US Suspects Afghan Air Force of Drug Running

Investigators say US-funded force has been ferrying illegal weapons, too
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2012 9:40 AM CST
US Suspects Afghan Air Force of Drug Running
Afghan military officials look on a helicopter donated by US to Afghan air force in Shindand district of Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011.   (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

The US military and the DEA are both investigating the Afghan Air Force, over allegations that it has been using its aircraft—most of which were funded with US cash—to ferry narcotics and illegal weapons around the country, officials tell the Wall Street Journal. Senior AAF and Afghan government officials have allegedly been involved in the flights, or else turned a blind eye to them. While there's no hard proof yet, the allegations come from "credible" Afghan and coalition personnel.

There's also circumstantial evidence, like "helicopters just disappearing without flight plans," and aircraft making unscheduled arrivals and rapidly unloading unspecified cargo in the middle of the night. Senior officials are also calling for a new investigation into last April's shooting of eight US officers by an AAF colonel, which they suspect may have been linked to the drug-running business. Among the dead was a lieutenant colonel who had kickstarted an informal probe after becoming suspicious about activities at Kabul International Airport. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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