Category Archives: CIA and FBI support of the Drug Trade

Bush Will Not Stop Afghan Opium Trade

Bush Will Not Stop Afghan Opium Trade

Charles R. Smith
Thursday, March 28, 2002

The Bush administration has decided not to destroy the opium crop in Afghanistan. President Bush, who previously linked the Afghan drug trade directly to terrorism, has now decided not to destroy the Afghan opium crop.

"The war in Afghanistan will be decided within the next six weeks based on whether or not the poppy crops go to market," stated a U.S. intelligence official who recently returned from Afghanistan.

The source, who requested that he not be identified, noted that the opium poppy fields are blooming and ready for harvest. U.S. forces could destroy the crops using aerial spraying techniques, but no such actions are planned.

"If the estimated 3,000 tons of opium reaches market, it will lead to a new upsurge in international terrorism and a great loss in international credibility for the Bush administration and the United States’ ability to conduct war in the 21st century. America’s enemies throughout the world from China to North Korea to Iran will be emboldened by this lack of strategic vision and political will," said the source.

U.N. Ban on Opium Trade

The U.S. and all its allies signed onto a worldwide ban on opium sales. In January 2002, the U.N. issued a report on the Afghan opium production, noting that allied forces needed to act quickly to destroy the 2002 opium poppy crops before the end of spring.

"The global importance of the ban on opium poppy cultivation and trafficking in Afghanistan is enormous," states the January 2002 U.N. report on drug trafficking.

"Afghanistan has been the main source of illicit opium: 70 percent of global illicit opium production in 2000 and up to 90 percent of heroin in European drug markets originated from Afghanistan," states the U.N. report.

"There are reliable indications that opium poppy cultivation has resumed since October 2001 in some areas (such as the southern provinces Uruzgan, Helmand, Nangarhar and Kandahar), following the effective implementation of the Taliban ban on cultivation in 2001, not only because of the breakdown in law and order, but also because the farmers are desperate to find a means of survival following the prolonged drought," states the U.N. report.

This Is Your CIA

Several sources inside Capitol Hill noted that the CIA opposes the destruction of the Afghan opium supply because to do so might destabilize the Pakistani government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. According to these sources, Pakistani intelligence had threatened to overthrow President Musharraf if the crops were destroyed.

The threat to overthrow Musharraf is motivated in part by Islamic radical groups linked to the Pakistani intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The radical groups reportedly obtain their primary funding through opium production and trade.

"Pakistan’s intelligence service is corrupt, unreliable, and we don’t owe them a damn thing. The CIA has a very checkered past as far as who they choose to get in the sack with. Maybe it’s time to stop being clever and do the right thing," stated another source close to the Bush administration.

"If they [the CIA] are in fact opposing the destruction of the Afghan opium trade, it’ll only serve to perpetuate the belief that the CIA is an agency devoid of morals; off on their own program rather than that of our constitutionally elected government," stated the source.

"If we don’t take this opportunity to destroy the opium production in Afghanistan, we are no better than the Taliban, who did nothing to stop it despite claims to the contrary," he concluded.

This Is Your CIA on Drugs

The CIA decision not to stop the Afghan opium production has been greeted silently by U.S. allies. According to intelligence sources, both the U.K. and French governments have quietly given their approval of the American policy by not acting in accordance with the U.N. global ban on opium traffic.

However, one foreign intelligence official was quick to point out that the CIA has a history of supporting international drug trafficking.

"The CIA did almost the identical thing during the Vietnam War, which had catastrophic consequences – the increase in the heroin trade in the USA beginning in the 1970s is directly attributable to the CIA. The CIA has been complicit in the global drug trade for years, so I guess they just want to carry on their favorite business," noted an allied intelligence official who works closely with U.S. law enforcement.

"The sole reason why organized crime groups and terrorists have the power that they do is all because of drug trafficking. Like the old saying, ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,’" stated the official.

TV War on Terror

According to intelligence sources, a simple grant of $200 a year, no more than $20 million in total, sent to each poorly paid Afghan farmer could stop all opium production. The U.S. war in Afghanistan has already consumed an estimated $40 billion.

After spending millions of dollars on a U.S. advertising campaign that linked illegal drug sales to terrorism, the Bush administration has opted not to destroy Afghanistan’s opium production over fears that such an act may destabilize Pakistan.

Clearly, ending opium production inside Afghanistan could be more effective than spending millions on TV advertising. The lack of action in Afghanistan against the drug trade shows that the Bush administration has adopted a hypocritical and flawed policy in its war on terror.

The current U.S. law enforcement tactics aimed at slick TV ads and seizing terrorist money will not stop the flow of illegal drug money flowing into the hands of Osama bin Laden. If the Bush administration is truly interested in ending terrorism, then it must start in the poppy fields of Afghanistan.

