KABUL - A top UN anti-drugs official said on Friday that most of the Afghan drug money goes into the pockets of traffickers, stressing that strict border control will help curtail the illicit trade.
Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said in an introduction to a new study, Global Afghan Opium Trade - A Threat Assessment, that curtailing the drug trade would benefit the Afghan people and the world.
"Trafficking in Afghan opiates is... very lucrative, generating some $61 billion in illicit funds in 2009 out of $68 billion for the global illicit opiate trade," according to the report.
"Most of this money went into the pockets of traffickers all along the transnational heroin distribution routes, and some went to insurgents." Afghan farmers earn relatively little from the trade, the report noted.
Heroin takes the bulk of the market, with 12 million to 13 million people consuming 375 tonnes of heroin per year; of that, 150 tonnes are consumed in Europe.
Afghanistan remains the hub for opium and heroin production in the world.
"Strengthening border controls at the most vulnerable points, such as along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan's Baluchistan province, could help stem the largest flows of heroin, opium and precursor chemicals," Fedotov said.
"Increasing the capacity to monitor and search shipping containers in airports, seaports and dry ports at key transit points and in destination countries could improve interdiction rates."
The UN official also suggested a need for building capacity and fostering intelligence sharing between ports and law enforcement authorities in key countries and regions.