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  1. old hippie 56
    KABUL (AP) — A U.S. military helicopter crashed Monday while returning from the scene of a firefight with suspected Taliban drug traffickers in western Afghanistan, killing 10 Americans including three DEA agents in a not-so-noticed war within a war.

    U.S. military officials insisted neither crash was believed a result of hostile fire, although the Taliban claimed they shot down a U.S. helicopter in the western province of Badghis. The U.S. did not say where in western Afghanistan its helicopter went down, and no other aircraft were reported missing.

    The casualties marked the Drug Enforcement Administration's first deaths since it began operations here in 2005. Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium — the raw ingredient in heroin — and the illicit drug trade is a major source of funding for insurgent groups.

    The U.S. has decided to target production and distribution networks after programs to destroy poppy fields did little except turn farmers against the American-led NATO mission.

    In the past year, the DEA has launched an ambitious plan to increase its personnel in Afghanistan from about a dozen to nearly 80, greatly expanding its role.

    The crash came less than a week after a U.N. report found that the drug trade is enabling the Taliban to make more money now than when they ruled Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion in 2001. The DEA sent more agents to Afghanistan this year to take part in military operations against insurgents who use drug smuggling to raise funds for their war against NATO and its Afghan allies.

    The Associated Press

Comments

  1. chillinwill
    A Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan also risked his life fighting drug dealers in El Paso.

    Special Agent Forrest N. Leamon, 37, and two other agents died Monday when a CH-47 Chinook went down in the western part of the country, said a DEA official in Washington, D.C. The military is investigating the cause of the crash. Weather was thought to be a factor.

    "He was a hardworking, committed DEA agent who volunteered for the assignment" in Afghanistan, said Joe Arabit, special agent in charge of the DEA's El Paso operation. "He put his life on the line to make this country a better, safer place for all of us."

    Leamon began his DEA service in El Paso in 2002. He remained here until 2007, when he joined a unit that accepted foreign deployments. In Afghanistan, that DEA team works with the U.S. military, Arabit said.

    "He was involved in counter-narcotic operations that resulted in the identification and ultimate seizure and destruction of heroin labs."

    Leamon had several friends in the El Paso office, Arabit said. "This is a tremendous loss. His friends here are taking it very hard."

    One of those people is Special Agent Diana Apodaca.

    "He was always there when you needed help on a case," Apodaca said. "It didn't matter whether he was the case agent who would get the ultimate credit."

    Leamon's duties in El Paso were diverse, including undercover operations, surveillance and making arrests, Arabit said. As part of a DEA Mobile Enforcement Team, Leamon was a lead investigator on cases in New Mexico and most of West Texas. Targets included gangs selling crack, heroin and other drugs.

    Leamon was born in Ukiah, Calif. He served nine years in the Navy before joining the DEA. He is survived by his pregnant wife, who lives in Woodbridge, Va.; his mother and father; and a sister.

    Also killed in the crash were Special Agents Chad L. Michael, 30, of Quantico, Va., and Michael E. Weston, 37, of Washington, D.C.

    Chris Roberts
    October 28, 2009
    El Paso Times
    http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_13663844?IADID=Search-www.elpasotimes.com-www.elpasotimes.com
  2. DarbyWay
    I would rather read a report on the thousands of Afghani children who starve to death every winter because DEA agents have destroyed their family's poppy crop, instead of targeting the traffickers and heroin labs.
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