Who: American and Russian drug enforcement agencies.
What: A joint U.S.-Russian drug control agency raid on the heroin and opium labs in Afghanistan has resulted in the destruction of 932 kilograms of heroin and 156 kilograms of opium worth $250 million, officials said in a statement. “This operation significantly damaged heroin manufacturing capabilities … and at the same time demonstrated the will of the Afghan nation and those allies who are impacted by drug trafficking to take necessary steps to bring stability to the country,” a U.S. spokesperson said in emailed comments.
Where: Around 70 men, including U.S. and Afghan security personnel and four Russian drug agents, took part in the raid backed by nine U.S. helicopters in Nangarhar province on labs hidden in the mountains near the border with Pakistan.
When: Russian anti-narcotics chief Viktor Ivanov said his agency co-operated closely with the U.S. counterparts to organise the bust, which ended Thursday, 29 October.
Why: Russia has long complained that it is getting flooded with cheap Afghan heroin as the U.S. and NATO refuse to eradicate poppy and stem drugs trade. Drug control authorities in Moscow have estimated that 30,000 Russians died in 2009 as a result of using heroin from Afghanistan, and a million have died over the last decade. U.S. officials were reluctant for a clampdown, arguing that destruction of poppy fields would drive Afghan farmers into the arms of the Taliban.
How: The raid came after Ivanov and other Russian officials last week repeatedly criticised the United States of doing little to stem a flow of Afghan heroin into Russia. The Russian boss said that his agency provided the U.S. with information on the location of the labs hidden in the mountains near the border with Pakistan, adding drugs and equipment to produce them were destroyed.