Tasked With Combating Opium, Afghan Officials Profit From It
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: February 22nd, 2016
The United States spent more than $7 billion in the past 14 years to fight the runaway poppy production that has made Afghan opium the worlds biggest brand. Tens of billions more went to governance programs to stem corruption and train a credible police force. But ... more than ever, Afghan government officials have become directly involved in the opium trade. Some of the most important regional police and security commanders, including allies of American military and intelligence officials, are closely identified with the opium trade. Farmers said they paid [government officials] about $40 for each acre of poppies under cultivation. In 2015, that meant nearly $3 million in payments from the district of Garmsir alone. Garmsir is just one of several districts in ... the heart of poppy country. By the most basic metric, the international effort to curb poppy production in Afghanistan has failed. More opium was cultivated in 2014, the last year of the NATO combat mission, than in any other year since the United Nations began keeping records in 2002. Government complicity in the opium trade is not new. Taxation on a districtwide level in the main opium-growing centers, however, has been less common. Most who spoke about it did so on the condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. Farmers in Nad Ali said tax collection depended on ... ones relationship with the local police commander. In some cases, the teams sent by the government to eradicate crops collected the funds. In others, it was the local or national police.
Note: For solid evidence that rogue elements of the US government are making big profits from opium sales, read the riveting stories of two award-winning journalists. For more, read how US counternarcotics efforts have contributed to the Afghan opium boom.