A brief history of CIA involvement in the Drug Trade

A brief history of CIA involvement in the Drug Trade

by William Blum

1947 to 1951, FRANCE

According to Alfred W. McCoy in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, CIA arms, money, and disinformation enabled Corsican criminal syndicates in Marseille to wrestle control of labor unions from the Communist Party. The Corsicans gained political influence and control over the docks — ideal conditions for cementing a long-term partnership with mafia drug distributors, which turned Marseille into the postwar heroin capital of the Western world. Marseille’s first heroin laboratories were opened in 1951, only months after the Corsicans took over the waterfront.


The Nationalist Chinese army, organized by the CIA to wage war against Communist China, became the opium barons of The Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, Thailand and Laos), the world’s largest source of opium and heroin. Air America, the ClA’s principal airline proprietary, flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia. (See Christopher Robbins, Air America, Avon Books, 1985, chapter 9.)

1950s to early 1970s, INDOCHINA

During U.S. military involvement in Laos and other parts of Indochina, Air America flew opium and heroin throughout the area. Many GI’s in Vietnam became addicts. A laboratory built at CIA headquarters in northern Laos was used to refine heroin. After a decade of American military intervention, Southeast Asia had become the source of 70 percent of the world’s illicit opium and the major supplier of raw materials for America’s booming heroin market.

1973-80, AUSTRALIA

The Nugan Hand Bank of Sydney was a CIA bank in all but name. Among its officers were a network of US generals, admirals and CIA men, including fommer CIA Director William Colby, who was also one of its lawyers. With branches in Saudi Arabia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and the U.S., Nugan Hand Bank financed drug trafficking, money laundering and international arms dealings. In 1980, amidst several mysterious deaths, the bank collapsed, $50 million in debt. (See Jonathan Kwitny, The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money and the CIA, W.W. Norton & Co., 1987.)


1970s and 1980s, PANAMA

For more than a decade, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega was a highly paid CIA asset and collaborator, despite knowledge by U.S. drug authorities as early as 1971 that the general was heavily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Noriega facilitated "guns-for-drugs" flights for the contras, providing protection and pilots, as well as safe havens for drug cartel officials, and discreet banking facilities. U.S. officials, including then-ClA Director William Webster and several DEA officers, sent Noriega letters of praise for efforts to thwart drug trafficking (albeit only against competitors of his Medellin Cartel patrons). The U.S. government only turned against Noriega, invading Panama in December 1989 and kidnapping the general, once they discovered he was providing intelligence and services to the Cubans and Sandinistas. Ironically drug trafficking through Panama increased after the US invasion. (John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, Random House, 1991; National Security Archive Documentation Packet The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations.)



The San Jose Mercury News series documents just one thread of the interwoven operations linking the CIA, the contras and the cocaine cartels. Obsessed with overthrowing the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, Reagan administration officials tolerated drug trafficking as long as the traffickers gave support to the contras. In 1989, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations (the Kerry committee) concluded a three-year investigation by stating:

"There was substantial evidence of drug smuggling through the war zones on the part of individual Contras, Contra suppliers, Contra pilots mercenaries who worked with the Contras, and Contra supporters throughout the region…. U.S. officials involved in Central America failed to address the drug issue for fear of jeopardizing the war efforts against Nicaragua…. In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. govemment had information regarding the involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter…. Senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras’ funding problems." (Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, a Report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and Intemational Operations, 1989)

In Costa Rica, which served as the "Southern Front" for the contras (Honduras being the Northern Front), there were several different ClA-contra networks involved in drug trafficking. In addition to those servicing the Meneses-Blandon operation detailed by the Mercury News, and Noriega’s operation, there was CIA operative John Hull, whose farms along Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua were the main staging area for the contras. Hull and other ClA-connected contra supporters and pilots teamed up with George Morales, a major Miami-based Colombian drug trafficker who later admitted to giving $3 million in cash and several planes to contra leaders. In 1989, after the Costa Rica government indicted Hull for drug trafficking, a DEA-hired plane clandestinely and illegally flew the CIA operative to Miami, via Haiti. The U.S. repeatedly thwarted Costa Rican efforts to extradite Hull back to Costa Rica to stand trial.

Another Costa Rican-based drug ring involved a group of Cuban Americans whom the CIA had hired as military trainers for the contras. Many had long been involved with the CIA and drug trafficking They used contra planes and a Costa Rican-based shrimp company, which laundered money for the CIA, to move cocaine to the U.S.

