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Diplomacy in Action

Counternarcotics and Law Enforcement Country Program: Afghanistan

Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
May 3, 2010


 [This fact sheet has been updated; see current version.]

The United States supports the Afghan government’s National Drug Control Strategy and is working closely with the Government of Afghanistan and our coalition partners to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the drug problem in Afghanistan. The new U.S. strategy will target narcotics traffickers and drug lords, while enhancing our focus on agriculture, interdiction, demand reduction, public information, and rule of law.


The opiate trade weakens all of Afghanistan. Despite the fact that 99% of poppy cultivation occurs within seven provinces along the Southern and Western borders of Afghanistan (Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Farah, Day Kundi, Badghis, and Zabul), the effects of cultivation, trafficking, and addiction are felt across the country and region. Afghanistan made steps forward in 2009 – by decreasing net cultivation by 22% from 2008 and increasing the number of poppy-free provinces to 20 – but remains the leading grower of poppy in the world.

In this context, counternarcotics is a critical part of the U.S. strategy to combat the insurgency in Afghanistan, and is fundamental to helping the Government of Afghanistan provide security for the Afghan people, re-establish governance, and increase economic opportunity. Only with a combined effort to tackle counterinsurgency, counternarcotics, development, and governance can the scourge of the opium trade be defeated. 

While the challenge of reducing cultivation, trafficking and consumption in Afghanistan remains complex and significant, the United States is collaborating with our international partners in support of the Government of Afghanistan’s counternarcotics efforts. Large-scale eradication has not worked to reduce funding to the Taliban, and instead served to drive farmers into the hands of the insurgency. Today, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) will only support provincial Afghan-led eradication in limited areas, where on a specific, case-by-case basis, it may be valid. The United States will not downgrade our effort to fight the opium trade or reduce our support towards that end; to the contrary, we are ever more committed to targeting the insurgents and those involved with the drug trade in order to protect the Afghan people. 


INL’s Afghanistan programs – carried out in collaboration with our interagency and international partners – support critical aspects of the Government of Afghanistan’s counternarcotics efforts. For example, ongoing projects include:

  • Public Information: Counternarcotics Advisory Teams (CNAT) and Counternarcotics Public Information (CNPI) programs;
  • Demand Reduction: INL-sponsored treatment centers provide residential, outpatient, and home-based assistance to an estimated 4,000+ addicts per year, including services exclusively for women and their children;
  • Elimination: Good Performers Initiative (GPI) and Governor Led Eradication (GLE);
  • Interdiction: Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA), specifically operations and maintenance support for the Technical Investigative Unit (TIU), National Interdiction Unit (NIU), and Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU);
  • Law Enforcement/Justice Reform: Afghan Counternarcotics Tribunal and Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF);
  • International and Regional Cooperation: Support to relevant multilateral and bilateral efforts to study and improve Afghan-led counternarcotics efforts. 


These programs operate throughout the country, with a particular focus on those provinces producing the most poppy as well as in the capital city of Kabul. For example,

  • CNAT has bases in Badakhshan, Balkh, Farah, Helmand, Kandahar, Nangarhar, and Uruzgan;
  • The Counternarcotics Public Information Campaign reached 26 provinces in 2009 through radio, TV, and print materials;
  • CNPA/NIU with DEA operates from bases in Kandahar, Konduz, Herat, Jalalabad and Kabul;
  • Drug treatment centers have been established in Kabul, Wardak, Khost, Takhar, Balkh, Bamiyan, Daikundi, Herat, Helmand, Kandahar, and Paktia. 


INL’s counternarcotics efforts provide capacity building support to Afghan institutions, including the Ministry of Counternarcotics, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Attorney General’s Office, and key provincial governments in the form of advising and/or training for Afghan staff. 

Key Programmatic Successes in 2009:

  • In 2009, the Good Performers Initiative awarded $38.7 million to 27 out of 34 Afghan provinces that achieved poppy free status, reduced poppy cultivation by more than 10%, and/or demonstrated other exemplary CN progress;
  • The Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan’s National Interdiction Unit officers conducted their own operations, requested warrants, and executed them. Evidence gathered by the TIU through court-ordered surveillance operations increased the number of large-scale drug trafficking and related corruption cases that were brought to the CJTF.
  • In 2009, the specialized units of the CNPA, in conjunction with DEA, seized 593 kg of heroin, 25,000 kg of opium, and 53,133 kg of hashish. During the same period, the CNPA/NIU also destroyed 25 drug labs. The specialized units seized 180,955 kg of solid precursor chemicals and 30,765 liters of liquid precursors. The CNPA/NIU also reported 54 arrests for narcotics trafficking.
  • The CJTF convicted six former enemy military combatants of drug offenses in 2009, as well as two “high-value targets” who combined were linked to trafficking of over 3 tons of heroin, 5 tons of raw opium, and over 3 tons of heroin processing chemicals.
  • All seven CNAT teams included female Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics officers who specialized in gender affairs activities.
  • In the first half of 2009, the Counternarcotics Public Information campaign produced 52 radio spots which were broadcast 4,482 times on 15 different stations, seven TV programs which were broadcast 79 times, and 15 different varieties of printed items, distributing over 85,000 items.
  • During the pre-planting Public Information campaign, 47 district shuras were held across 10 provinces to inform farmers of the dangers of opium and to encourage them to cultivate licit crops rather than poppy.
  • In 2009, the U.S. was the largest donor for treatment programs in Afghanistan, funding 16 treatment centers which treated over 4,000 addicted individuals, including three treatment facilities for women and their children. Treatment programs are managed by local NGOs with training and program administration provided by the Colombo Plan, an international organization with expertise in training drug treatment providers and staff.

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