Afghanistan: July 5, 2003


Many fear that the country is now, for all practical purposes, run by a dozen major drug gangs. With over a hundred million dollars a year in drug profits, the gangs are bribing military and civilian officials and buying new weapons, vehicles and communication equipment. The drug gangs, with are often run as tribal operations, or as a faction, or clan, of a tribe, are causing unrest among the non-drug tribes who want some of the action. Not all the fifty or so tribes can get into the drug business because you need to grow poppies and be able to process the plants into opium or heroin and smuggle the drugs out of the country. Several tribes on the borders control the smuggling routes, and not all parts of the country are suitable for poppy cultivation. The incentives to grow poppies are tremendous. A poppy farmer makes several thousands dollars a year, which is 5-10 what he would make growing non-drug crops. Getting armed farmers to give that up is difficult, and requires a large army to accomplish.


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