Costa Rica was not the only route. Guatemala, whose military intelligence service — closely associated with the CIA — harbored many drug traffickers, according to the DEA, was another way station along the cocaine highway. Additionally, the Medellin Cartel’s Miami accountant, Ramon Milian Rodriguez, testified that he funneled nearly $10 million to Nicaraguan contras through long-time CIA operative Felix Rodriguez, who was based at Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador.

The contras provided both protection and infrastructure (planes, pilots, airstrips, warehouses, front companies and banks) to these ClA-linked drug networks. At least four transport companies under investigation for drug trafficking received US government contracts to carry non-lethal supplies to the contras. Southern Air Transport, "formerly" ClA-owned, and later under Pentagon contract, was involved in the drug running as well. Cocaine-laden planes flew to Florida, Texas, Louisiana and other locations, including several military bases. Designated as ‘Contra Craft,’ these shipments were not to be inspected. When some authority wasn’t clued in, and made an arrest, powerful strings were pulled on behalf of dropping the case, acquittal, reduced sentence, or deportation.


1980s to early 1990s, AFGHANISTAN

ClA-supported Mujahedeen rebels [now, 2001, part of the "Northern Alliance"] engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported government and its plans to reform the very backward Afghan society. The Agency’s principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and a leading heroin refiner. CIA-supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan/Pakistan border. The output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. U.S. officials admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against the drug operation because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies. In 1993, an official of the DEA called Afghanistan the new Colombia of the drug world.

Mid-1980s to early 199Os, HAITI

While working to keep key Haitian military and political leaders in power, the CIA turned a blind eye to their clients’ drug trafficking. In 1986, the Agency added some more names to its payroll by creating a new Haitian organization, the National Intelligence Service (SIN). SIN was purportedly created to fight the cocaine trade, though SIN officers themselves engaged in the trafficking, a trade aided and abetted by some of the Haitian military and political leaders.



William Blum is author of
Killing Hope: U.S Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II


US and NATO protecting Afghan drug trade

US and NATO protecting Afghan drug trade

Pakistan Post, August 5, 2008

Naveed Miraj

ISLAMABAD: After the fall of Taliban government, Afghanistan has again become a hub of narcotics cultivation and smuggling. Thanks to protection, being provided by the US troops, western forces and the Afghan government which are fully involved in the business in the name of war on terror.

The poppy cultivation that came to an end during Taliban period has risen to its highest level as the farmers have cultivated opium in a vast area of 477,000 acres of land in 2007, a 14 per cent increase over the previous year and total production, spurred by unusually high rainfall. Last year it was cultivated on 165,000 hectres, which is 60 per cent more than that of the previous year while Drug Enforcement Agency has the capacity to eliminate only one per cent of the production in the country. Afghanistan supplies 93 per cent of the world’s opium, the main ingredient of heroin and cultivation of poppy has reached at unprecedented level as the opium harvest jumped 34 per cent last year to an estimated 8,200 tonnes. Most of the fields of opium in Afghanistan are owned by the pro-government people specially the warlords who also control various areas and promote poppy cultivation there under the protection of US and allied forces. The US and western forces for certain reasons have given a free hand to the Afghan farmers to cultivate opium therefore turning the country into the biggest opium producer in the world.

There are also reports that the US forces are exporting drugs in collaboration with these warlords who also provide handsome money to the US forces. According to a recent report published by The New York Times, John Schewit a senior US official who had been posted in Afghanistan during the past five years as the Chief of US Anti-Narcotics Agency in an article of 12000 words has confirmed that the US forces and Afghan government have done nothing to control and stop poppy cultivation. Even the US Congress has also criticised the US AID for not providing alternative sources of income to the Afghan people. The Golden Crescent drug trade, launched by the CIA in the early 1980s, continues to be protected by US intelligence, in liaison with NATO occupation forces and the British military. In recent developments, British occupation forces have also been found involved in promoting opium cultivation through paid radio advertisements.

According to reports, the Karzai government officials have also close links with drug smugglers and the government is totally helpless before these warlords. A chain has been made for narcotics smuggling from Afghanistan and opium first product of poppy is first sent to the north of the country for its procession and then smuggled to Central Asian states from where it travels to Europe via Iran.

Afghanistan’s economy has become a criminal economy and narcotics or drug smugglers have so permeated into the Afghan society that no force can control them. The independent observers are of the view that drug business is the major component of the Afghan economy and it is being run under the umbrella of US agencies working in the country in the name of socio-economic revival but to cover their illicit activities the US agencies specially CIA is blaming ISI for helping warlords to promote terrorism there. ISI that played tremendous role in Afghan war against Soviet aggression in 90s is now under fire from the US agencies as it has become main obstacle in their way to promote drug smuggling from Afghanistan via Pakistan and now they have to adopt alternative routes for this purpose. The Afghan government and allied forces have miserably failed to control internal security situation as they are more interested in the business other than bringing normalcy in the war-torn country and blaming ISI to protect their hidden agenda and Afghanistan is a golden arrow for them due to expanding drug business that is even stronger than the oil economy.

