by WorldTribune Staff, April 30, 2017
The Taliban relies heavily on the illicit opium trade from which it generates as much as 60 percent of its funding, according to the U.S. military.
But politically correct polices at the Pentagon have prevented U.S. military actions to eliminate the lucrative and illicit opium crops at the source.
Afghanistan remains the world’s top producer of opium and its heroin derivative despite an estimated $8.5 billion in American taxpayer funds spent on anti-narcotics measures in the country since 2001, Breitbart reported.
“So the Taliban gets a fair amount of money [from the opium trade] and of course, the Afghan government who we put into place – corrupt officials in that group including the family of [former Afghan president] Mr. [Hamid] Karzai, maybe,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, said during an April 27 congressional hearing.
“We’re talking about billions of dollars of wealth. Well, with billions of dollars going like that, coming out like that, I can imagine that would buy a lot of AK-47 bullets, and people wonder where people get the money.”
Rohrabacher, meanwhile, said that U.S. government has for some time had the capability to aerial spray and eradicate the opium crops in Afghanistan but the excuse for not doing so has always been “oh we think they might be too close to a mosque.”
Taliban heroin may also be playing a part in the current heroin epidemic in the U.S. that is killing thousands, U.S. officials say.
“In 2014, 10,574 Americans died from heroin-related overdoses, more than triple the number in 2010,” reported the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in June.
Trump administration officials believe some of the Taliban’s heroin is flowing into the U.S. through Canada, where most of the heroin available is from Afghanistan.
In 2001, the ruling Taliban government imposed an opium ban in Afghanistan and production fell to 185 tons, the lowest since the UN began keeping track in 1994.
Opium cultivation and production began to thrive again, however, soon after the U.S. military replaced the Taliban-led government.
Estimated opium production in Afghanistan reached 3,300 tons in 2015, the latest year for which data is available.
The DEA reported in its most recent National Drug Threat Assessment that only a small amount of Afghanistan heroin, accounting for about four percent of seizures, makes it into the U.S., smuggled primarily by Nigerian traffickers on commercial airlines, the Breitbart report said.
Canada’s Ottawa Citizen, however, citing a DEA spokesman, said the agency “could not say how much Afghan heroin is being smuggled into the U.S. through Canada.”
In its drug threat assessment, the DEA acknowledged that Afghan heroin is found in states that border Canada.
During the April 27 hearing on Afghanistan held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Rohrabacher said in reference to the lucrative opium business:
“We have had that [spraying] capability for at least 20 years and have not touched it, have not done it. We didn’t do it after 9/11. We had that capability, and we didn’t do it. After 9/11 there were store houses of opium where the Taliban had stored billions of dollars of opium and heroin in special locations in Afghanistan. And I will just go on the record for the first time on this — I notified our government at the very highest level exactly where those were, and they needed to be bombed because the Taliban needed to be denied that money and our government never did that. Our government never did it.”