VIENNA — Afghanistan produced dramatically more opium in 2006, increasing its yield by nearly 50 per cent from a year earlier and pushing global opium production to a record high, a UN report said Tuesday.
Afghanistan's opium production increased from about 4,500 tonnes in 2005 to 6,700 tonnes in 2006, according to the 2007 World Drug Report released by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Opium is the main ingredient for heroin.
In 2006, Afghanistan accounted for 92 per cent of global illicit opium production, up from 70 per cent in 2000 and 52 per cent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought global opium production to a record high of nearly 7,300 tonnes last year, a 43 per cent increase over 2005.
The area under opium poppy cultivation in the country has also expanded, from nearly 257,000 acres in 2005 to more than 407,000 acres in 2006 — an increase of about 59 per cent.
“This is the largest area under opium poppy cultivation ever recorded in Afghanistan,” the report said, noting that two-thirds of cultivation was concentrated in the country's south.
UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa warned that Afghanistan's insurgency-plagued Helmand province was becoming the world's biggest drug supplier, with opium cultivation there larger than in the rest of the country put together.
Oh and despite the best efforts of that Alaskan "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" teenager, whom the US Supremes decided on Monday should have his first amendment rights curtailed, apparently cannabis use has reportedly declined in America. Obviously, his nefarious plot to "promote illegal drug use" has failed miserably.
And remember, pay no attention to the drug lords behind the curtain. It's students with banners who are the real threat.
Related: A new US Government Accountability Office report "slams the federal government for failing to coordinate the work of U.S. law enforcement agencies overseas to fight terrorism." What caught my eye was this part:
As a result of these weaknesses, LEAs [law enforcement agencies], a key element of national power, are not being fully used abroad to protect U.S. citizens and interest from future terrorist attacks," the GAO concluded.
For national security reasons, the GAO did not name the four countries its investigators visited, describing them only as having "key roles in combating terrorism."
In all four there was more U.S. funding devoted to fighting drugs than to fighting terrorism, the report said
In one country, described as an "extremely high terrorist threat to American interests globally," the State Department provided six times more funding to stop illicit drugs and crime than it did for anti-terrorism assistance, the report said.
In another country, an embassy official said most training and assistance funding from the U.S. was dedicated to counter-narcotics efforts "even though drugs were no longer a strategic concern in that country."
So, I guess that begs the next question: How's that war against terrorism working out?