A report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), suggests the US war in Afghanistan has been fueling America’s drug crisis.
RT: Do you think there are any links between the record production of opium in Afghanistan and America’s heroin crisis?
Jim Dean: It is a connection in that before we went into Afghanistan there was almost no heroin production there. And then after we went in it miraculously began to skyrocket, because the northern warlords went back into growing opium to fund the war and also enrich themselves. What also happened is, we found out much later that US contractors – particularly not only the military but the ex-military people who were involved in doing a lot of the flights in and out of the country began shipping drugs out.
We did not know whether they were just doing it on the side. But later we found out a lot of the increase in heroin production was being officially done and the money … eventually ending up in political campaigns in the US, and also to fund black projects for intelligence operations that they didn’t want anyone in Congress to know.
So yes, the big increase in production did come as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan. But the story gets a little more complicated because once you have opium, it has to be turned into heroin. That is a long story that evolved over what’s been many years now.
RT: There has been a warning that heroin has been smuggled from Afghanistan into the US through Canada. How is it possible?
JD: Canada has a lot of their heroin coming in from Afghanistan. The Canadian border is the most porous because it has the least number of border enforcement people. In terms of carrying things in, they can’t have people stationed every 100 yards.
We hear in the US that heroin production in Mexico has also greatly increased and officials here, although there is disagreement on this, say most of the heroin currently coming into the US is coming from Canada, but that the amounts coming in from Afghanistan are increasing. The question is: how are they getting in after all of those long fights. The danger of shipping it for a long distance.
Our information is that a lot of it is being brought in are government operations that are being secret, they don’t go through normal customs, because their operations are classified, and they have their own air transport. This is how a lot of this drug trafficking is going into political campaigns, and big wigs are moving around through the defense and intelligence contractors that are being widely used now by the US.
RT: What is the main cause of opium production increase in Afghanistan?
JD: The US campaign just made it completely wide open. The country was devastated economically – there was no real economy. So growing drugs, and particularly poppies, no other crop could really compete with it. And the Taliban was no longer there to stop drug production because they knew what the long-term consequences would be.
It is a little bit more complicated because a lot of that heroin and opium was traveling not only into the former Soviet Union states but also into Russia. They have their own growing epidemic because they were being flooded with cheap heroin coming out of Afghanistan. We see now that was part of the destabilization process that the West and NATO was beginning with Russia; to increase the problem that they have with drug addiction, and Putin spoke out about this very early on.