According to a United Nations report released on Sunday, methamphetamine trafficking in and around Afghanistan has significantly increased in recent years despite the Taliban’s claims to curb heroin trafficking.
“The surge in methamphetamine trafficking in Afghanistan and the region suggests a significant shift in the illicit drug market and demands our immediate attention,” Ghada Waly, the executive director of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said.
Despite the Taliba’s ban on poppy cultivation and narcotics production in April of the previous year, the UNODC reported that methamphetamine trafficking has notably intensified since the ban, highlighting an ongoing challenge.
Methamphetamine seizures in Afghanistan and neighbouring regions increased 12 times between 2016 and 2021. Furthermore, from 2019 to 2022, countries like Iran and Pakistan observed a notable uptick in methamphetamine seizures, hinting at a regional issue.
Astonishingly, methamphetamine suspected to have originated in Afghanistan has been seized in far-flung places like France and Australia, underscoring the global reach of this illicit trade.
According to UNODC, suspicious methamphetamine production in Afghanistan primarily centres around a plant known as “ephedra,” which has experienced rapid growth and contains ephedrine used in drug manufacturing.
Ephedra is a self-growing plant readily available in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime emphasizes that common cold medicines and industrial chemicals are more efficient and cost-effective for producing methamphetamine, making them a more significant threat.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Taliban leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, issued a decree prohibiting the cultivation, production, use, and trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic substances.