above, for articles in
Occupation Forces Support Afghan Narcotics
Dollar Earnings for Organized Crime and Western Financial
Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
occupation forces in Afghanistan are supporting the drug trade, which brings
between 120 and 194 billion dollars of revenues to organized crime, intelligence
agencies and Western financial institutions.
proceeds of this lucrative multibillion dollar contraband are deposited in
Western banks. Almost the totality of revenues accrue to corporate interests and
criminal syndicates outside Afghanistan.
Golden Crescent drug trade, launched by the CIA in the early 1980s, continues to
be protected by US intelligence, in liaison with NATO occupation forces and the
British military. In recent developments, British occupation forces have
promoted opium cultivation through paid radio advertisements.
radio message broadcast across the province assured local farmers that the
Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would not interfere with
poppy fields currently being harvested.
people of Helmand. The soldiers of ISAF and ANA do not destroy poppy fields," it
said. "They know that many people of Afghanistan have no choice but to grow
poppy. ISAF and the ANA do not want to stop people from earning their
livelihoods." ( Quoted in The Guardian, 27 April 2007)
the controversial opium ads have been casually dismissed as an unfortunate
mistake, there are indications that the opium economy is being promoted at the
political level (including the British government of Tony Blair).
Senlis Council, an international think tank specializing in security and policy
issues is proposing the development of licit opium exports in Afghanistan, with
a view to promoting the production of pharmaceutical pain-killers, such as
morphine and codeine. According to the Senlis Council, "the poppies are needed and, if properly
regulated, could provide a legal source of income to impoverished Afghan farmers
while, at the same time, depriving the drug lords and the Taliban of much of
their income." (John Polanyi, Globe and Mail, 23 September
Senlis Council offers an alternative where "regulated poppy production in
Afghanistan" could be developed to produce needed painkillers. The Senlis
statement, however, fails to address the existing structure of licit opium
exports, which is characterized by oversupply .
Senlis' campaign is part of the propaganda campaign. It has contributed to
providing a false legitimacy to Afghanistan's opium economy. (See details of
Senlis Project), which ultimately serves powerful vested interests.
much opium acreage is required to supply the pharmaceutical industry? According
to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which has a mandate to
exame issues pertaining to the supply of and demand for opiates used for medical
purposes, "the supply of such opiates has for years been at levels well in
excess of global demand".(Asian Times, February 2006) The INCB has recommended reducing the
production of opiates due to oversupply.
present, India is the largest exporter of licit opium, supplying approximately
50 percent of licit sales to pharmaceutical companies involved in the production
of pain-killing drugs. Turkey is also a major producer of licit opium.
opium latex "is sold to licensed pharmaceutical and/or chemical manufacturing
firms such as Mallinckrodt and Johnson & Johnson, under rules established by
the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the International Narcotics Control
Board, which require an extensive paper trail." (Opium in
area allocated to licit State controlled opium cultivation in India is of the
order of a modest 11,000 hectares, suggesting that the entire demand of the
global pharmaceutical industry requires approximately 22,000 hectares of land
allocated to poppy production. Opium for pharmaceutical use is not in short
supply. The demand of the pharmaceutical industry is already met.
Afghan Opium Production
United Nations has announced that opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has
soared. There was a 59% increase in
areas under opium cultivation in 2006. Production of opium is estimated to have
increased by 49% in relation to 2005.
Western media in chorus blame the Taliban and the warlords. Western officials
are said to believe that "the trade is controlled by 25 smugglers including
three government ministers." (Guardian, op. cit).
a bitter irony, US military presence has served to restore rather than eradicate
the drug trade. Opium production has increased 33 fold from 185 tons in 2001
under the Taliban to 6100 tons in 2006. Cultivated areas have increased 21 fold
since the 2001 US-led invasion.
the media reports fail to acknowledge is that the Taliban government was
instrumental in 2000-2001 in implementing a successful drug eradication program,
with the support and collaboration of the UN.
in 2000-2001, the Taliban's drug eradication program led to a 94 percent decline
in opium cultivation. In 2001, according to UN figures, opium production had
fallen to 185 tons. Immediately following the October 2001 US led invasion,
production increased dramatically, regaining its historical levels.
Vienna based UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the 2006 harvest will
be of the order of 6,100 tonnes, 33 times its production levels in 2001 under
the Taliban government (3200 % increase in 5 years).
in 2006 reached a record 165,000 hectares compared with 104,000 in 2005 and
7,606 in 2001 under the Taliban.
to the UN, Afghanistan supplies in 2006 some 92 percent of the world's supply of
opium, which is used to make heroin.
estimates that for 2006, the contribution of the drug trade to the Afghan
economy is of the order of 2.7 billion. What it fails to mention is the fact
that more than 95 percent of the revenues generated by this lucrative contraband
accrues to business syndicates, organized crime and banking and financial
institutions. A very small percentage accrues to farmers and traders in the
also UNODC, The Opium Economy in Afghanistan,
, Vienna, 2003, p. 7-8)
heroin sells on the international narcotics market for 100 times the price
farmers get for their opium right out of the field".(U.S. State Department
quoted by the Voice of America (VOA), 27 February 2004).
on wholesale and retail prices in Western markets, the earnings generated by the
Afghan drug trade are colossal. In July 2006, street prices in Britain for
heroin were of the order of Pound Sterling 54, or $102 a gram.
On the Streets of Western Europe
kilo of opium produces approximately 100 grams of (pure) heroin. 6100 tons of
opium allows the production of 1220 tons of heroin with a 50 percent purity
average purity of retailed heroin can vary. It is on average 36%. In Britain,
the purity is rarely in excess of 50 percent, while in the US it can be of the
order of 50-60 percent.
on the structure of British retail prices for heroin, the total proceeds of the
Afghan heroin trade would be of the order of 124.4 billion dollars, assuming a
50 percent purity ratio. Assuming an average purity ratio of 36 percent and the
average British price, the cash value of Afghan heroin sales would be of the
order of 194.4 billion dollars.
these figures do not constitute precise estimates, they nonetheless convey the sheer magnitude of this
multibillion dollar narcotics trade out of Afghanistan. Based on the first
figure which provides a conservative estimate, the cash value of these sales,
once they reach Western retail markets are in excess of 120 billion dollars a
also our detailed estimates for 2003 in The Spoils of War: Afghanistan's
Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade, by Michel Chossudovsky, The UNODC estimates
the average retail price of heroin for 2004 to be of the order of $157 per gram,
based on the average purity ratio).
Second to Oil and the Arms Trade
foregoing estimates are consistent with the UN's assessment concerning the size
and magnitude of the global drug trade.
Afghan trade in opiates (92 percent of total World production of opiates)
constitutes a large share of the worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, which
was estimated by the United Nations to be of the order of $400-500 billion.
Keh, Drug Money in a Changing World, Technical document No. 4, 1998, Vienna
UNDCP, p. 4. See also United Nations Drug Control Program, Report of the
International Narcotics Control Board for 1999, E/INCB/1999/1 United Nations,
Vienna 1999, p. 49-51, and Richard Lapper, UN Fears Growth of Heroin Trade,
Financial Times, 24 February 2000).
on 2003 figures, drug trafficking constitutes "the third biggest global
commodity in cash terms after oil and the arms trade." (The Independent, 29
and Colombia (together with Bolivia and Peru) constitute the largest drug
producing economies in the world, which feed a flourishing criminal economy.
These countries are heavily militarized. The drug trade is protected. Amply
documented the CIA has played a central role in the development of both the
Latin American and Asian drug triangles.
IMF estimated global money laundering to be between 590 billion and 1.5 trillion
dollars a year, representing 2-5 percent of global GDP. (Asian Banker, 15 August
Michel Chossudovsky is the
author of the international best seller America’s "War on Terrorism" Global Research,
2005. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of
the Center for Research on Globalization.
order Chossudovsky's book America's "War
on Terrorism", click here
article was originally published at www.globalresearch.ca It is
herein reprinted with the author's permission.
Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2007
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