Low cost Afghan heroin headed this way

An unprecedented surge of high quality and low cost Afghan heroin is bound for the world’s streets after the country’s opium crop jumped two thirds to record levels, the United Nations has warned. Afghanistan’s farmers grew more than 1,250 square miles of opium poppy last year, paving the way for potentially unseen levels of heroin production.

The bumper crop has the potential to make up to 900 tons of high purity, export quality heroin the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime said. Afghan opium already provides more than 90 per cent of the world’s heroin and 95 per cent of that found on Britain’s streets. The trade also finances militant groups such as the Taliban, forcing the UK to spend tens of millions in the past 15 years trying to destroy poppy crops.

But production in Helmand province alone, the capital of opium growing where Britain spent eight years trying to wean Afghans off the crop, has risen by 79 per cent in a single year. “With the record high of production in 2017, a wave of high quality, low cost heroin is expected to reach consumer markets across the world,” the UN warned.

It said “unprecedented amounts of heroin” will reach drug users “with increased consumption and related harms as a likely consequence.” Poor security and the Kabul government’s lack of control in swathes of the country were blamed for the burgeoning trade. Opium now dwarfs all other sectors of the Afghan economy, despite a 17-year-long international aid campaign to try to rebuild the country after the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001.

The crop was worth up to nearly a third of the country’s entire GDP, while legal exports are worth only around seven per cent. Many billions more are made further down the drugs pipeline, as it is smuggled across the Middle East into Europe. Impoverished farmers are now increasingly reliant on the crop, and it is now the backbone of Afghan agriculture, making efforts to curb the trade harder.

Britain has scaled back in recent years on aid efforts designed to encourage farmers to grow crops other than opium, but the National Crime Agency works with Afghan police to try to catch traffickers or seize their wealth. A Government spokesman said: “The UK supports the investigation and prosecution of narcotics trafficking and associated money laundering. However this is only one strand of activity required to deliver a sustainable reduction in the opiate threat emanating from Afghanistan.”

Reference: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/22/unprecedented-surge-cheap-high-purity-heroin-expected-afghanistan/
Sign In or Register to comment.