17 July 2008 – More than three tons of precursor chemicals used to produce heroin were recently seized in Afghanistan in an operation supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Nearly 3,200 kilos of the chemicals, including 2,229 kilos of ammonium chloride and 736 kilos of sodium carbonate, were hidden in sacks of fertilizer and rice and smuggled across the Pakistani border by truck.
The shipment was intercepted in Kabul by the Counter Narcotics Police in Afghanistan (CNPA), as part of the UNODC-supported “Operation Tarcet,” which targets the smuggling of precursor chemicals into the strife-torn nation, which supplies more than 90 per cent of the world’s heroin.
Working with UNODC and regional governments, the CNPA has stepped up its efforts to intercept consignments of smuggled precursors through its participation in Operation Tarcet, which began in Afghanistan and now covers the region.
Operation Tarcet has also led to the recent seizure of five tons of acetic anhydride, a chemical needed to produce heroin, in the southern Iranian city of Bandar Abbas, and a 14-ton seizure of the same precursor in Karachi, Pakistan.
“This seizure shows that regional and targeted collaboration works,” says Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Chief of UNODC’s Europe and Asia Section. “Dealing with the drug issue is a shared responsibility. Translating this shared responsibility into action is the art.”
Operation Tarcet aims to educate law enforcement officials on identifying and intercepting smuggled chemical shipments, and to intercept consignments using modern methodologies.
It is part of UNODC’s broader “Rainbow Strategy” to counter Afghan opium production, trafficking and consumption, through cross-border cooperation, intelligence, precursor control, money flows and drug demand reduction.