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Kindergarten drug bust

at 19/03/2010 14:39

Alyona Topolyanskaya

A convicted criminal working as a school electrician near Yekaterinburg was caught making drugs in the basement of the nursery school building. 

The lab, set up by Lyosha Belov, 36, was exposed by private drug-busting group Gorod bez Narkotikov (City without Drugs), who reported Belov to the police. 

Yevgeny Roizman, president of the group and a former Duma representative, described the operation in his blog: "I won't tell you how we found out about it, but we learned that the children are sick all the time and that there is a horrible smell coming out of the ventilation."  

After a tip-off, they found that Belov was living in the basement and making drugs using acetone, gasoline and prescription cough syrup. Notorious drug dealers were seen coming and going during the night. 

The group found all necessary equipment to produce methamphetamine - a psychoactive stimulant which energises uses and can induce euphoria -production - as well as saleable drugs and with personal items, that buyers are thought to have traded for the drugs. 

Convicted drug user 

Belov has an extensive criminal record, including convictions for drug possession and selling stolen goods. It is not clear how he came to work at the school. 

Meanwhile the principle of the daycare centre seems to have been unaware of the building's second use. 

Yevgeny Malenkin, vice-president of Gorod bez Narkotikov, said: "When I asked her, she said she had no idea, but another women emerged and quickly started saying that the basement did not belong to them, and that it was none of their business what was in it."   

Toxic fumes 

Youngsters may have inhaled toxic fumes while at school and the group has asked that all parents whose children had to seek medical attention for upper respiratory problems to collect documentation to present to the Prosecutor's Office.  

According to Malenkin, the daycare providers attributed the foul fumes to a nearby gas station and a road. 

Belov is yet to face charges. He was released pending an investigaton, and according to Malenkin was not even held the usual 48 hours.  "It was election day, all the police were at the polls.  Too busy to process this guy," he explains.  

Russia's drug danger to kids 

Dealers and manufacturers often use children as a cover to mask their illicit trade, RIA Novosti reported. They believe police are less likely to raid pre-schools, or look through toys.

Recently drug police on a raid in Kaliningrad found heroin stashed in stuffed animals.  The drugs were sent by post, placed it inside teddy bears and parrots. 

According to a representative of the narcotics force, the parcels were sent from St. Petersburg, and inside each seized toy, there were as many as 10,000 doses of heroin.  

Official statistics claim there are 550,000 registered drug users, but some experts say the true figure could be as high as 2.5 million people - almost 2 per cent of Russia's population. 

Last year the authorities closed down 6,414 drug-dealing locations, including 37 chemical drug labs. 

UN statistics from last autumn place Russia as a world leader in heroin use, taking in as much as 21 per cent of the manufactured heroin in the world.  

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