Russian and U.S. special services are currently carrying out a large-scale anti-drug raid in Afghanistan, Russia’s chief drug control official said on Thursday.
“We are carrying out a large-scale operation to eliminate drug laboratories [in Afghanistan],” Viktor Ivanov, who heads the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, told journalists in Moscow.
He declined to reveal details about the operation, saying that its results were likely to be announced in May during a meeting between Russian and U.S. anti-drug officials to be hosted by Russia.
Flooded by Afghan heroin being smuggled through former Soviet Central Asian republics, Russia has cooperated with NATO in fighting the drug business in Afghanistan for years, carrying out raids on drug laboratories and training anti-drug officers.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday during the Russia-NATO Council meeting in Brussels that concern over the persisting threat of terrorism and drug trafficking from Afghanistan remained high.
“Unfortunately despite all the international efforts, the threat of terrorism and drug trafficking from Afghanistan persists,” he said, adding that Russia was concerned how things were going to develop after international combat troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.
According to Russia’s federal drug control watchdog, heroin production in Afghanistan rose 40-fold in the past decade, with opium poppy plantations currently covering 130,000 hectares in the southern Central Asian country. The drug business has been a major source of income for Taliban warlords, bringing them hundreds of millions of dollars every year.