Following the seizures of significant quantities of heroin at the Armenian-Iranian and Georgian-Azerbaijani borders earlier this year, the United States – in cooperation with Armenia and Georgia – has organized two regional conferences on drug trafficking.
The first conference is taking place in Yerevan on September 11-12 and the second in Tbilisi, on September 15-16. The purpose of these conferences is to support and enhance international efforts to combat international drug-trafficking organizations, by developing the capabilities of investigators, prosecutors, and judges to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate cases involving these organizations.
The Armenia conference enjoyed high-level participation from within the Armenian government, reflecting the seriousness with which Armenia approaches this issue. John Heffern, United States Ambassador to Armenia; Vigen A. Sargsyan, Chief of Staff of the President’s Office; Davit Avetisyan, Chairman of the Criminal Chamber of the Cassation Court; and Aghvan Hovsepyan, chairman of the RA Investigative Committee, opened the conference. In addition, Mr. Hovspeyan delivered the conference’s keynote address. Other high-level representatives attended from the Armenian judiciary, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, and the Investigative Committe.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Heffern emphasized that these criminal drug-trafficking organizations are an international problem, and require an international solution. The cross-border nature of these organizations makes necessary an enhanced level of international cooperation to successfully investigate and prosecute the criminals who exploit borders, prey upon citizens by addicting them to drugs, and then using those proceeds to fund other criminal activity.
There has been considerable progress in Armenia’s justice system, but the US will continuethe cooperation to achieve better results, Ambassador Heffern said.
The conference has been organized with the support of the U.S. Embassies in Yerevan and Tbilisi, the United States Department of Justice, and the United States European Command.