Country Listing

Azerbaijan Table of Contents


Crime and Crime Prevention

In the early 1990s, crime in Azerbaijan generally intensified and expanded to new parts of society. In the confusion of economic reform, white-collar criminals absconded with investment and savings funds entrusted to new and unproven financial institutions, and mass refugee movements and territorial occupation promoted the activities of armed criminal groups. At the same time, law enforcement agencies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs underwent several reorganizations that hindered effective crime prevention.

Narcotics Trade

According to United States and Russian sources, illegal narcotics, including opium, hashish, and marijuana, are assuming a large role in Azerbaijani exports, although official economic indicators do not reflect such commerce. In 1993 the United States Department of State reported that Azerbaijani criminal networks controlled 80 percent of drug distribution in Moscow. Only seven kilograms of narcotics were confiscated by customs officials at border points in 1993, however. According to official Russian sources, in 1993 some 38.6 percent of illegal drugs entering Russia from former Soviet republics came from Azerbaijan, and 82 percent of drug arrests in Moscow were of Azerbaijanis. The Russian government and Armenian authorities have alleged that Azerbaijani government officials are involved in drug trafficking, which they assert helps support Azerbaijani military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1993 Azerbaijan joined the International Association Against Narcomania and the Narcobusiness.

Wartime conditions and expanded trade relations also increased other types of smuggling dramatically. Widespread corruption and poor organization in the Azerbaijani customs service fostered customs violations; in one two-month period in 1994, customs officals seized 6,300 Iranian rials, US$23,700, forty truckloads of iron pipe, 1,633 tons of metal, 620 grams of mercury, and batches of military optics equipment.

Data as of March 1994