India Intelligence Report

   Increased Heroin Flows from Afghanistan


Narcotic trackers say that an unwanted and unanticipated side-effect of the Indo-Pak peace process that has increased foot, rail, and road traffic between the two nations is the upsurge of smuggling of heroin from Afghanistan. UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) South Asia Representative Gary Lewis says that there is a sharp increase in the number of civilians caught with heroin and the estimated trafficking is now 1000 kilograms (kgs) up from 50 kgs just 5 years ago.

The UNODC World Drug Report for 2006 says that early indicators suggest that Afghanistan is still the world’s largest opium producer and had 104,000 hectares under opium poppy during 2005—which is a 21% drop since 2001. Lewis says “Afghanistan's drug situation remains vulnerable to reversal because of mass poverty, lack of security, and the fact that the authorities have inadequate control over its territory.” There is clear evidence that poppy planting has increased in 2006, especially in the Southern Provinces where the Taliban is still strong. In earlier form, Taliban used to use revenues from narcotic sale to fund their operations and it is possible that they are resorting to this well-tested method of self-financing. That would also explain increased conflict in the South where the Taliban is on an upswing with better arms and more cadres.

Lewis says that “Some of this produce is leaking out into neighboring South Asian countries, and Delhi is a primary exit venue either via direct flights out of Kabul or through Pakistan” and “A significant quantum of what moves into India is used here.”

A national survey organized by All India Institute of Medical Sciences Chief of Psychiatry Rajat Ray estimated a 2.3 million regular cannabis and 500,000 opiate addict population. Ray says that “These numbers show people who are dependent and need help. The actual numbers who have taken illicit substances at least once is much larger.” Drug addiction among youngsters in Punjab was on the rise, and this was due to the flow of heroin and other drugs into the State from Pakistan.

Indian narcotics officials agree that seizures from heroin sourced in Afghanistan has increased from 12% five years ago to 35% and that the seizures generally take place in Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, and New Delhi. Indian Government sources say that while 170,000 people have crossed the Indo-Pakistan Line of Control this year and majority over controlled transportation means like planes, trains, or buses, about 28,000 have just walked across the border at Wagah.

Lewis acknowledges that Indian and Pakistani officials are working out walks to tackle the issue and that the majority of opiates (heroin, morphine, and opium) takes place in countries near Afghanistan, South West Asia, South Asia, and Central Asia. He also says that increased vigilance has resulted in increased seizures “Internationally, law enforcement agencies are now taking out about 24 per cent of opiates, compared with 10 per cent about a decade ago.”

The UNODC report says that is concerned with the alarming rise and prevalence of cocaine consumption in Western Europe.