It is matter of fact that it was the ISI that helped Taliban government to control drug business who had imposed a complete ban on poppy cultivation seven years ago and ISI shut all doors for drug smuggling from Afghanistan via Pakistan but it is not acceptable for the USA and its allied forces to control the business that provides them huge money to fulfill their hidden agenda that could not be implemented through legal resources.



CIA Covert Actions and Drug Trafficking


By Alfred McCoy
( )

Excerpted from testimony before the Special Seminar focusing on allegations linking CIA secret operations and drug trafficking-convened February 13, 1997, by Rep. John Conyers, Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus

Let’s look at the heroin boom of the 1980s. In the 1980s, CIA op-erations again played a role in the revival of the U.S. drug problem. In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and the Sandinistas seized power in Nicaragua, prompting two more CIA operations with some revealing similarities. Let us now pay particularly close attention to the CIA’s Afghan operation. Not only is the Afghan operation simultaneous and similar to the controversial contra operation, but its direct and negative impact on U.S. drug supply is beyond question or controversy.

In 1980 and 1981, heroin production in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan suddenly expanded to fill gaps in the global drug market. Although Pakistan and Afghanistan had zero-zero-heroin production in the mid-1970s, by 1981 Pakistan had suddenly emerged as the world’s number one heroin supplier. Reporting from Teheran in the mid 1970s, U.S. Ambassador Richard Helms, the former CIA Director, insisted that there was no heroin production in this region, only localized opium trade. This region, he said, then supplied zero percent of the U.S. heroin supply. In 1981, by contrast, the U.S. Attorney General announced that Pakistan was now supplying sixty percent of the U.S. demand for heroin. Inside Pakistan itself the results were even more disastrous. Rising from zero heroin addicts in 1979, Pakistan had five thousand addicts in 1980 and one million two hundred thousand addicts in 1985, the world’s highest number in any terms. Why was Pakistan able to capture the world’s heroin market with such surprising speed and ease?

After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the White House assigned the CIA to mount a major operation to support the Afghan resistance. Working through Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence, the CIA began supplying covert arms and finance to Afghan forces. As they gained control over liberated zones inside Afghanistan, the Afghan guerrillas required that its supporters grow opium to support the resistance. Under CIA and Pakistani protection, Pakistan military and Afghan resistance opened heroin labs on the Afghan and Pakistani border. According to The Washington Post of May 1990, among the leading heroin manufacturers were Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan leader who received about half of the covert arms that the U.S. shipped to Pakistan. Although there were complaints about Hekmatyar’s brutality and drug trafficking within the ranks of the Afghan resistance of the day, the CIA maintained an uncritical alliance and supported him without reservation or restraint.

Once the heroin left these labs in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, the Sicilian Mafia imported the drugs into the U.S., where they soon captured sixty percent of the U.S. heroin market. That is to say, sixty percent of the U.S. heroin supply came indirectly from a CIA operation. During the decade of this operation, the 1980s, the substantial DEA contingent in Islamabad made no arrests and participated in no seizures, allowing the syndicates a de facto free hand to export heroin. By contrast, a lone Norwegian detective, following a heroin deal from Oslo to Karachi, mounted an investigation that put a powerful Pakistani banker known as President Zia’s surrogate son behind bars. The DEA in Islamabad got nobody, did nothing, stayed away.

Former CIA operatives have admitted that this operation led to an expansion of the Pakistan-Afghanistan heroin trade. In 1995 the former CIA Director of this Afghan operation, Mr. Charles Cogan, admitted sacrificing the drug war to fight the Cold War. "Our main mission was to do as much damage to the Soviets. We didn’t really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade," he told Australian television. "I don’t think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout. There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes, but the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan."

Again, distance insulated the CIA from political fallout. Once the heroin left Pakistan, the Sicilian Mafia exported it to the U.S., and local gangs sold it on the street. Eventually U.S. drug agents arrested a bunch of middle-aged Sicilians migrants at pizza parlors from Boston, MA to Milton, WI in the famous pizza connection case of the 1980s. Not surprisingly, most Americans did not make the equation between Afghan drug lords, the pizza parlors and the heroin in their cities. Hence, there was no controversy over this Afghan operation.

