MOSCOW, September 2 (RAPSI) – About 700 kilograms (over 1,500 pounds) of concentrated Chinese herbal smoking mixtures have been seized in 15 Russian regions in a large-scale operation called The Eastern Express, Viktor Ivanov, head of the Federal Drug Control Service, told journalists on Tuesday.

The operation was held in spring and summer in the regions where the hubs of a far-flung drug network were located.

“We have liquidated a secret drug infrastructure that supplied synthetic drug concentrates from China,” Ivanov said. “The 700 kilograms we have seized could be marketed as 20 tons of dangerous smoking mixtures.”

Eleven suspects have been arrested during the raid, Ivanov said.

Drug abuse remains a major problem in Russia. The statistics on drug abuse showed a decline in the 2000s, when a wide variety of herbal mixtures known as "spices" was brought to the country. These mixtures are marketed as safe, and manufacturers attempt to evade legal restrictions by substituting different chemicals in their mixtures.

According to the Federal Drugs Control Service, there has been a 30% drop in drug-related deaths among young people in Russia in the past 14 years. The number of such deaths decreased from over 130,000 in 2000 to 82,000 in 2013.