According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan is the world’s fastest-growing manufacturer of methamphetamine despite the Taliban declaring a war on drugs after returning to power two years ago, the Associated Press reported.
In a report published last weekend, the Office on Drugs and Crime said methamphetamine in Afghanistan is made mostly from legally available substances or extracted from the ephedra plants that grow in the wild.
The UN report describes the country’s meth manufacturing as a growing threat to regional security and national health as it could fuel addiction and disrupt the synthetic drug market.
Seizures of methamphetamine suspected to originate in Afghanistan have been reported in East Africa and the European Union.
Annual seizure totals from within Afghanistan increased from less than 100 kilos in 2019 to nearly 2,700 kilos in 2021.
Angela Me, the head of research and trend analysis with the UN drug agency told the Associated Press that the manufacture of methamphetamine, particularly in Afghanistan, has several advantages over the production of cocaine or heroin since meth producers don’t need to wait for crops to grow. All that is required is the knowledge to cook the drug primarily in mobile labs that can be hidden.
According to Angela Me, it is still too early to determine if the Taliban’s crackdown on drugs has had any impact on meth supplies in the country.
Abdul Mateen Qani, an Interior Ministry spokesman for the Taliban-run government told the Associated Press that the government prohibits the cultivation, production, sale, and use of all narcotics and intoxicants in the country.
Qani said the government has destroyed 644 factories as well as 12,000 acres used for the cultivation of prohibited narcotics. Additionally, authorities have conducted over 5,000 raids and arrested 6,000 individuals.
According to an unnamed Afghan health official, approximately 20,000 have been hospitalized for drug addiction, mostly meth. Of those, 350 are women.