WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States government should look into the potential relationship between record production of opium in Afghanistan and the heroin crisis in the United States that has killed tens of thousands of Americans, a top U.S. watchdog tells Breitbart News.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko, declared:
I don’t know if there’s a link, but it seems to me somebody ought to be looking at that at DEA or somewhere else in the Department of Justice [DOJ] … It just seems somebody should do it. It’s not my job, but just as a U.S. citizen — I’m a taxpayer and U.S. citizen — I would be concerned about that.
Sopko indicated that Afghanistan’s opium crisis remains a U.S. national security concern because it continues to destabilize the American taxpayer-funded country by fueling corruption and the Taliban.
Citing American Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, Sopko said, “I think 60 percent of the Taliban’s money comes from opium. A lot of the opium money is also used to bribe the government officials, so their loyalty is mixed. One of the biggest reasons we are there is to create a strong central government.”
Although the United States has spent more than $8 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan, the country remains the world’s top producer of opium and its heroin derivative.
While the U.S. government has conceded that most of the heroin in neighboring Canada originates in Afghanistan, the DEA maintains that only about 1 percent of the seized heroin in the United States comes from the war-ravaged nation.
Sopko appeared to question the DEA figure, telling Breitbart News:
I’m not saying opium is coming here into the United States. Again, I don’t look at drug distribution here, but it is kind of an anomaly. Most opium comes from Afghanistan. You look at opium [heroin] use, we use a heck of a lot of opium. Now apparently the DEA says very little of it comes into the United States. I think maybe 3 percent, maybe 1 percent.
However, the Canadians say a vast majority of their heroin comes from Afghanistan. Now I don’t know about you; I spend a lot of time on the northern border. It’s pretty porous. You can get across the border. I do know if you look at the northern states … most of the heroin in Canada comes from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the state of Maine, the state of Massachusetts, the state of Vermont, the state of New Hampshire, the state of New York have all declared —their governors [have declared] — opium [heroin] epidemics.
There’s probably more Afghan drugs here than we have said.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses in 2015 resulted in an unprecedented 52,404 deaths, including 33,091 (more than 60 percent) involving an opioid like heroin.
Increases in overdose deaths are reportedly concentrated in states at or near the U.S.-Canada border.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported in 2010 that the U.S. government only controls 2 percent of the nearly 4,000-mile long U.S.-Canada.
After 2010, former President Barack Obama suspended the miles under effective control metric which measures the U.S. government’s ability to deter illegal cross-border activity.
Using the latest United Nations data on Afghan opium, Breitbart News has determined that during the ongoing war production and cultivation have increased 25-fold to 4,800 metric tons and 201,000 hectares (ha), respectively.