UN says Afghanistan produced 87% more opium than last year, for its biggest harvest ever. Expect a bigger supply and lower prices on the street.

In a report just issued (November 2017) by the United Nations Office on Drug Control, we learn that Afghanistan had a huge, bumper crop of opium in 2017.  Its biggest ever.  And if you read the details of the methods used to estimate the amount of opium produced, you will see that there is a large amount of guesswork, and the amount available for overseas distribution might be considerably greater than estimated.


Pages 7, 8

“Key Findings: 

Area under opium poppy cultivation increased by 63% since 2016, reaching a new record high… 

Opium poppy cultivation expanded to new regions and intensified where there was cultivation before…

Total eradication of opium poppy increased by 395 hectares but remained very low…

Potential opium yield and production increased in 2017 Potential opium production was estimated at 9,000 tons in 2017, an increase of 87% from its 2016 level (4,800 tons). The increase in production is mainly a result of an increase in area under opium poppy cultivation, while an increase in opium yield per hectare also contributed. In 2017, the average opium yield amounted to 27.3 kilograms per hectare, which was 15% higher than in 2016…” 

A graph of the area in hectares used to grow opium poppies in Afghanistan from 1994-present is on page 15 of the report.  As I noted previously, the two periods when there was a heavy US CIA/military presence in Afghanistan have corresponded to increased opium production.


Today, Nov 20, it was announced at a press conference that US and Afghan military forces have launched attacks on Taliban opium factories. One might ask if this announcement is in response to the UN report.  One might also ponder the fact that opium was harvested in the spring–so the “factories” that turn opium into morphine and heroin, the ones we reported attacking– may have been mothballed till next spring, anyway.  

“U.S. Army General John Nicholson showed videos at a press conference of targeted aerial strikes against what he described as Taliban drug factories.  “Last night we conducted strikes in northern Helmand to hit the Taliban where it hurts, in their narcotics financing,” said Nicholson, flanked by Afghan Army Lieutenant General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali…”
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4 years ago

“Opium: Iraq’s Newest Export”
by Patrick Cockburn, Counter Punch, May 23, 2007

“Farmers in southern Iraq have started to grow opium poppies in their fields for the first time, sparking fears that Iraq might become a serious drugs producer along the lines of Afghanistan.

Rice farmers along the Euphrates, to the west of the city of Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, have stopped cultivating rice, for which the area is famous, and are instead planting poppies, Iraqi sources familiar with the area have told The Independent.

The shift to opium cultivation is still in its early stages but there is little the Iraqi government can do about it because rival Shia militias and their surrogates in the security forces control Diwaniya and its neighbourhood. There have been bloody clashes between militiamen, police, Iraqi army and US forces in the city over the past two months.”

Full article at: https://www.counterpunch.org/2007/05/23/opium-iraq-s-newest-export/

4 years ago

Opium Fields Spread Across Iraq as Farmers Try to Make Ends Meet
By Patrick Cockburn, the Independent/UK, Published on Thursday, January 17, 2008

“The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading rapidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops. 0117 04

Afghans with experience in planting poppies have been helping farmers switch to producing opium in fertile parts of Diyala province, once famous for its oranges and pomegranates, north- east of Baghdad.

At a heavily guarded farm near the town of Buhriz, south of the provincial capital Baquba, poppies are grown between the orange trees in order to hide them, according to a local source.

The shift by Iraqi farmers to producing opium was first revealed by The Independent last May and is a very recent development. The first poppy fields, funded by drug smugglers who previously supplied Saudi Arabia and the Gulf with heroin from Afghanistan, were close to the city of Diwaniyah in southern Iraq. The growing of poppies has now spread to Diyala, which is one of the places in Iraq where al-Qa'ida is still resisting US and Iraqi government forces. It is also deeply divided between Sunni, Shia and Kurd and the extreme violence means that local security men have little time to deal with the drugs trade. The speed with which farmers are turning to poppies is confirmed by the Iraqi news agency al-Malaf Press, which says that opium is now being produced around the towns of Khalis, Sa'adiya, Dain'ya and south of Baladruz, pointing out that these are all areas where al-Qa'ida is strong.”

Full Article at: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2008/01/17/opium-fields-spread-across-iraq-farmers-try-make-ends-meet

4 years ago

Iraqi forces burn ISIS poppy fields to curtail heroin and opium revenue
by Amr Ibraheem , IRAQI News, Oct 5, 2016, 10:40 pm

“(IraqiNews.com) Salahuddin – On Wednesday Iraqi security forces burned a 16 thousand square meter field planted with opium poppies belonging to ISIS gangs near Sharqat district in Salahuddin province.

Iraqi media outlets explained that ISIS relies on the cultivation of opium poppies to finance part of its operations.

The terrorist group extracts heroin from this plant in the laboratories of Mosul University which has been under the group’s control since the middle of 2014.

Iraqi news websites revealed that most of those who supervise the cultivation of this plant hold Afghani nationalities.”

Full article at: https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/iraqi-forces-burn-land-belong-isis-planted-opium-poppies/

4 years ago

"The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook"
By Josh Meyer Politico, December 18th, 2017

"In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia,"

Full Article at: https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obama-hezbollah-drug-trafficking-investigation/

4 years ago

"Hezbollah Smuggled Tons of Cocaine Into the U.S. During Obama Administration, Report Reveals"
By Robert Valencia Newsweek published 12/18/17 at 7:19 PM

"The Islamist militant group Hezbollah exploded into a major cocaine trafficker for the United States over the past decade — and it happened under former President Barack Obama's watch to help score a nuclear deal with Iran, a report revealed Monday.

