Drugs worth $350m seized in Afghanistan
Kabul - Afghan and foreign troops seized drugs worth an estimated $350m in southern Afghanistan, including about 100kg of heroin, in one of the biggest narcotics busts since the decade-old war began, the coalition said on Wednesday.
Troops raided a drugs factory in Helmand province on Monday and discovered three laboratories suspected of manufacturing illicit narcotics to finance insurgents, the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
In addition to the heroin, they discovered 6 870 litres of morphine solution, 80kg of opium and 12 065 kg of chemicals used to process the drugs.
The drug trade funnels an estimated $100m to $400m a year to the Taliban through levies on farmers and traffickers, according to the United Nations office on drugs and crime (UNODC).
Insurgents use the cash to buy guns, ammunition and materials to build home made-bombs. It also pays wages, boosting incentives for poorer Afghans to join the insurgency.
Afghanistan's counter-narcotics minister said earlier this month that poppy cultivation had been eradicated from more than half of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
The juice of poppy is extracted to make opium, a paste used to produce heroin, a highly addictive and damaging drug sold illegally in many Western countries.