where to ensure their dose they turn into boats, looking for their peers or moving quantities to other places “.

Detoxification program

He further stated that YKAN is the first service in the territory of the Republic that has the ability to refer to detoxification treatment programs for minors between 14-18 years old who receive different treatment according to the law, but also from 18 to 24 years old, when they are located for first time and possess a small amount of drugs. “The job of YKAN”, as he said, “is not only repression, but also enlightenment and prevention”.

He even mentioned that since the beginning of 2022, 58 people have been referred to treatment programs. While pointing out the fact that with the consent of the Attorney General no criminal prosecution is instituted against these persons.

How drugs come to Cyprus

The main gateway for drugs to Cyprus are ports and airports, postal services and private courier companies, said the YKAN commander.

Asked if there are drug laboratories in Cyprus, Mr. Katsounotos said that there was one in Limassol which was located by the service and closed. “Today there is no clear picture or any evidence that another laboratory has operated or exists,” he said. YKAN has codified and recorded the profile of people who trade in drugs, said Mr. Katsounotos, saying that today there is enough information about who they are and what methods they use and where they come from. He declined to comment further, however, saying “this is not a matter for public debate.”

Mr. Katsounotos even rejected the accusations that drug traffickers are not taken to prison, saying that in recent years many of them have been taken to the Central Prison.

User profile

Regarding the profile of users, Mr. Katsounotos said that the impression prevails that the vast majority come from unorganized or broken families. “This,” he said, “no longer corresponds to reality. We have also seen children from affluent and very small families driven to use or even trafficking. “

Legalizing cannabis use?

Asked to answer whether we should proceed with the legalization of cannabis use and whether this will lead to a reduction in use, Mr. Katsounotos replied that “there has been intense discussion on this issue in the past and now. We could call it a new trend observed in the EU and it is an issue that concerns the Cyprus Addiction Treatment Authority and YKAN has an opinion that will be submitted in due course “.

Cannabidiol products

Regarding products containing cannabidiol, Mr. Katsounotos said that there is a huge issue here. “We are talking about products that contain CBD, cannabidiol. These products do not fall under the drug law but are considered as medicines “.

He went on to say that there are products that contain THC, cannabidiol which is a banned substance as it falls under the drug law. “It is an issue”, which, “which concerns the Ministry of Health and especially the Pharmaceutical Services and which we brought before them, on the occasion of a recent decision of the Court of Justice of the European Communities which links the ban on the use of these products with documented harm to public health. This has not been documented by the Republic of Cyprus, which is why we have terminated the seizure of these products. However, we estimate that a final decision will be made very soon on what will be born with these products “.

Mr. Katsounotos pointed out the weakness that exists in the Cypriot legislation in relation to these products, saying that any seizure of them may create the background for lawsuits against the Republic of Cyprus where he will be called upon to pay exorbitant amounts as compensation. “It's here,” he added, “that we are focusing on giving the green light that these products will be in the realm of the forbidden so that the Police can proceed with seizures.”

Prevention >

Mr. Katsounotos stated that children and adolescents should be shielded, with education from the family and the school with prevention programs. He said that children should acquire self-defense because prevention is much better than cure.

“We have to shield everyone because the road to drugs is often a road to no return,” he said. He pointed out that “a mobilization is needed for a user to be able to detoxify and reintegrate in a healthy social environment.” In fact, he spoke about a very difficult fight that is possible and worth the battle.

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Listen to everything that the commander of YKAN said , Michalis Katsounotos, in the “Morning Inspection” of Politis 107.6 and 97.6:

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Source: politis.com.cy

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