‘1mn died’ from Afghan heroin, drug production ’40 times higher’ since NATO op

U.S. army soldier of the Battle company, 1-508 Parachute Infantry battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, walks past cropped opium poppies during a patrol in Zahri district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan.(Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

U.S. army soldier of the Battle company, 1-508 Parachute Infantry battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, walks past cropped opium poppies during a patrol in Zahri district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan.(Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

Heroin production in Afghanistan increased 40 times since NATO began its ‘War on Terror’ in 2001, the head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service stated, adding that more than 1million people have died from Afghan heroin since then.

“Afghan heroin has killed more than 1 million people worldwide since the ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ began and over a trillion dollars has been invested into transnational organized crime from drug sales,” Viktor Ivanov said at the conference on the drug situation in Afghanistan.

Ivanov stressed that the main factor of instability in the war-torn country remains the prosperous heroin industry.

“Any impartial observer must admit the sad fact that the international community has failed to curb heroin production in Afghanistan since the start of NATO’s operation.”

According to his presentation at UN’s 56th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna on March 11, opium growth has increased by 18 per cent from 131,000 hectares to 154,000.

As the situation in Afghanistan changed with NATO withdrawing its troops, Russia along with Afghanistan and the international community must face the new reality and develop an efficient strategy to deal with the heroin problem, explained Ivanov.

Opium production has been central to Afghanistan’s economy ever since US and NATO forces invaded in October 2001. Just before the invasion Taliban had implemented a ban on poppy growing, declaring it to be anti-Islam, which lowered the overall production. But after the West’s involvement, production resumed and now the country produces some 90 per cent of the world’s opium, the great bulk of which ends up on the streets of Europe and Russia.

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