My reading suggests Afghanistan supplies about 84 percent of the world’s opium and heroin supply with now an excursion into amphetamine by way of Ephedra sinica, another native plant; and about 50 percent of America’s supply comes from Mexico. In either source state, the industry appears founded in the kind of economy that finds ready labor for rote work while attracting the bosses and crews that produce and sustain illegal enterprise and all that follows from it. Portmanteau may suffice for what comes of the underworld’s efforts near the source: “narconomy”; “narco-state”; “narcotecture”. Somewhere between the source and the supply chain’s end, the last seller, ne “dealer” (as with any other commodity) has perhaps literally a corner on the market and good living all the way to glamorous.
However, there’s the other ending that one may view here as tragedy attracts its modern video-equipped witnesses who have made the final degradation, desperation, enslavement, humiliation, and isolation unbearably and undeniably apparent.
The “medicine” ain’t about health.
From mountain farm to urban sidewalk, The Money sings all of the parts of the industry — growing, processing, packaging, shipping — to her and well sustained by the necessity of income and the want of personal aggrandizement, better living, defense, and security. It’s only business, of course, but listen to its testimonials, have a good look (above) at Philadelphia’s portion of America’s hooked-and-lost whose relationships have come down to habitual forms of theft or trade with, perhaps, small talk between.
Of course, The Money talks.
The Pharmacy, no less than every one of its customers, ain’t free.
AML Films. Videos (addiction-related video interviews).
Asmann, Parker. “Honduras Tycoon Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering in US.” InSight Crime, July 28, 2017.
Dada, Carlos. “Opinion: Honduras, the narco-state that illustrates U.S. contradictions.” The Washington Post, June 14, 2021.
Felbab-Brown, Vanda. “Poppy, eradication, and alternative livelihoods in Mexico.” Brookings, August 18, 2020.
Felter, Claire. “The U.S. Opioid Epidemic.” Council on Foreign Relations, July 20, 2021.
Today’s killing of Ahmed Wali Karzai, reportedly by a close business associate, is a reminder of the complicated web of loyalties, interests, and contradictions that the U.S. has attempted to navigate for nearly a decade. Ahmed Wali Karzai was a politician working within the system and a criminal working against it; he ran militias on behalf of the CIA and funded drug networks that were the stated enemy of the U.S. military; he worked with trucking contractors that sold services to NATO and that funded anti-NATO warlords; he was a close ally of the U.S. and a tremendous drag on its mission to win over the Afghan people.
Fisher, Max. “Ahmed Wali Karzai Was symbol of Afghan War’s Complexity.” The Atlantic, July 12, 2011.
Frakt, Austin. “Pointers From Portugal on Addiction and the Drug War.” The New York Time, October 5, 2020.
Holligan, Anna. “Is the Netherlands becoming a narco-state?” BBC News, December 19, 2019.
kimgary. “Streets of Philadelphia, Kensington Avenue Story, What’s going on Today, August 29, 2021.
Landay, Jonathan. “Profits and poppy: Afghanistan’s illegal drug trade a boon for Taliban.” Reuters, August 16, 2021.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Heroin Research Report: What is the scope of heroin use in the United States?” — According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016 about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year,1 a number that has been on the rise since 2007. —
Risen, James. “Reports Link Karzai’s Brother to Afghanistan Heroin Trade.” The New York Times, October 4, 2008.
Afghanistan is the world’s top source of opium, accounting for 83% of global production from 2015 to 2020, according to the United Nations. In 2018, opium poppy occupied three times more land than it did in 2000. Afghanistan also produces cannabis and increasing quantities of methamphetamine, which can be made cheaply from the local ephedra plant and may eventually rival the production of opiates.
Narcotics is Afghanistan’s largest economic sector, with over 500,000 employed in opium in 2018. Banning drugs would therefore be unpopular and might provoke resistance against the fledgling regime.Stone, Rupert. “Afghanistan’s vast narcotics trade likely to continue under Taliban.” Nikkei Asia, September 2, 2021.
Transform: Drug Policy Foundation. “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Setting the Record Straight.” May 13, 2021.
Wikipedia. “Ahmed Wali Karzai”: — A June 2009 U.S. embassy cable alleged that much of the actual business of running the Afghan city of Kandahar “takes place out of public sight, where Ahmed Wali Karzai operates, parallel to formal government structures, through a network of political clans that use state institutions to protect and enable licit and illicit enterprises.” —
Wikipedia. “Opium production in Afghanistan”.