As a result, as ofthe DEA deployed no more than 10 agents, two intelligence analysts and one support staff member in the entire country. But every one of them told POLITICO that they believe their colleagues called it quits because of their inability to work on the conspiracy case they had spent years building.
It also appears that the opium ban weakened the Taliban politically. Top, an Afghan official sprays gas over a pile of narcotics on the outskirts of Kabul in December In Novemberthree DEA agents and seven American soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed after a particularly intense drug raid in western Afghanistan.
Waiting, however, turned out to be a fatal mistake. For now, though, the plan remains buried in DEA files, and even most agency leadership is unaware of it, several current and former agency officials said.
Many people in and out of the government feared that targeting those at the apex of the drug trade could backfire in a place like Afghanistan, where it often meant taking on tribal leaders with armies of fighters, tanks and even missiles at their disposal, recalled Kenneth Katzman, a senior analyst on Afghanistan issues for the Congressional Research Service, the independent research arm of Congress.
Does it make sense later on? Thus the sustainability of the ban beyond the first year was highly doubtful, even if the Taliban had not been overthrown in late Others cited internal DEA turf battles, and changing agency priorities, including a major refocus on domestic cases.
They could be kept secret, or leveraged strategically to help, not hinder, U. Embassy in Kabul, and would need to be updated to reflect the significant expansion of the Taliban-led insurgency, said retired DEA agent John Seaman, who helped draft it as a senior law enforcement adviser for the Justice Department in Kabul.
Heroin processing labs have proliferated in Afghanistan since the late s, particularly in the unstable southern region, further complicating stabilization efforts. Over the next three years, as the U. These dismal trends persisted throughoutas the Afghan opium harvest nearly doubled to 9, tonneswell above the previous peak of 8, tonnes in However, the World Health Organisation points out that there is an acute global shortage of poppy-based medicines such as morphine and codeine.
As snow melts from the mountain slopes and poppy plants rise from the soil every spring, there will be a new batch of teenage recruits from impoverished villages ready to fight for the rebel cause.
A licensing system would bring farmers and villages into a supportive relationship with the Afghan government, instead of alienating the population by destroying their livelihood, and provide the economic diversification that could help cultivators break ties with the illicit opium trade.
Last year, cultivation jumped by 63 percent from the year before to a record high of about 1, square miles, or more than 20 times the land area of Washington, D.
Indeed, poverty is the primary reason given by Afghan farmers for choosing to cultivate opium poppy. Seaman, who was then 60 years old and a cancer survivor, scoured the evidence with focused intensity.
He ticked off the reasons, including that any indictments were months away. Haidari recently helped lead a summit meeting in Kabul of 23 countries, including the United States, in proposing another round of peace talks with the Taliban as well as more military aid.
In Januaryhe assembled a team to review the mountains of evidence in DEA vaults to see whether it supported such a prosecution. So-called FAST teams — for foreign-deployed advisory support — brought Afghan drug agents to the front lines of the drug war, including Helmand Province, the epicenter of both the drug trade and the insurgency.
Law enforcement personnel are also paid off by drug traffickers to ignore or, in some cases, protect their movements. Afghan villages have strong local control systems based around the village shurawhich with the support of the Afghan government and its international allies, could provide the basis for an effective control system.
As had been the case in Colombia, the drug kingpins were overseeing what had become vertically integrated international criminal conglomerates that generated billions of dollars in illicit annual proceeds.
That meant the more senior that suspected drug traffickers were, the less successful U. But Marsac believed it might support something even more audacious, which DEA and Justice had never done before: Thus, some say Afghan opium would contribute to an already oversupplied market and would potentially cause the supply and demand imbalance that the UN control system was designed.
This idea is developed in the recent Senlis Council report "Poppy for Medicine"  which proposes a technical model for the implementation of poppy licensing and the legal control of cultivation and production of Afghan morphine. Ninety percent of the heroin seized in Canada comes from Afghanistan, but scant amounts reach the U.
Instability makes opium cultivation possible; opium buys protection and pays for weapons and foot soldiers, and these in turn create an environment in which drug lords, insurgents and terrorists can operate with impunity.The drug trade accounted for most of its tax revenues, much of its export income, and a significant share of its employment.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest British troops patrol Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Afghan farmers claimed that "government officials take bribes for turning a blind eye to the drug trade while punishing poor opium growers".  Another obstacle to getting rid of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is the reluctant collaboration between US forces and Afghan warlords in hunting drug traffickers.
Jul 14, · News about Drug Trafficking in Afghanistan, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times. The drug trade in Afghanistan, which helps fund the insurgency and impedes reconstruction efforts, has grown stronger despite billions of dollars spent by the U.S.
to fight it, a government watchdog said Thursday. The DEA helps seize $ billion in narcotics in Afghanistan, up from $ billion inbut the drug trade continues to fuel a massive expansion of the Taliban insurgency and governmentwide corruption.
Between andthe U.S. government has allocated roughly $ billion to fight narcotics in Afghanistan. But the drug trade remains entrenched. Opium is .Download