Taliban Stockpiles Surplus Opium
This year's crop was double global demand
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2008 11:05 AM CST
An Afghan boy collects resin from poppies in an opium field in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. Much of the opium production is controlled by al-Qaeda.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Taliban is stockpiling opium in Afghanistan, where high yields in recent years have led to a surplus, the UN drug office says. Poppy cultivation is less widespread than it once was, but the high yield offsets the contraction—and allowed the Taliban to make $300 million off opium last year, the New York Times reports. "With two to three hundred million dollars, a lot of war effort can be funded," said the UN official.

"Insurgents have been holding significant amounts of opium," he explained, which has kept the price from falling further than the 20% it has dropped this year. The hoarding complicates matters for NATO and US forces tasked with fighting the drug trade. Seizing or destroying crops can drive up prices even as it alienates poor farmers, factors that strengthen the Taliban's position. "We’ve got to find a way to keep the prices down and the cultivation down," he said.