Press release

UN Drugs Chief Praises Massive Cannabis Bust in Afghanistan

12 June 2008, TOKYO (UNODC) - Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), today congratulated the Minister of the Interior of Afghanistan for finding and destroying, with support from ISAF, what is believed to be the world's largest seizure of drugs. The 236.8 metric tonnes of hashish would have had a wholesale value of $400 million, according to the NATO operation in Afghanistan. "This is a massive seizure, and a major success for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan", said Mr. Costa.

"Notorious for being the world's biggest producer of opium, Afghanistan has also become a major source of cannabis resin", said Mr. Costa. UNODC estimates that some 70,000 hectares of cannabis were grown in 2007, up from 50,000 in 2006 and 30,000 in 2005. Afghanistan appears to be overtaking the world's top cannabis grower, Morocco, where the multi-billion dollar cannabis harvest halved from 2003 to 2006.

"The international community needs to provide more support to curb Afghanistan's drug problem", said the UN drugs czar as an international conference in support of Afghanistan got underway in Paris.

He praised the decision made by the Security Council on 11 June to adopt a resolution (1817) that calls on all UN Member States to tighten international and regional controls on the manufacture and trade of chemical precursors (needed to make heroin), and prevent their diversion to illicit markets. "This should make heroin production a riskier business", said Mr. Costa.

The head of UNODC also urged Member States, while revamping Security Council resolution 1735, to list, freeze the assets, and ban the travel of individuals and entities participating in the financing of terrorism using proceeds derived from the production and trafficking of narcotic drugs and their precursors. "Drugs are financing terrorism and insurgency in Afghanistan. The Security Council has created a list, but there are still no names on it. I urge governments to come forward with the names and evidence needed to bring the most wanted drug traffickers to justice", said Mr. Costa.   

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For information, please contact:

Mr. Walter Kemp

Speechwriter and Spokesman

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Telephone: (+43-1) 26060 5629

Mobile : (+43-699) 1459-5629