Taliban unlikely to curb drug trafficking in Afghanistan: report

KABUL: The Taliban have used tactical statements to pretend they are shutting down narcotics production in Afghanistan in order to evade strict international controls on opium cultivation in the country.
However, the Taliban have a tax system in place to conduct their insurgent operations, including the illegal drug trade, reported a Canada-based think tank, International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS).
The Taliban’s involvement in the illicit drug economy has provided revenue for the insurgent group. According to a study conducted in the year 2018, of the total annual income of the Taliban of $1.5 billion, the drug trade is estimated to contribute about $420 million per year.
Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, which is refined to produce heroin. Afghanistan will soon prove to be a major supplier of heroin due to its estimated annual export value of $1.5 billion to $3 billion. The opium harvest in the country has led to 120,000 jobs in the year 2019, IFFRAS reports.
Furthermore, according to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), it is estimated that synthetic drugs contribute more than €46.8 million annually to local wages.
Heroin production in Afghanistan from kiln-dried opium is estimated at about 6,000 tons. After production, a levy is levied on the opium transport that goes from the production locations to their user units, IFFRAS reports. Transport duties account for nearly USD 750,000 in annual revenue.
Besides opium production, there is another source of income for the Taliban, namely protection money. Charges are made for armed protection of transported opiates. Some Taliban commanders also run drug labs as a supervisory force themselves.
More opium storage facilities and stockpiles have pushed Afghanistan and its workers further toward methamphetamine production. The methamphetamine industry has provided employment for more than 20,000 people, 5,000 of whom work in methamphetamine labs.
However, due to the indicated bans on the cultivation of opium, coupled with an uncertain coming season, the price of raw opium has almost tripled from USD 70 to USD 200, IFFRAS reports. Nevertheless, the crops in the new season can stabilize the new season.
While the Taliban have apparently stated they have a ban on opium, the international community may remember previous Taliban promises such as nonviolent behavior and women’s rights before falling for new ones. The livelihood and longevity afforded by the drug trade would make it quite difficult for the Taliban to disguise their production under false promises.

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