In Central America, however, simple proximity has made the fallout from the CIA operations explosive. Unlike the CIA’s Asian warlords, Nicaragua’s Contras did not produce drugs and had to make their money by participating in the smuggling of cocaine directly into the U.S. Proximity brought these operations to the attention of Congress in the late l980s, when Senator John Kerry’s subcommittee investigated the Contra-cocaine links. His investigators established that four Contra-connected corporations hired by the U.S. State Department to fly humanitarian relief goods to Central America were also involved in cocaine smuggling. The DEA operative assigned to Honduras, Mr. Thomas Zepeda, testified that his office had been closed in June 1983 since it was gathering intelligence that the local military, the Honduran military, was involved in cocaine smuggling. His reports were threatening the CIA’s relationship with the Honduran military in this key frontline state for Contra operation. In effect, Agency operations had once again created a de facto zone of protection closed to investigators from outside agencies. Read closely, the Kerry Committee established a pattern of CIA complicity in Central America strikingly similar to the one we saw in Laos and Afghanistan: tolerance for drug dealing by assets and concealment to protect larger covert operations.

The Mercury story tries to go the next step. It tries to establish a direct link between CIA operations and drug distribution in the U.S. According to Mercury reporter Gary Webb, this dark alliance began in the early 1980s when the contra revolt against Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government was failing for want of funds. Here is his scenario.

In 1981 the CIA hired ex-Nicaraguan army colonel Enrique Bermudez to organize the main Contra force known as the FDN. Bermudez turned to two Nicaraguan exiles in the U.S. to supposedly supplement meager agency support with drug profits. In California, Danilo Blandon, the former director of Nicaragua’s foreign marketing program, used his business skills to open a crack distribution network for the Contras in Los Angeles. During its decade of operation this crack network supposedly enjoyed a de facto immunity from prosecution. The people involved in this network were somehow miraculously exempted from investigation or arrest despite substantial involvement in the traffic.

While the Agency’s relations with Asian opium lords were lost in the mists of far-off mountains, Representative Maxine Waters, the Black Caucus leader from Los Angeles, has police documents to charge the CIA with protecting Contra leaders.

Let us now return to the four questions we asked at the outset. Question one: Did the Agency ever ally with drug traffickers? Yes. Beyond any doubt. Once controversial, not even the CIA any longer bothers to deny that it has often allied with major and minor drug dealers. Question two: Did the CIA protect these allies from prosecution? Yes. There is a recurring pattern of protection. During a major CIA operation, the operational zone becomes a special de facto protected area where everything is subordinated to the protection of this covert operation. To protect the integrity of the operation, the CIA blocks all investigation, by the DEA, Customs, Congress and local police. Whenever anyone connected with this effort is arrested outside of the protected area, the CIA often blocks prosecution that will compromise its operation. And lest we forget, there is only one element that any criminal needs to become a powerful entrepreneur of vice and violence: protection against prosecution.

Question three: Did such alliances and protections contribute significantly to an expansion of the global drug trade and U.S. drug supply over the past fifty years? This is a question that is open to interpretation. If we were to place perfect information on the tables of two academics, they would probably produce two books with two very different answers to two very different interpretations. I would argue, with my imperfect information, that in Burma, Laos and Afghanistan, CIA operations provided critical elements, logistics, arms and political protection that facilitated the rapid growth of heroin and opium production in both areas. Clearly the CIA alliance was central to the rise of some major drug dealers and catalytic in the expansion, production and processing in certain drug zones. It would not be unreasonable to conclude, therefore, that such CIA operations led to an increase in the production and processing of illicit drugs in these covert war zones. But it is difficult to state unequivocally that these individual dealers and these zones did or did not shape the long-term trajectory of supply and demand within the vastness and complexity of the global drug traffic.

Question four: Did the CIA encourage drug smugglers to target African American communities? This pattern of CIA complicity in drugs proceeds from the internal logic of its covert operations, an inadvertent consequence of a style of indirect intervention abroad. There is a striking similarity in the patterns of CIA complicity with drug dealers in Laos, Afghanistan and Central America. Just as I can find no evidence, nor any logic, to the proposition that the CIA in Laos during the Vietnam War wanted one-third of the American soldiers in South Vietnam to become heroin addicts, so I can see no evidence nor any logic of any CIA targeting of blacks in South Central Los Angeles. During the 1980s, however, there is every indication that the CIA was aware that its Afghan operations contributed to the export of heroin to the U.S. and did nothing-nothing-to slow this drug flow. At the same time, the same agency, the same division of the same agency, mounting an operation of a very similar character in Central America, may or may not have known. This is something that needs to be pressed. But in Afghanistan it’s very clear that they knew.

