Targeting precursor chemicals in Afghanistan and beyond

16 July 2008 - More than 3 tons of precursor chemicals used to produce heroin were recently seized in Afghanistan within the framework of the UNODC-supported 'Operation Tarcet'. The regional Operation targets the smuggling of precursor chemicals into the country which currently supplies more than 90 per cent of the world's heroin.

"This seizure shows that regional and targeted collaboration works," says Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Chief of UNODC's Europe and Asia Section. "Dealing with the drug issue is a shared responsibility. Translating this shared responsibility into action is the art."

The consignment had been smuggled by truck across the border with Pakistan when it was intercepted in Kabul by the Counter Narcotics Police in Afghanistan (CNPA). Destined for use in heroin production in the north of Afghanistan, the precursor chemicals were hidden in sacks of fertilizer and rice. The total 3,190 kilos included 2,229 kg of ammonium chloride and 736 kg of sodium carbonate.

CNPA has increased their efforts to intercept consignments of smuggled precursors through participation in Operation Tarcet and close collaboration with UNODC and governments in the region.  

Operation Tarcet objectives are twofold: to educate key law enforcement officers on methods to identify and intercept smuggled chemical consignments; and to intercept smuggled consignments using modern methodologies. It started in Afghanistan at the end of last year and now covers the region.

The Operation forms part of UNODC's broader regional effort to counter Afghan opium production, trafficking and consumption, known as the "Rainbow Strategy". This Strategy addresses border issues and cross-border cooperation, intelligence, precursor control, money flows and drug demand reduction.

Other recent successes within the framework of Operation Tarcet include the seizure of 5 tons of acetic anhydride, a chemical needed to produce heroin, in the southern Iranian city of Bandar Abbas, and a 14-ton seizure of the same precursor in Karachi, Pakistan. UNODC congratulates the relevant departments within the respective governments in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran on these successes.