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Taliban unlikely to tackle heroin and meth production in Afghanistan

Vendors trade heroin and hashish at a drug market on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan, on 24 September 2021. Although the country's economy is close to collapse, opium traders claim that prices for their goods have skyrocketed since the Taliban takeover. (Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)

India's Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on 21 September announced that nearly three tonnes of heroin had been seized at the port of Mundra in Gujarat state. According to the BBC, the consignment had originated from Afghanistan, was transshipped via Iran labelled as talc stones, and was intended for distribution in several major cities, including Ahmedabad, Chennai, and Delhi. With an estimated street value of USD2.7 billion, it was the single largest interdiction of drugs in India's history, and underscored Afghanistan's continued leading role in the international drugs trade.

The United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC's) World Drug Report 2021 reported that 83% of all opiates (opium, morphine, and heroin) produced globally are sourced out of Afghanistan, generating revenue streams that contribute as much as 11% to the country's domestic gross product. The UNODC estimates that the area under poppy cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 37% in 2020 to 224,000 hectares, the third largest rise ever recorded in the country, and more than 80% higher than a decade earlier. The bulk of this growth occurs in the Southern Region, particularly Helmand province, which accounts for more than 50% of overall opiate production in the country.

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