AFP, June 25, 2007
Laboratories inside Afghanistan process most of opium: UN
War-shattered Afghanistan accounts for 92 percent of the world's heroin supply despite vast internationally-backed efforts to eradicate it
KABUL - Sophisticated laboratories inside Afghanistan are now converting 90 percent of the country's opium into heroin and morphine before smuggling it around the world, the United Nations said Monday.
The list of those suspected of involvement in the drug trade reaches high into Karzai's government.
Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2005
Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer of opium, had until two years ago exported the illicit drug almost exclusively in its raw form, said the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
'The amount of the opium being processed (in Afghanistan), I think, is around 90 percent -- at least the lion's share,' UNODC representative Christina Oguz told reporters in Kabul.
Oguz said that anyone flying over the major opium producing areas 'would see a lot of small fires in the mountains. These are heroin labs.'
'A couple of years ago, most of the drugs that were trafficked out of this country was opium,' Oguz said.
'Now more and more of the opium is being processed into morphine and into heroin. And this indicates sophistication that we didn't have in this country before,' she added.
War-shattered Afghanistan accounts for 92 percent of the world's heroin supply despite vast internationally-backed efforts to eradicate its opium poppy fields.
Oguz said the annual income from the drugs trade -- more than three billion US dollars -- helps finance the Taliban-led insurgency plaguing mainly southern and eastern Afghanistan.
'The drugs have to be fought together with the insurgency,' she said.
Afghanistan produced a record 6,000 tonnes of opium last year and officials fear that with a surge in opium cultivation in the southern provinces, this year's harvest could top even that.
'I fear we'll be faced with at least the same amount as the last year, perhaps even more,' Oguz said, adding that good weather conditions had also contributed to the increase.
Oguz also downplayed international efforts to eradicate poppy crops, saying that it was more important to provide cash-strapped opium farmers with alternative livelihoods.
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