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Afghanistan rapidly expanding meth trafficking, UN says as Taliban pledges to eradicate drugs

The rise in production coincides with severe poverty in Afghanistan.

Published: September 10, 2023 2:38pm

Afghanistan's methamphetamine trafficking is "expanding rapidly," as the heroin trade slows down, according to a United Nations report released Sunday as the Taliban pledges to end drug production in the country.

Seizures of meth suspected of originating in Afghanistan have been reported as far away as the European Union and Eastern Africa, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said

In 2017, officials seized 2.5 tons of meth in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, but that number leaped to 29.7 tons in 2021, according to the U.N.

After the Taliban seized power in August 2021 and introduced a ban on drugs in April 2022, heroin trafficking has decreased, the report found. However, meth trafficking intensified after the ban, officials said.

"The surge in methamphetamine trafficking in Afghanistan and the region suggests a significant shift in the illicit drug market and demands our immediate attention," U.N. Drugs and Crime Office Director Ghada Waly said.

Afghanistan is the fastest-growing meth manufacturer in the world, according to The Associated Press

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesperson Abdul Mateen Qani said authorities in his country have destroyed 644 factories and around 12,000 acres of land where banned narcotics were being grown or produced. Additionally, about 6,000 people have been arrested in more than 5,000 raids, Qani said. 

"We cannot claim 100% that it is finished because people can still do these activities in secret. It is not possible to bring it to zero in such a short time," Qani said. "But we have a four-year strategic plan that narcotics in general and meth in particular will be finished."

The rise in production coincides with severe poverty in Afghanistan. An estimated 91% of people in the country last year were below the minimum income level needed to avoid food poverty, according to another United Nations report released in April.

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