Kazakhstan is a Central Asian country bordered by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. The ninth-largest country in the world, its territory is larger than all of Western Europe, though it is extremely sparsely populated. It was the last formerly Soviet republic to become independent, in December 1991, and since then has been steadily improving its economy through work on its hydrocarbon industry.

Kazakhstan is a significant stop along the trafficking route for Afghan heroin, traditionally trafficked to Russia but increasingly following new routes westward to Europe as well. Some of the drug cartels working in Kazakhstan now are run by or associated with cartels in Germany and the Baltic States. Poor border management and the extremely large area of a sparsely settled country make it ...

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