Since a substantial portion of the African American community already suspects the worse, that the CIA willfully flooded their communities with drugs, the time has come for an unflinching search for answers to these questions. As Congress investigates, I have a good idea of what it will find. I doubt that there is evidence the CIA actually trafficked in drugs or targeted any Americans, whether GIs in South Vietnam or blacks in South Central. But investigators will discover CIA alliances with warlords, colonels and criminals who used this protection to deal drugs. Suffering from what I call "mission myopia," CIA agents, in Mr. Charles Cogan’s words, regarded narcotics as "mere fallout." For CIA agents in Laos, the heroin epidemic among GIs in Vietnam was only fallout. For agents in Pakistan, drug shipments to America were just fallout. In the case of the CIA’s Afghan operation, it is clear that the Agency created a zone of protection for heroin production, and agents tolerated trafficking by local assets that supplied much of the entire U.S. heroin markets. For Vietnam veterans and for African Americans who live with the pain of this fallout, these findings will be profoundly disturbing. That the CIA apparently regarded increased drug shipments to the U.S. as acceptable fallout may spark considerable controversy. But these findings will be better for this nation’s political health than the CIA’s blanket denials, which can only fan the flames of allegations that have willfully targeted black communities for drug distribution.

–Alfred McCoy is Professor of Southeast and Asian History at the University of Wisconsin and author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade He serves as Director of the federally funded Center for Southeast Asian Studies and holds degrees from Columbia University, Berkeley, and Yale. The transcript of this special seminar on CIA secret actions and drug trafficking came to NCX from David Barsamian, noted journalist, interviewer, and Director of Alternative Radio.

The 2-tape set and/or the complete transcript of the special seminar, focusing on allegations linking CIA secret operations and drug trafficking, can be ordered directly from Alternative Radio by calling David Barsamian’s 800 number, 1-(800) 444-1977, or writing Alternative Radio, 2129 Mapleton, Boulder, CO 80304.

Afghanistan: Drug Addiction Lucrative for Neolib Banksters, CIA

Afghanistan: Drug Addiction Lucrative for Neolib Banksters, CIA

by Kurt Nimmo

Global Research, May 21, 2006

"An American counternarcotics official was killed and two other Americans wounded in a suicide bombing in western Afghanistan today, while heavy fighting between Taliban insurgents and Afghan police continued in two southern provinces, officials said," reports the New York Times. "We confirm that a U.S. citizen contractor for the State Department Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement, working for the police training program in Herat was killed in a vehicle-borne I.E.D. attack," Chris Harris, an American Embassy spokesman, told the newspaper. After this mention, the Times moves on to detail the increasing violence between Afghan puppet police and "militants," that is to say Afghans fighting against the occupation of their country, an entirely natural occurrence.

Of course, the Times does not bother to mention that the Afghan opium trade–in fact much of the opium trade in the so-called "Golden Crescent" (Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan)–was cultivated and nurtured by the United States government and the CIA, leading to countless cases of miserable heroin addiction in America and Europe. Reading the Times, we get the impression the Taliban–at one time sponsored by the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence services, so long as they were kicking Russian hindquarter–are responsible for the opium trade all on their lonesome. As usual, the Times twists the story through omission.

"ClA-supported Mujahedeen rebels … engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported government," writes historian William Blum. "The Agency’s principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and a leading heroin refiner. CIA-supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan/Pakistan border. The output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. U.S. officials admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against the drug operation because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies," and also because selling heroin and spreading misery is highly profitable. In fact, the Soviets attempted to impose an opium ban on the country and this resulted in a revolt by tribal groups eventually exploited by the CIA and Pakistan.

"Reports issued by the UN and Drug Enforcement Administration in the early 1980s stated that by 1981 Afghan heroin producers may have captured 60 per cent of the heroin market in Western Europe and the United States. In New York City in 1979 alone, the year the CIA-organized flow of arms to the mujahiddeen began) heroin-related deaths increased by 77 per cent. There were no Superbowl ads that year about doing drugs and aiding terror. You could say that those dead addicts had given their lives in the fight to drive back Communism," write Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

Making sure heroin addiction continues unabated is such a lucrative business for the CIA and Wall Street investors, Bush decided "not to destroy the opium crop in Afghanistan. President Bush, who previously linked the Afghan drug trade directly to terrorism, has now decided not to destroy the Afghan opium crop," Charles R. Smith reported for NewsMax on March 28, 2002, as Bush’s illegal invasion of the country was well underway. "Several sources inside Capitol Hill noted that the CIA opposes the destruction of the Afghan opium supply because to do so might destabilize the Pakistani government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. … The threat to overthrow Musharraf is motivated in part by Islamic radical groups linked to the Pakistani intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The radical groups reportedly obtain their primary funding through opium production and trade." In fact, destroying the opium crop would have put a terrible financial squeeze on the agency and angered financiers who routinely trade in misery and death.

