UN Crackdown on Heroin Is Bleeding Taliban Dry

Hundreds of tons of chemicals seized
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2008 11:45 AM CDT
A Taliban militant is seen with an AK- 47 rifle gun, right, as farmers collect resin from poppies in an opium poppy field in southwest Afghanistan in an April 25, 2008 file photo.   (AP Photo, File)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The UN has been quietly striking a major blow against the Taliban with a widely successful international attack on its heroin trade, Bloomberg reports. The campaign has seized several hundred tons of acetic anhydride bound for Afghanistan. Without the chemical, the Taliban can’t convert its poppy, which sells for about $100 per kilo, into heroin, which fetches about $3,500 per kilo.

Afghan poppy fields, which mostly lie in Taliban-controlled southern provinces, produce 90% of the world’s heroin, and 60% of the Taliban’s income. But since there’s no legal use of acetic anhydride in Afghanistan, the UN can seize shipments headed there. The program has engendered widespread international cooperation, bringing together even such rivals as the US and Iran.