Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taliban suspected of stockpiling Afghan opium

Violent Helmand province—a Taliban stronghold—accounts for more than half of Afghanistan's opium production. Antonio Maria Costa of UNODC said that the Taliban militants levy a tax on farmers and also provide protection for convoys smuggling opium into neighboring countries.

A recent UN survey says that the net value of Afghanistan's annual poppy crop is a billion U.S. dollars. The street price is much higher. Opium is processed into heroin, and the UNODC report states that in the short-term, the world's heroin market will be determined by what happens with opium production in southern Afghanistan.

Enough Afghan opium to supply world demand for two years has effectively gone missing, with the Taliban suspected of stockpiling supplies in a bid to corner the market, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has revealed.

Afghanistan is the world's leading narcotics supplier. Earlier this month, a U.N. study revealed Afghanistan's opium production had dropped dramatically this year partly because of new aggressive drug-fighting tactics in the country. According to the UNODC report, production dipped by 10 percent this year while cultivation fell by 22 percent.

However, a senior U.N. spokesman warned that this positive news should be treated with caution. "We figure the world needs around 4,000 tons of opium a year for licit and illicit purposes. But this year around 6,900 tons was produced, with 7,700 tons delivered last year and more than 8,500 the year before that. So if the world only needs around 4,000 tons of opium and a further 1,000 is seized, where is the rest of it going?"



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I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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