Poppy Field and Yes, a U.S. Combat Tank in the Background
Afghanistan's poppy-opium production goes for more than 90% of heroin worldwide.
Afghanistan has been the world's greatest illicit opium producer, ahead of Burma (Myanmar - the Golden Triangle) and Latin America since 1992, excluding 2001.
Afghanistan is the main producer of opium in the Golden Crescent. Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001. Based on UN ODC data, opium poppy cultivation was more in each of the growing seasons in the periods between 2004 and 2007 than in any one year during Taliban rule.
More land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than is used for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 93% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. This amounts to an export value of about $4 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers.
In seven years (1994–2000) and prior to a Taliban opium ban, Afghan farmers' shared a gross income from opium that was divided among 200,000 families.
In addition to opiates, Afghanistan is also the largest producer of cannabis (mostly as hashish) in the world.
In 2004, a Fatwa (religious edict) was issued by Muslim clerics claiming that opium production is contrary to the Sharia law and that opium producers would face punishments in accordance with the sharia. (One assumes death???)
B/L if there is a bottom line to this: Former State Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Thomas Schweich, wrote in a New York Times article, July 27, 2007, that opium production is protected by the government of Hamid Karzai as well as by the Taliban, as all parties to political conflict in Afghanistan as well as criminals benefit from opium production.
Further, and in Schweich's opinion, the U.S. military turned a blind eye to opium production as not being central to its anti-terrorism mission.
There have been allegations of American and European involvement in Afghanistan's drug trafficking with links to Taliban.