Militant Groups Behind Illegal Drug Trade in Afghanistan: MoI

Militant groups such as Taliban, al Qaeda and Daesh "are the main backers of drug trafficking" in Afghanistan, the counter-narcotics department of the Ministry of Interior said on Saturday.

The ministry said the provinces such as Helmand, Nimroz, Farah and Badakhshan where the Taliban has more influence, poppy cultivation and drug processing "have been on the rise" compared to other places.

“Three main groups including Al Qaeda, Daesh and the Taliban are the main networks in Afghanistan that are supporting (drug) trafficking in the country,” said Abdul Sami Popalzai, head of the counter-narcotics department of Ministry of Interior Affairs.

Taliban rejected their involvement in the illegal drug trade, saying they are not in a position to prevent drug smuggling in areas under their influence. 

“We basically control rural areas where there is agriculture. The people cultivate everything there... We cannot prevent them because we do not have an alternative for them. Therefore, we cannot go against them because we are in a war situation,” said a Taliban spokesman.

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a recent report said that despite the US spending of $94 billion to fight drug trafficking in Afghanistan since 2002, the efforts have not left any significant outcome to eradicate it completely.

The Afghan government recently said that counter-narcotics forces have arrested 270 suspects since the start of autumn.

“47 of the suspects were arrested from Hamid Karzai International Airport,” said Ahmad Khalid Muwahid, a spokesman for Counter Narcotics Justices Center (CNJC).

According to the ministry, the Afghan counter-narcotics forces have confiscated at least 280 tons of drugs and chemicals in 2,170 operations launched last year.



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