Counter Narcotics

The drug trade remains a major issue in Afghanistan. Opium production and sales fuel terrorist networks in Afghanistan and perpetuate corruption. As the global demand for drugs has sky-rocketed, so has production in Afghanistan—the UN estimated it reached an all time high in 2017. As President Ashraf Ghani emphasized at the Kabul Process conference in February 2018, the global demand for drugs has contributed to the increase in supply; therefore, it requires a global response from the international community and is a shared problem. The UNODC’s 2017 Afghan Opium Survey shows that opium poppy cultivation and drug production chain generate huge profits, supporting criminality and insurgency, and ultimately resulting in greater insecurity.

Afghanistan’s narcotics industry straddles the intersection between security and development. Since 2015, the government has been implementing a National Drug Action Plan that aligns law enforcement, education, and public health. The government has taken decisive steps to criminalize illicit activities related to the narcotics trade, and continues to strengthen law enforcement capacity to intercept drug smuggling and arrest and prosecute those involved in the drug trade. Simultaneously the government is investing in agricultural programs that offer viable alternative livelihoods to farmers who cultivate opium. These activities remain challenging to implement due to insecurity and competing priorities across the government. The government is focused on this issue as a long-term one which will persist in Afghanistan due to an inflated global demand for opium, and lack of a coordinated global response.

Partially achievedand ongoing (2/2):100.0 Partially achievedand ongoing (2/2):100.0 %Partially achieved and ongoing (2/2)Percentage: 100.0
– Provide alternative livelihoods for farmers
 PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
  • In November 2017, the UNODC Country Office for Afghanistan (UNODC COAFG), jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation Livestock, (MAIL), Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN), International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau (INL) of the United States, various NGOs and various line Ministries launched the Boost Alternative Development Interventions Through Licit Livelihoods Program. It is being implemented in 13 provinces with high levels of drug production, and will reach 50,000 households in four years. It focuses specifically on increasing sustainable production and income of farmers and was designed in accordance with national strategies, including the National Drug Control Strategy and National Drug Action Plan.
  • Other areas of focus are research and extension services, improved agricultural production methods, and agriculture infrastructure development. Alternative crops include mainly saffron, pistachio, and Jujube. In 2017, over 62,000 farmers directly benefitted from various alternative crop programs.
  • Progress has been made in licit crop production and productivity in Afghanistan. According to the Central Statistics Organization 2016 report, there was a 133 % increase in the cultivation of saffron, a 63 % increase in the production of vegetables, a 57 % increase in the production of apples, a 40 % increase in the production of pomegranates, and a 35 % increase in the production of almonds.
  • A regional dialogue has also been initiated to explore how alternative crops can be promoted in regional markets. In December 2017, the UNODC teamed up with the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics to host a two-day conference on “Promoting Afghanistan’s Alternative Development Initiatives among Regional and International Partners” in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

– Strictly enforce laws against moneylaundering and drug trafficking
 PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
  • Anti-corruption reforms in the government and prosecutions of highranking government officials involved in drug-smuggling and other illicit activities are also on-going. As a result of these efforts, drugs confiscated in 2017, such as opium and morphine, equalled 231 tons with an estimated worth of $270 million.
  • A Counternarcotics High Commission was established, with meetings conducted quarterly and chaired by President Ashraf Ghani or CEO Abdullah Abdullah.
  • The government worked on amending the Counter-narcotics Law and its related frameworks and policies, as well as instituting a number of laws and procedures to prevent money laundering for the income generated from drug-related activities.
  • In 2017, the government amended the Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime to establish better coordination between government bodies that are working to prevent money laundering and access to illicit funds.
  • The Transnational Crime Investigations Directorate for International Crimes has been established inside the Attorney General and its chairman also has been appointed and commenced work. The directorate has cooperation with a number of countries in the area of combating drug crimes, money laundering crimes and terroristic crimes.
  • Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Afghanistan conducted on-the-job training to customs, police, and border officials at Torkham, Spin-Boldak, Torghondi, and Islam Qala border crossing points. In 2017, FinTRACA received online access to Custom’s declaration database and received 2,384 declaration forms. 14 cash seizure cases were reported by Afghanistan’s Customs Department. Investigations of 4 cases were completed in 2017 and cash fines
  • imposed. UNODC is assisting in improving the mechanism for antimoney laundering at border crossings, which are a focus of 2018.
  • The government has taken decisive action to arrest drug smugglers and intercept smuggling. The Attorney General’s Office assigned AntiNarcotics Prosecutors at every airport across the country. During the 2017, the Special Prosecutors Office reviewed 581 cases in the investigation phase, 582 cases in the preliminary stage, 344 cases in the stage of appeal, and 223 cases in the final stage based on the laws on countering narcotics and drugs.
  • In 2017, 155 drug processing laboratories were destroyed; 12 drug storage units were destroyed, and 4,865 hectares of land under poppy cultivation were destroyed between years 2015- 2017. The number of successful interdictions increased over the past three years, with numbers peaking in 2017. Such activities have continued into 2018.
  • Capacity building efforts have been undertaken to increase the National Interdiction Unity’s ability to independently plan and execute operations.