Afghan and Australian troops seize insurgent poppy seed cache

Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Force (ANSF), Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group (SOTG) and US Drug Enforce­ment Admin­is­tra­tion (DEA) per­son­nel have destroyed 1785kg of pop­py seed dur­ing a suc­cess­ful mis­sion in Hel­mand Province.

The ANSF’s Nation­al Inter­dic­tion Unit led the mis­sion into Baghran on Fri­day, 2 Decem­ber 2011, to clear an iden­ti­fied nar­cotics pro­duc­tion facil­i­ty and network. 

Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of the SOTG, Lieu­tenant Colonel G (who can­not be named for secu­ri­ty rea­sons), said the DEA assessed the street val­ue of the pop­py seeds to be US$8,925 if sold in Afghanistan. 

“While this dol­lar amount is not sig­nif­i­cant, if the pop­py seeds were cul­ti­vat­ed, processed into hero­in, and sold in the Unit­ed States, the DEA assess the find would poten­tial­ly be worth more than US$717 mil­lion,” Lieu­tenant Colonel G said. 

The ANSF and DEA destroyed the pop­py seeds in loca­tion. It is believed the seeds were being cached in prepa­ra­tion for the 2012 grow­ing sea­son. High grade pop­py seeds are gen­er­al­ly high­ly pro­tect­ed by insur­gents as they are cru­cial to sus­tain­ing production. 

Lieu­tenant Colonel G said the com­bined force ele­ments were heav­i­ly engaged by insur­gents through­out the mission. 

“The Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Force, Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group and Drug Enforce­ment Admin­is­tra­tion force ele­ments were involved in sev­en sep­a­rate con­tacts,” Lieu­tenant Colonel G said. 

“A num­ber of insur­gents were killed dur­ing the mis­sion how­ev­er no ANSF, SOTG or DEA per­son­nel were killed or wounded. 

“Destroy­ing the pop­py seed and remov­ing insur­gents from the area will affect the insurgency’s abil­i­ty to oper­ate effec­tive­ly dur­ing the win­ter months.” 

“While insur­gents con­tin­ue to bring nar­cotics oper­a­tions into civil­ian areas, they will dis­rupt Afghans going about their dai­ly lives,” Lieu­tenant Colonel G said. 

Nation­al Inter­dic­tion Unit oper­a­tions focus on tar­get­ing the Afghan nar­cotics trade and the threat it pos­es to the long term secu­ri­ty, devel­op­ment and gov­er­nance of Afghanistan. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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