Rise in Drug Trafficking Due to Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

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    • The anti-drug law enforcement agencies are suspecting a steep surge in cross-border trafficking of heroin and crystal methamphetamine.
    • It is due to the rapid Taliban takeover in Afghanistan where the economy has collapsed due to internal civil war and unrest.

    Current Threat as Highlighted in World Drug Report of UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

    • Opium
      • Afghanistan reported a 37% increase in the extent of land used for illicit cultivation of opium poppy during 2020 compared to the previous year.
      • The potential production of over-dry opium was 6,300 tonnes last year compared to 4,000 tonnes in 2009.
    • Heroin 
      • It is manufactured using morphine extracted from opium
      • The country accounted for 85% of the global total opium production last year.
    • Methamphetamine
      • The drug is prepared using ephedrine extracted from Ephedra plants in Afghanistan.
      • In neighbouring Iran, the proportion of Afghan-origin methamphetamine seizures increased from less than 10% in 2015 to over 90% in 2019. 
      • The seizures in Afghanistan also increased almost sevenfold that year compared to 2018. 
    • Regions famous for Opium Cultivation in Afghanistan
      • Afghanistan’s southwestern region (Helmand, Kandahar, Nimroz, Uruzgan, and Zabul Provinces) continued to dominate opium-poppy cultivation 
        • It accounted for 68% of the national total in 2020.
    • Pandemic Effect
      • The economic crisis brought on by the pandemic will only increase the appeal of illicit crop cultivation.

    Menace of Drug Trafficking in India

    • Maritime Route: 
      • As per the customs officials, an increase in drug trafficking in the region, mostly through maritime routes, has been observed.
    • Observations of Madras High Court in July 2020
      • India is being used as a hub by international drug cartels.
      • Punjab is serving as the transit point for the smuggling of narcotic drugs which make their way as far as Kerala.
    • As per the National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India
      • 3.1 crore Indians use cannabis, bhang, ganja, charas, heroin and opium
      • Only 1 in 20 (5%) drug addicts get treatment at a hospital.
      • This survey is conducted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)

    Reasons Behind the Menace

    • Proximity with Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle:
      • Golden Triangle: It includes the regions of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. 
        • It is Southeast Asia’s main opium-producing region and one of the oldest narcotics supply routes to Europe and North America.
      • Golden Crescent: It includes Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
        • It is a principal global site for opium production and distribution.

     

    • Misguided Youth and Peer Pressure psychology
    • Lack of awareness about socio-legal and health consequences

    Steps Taken by Government to Curb the problem

    • International Cooperation
      • India has signed 26 bilateral pacts, 15 MoUs and 2 agreements on security cooperation with different countries.
      • They all will cooperate and work for combating the illicit trafficking of narcotics, drugs and psychotropic substances, besides chemical precursors.
    • Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) 
      • It coordinated with various international organisations for sharing information and intelligence to combat transnational drug trafficking. 
      • They included the 
        • SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk
        • BRICS; 
        • Colombo Plan; 
        • ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD); 
        • Bay of Bengal Initiative For Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC); 
        • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and 
        • the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
    • Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) Mechanism
      • Aim: To coordinate among various Central and State agencies for effective drug law enforcement.
      • Set up by the MHA in 2016. 
      • This NCORD system has been restructured into a four-tier scheme up to the district level on July 29, 2019, for better coordination.
    • Launch of e-portal ‘SIMS’ (Seizure Information Management System) in 2019
      • Purpose: For digitisation of pan-India drug seizure data
      • Launched by the MHA for all the drug law enforcement agencies under the mandate of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).
    • Multi-Agency Approach
      • Besides the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the following are also empowered under the NDPS Act for making drug seizures: 
        • the Border Security Force, 
        • Sashastra Seema Bal, 
        • Indian Coast Guard, 
        • Railway Protection Force and 
        • the National Investigation Agency. 
      • In order to strengthen surveillance along the border for preventing cross-border drug smuggling, the forces were using the latest gadgets and equipment.

    Way Ahead

    • Following steps can go a long way in curbing the drug menace in India
      • Sharp vigil, effective surveillance, source-based intelligence, sensitisation of field officials.
      • Public awareness and cooperation.
      • Strict actions against the drug cartels including suppliers, peddlers along consumers.
      • Psychological help and Counselling Centres are to be established in each block for helping the drug addicts.

    Source: TH