Project Cassandra, a campaign launched by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008, found that the Iran-backed military and political organization collected $1 billion a year from money laundering, criminal activities, and drug and weapons trade, according to Politico. Over the following eight years, the agency found that Hezbollah was involved in cocaine shipments from Latin America to West Africa, as well as through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States."

Full Article at: http://www.newsweek.com/hezbollah-cocaine-smuggle-united-states-obama-751928

4 years ago

JUNE 8, 2017


During 2004, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in Miami initiated a large-scale money laundering investigation, titled Operation Titan. Operation Titan successfully used confidential sources to infiltrate a significant organized crime group in Medellin Colombian identified as the Oficina de Envigado. This very successful DEA investigation, coordinated by the Special Operations Division (SOD), a multi- agency operational coordination center with 30 agencies represented, led to unprecedented results and exposed elements of the Terrorist Group Hezbollah who were being funded by worldwide cocaine sales.

Full Document PDF 8 Pages at:


4 years ago

“House IT Aides Ran Car Dealership With Markings Of A Nefarious Money Laundering Operation”
Luke Rosiak Investigative Reporter, Daily Caller Foundation, 12/19/2017

“Imran Awan and his family members were congressional IT aides who investigators said made unauthorized access to the House Democratic Caucus server thousands of times. At the same time as they worked for and could read all the emails of congressmen who sat on committees like Intelligence, Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs, they also ran a car dealership that took money from a Hezbollah-linked fugitive and whose financial books were indecipherable and business patterns bizarre, according to testimony in court records.”

“While Imran and Abid Awan ran their car dealership in Falls Church, Va. in the early part of the decade, Drug Enforcement Agency officials a few miles away in Chantilly were learning that the Iranian-linked terrorist group frequently deployed used car dealerships in the US to launder money and fund terrorism, according to an explosive new Politico expose.”

The Article also states this about Abid Awan’s wife Sova who was also on the House payroll as an IT aide:

“ Sova established a mysterious company called Alain LLC in 2009, followed by Discover EZ Car Buying Co. in 2014 and Regional Car Center Inc. in 2015. Virginia incorporation documents list Abid’s home address as the businesses’ location, and a Google search did not reveal any evidence of the dealerships existing, which is incongruous for a line of work where basic revenue depends on making sure potential customers know where to find them.

Other opaque companies, such as New Dawn 2001 and Acg LLC, were also established in 2011 out of Imran’s house.”


4 years ago

"Airstrikes on heroin labs and clashes leave 12 dead, wounded in Helmand"
By Khaama Press – Fri Dec 22 2017

"At least twelve militants were killed during the airstrikes on heroin labs and direct clashes between the Afghan force and the Taliban insurgents in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said airstrikes were carried out on heroin labs in Gandom Rez area of Kajaki district late on Wednesday night.

The statement further added that three heroin labs were destroyed during the airstrikes while a clash broke out between the Afghan forces and the militants in this province which left at least three militants dead and two others wounded.

In another clash in Greshk district bazaar at least four Taliban insurgents were killed and three others were wounded, the statement added.

This comes as a key Taliban leader who was involved behind the recent wave of violence in southern Helmand province was killed in an airstrike on Wednesday.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the prominent Taliban Qari Fida Mohammad was among several killed as fighter jets bombed the militants in Marjah district.

The statement further added that the airstrike was carried out at around noon time in the vicinity of Haji Baba roundabout.

According to Helmand provincial government, Qari Fida was a close aide to the shadow governor of the Taliban for Helmand Mullah Manan and was actively involved in recent violence in this province."


4 years ago

Watch Marine rocket artillery send Taliban dope up in smoke
By Harold Hutchison Dec. 21, 09:12 AM

"While the fall of the “caliphate,” as proclaimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, marked one ending in the Middle East, the fight against the Taliban continues. Between President Trump’s recently announced strategy and the MOAB making its combat debut, it’s clear that the gloves are coming off. But now, the Taliban are taking hits to their wallet.

ISIS used oil to raise money — the places they’d based out of (Iraq and Syria) were rich in the black liquid. However, Afghanistan, the base of operations for the Taliban, doesn’t have a drop. So, the Taliban turned to another means to generate income. After all, radical Islamic groups who harbor terrorists still need to make payroll every month.

To pay their fighters, the Taliban have turned to drug production. Specifically, they’re making heroin. A September 2017 article from the Quad City Times notes that two kilograms of black tar heroin seized in a bust was worth $600,000. While the Taliban likely doesn’t pocket 300 grand per kilo, the lower amount they do receive likely goes a long way in funding their operations.

Part of the strategy to weaken the Taliban has been to cut off their income. With Secretary of Defense James Mattis loosening rules of engagement, American troops now have a much freer hand when it comes to using artillery and air strikes. As a result, the Taliban’s drug labs have become fair game.

The video below shows how such strikes are being carried out in Afghanistan. A M142 HIMARS is used to send the Taliban’s drugs up in smoke. The HIMARS fired five of the six rockets it can carry. Based on the impacts, unitary warhead versions of the rockets were used in this particular strike. The Taliban will have to figure out if their fighters will accept smoke signals as payment."



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