Afghan heroin funds growing insurgency

AFGHAN heroin has been smuggled into Australia in increasing quantities in recent years, surpassing Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle as the principal source, as the deepening insurgency and a shift in US counter-narcotics policy block efforts to curb Afghanistan’s flourishing opium trade.

The Australian Crime Commission and Australian Federal Police say Afghanistan is becoming the dominant source of heroin in this country, accounting for as much as two-thirds of the drug imports in recent years.

The latest International Narcotics Control Strategy report from the US State Department says that despite a decade of counter-narcotics efforts, Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium poppies, responsible for 90 per cent of the opium gum used to manufacture heroin worldwide, worth $2.8 billion a year.

UN figures show opium production has exploded in the decade since US-led forces invaded Afghanistan, with curbing the heroin trade a key objective. In 2001, poppy fields covered 7600ha and produced 185 tonnes of opium, last year they covered 131,000ha and produced 6900 tonnes.

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