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Drug Trafficking in Afghanistan and Its International Impact

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Drug trafficking in Afghanistan and its international impact

Drug trafficking is a standout amongst the most significant issues for nations everywhere all over the world.  As a form of illegal trade across international borders, this type of business is constantly related to the crime. Killing and kidnapping people, involving corrupt state officials, prostitution, and increasing number of people addicted, makes this illegal drug trade a serious international issue. To prevent the nations from the danger of drug trafficking military forces have become an important part of security concerns dealing with the heavily armed drug traffickers. These conflicts generally relates to transnational crime. 

        The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime explains that “drug trafficking is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws.” (UNODC, 2010) This trade dealing works all through the world, and includes numerous actors, including transnational criminal associations.

There are numbers of drugs that are exported through the world. The most well-known trafficked drugs are for example, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.

          Apart from notorious drug trades in Mexico and South America, recently, there are also many concerns arising from drug trafficking in middle Asia. To be more exact, in Afghanistan where poppy fields cover hundreds acres of the land. Poppy, which is not ripe contains highly addictive substance called opium which is subsequently used in order to make heroin worldwide. Concerning the international relations, drug trafficking creates drug wars, violates legal controls over state’s borders and also creates interstate problems. Nevertheless, in many cases drug trades are create because of economic issues in the country. For example, speaking of Afghanistan, many of the farmers who work on poppy fields are poor and their living standards are also very miserable. Quite often their lives depend on this work. It is important to mention that drug trafficking also affects NATO. The thing is that most of the money from drug trade goes to Taliban which is perceived as funding this group which is notorious for its fight against NATO and is behind many armed conflicts in Afghanistan. A report from 2009 by UNODC indicated that over 92% of the world’s opium cultivation comes from Afghanistan. Based on that, the profits from this trade are tremendously huge and moreover, create complex and powerful network in which not only separatists’ groups such as Taliban are involved but most importantly, it creates huge corruption among officials. The illustration bellow is nicely picturing the actual network of drug trade.

Note: Overview of the beneficiaries of Afghan opiate trafficking, 2009

[pic 1]

Source: Retrieved from

     Iran, which is Afghanistan’s neighbor country suffers perhaps at most. One of the main reasons why is because most of the opium trafficked is going through Iranian borders and to Europe afterwards. As United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in its reports indicated, most of the opium which was seized worldwide, Iran seized the biggest portion. In fact, Iran is strictly fighting against drug trafficking and its strict zero tolerance for narcotics had its results. Nevertheless, there is a question of security and which might lead to increasing tensions at borders between Afghanistan and Iran. Because of the fact that profits from this trade are significant, traffickers pay either people in unprotected villages to store the opium and afterwards they pay armed groups to protect these convoys. The thing is that these traffickers use the advantage of the open borders which makes the whole trade much easier for them.

     It also seems that international efforts to fight drug trafficking in these areas are perceived as weak or not sufficient enough compared to other countries such as for instance Iran. According to Ameri(2010), “Central Asian states have intercepted 5%, Russia 4%, and countries of South Eastern Europe, including EU member states like Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania, have intercepted just less than 2% of the opiate trade in their territories. By comparison Iran has intercepted 20% of the opiates crossing its land, ranking first in the fight against illicit drugs in the world.” Despite of the presence of foreign military forces, namely NATO or US in the Afghanistan, the curve for drug production has still a slightly increasing trend(Ameri, 2010), which is weakening the reputation of NATO and losing its trustworthiness and credibility in the eyes of especially Iran which actually shows the great willingness to fight drug trafficking. Perhaps, these are also among other reasons why there are tensions between Iran and foreign military forces.



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