Counter-Terrorism: High Times

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May 24, 2009: The NATO offensive against drug gangs in Afghanistan is underway, and the first major victory was achieved on the 20th, when fifteen tons of opium, heroin and morphine were seized during a raid on the Helmand province town of Marjeh. One of the markets in that city was being openly used by drug gangs to sell large quantities of drugs to wholesalers and smugglers. Heroin is worth $3.5 million a ton, while the opium it is made from is worth only about $100,000 a ton. Morphine is somewhere in between. There's another big crop in Helmand (and the entire region), and that's hashish (the concentrated paste containing the active ingredient of marijuana). This stuff is worth about $1.1 million a ton, and last year, NATO troops seized and destroyed a 260 ton stockpile of the stuff. The marijuana plant is believed to have originated in this region, and has been used for its intoxicating qualities for thousands of years. But now there is a growing export market for hashish, opium and heroin, and the Taliban is staying in business by guarding drug gang operations. This year, NATO plans to spend the Summer using their growing intelligence capabilities to find out where the stockpiles of drugs are, and then send in troops to seize, and later destroy, the stuff. Without the drug money, the Taliban cannot afford to hire thousands of tribesmen to fight for them.

 


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