Prior to the U.S. invasion and occupation that sent production and cultivation skyrocketing 35-fold in just the first 13 years, the Taliban had successfully decimated the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan.
Nearly 16 years later, Afghanistan’s lucrative drug trafficking business is still roaring along unhindered, and — with U.S. troops literally guarding the occupied nation’s 90-percent share of the world’s opium supply — potential competitors rightly seemed scarce.
That is, until North Korea just said ‘no’ to the Drug War.
“In its early stage, the Kim Jong-un regime declared a war against drugs, getting rid of poppy fields,” Kang Cheol-hwan, president of the defector organization, North Korea Strategy Center, told Yonhap News Agency last month. “But now they are cultivating them again.”
Afghanistan is the main supplier of opioids and heroin to the US, according to UN sources, Afghanistan produces approximately 90 percent of the World’s supply of opium destined to the illegal heroin and opioid markets.
It’s a multibillion dollar industry. A large share of the opium is exported in military planes out of Afghanistan.
The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers show heroin deaths surpassed firearm-related homicides for the first time ever in 2015.
The number of heroin deaths was 12,989 and the number of firearm-related homicides was 12,979.
The Washington Post published the CDC numbers, which show the deaths from all opioids combined topped 33,000 in 2015. That means opioid deaths outnumbered firearm-related homicides nearly 3 to 1.
So much for the so-called ‘war on drugs’… The United States has been gripped by a heroin and opiate epidemic with user numbers recently hitting a 20 year high.
In 2014, the number of U.S. heroin users passed the million mark with deaths from overdoses rising steeply. And as Statista’s Niall McCarthy writes, drugs are now killing substantially more Americans every year than car crashes.
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The US is in the throes of a heroin and opioid epidemic – drug overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death, overtaking traffic accidents.
It is a health crisis with tentacles reaching across the social spectrum. Lorain County, in the state of Ohio, is mostly suburban and middle-class, with a large rural hinterland.
Its population is only 305,000 but for the last three years, the number of fatal opiate overdoses has hovered at around 65. This year it only took six months to reach that figure.
Avon Lake is the county’s wealthiest community – an upmarket suburb of the city of Cleveland. Here, on the shores of Lake Erie, the scourge of opiates – prescription pills and street heroin – is tearing at the fabric of a tightly-knit neighbourhood.
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For the past week, the the city of Cincinnati has been battling an unprecedented spike in heroin overdoses that has left police and emergency responders drained. Per the Cincinnati Enquirer, in a “normal” week, police and healthcare officials indicate that Cincinnati encounters roughly 25-30 heroin-related overdoses. That said, within the past 6 days that number has spiked by over 5.5x as 174 overdose cases have been reported by local emergency rooms.
Afghanistan may have mouth-watering oil riches, but opium still rules this economy amid a lack of any real investment in getting oil and gas out of the ground.
In 2011, the United States Geological Survey released a report on Afghanistan arguing that the responsible exploitation of the country’s natural resources, including oil and natural gas, could help alleviate its economic addiction to opium sales.
At that time, opium production represented just under 50 percent of Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product. Since then, the nation has set new opium cultivation records.
(MINTPRESS) The “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” are more intertwined than that media and our elected officials would like us to think.
And this became full front and center when the U.S.-led global crusades overlapped in Afghanistan, leaving in their wake a legacy of death, addiction and government corruption tainting Afghan and American soil.
In the U.S., the War in Afghanistan is among the major contributing factors to the country’s devastating heroin epidemic.
“We’re looking at a public health emergency affecting the streets of New Haven“ Deputy Director of Emergency Management Rick Fontana said. “We’ve had quite a hectic time,” he said. “I don’t recall an incident where it’s been like this.”
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“Opium production has increased 33 fold from 185 tons in 2001 to 6100 tons in 2006. In 2007, Afghanistan provided approximately 93% of the global supply of heroin…”
One of the many catastrophic legacies left behind by the longest war in U.S. history is that Afghanistan produces 90% of the world’s opium. As with most parts of the world, the most vulnerable pay the heaviest price of war, and the country has faced a harrowing escalation in the number of child heroin addicts.
“What’s happened in Afghanistan over the last 13 years has been the flourishing of a narco-state that is really without any parallel in history,” Kabul-based journalist Matthieu Aikins told Democracy Now back in 2014.
Afghan opium is being processed into high-grade heroin in clandestine Turkish drug labs for distribution in Europe and Russia, Russia’s anti-drug chief has revealed. The trafficking route was exposed after a joint Russian-Afghan anti-drug operation.
“The cargo traveled through Badakhshan-Doshi-Bamiyan-Herat, then further through Iran and into Turkey, where the opium was processed in well-equipped laboratories…into high quality heroin, and then was to be sent to Europe and Russia,” Ivanov said during an anti-narcotics committee meeting.
One of the biggest money-spinners for Islamic State terrorists is transporting illegal drugs from Afghanistan to Europe through Turkey and the Balkans, according to the head of Russia’s federal anti-drug agency FKSN.
“ISIS fighters are controlling certain territory,” Viktor Ivanov was quoted as saying by TASS. “Now it is targeted by the Russian Air Force, but until recently the terrorists enjoyed great freedom there. Trafficking illegal drugs was one of the major sources of their income.”
Despite billions spent to eradicate opium crops in Afghanistan, the crop is more popular than ever there, leading many to wonder whether some U.S. forces may actually be encouraging its growth and the heroin it later becomes.
In July, the Centers for Disease Control warned of record-breaking numbers of heroin deaths in the United States. “Heroin use more than doubled among young adults ages 18–25 in the past decade,” the CDC reported.
The truth is:
Amid the dire situation in Afghanistan, the main US government organisation in charge of rebuilding the country has sent out a strong message to Washington. It says America has failed in multiple ways…
– Former Blackwater Gets Rich As Afghan Drug Production Hits Record High (Guardian, March 31, 2015)
– America’s $7.6 BILLION ‘War’ On Afghan Drugs ‘Fails’, Opium Production Peaks (RT, Oct 21, 2014)
– Does Obama Want to Stay in Afghanistan to Harvest Its Opium? (Global Research):
“opium production has increased 33 fold from 185 tons in 2001 to 6100 tons in 2006. In 2007, Afghanistan provided approximately 93% of the global supply of heroin…”