26 Feb 2008

PR# 2008-080

ISAF, ANA destroy massive opium plant
in Helmand

ISAF soldiers investigate a compound during a joint operation with ANA in Sangin Valley Feb. 21. While searching for signs of insurgent activity, the soldiers discovered 1.5 metric tons of opium valued at approximately $400 million (U.S.).

KABUL, Afghanistan – ISAF and Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers patrolling in the Sangin District, Helmand Province, discovered and destroyed 1.5 metric tons of opium and a significant quantity of drug-making equipment Feb. 21.

ISAF and ANA troops conducted patrols in upper Sangin Valley as part of Operation Ghartse Dagger, designed to prevent attacks against Sangin citizens.

During the operation, soldiers found a mass of opium (valued at an estimated $400 million U.S.) along with two large drug presses and other drug-related equipment in a compound.

After coordination with higher headquarters, it was decided to demolish the drugs and destroy as much of the equipment as possible by using their own weapons.

Several bags of opium are discovered by ISAF and ANA soldiers during a joint operation Feb. 21 in the upper Sangin Valley. ISAF and ANA soldiers conducted patrols there as part of Operation Ghartse Dagger, designed to prevent attacks against citizens.

ISAF has clearly seen that there are links between the narcotics industry and the insurgency in Afghanistan,” said Lieutenant Colonel Simon Millar, ISAF spokesperson in Helmand. “This type of criminal activity only serves to prolong the violence that ISAF and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are trying hard to prevent for the people of this country.”

While counter narcotics is a law enforcement issue for the Afghan authorities, ISAF provides limited support in certain circumstances. If ISAF troops come across drugs and drug-related material during the conduct of their operations, they will assist in their destruction, as was the case on February 21.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/