UN drugs chief praises world’s largest cannabis bust in Afghanistan
12 June 2008 – The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today congratulated the Afghan authorities for finding and destroying what is believed to be the world’s largest seizure of drugs, with the support of NATO troops.
Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC, today congratulated the Minister of the Interior of Afghanistan, Zarar Ahmad Moqbel, for the seizure of 236.8 tons of hashish with a potential wholesale value of $400 million, according to the NATO operation in Afghanistan.
“This is a massive seizure, and a major success for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan,” Mr. Costa said.
“Notorious for being the world’s biggest producer of opium, Afghanistan has also become a major source of cannabis resin,” Mr. Costa added.
UNODC estimates that some 70,000 hectares of cannabis were grown in 2007, up from 50,000 in 2006 and 30,000 in 2005. Afghanistan appears to be overtaking the world’s top cannabis grower, Morocco, where the multi-billion dollar cannabis harvest halved from 2003 to 2006.
“The international community needs to provide more support to curb Afghanistan’s drug problem”, the UN drugs chief stressed as an international conference in support of Afghanistan got under way in Paris.
Mr. Costa praised the recent decision by the Security Council to adopt a resolution calling on all UN Member States to tighten international and regional controls on the manufacture and trade of chemical precursors, which are needed to make heroin, and prevent their diversion to illicit markets.
“This should make heroin production a riskier business,” Mr. Costa said.
The head of UNODC also urged Member States to take action against individuals and entities that finance terrorism from drugs, by listing them, freezing their assets, and banning their travel.
“Drugs are financing terrorism and insurgency in Afghanistan. The Security Council has created a list, but there are still no names on it. I urge governments to come forward with the names and evidence needed to bring the most wanted drug traffickers to justice,” Mr. Costa added.