Afghanistan is now the world’s fastest growing methamphetamine manufacturer despite the Taliban’s ban on narcotics

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghanistan is the world’s fastest-growing producer of methamphetamine, according to a report by the United Nations anti-drug agency on Sunday. The country is also a major opium producer and source of heroin, despite the Taliban declaring a war on narcotics after returning to power in August 2021.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which released the report, said methamphetamine in Afghanistan is mainly made from legally available substances or extracted from the ephedra plant, which grows in the wild.

The report called methamphetamine manufacturing in Afghanistan a growing threat to national and regional health and security because it could disrupt the synthetic drug market and fuel addiction. He said seizures of methamphetamine suspected to have come from Afghanistan have been reported in the European Union and in East Africa.

Annual totals of methamphetamine seizures within the country increased from less than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) in 2019 to nearly 2,700 kilograms (6,000 pounds) in 2021, suggesting increased production, according to the report. But he couldn’t give a value for the country’s methamphetamine supply, the quantities produced or its domestic use, because he doesn’t have the data.

Angela Me, head of UNODC’s Research and Trend Analysis Division, told The Associated Press that manufacturing methamphetamine, especially in Afghanistan, had several advantages over producing heroin or cocaine.

Afghans gather under a bridge to use drugs in Kabul despite Taliban crackdown.AP

“You don’t have to wait for something to grow,” Yo said. “You don’t need land. You just need the cooks and the knowledge. Meth labs are mobile, they are hidden. Afghanistan also has the ephedra plant, which is not found in the largest methamphetamine-producing countries: Myanmar and Mexico. It is legal in Afghanistan and grows everywhere. But you need a lot.”

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He told me it was too early to assess what impact the Taliban’s drug crackdown has had on methamphetamine supplies.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdul Mateen Qani, told the AP that the Taliban-led government has banned the cultivation, production, sale and use of all narcotics and narcotics in Afghanistan.

He said authorities have destroyed 644 factories and about 12,000 acres of land where banned narcotics were grown, processed or produced. More than 5,000 raids have been carried out in which 6,000 people have been arrested.

A drug addict sits alone at a treatment center in Jalalabad. A drug addict sits alone at a treatment center in Jalalabad. AP

“We cannot say 100% that it is finished because people can still carry out these activities in secret. It is not possible to reduce it to zero in such a short time,” Qani said. “But we have a four-year strategic plan to crack down on narcotics in general and methamphetamine in particular.”

A UN report published in November said that opium cultivation since the Taliban took power increased by 32% from the previous year, and that opium prices increased after authorities announced a ban on cultivation. in April 2022. Farmers’ income from opium sales tripled from $425 million. in 2021 to $1.4 billion in 2022.

The 2022 report also said the illicit drug market prospered as Afghanistan’s economy contracted sharply, opening people to illegal cultivation and trafficking for their survival.

Afghans are grappling with drought, severe economic hardship, and the continuing fallout from decades of war and natural disasters.

An armed policeman destroys a poppy field in Noorgal, Kunar province.An armed policeman destroys a poppy field in Noorgal, Kunar province.AP

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The crisis, along with the disruption of international financing that propped up the economy of the former Western-backed government, is driving people into poverty, hunger and addiction.

An Afghan health official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said about 20,000 people are in hospitals for drug addiction, mostly to methamphetamine. Of these patients, 350 are women. He said children are also being cared for, but did not give the number or their ages.

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