Saturday, June 19, 2010
U.S.-built bridge is windfall — for illegal Afghan drug trade Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/06/28/708s-built-bridge-is-windfall-for.html
NIZHNY PANJ, Tajikistan — In August 2007
new $37 million concrete bridge that the Army Corps of Engineers designed to link two of Central Asia's poorest countries. modest two-lane span that U.S. taxpayers paid for would be "a critical transit route for trade and commerce" between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
the bridge, It's paved the way for drug traffickers to transport larger loads of
Afghan heroin and opium to Central Asia and beyond to Russia and Western Europe. It's easy to drive drugs past the Afghan and Tajik border guards. "If you give them money, you can do whatever you want."
Tajikistan is on the verge of becoming a narco-state. in 2001, the United States
looked the other way as opium and heroin production surged to record levels, making Afghanistan by far the world's biggest producer.
one-fifth traveled to and through Tajikistan, it has funded rampant corruption and turned Tajikistan into one big drug-trafficking organization.
Every day 4 metric tons of opium move on the northern route, 6 million doses of pure heroin. it's cut and sold in Russia and Western Europe and now at least 12 million doses.
neither the Afghan or the Tajik border guards have much interest in inspecting, the exports that pass in front of them. In fact Tajik seizures have fallen. In 2004
Afghanistan produced 4,200 metric tons and 5 metric tons were seized in Tajikistan Last year it was rising to 7,700 metric tons and Tajik seized less than 2 metric tons
at best a midlevel priority for Washington. U.S. hasn't pressed Tajik President. U.S.-financed bridge has made drug trafficking even easier.
These days there's a steady stream of new Mercedes and Lexus. Tajik observers suspect that the Rahmon government controls the drug trade.
"There is always going to be a tradeoff based on different foreign-policy objectives, different security objectives, the tolerance for different types of corruption