Troops seize £150m Afghan heroin haul
Fifteen-tonne cache believed to have been intended to fund Taliban
Afghan and British security forces have seized £150m worth of heroin allegedly due to be used to fund weaponry for the Taliban.
The 15-tonne haul was recovered from two trucks on consecutive days following intelligence gathered by the Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
According to Afghan officials the location of the narcotics came from information supplied by prisoners arrested during the recent Operation Moshtarak and interceptions of insurgent telephone conversations.
The amount taken is equal to 45 per cent of last year's total seizures, three tonnes short of the record and the claimed total in the street value of the drugs is a significant portion of the £400m the Taliban is believed to make from the opium crop every year.
The operation also resulted in six arrests by the Afghan anti-narcotics force, which is being trained by Western agencies. In another investigation, a courier was caught leaving a hotel in possession of 12kg of pure heroin crystals this week, suggesting opium is still being processed in the area to a high purity level, said officials.
There is increasing evidence that narcotics' cartels are processing poppies into opium ready for sale inside Afghanistan instead of sending the crop out to Pakistan and central Asia as had been the case until recently. Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai heard repeated complaints from residents of Marjah, the Taliban stronghold which had been seized by thousands of US, Nato and Afghan troops in Helmand.
By Kim Sengupta, Defence Correspondent
Monday, 8 March 2010