Naturally, the Times did not bother to mention the fact the Taliban attempted to eradicate opium production and this was likely one of the reasons Bush the Junior invaded Afghanistan. "Although the Taliban had virtually stamped out poppy production, the country now accounts for two-third of the world’s heroin. As hard as it may be to believe, there is compelling evidence that the US (via the CIA) may be directly involved in narco-trafficing," notes Mike Whitney, who cites the following from Portland Independent Media:

Before 1980, Afghanistan produced 0% of the world’s opium. But then the CIA moved in, and by 1986 they were producing 40% of the world’s heroin supply. By 1999, they were churning out 3,200 TONS of heroin a year–nearly 80% of the total market supply. But then something unexpected happened. The Taliban rose to power, and by 2000 they had destroyed nearly all of the opium fields. Production dropped from 3,000+ tons to only 185 tons, a 94% reduction! This enormous drop in revenue subsequently hurt not only the CIA’s Black Budget projects, but also the free-flow of laundered money in and out of the Controller’s banks.

It also put a pinch on the criminals and gangsters in Pakistan. "The Taliban’s actions … (destroying the opium crop) severed the ruling military junta in Pakistan from its primary source of foreign revenues and made bin Laden and the Taliban completely expendable in the eyes of the Pakistani government. It also cut off billions of dollars in revenues that had been previously laundered through western banks and Russian financial institutions connected to them," explains From the Wilderness. "Prior to the WTC attacks, credible sources, including the U.S. government, the IMF, Le Monde and the U.S. Senate placed the amount of drug cash flowing into Wall Street and U.S. banks at around $250-$300 billion a year," not exactly small potatoes.

In 2004, according to research conducted by the Democratic Policy Committee, after "decreasing dramatically under the Taliban regime, Afghanistan now [2004] produces nearly 3/4 of the world’s opium. CIC [Center for International Cooperation] found that ‘opium production, processing, and trafficking have surged, with revenues equaling roughly half of the legal economy of Afghanistan.’ It is estimated that 1.7 million people, or 7 percent of the total population now grow poppies," all of this under the United States installed government of Hamid Karzai, the ex-Unocal employee.

But then none of this should be surprising–the CIA and neolib financiers and moneymen have long dabbled in drug dealing and drug addiction profiteering.

In addition to turning immense profits for societal parasites and other cockroach infestations on Wall Street, drug dealing is a great way for the government to intervene in the business of other nations, as Oliver North well understands (as the Contra was funded by the smuggling of cocaine). "The CIA functionally gains influence and control in governments corrupted by criminal narco-trafficking. Politically, the CIA exerts influence by leveraging narco-militarists and corrupted politicians… This is really NEO-narco-colonialism, whereby local criminal proxies do the bidding of the patron government seeking expanded influence. But because of the quid-pro-quo of protecting the criminal proxies’ illicit pipelines, the result is still a functional narco-colonialism, involving a narcotics commodity in the actual practical execution of policy, with the very different twist of covert action," summarizes the CIA & Drugs website,

So it is not surprising, as the New York Times puts it, there is a "Sudden Rise of Violence in Afghanistan" and the predictable murder of "a U.S. citizen contractor for the State Department Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement." In Afghanistan, the Hegelian dialect is working overtime–the U.S. government engineers the Afghan opium trade, thus resulting in social problems and violence associated with illicit drug distribution and consumption, and then turns around and organizes police training programs to combat the scourge it has spawned.

As well, for the Fabian socialist globalists, it is a great way to break down borders and implement "free trade zones," that is to say unhindered thievery zones. Call it a "war on drugs" or the endless war against "terrorism" (yet another Hegelian contrivance), it is all engineered to turn the world into a large slave plantation ruled by a decadent and debased elite cadre of neoliberal criminals.

Kurt Nimmo is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire: Life in Neoconservative America, with an introduction by Jeffrey St. Clair is now available through Dandelion Books: $17.95 trade paperback. He can be reached at:

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Kurt Nimmo

Corruption blamed for Afghan drug troubles

The New York Times

July 24, 2008

Bush Ex-Official Says Corrupt Afghans and a Hesitant Military Hinder Drug Fight

Correction Appended

KABUL, Afghanistan — Corrupt Afghan officials, a reluctant military and divisions over policy, as much as the Taliban, have contributed to a failing policy to fight narcotics in Afghanistan, a former Bush administration official writes in an article in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday.

The government of President Hamid Karzai has shielded the cultivation of poppies from American eradication efforts, which the Pentagon and its international partners have not pursued aggressively, according to the author, Thomas Schweich, who was a senior counternarcotics official in the State Department for two years and made several visits to Afghanistan.

The combined failure has turned Afghanistan into a virtual narco-state, he writes in the article, posted online on Wednesday night.

Opium production skyrocketed in Afghanistan in 2006 and ’07, making the country the supplier of 90 percent of the world’s heroin.

