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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