Afghanistan Is Still Largest Opium Supplier, Obama Says

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Intensive poppy eradication efforts by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan removed just under 5,000 hectares from cultivation from the beginning of 2009 to the end of 2010, according to a memorandum from President Obama indentifying the major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries.
     “Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium poppy and a major source of heroin,” Obama said.
     However, the president noted that so far in 2011 the U.S.-funded Governor Led Eradication program had eradicated 3,827 hectares of poppy cultivation in 17 provinces throughout the country, an increase of more than 45 percent in eradication over the same time last year.
     Obama said opium and refined heroin are smuggled through Iran to Turkey and Western Europe; through Pakistan to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; and through Central Asia to the Russian Federation.
     Under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act the president is required to determine which countries are major producers of, or trafficking points for, illicit drugs regardless of the policies those nations enact to prevent the spread of illicit drugs. As a result, even countries that work closely with the U.S. on counter-narcotics efforts, such as Columbia, are on the list.
     In addition to Afghanistan, the countries the president identified this year are: The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

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