Afghanistan – SIGAR, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, issued a report April 30 stating that opium poppy cultivation has increased by over a third. The report also stated that there are now 1.3 million heroin users in the country. This is up tenfold since 2005 when there were roughly 130,000 heroin users.
International forces occupying Afghanistan have had little success slowing down the poppy cultivation and heroin production. In 2013, only 41,000 kilograms of opium out of 5.5 million kilograms produced were seized.
The drug trade has boomed in spite of the US spending $7.5 billion since 2002 on eradication efforts.
John Sopko told a Senate panel in January that the increased opiate production has placed
“the entire US and donor investment in the reconstruction of Afghanistan at risk.”
Sopko went on to say “All of the fragile gains we have made over the last twelve years on women’s issues, health, education, rule of law, and governance are now, more than ever, in jeopardy of being wiped out by the narcotics trade which not only supports the insurgency, but also feeds organized crime and corruption.”
For now, it appears the billions spent to slow down the growth of poppy and the heroin industry have only been fueling its growth, with much of the money ending up in the hands of insurgents and corrupt Afghan officials.