Opium pouring out of Karzai's Afghanistan

Afghanistan's drug production will soar to around 6,000 tonnes in 2003, nearly double its production last year, a Russian border official warned on Thursday.

    Burning the few tonnes that are
    intercepted at the border will
    not solve the problem

    Nikolai Plotnikov, deputy chief of the Russian border guard, said the poppy crop was returning to disturbing pre-Taliban levels. 

     

    "In 2002, drug production in Afghanistan grew 18 times and the opium poppy harvest was more than 3,500 tonnes", he said. 

     

    "The revenue to Afghan drug groups is one billion dollars and this amount turns into 25 billion dollars in European countries," Plotnikov added.

     

    Since the fall of the Taliban government in November 2001, Afghanistan is reclaiming its position as the world's leading opium producer.

     

    The Taliban reduced opium cultivation by 91 percent, which in turn affected global sales reducing them by a third, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

     

    However opium production has shot back up under the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

     

    Tajikistan drug route

     

    The main transit route for heroin is Tajikistan with which Afghanistan shares a long and porous border. Around 11,000 Russian border guards patrol the line between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

      

    Tajikistan's drugs control agency warned earlier this week that Afghan drug production could be increasing, with the quantity of Afghan heroin seized in the country also rising dramatically this year.

      

    Tajik and Russian border guards confiscated 3.9 tonnes of drugs in the first four months of 2003, nearly three times more than the amount seized in the same period last year. The figure included 2.8 tonnes of heroin.


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