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MfD: Debt-ridden gamblers often become drug smugglers

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Prague, May 19 (CTK) – The underworld often focuses on Czechs from the poorest regions and social groups, including debt-ridden gamblers, to recruit drug couriers, since they are ready to risk life imprisonment by smuggling drugs abroad for a relatively low reward, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes on Thursday.

It mentions the latest example of Jiri K., a 34-year-old gambler from Hradek nad Nisou, north Bohemia, who, together with his 70-year-old mother, were recently caught by New Zealander police attempting to smuggle 20 kg of pervitin to the country.

The neighbours know Jiri K. as a problematic man who likes drinking and who was convicted of burgling a petrol station some time ago, the paper writes.

For many years before, Jiri K. dreamt of winning big money in casinos and gambling machines as a way out from his exorbitant debts and distraint proceedings. His hopes never came true, however, and his debt continued rising, it writes.

The mother-and-son story unveils the backstage of Czech drug couriers who accept the job in the belief that it will help them solve their financial troubles, the daily says.

“I wondered why they were flying to New Zealand. Everyone knew they were debt-ridden and faced multiple distraints. How could such people gain money to pay the air tickets?” their neighbour in Hradek nad Nisou, a small town with 6,500 inhabitants in the area bordering Poland and Germany, is quoted as saying.

Jiri and his mother, also a notorious gambler, became an ideal target for drug producers.

“In our region, people bargain in a variety of things. For example, many nod to be registered as new owners of ailing firms that subsequently go bankrupt, or they lease products to sell them immediately. You are desperate, have no money and need some for gambling at least, so you nod to anything,” another local gambler told the daily.

Border regions are ideal for drug deals, with the area of Eastern Upper Lusatia, on the Czech-Polish-German border, being a clear favourite, the paper continues.

In this area, pervitin has been made from the medicines imported from Poland, where they are freely available, unlike in the Czech Republic. Couriers smuggle the drug across the near border to Germany, MfD writes, adding that the situation is similar along the Czech borders with Slovakia and Austria.

To make one kilogram of pervitin, the producers need 4.5 kg of Polish medicines worth 140,000 crowns. Afterwards, they sell one-kilogram packages of pervitin to traffickers for the “wholesale” price of 250,000 crowns apiece, MfD writes.

In Germany, the price of pervitin is four times higher, and up to eight times higher in other countries, the Czech police said in their recent report.

“A crushing majority of the large-scale producers of pervitin, who are of Vietnamese origin, are based in the border regions,” Barbora Kudlackova, spokeswoman for the Czech police drug squad, told MfD.

They urgently need to sell the drug for the highest possible price, including abroad. In 2014, the police found out that the producers were recruiting debt-ridden inhabitants of poor Czech localities as couriers. This is also the case of Jiri K. and his mother, MfD writes.

Two Czech couriers caught in 2014 were paid 100,000 crowns for smuggling a consignment to Japan. On a stop-over during their flight, they were given a specially adapted suitcase with drugs in its double bottom. The pervitin in it came from Iran, where one gram is available for an equivalent of 200 Czech crowns. In Japan it costs 19,000 crowns.

In the Czech Republic, drug addicts pay from 350 to 1,200 crowns per gramme. It Germany it sells from 1,900 to 3,200 crowns, except for the regions bordering on the Czech Republic, where it is available for 800 to 1,000 crowns, MfD writes.

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