Coming from an insider, the accusations are especially embarrassing to all concerned, but in particular to Mr. Karzai, whom Mr. Schweich accuses of protecting corrupt senior officials.

Mr. Schweich, now a visiting professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, says there is a lack of will within the Afghan government to prosecute corrupt officials who are benefiting from the drug trade for fear of losing their political support.

Narcotics corruption reaches right to the top of the government, and drug traffickers buy off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials around the country, he says.

Abdul Jabbar Sabit, the attorney general who was recently removed from his post, had a list of 20 senior Afghan officials who were deeply corrupt, some of them tied to the narcotics trade, Mr. Schweich writes. But Mr. Sabit had been warned by Mr. Karzai to leave them alone, Mr. Schweich says.

The presidential spokesman, Homayun Hamidzada, did not immediately reply to questions regarding Mr. Schweich’s allegations, but in a recent interview Mr. Karzai rejected accusations that he was not serious about combating narcotics and government corruption. “Rarely is corruption beyond our means,” he said. “I fired someone yesterday.”

He also rejected allegations from diplomats that his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was involved in the drug trade, an accusation that Mr. Schweich repeats. The brother visited a number of embassies in Kabul to ask what the allegations were, and was told that they had no evidence implicating him, the president said.

Asked for his comment, the minister of counternarcotics, Gen. Khodaidad, also rejected suggestions that the Afghan government was not pursuing the big traffickers or senior officials, but he said gathering evidence against them was harder.

“We know the retailers and the small sellers,” said General Khodaidad, who like many Afghans goes by only one name. “We are trying to find out the network, and who is the real person behind the network.”

Both he and the United States ambassador in Kabul, William B. Wood, acknowledged difficulties in the battle against narcotics, but said a positive trend was emerging this year, proving that the main thrust of the counternarcotics strategy was working. As many as 20 of the 34 Afghan provinces may prove to be free of poppies this year, up from 7 in 2006 and 13 in 2007, they said.

Poppy cultivation is decreasing across a broad band of provinces in the north, center and east of the country, where the government is stronger and law and order are better, General Khodaidad said.

In particular, two provinces that have traditionally been among the largest producers of opium, Badakhshan and Nangarhar, are showing a sharp fall in poppy production this year as a result of strong local leadership and incentive packages for farmers, General Khodaidad said.

Poppy production is now concentrated in the five southern provinces where the insurgency is strongest and the government is weakest, the minister said. But he said that with good local leadership, and the support of the international community, he was confident that the government could turn the situation around there, too, in time.

Although the figures are not in yet, 2008 may be the first year in which the area cultivated with poppies has decreased since 2004, Ambassador Wood said. The lawless Helmand Province in the southwest remains the big problem and alone provides some 50 percent of the poppy crop, he said.

The interdiction program is getting bigger and better, Mr. Wood added. Teams have closed twice as many drug laboratories so far this year as in all of 2007, he said.

Efforts to track and eventually prosecute drug traffickers are also much more robust, and more Drug Enforcement Administration officials are coming to Afghanistan, the ambassador said.

Mr. Schweich also lays blame for the failure of drug policy with the Pentagon and its NATO allies, who he writes want nothing to do with the effort to combat drugs.

The United States and the British military refused to assist in providing security for poppy eradication teams and to support a plan for aerial eradication using crop-dusters, he says. Following their lead, the Afghan Defense Ministry also did not help, he says.

Mr. Wood said the Afghan National Army did provide security on one occasion for a small pilot program. “It worked well enough, so we are going to do it better next year,” he said. “That’s a step forward.”

The military, he added, was focused on counterinsurgency and winning the trust and loyalty of the people, but there was a growing realization within the military that the narcotics trade was aggravating the security problems, he said.

Gen. Muhammad Daoud, Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister for counternarcotics, who is in charge of the eradication teams, confirmed that his teams could not work where the insurgency was strongest if the military did not provide security.

Some 43 eradication officers were killed and 65 were wounded in attacks on his teams this year, including one linked to Al Qaeda, he said. Once, a rocket-propelled grenade landed less that 30 yards from his helicopter as he landed in Helmand, he said.

For that reason he said he supported aerial spraying in remote desert areas, where large poppy fields grow, and where damage to legal crops, animals and irrigation streams could be avoided.

But Afghan ministers said the cabinet decided against aerial spraying because of concerns from the ministers of health, agriculture and environment about the side effects of chemical spraying on the population, livestock and legal agriculture.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 29, 2008
An article on Thursday that previewed an article in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday about Afghanistan’s thriving opium trade misstated the background of Thomas Schweich, who wrote the magazine article. He is a former senior counternarcotics official in the State Department who was based in Washington and made several visits to Afghanistan. He was not based in Kabul.