The newly-trained Afghan Special Narcotics Force (ASNF) is increasing operations following several successful raids on illegal narcotics activities in different parts of the country, the Ministry of the Interior announced on Thursday.
“In just two weeks ASNF has had significant achievements in two major raids in the east and south. This means we are making greater progress,” general Daud Daud, Afghan deputy interior minister for counter narcotics told IRIN in the capital Kabul, as he marked the success of recent ASNF operations against drug traffickers.
ANSF or Task Force 333 as it is known officially, is a covert squad of crack agents that began work in January 2004. It aims to eliminate processing laboratories and target known drug lords and trafficking vehicles.
“In 2002 the government could confiscate only three tons of narcotics. In 2003 it increased to 10 tons and in 2004 it increased to more than 135 tons, including destroying of 90 drug processing laboratories and in 2005 more than 40 tons of narcotics have been discovered and confiscated in the last five months,” the deputy minister added.
During recent operations, the ASNF has seized 18.5 kg of heroin, four mt of opium and significant quantities of chemicals used for drug processing after a series of raids in the Lashkargah, Sangin and Musa Qala districts of the southern province of Helmand, Daud said.
Little information about the anti-narcotics task force is available. For security reasons the size and composition of the force has not been revealed but special forces from the UK and US are reported to be involved in training the force.
Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics efforts have recently been under attack and Afghan president Hamid Karzai has been blamed by US officials for failing to make any impact on heroin cultivation in the country. Karzai has urged the international community to do more to provide alternative livelihoods for destitute Afghan farmers, many of whom say they have no choice but to grow opium poppies to survive.
The president has promised a 30 percent reduction in opium production in Afghanistan in 2005 and aims to eliminate poppy cultivation over the next six years.
According to a UN report, Afghanistan produced 4,200 mt of opium poppy in 2004, around 85 percent of the world’s illicit heroin supply.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions