An estimated 80 percent of the world’s opium and heroin comes from Afghanistan. It has become a key resource for the Taliban, which has taxed the drugs heavily during their 20-year insurgency, according to AFP.
The United States spent around $8.6 billion from 2002 to 2017 in its doomed effort to combat the drugs trade, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR).
Those efforts included paying farmers to grow wheat or saffron, investing in transport links, as well as spraying defoliants on crops, and bombing refining facilities.
At each step, they found themselves thwarted by Taliban fighters who controlled the main poppy-growing regions and derived hundreds of millions of dollars from the industry, according to U.S. and Afghan government estimates, AFP said.
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