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Black Tar Hustle: The Afghanistan Heroin Trade

Updated on June 8, 2016

The Best Evidence of a CIA Drug Trafficking Enterprise

Justifying Fourteen Years of US Occupation in Afghanistan

Despite having 30,000 US military troops deployed in Afghanistan, the war is barely a blip in the mainstream news media. Suspicious when you consider that our occupation of the war-torn country is by far the longest deployment of our Armed Forces in US history, which brings us to the question of why? Considering that our current foreign policy has strategically replaced US ground forces with drone strikes, the Obama administration’s logic behind continuing the war effort is still unclear.

Keep in mind that prior to the US-led invasion in 2002, the Taliban had shut down opium production, ordering the farmers to stop growing poppy, while ceasing all distribution between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet today, more than 90% of the world’s heroin comes directly from Afghani opium production.

The Price of an Epidemic

The Golden Triangle

During the Korean War, the CIA had recruited local warlords to help them smuggle their operatives into China to collect intelligence. In exchange, the agency provided weapons which were officially supposed to arm the warlords for their return back to China.

In their reconnaissance, agents learned that farmers were growing massive amounts of poppy to feed a growing demand for heroin. Located in south-eastern Asia, the region would become known as the "Golden Triangle" as it soon turned into the world's number one distributor of heroin.

In 1953, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (later known as the DEA) wanted to establish monitoring posts throughout the Golden Triangle in order to gather intelligence and study the drug traffic in the region. In response, the CIA lobbied the Eisenhower administration to prevent the DEA's surveillance of the area. At that time, the Golden Triangle accounted for about half the heroin sold in the world.

It's no secret now, but during the Vietnam War, the CIA conducted covert operations in Laos and Cambodia. The agency's asset in northern Laos was General Vang Pao, who commanded Military Region 2 and had 30,000 Hmong tribesmen under his command and at the disposal of the CIA.

The Hmong had refinement labs set up in the middle of the jungle where they had been growing opium poppy for generations. In 1966, the first allegations began to surface that the CIA had been smuggling heroin into the United States and that the Florida Mafia was responsible for distribution.

Although unproven, eyewitness accounts claim that from the production lab's in the jungle, the heroin would be loaded onto mules, and then flown out by planes that took off from clandestine airstrips in the heart of the jungle. The planes belonged to the CIA's official airline aptly named "Air America".

In 1967, two DEA agents attempted to seize an Air America DC-3 that had just been loaded with packed boxes of heroin. As they were taking control of the plane, two men appeared and identified themselves as agents of the CIA and ordered the DEA to release the pilots, release the plane and drop the inquiry.

CIA Drug Trafficking in Central America

In 1972, the CIA became aware of Manuel Noriega's involvement in drug trafficking. At the time, Noriega was Chief of Intelligence of the Panama National Guard, but he would also soon become a lucrative asset for the CIA.

According to then DEA Director Jack Ingersol, they had uncovered evidence that Noriega was accepting bribes and payoffs for turning a blind eye to massive amounts of heroin and cocaine that was flowing in from Spain and through Panama City's airport. Their investigation revealed that the majority of those drugs were then being flown into the United States.

This went on unabated for more than a decade as Manuel Noriega facilitated the distribution of billions of dollars worth of illegal drugs in Panama. He provided protection, pilots, safe houses and banking institutions for the drug cartels to launder billions of dollars in drug money.

During this same time, U.S. officials, including ClA Director William Webster, had sent Noriega letters of praise for his admirable efforts to reduce drug trafficking in Panama. The letters also stated that the US government owed him a debt of gratitude for all he was doing to help combat the drug problem.

We could speculate that the letters were what Noriega thought would be his insurance policy, just in case any questions came up concerning his involvement in the operation. We could then assume that he probably thought the letters he had would be his get out of jail free card. If this was the case, then I guess old Noriega wasn't as dumb as he looked. But then again, he did spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison. The most important thing is that the letters make it appear as though Noriega had the support and backing of the CIA.

In 1985, when the house of cards came tumbling down on Noriega, he claimed that the only reason the U.S. government turned against him was because they had found out he was selling sensitive intelligence to the Cubans. Ironically, drug trafficking in Panama doubled after Noriega was removed from power.

Afghanistan: Same Game - New Country

When Osama Bin Laden brought the Taliban into Afghanistan in 1998, the country’s number one export at the time was heroin. Over the next 2 1/2 years and up to the events of September 11, 2001, Afghanistan went from being a huge player in the world's heroin market to an unsubstantial nobody, seemingly eradicating the country's multi-billion dollar opium poppy industry.

When the United States invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, just like when Noriega was removed from power, Afghanistan experienced a huge increase in its drug trafficking operations. The only difference between Panama and Afghanistan is that Panama hadn't completely wiped out its illegal drug operations, but Afghanistan had.

The country would soon become the largest grower and exporter of opium in the world. Current statistics shows Afghanistan has a 92% market share of the global opium trade. The shocking part is that our CIA doesn't even attempt to conceal their involvement anymore.

It's become common knowledge that American soldiers are being ordered by the CIA to guard and protect Afghanistan's poppy fields. The same fields that turn poppy into opium, opium into heroin, and heroin that is then transported to the United States.

This is a multi-billion dollar industry, so you have to know that the poppy farmers who grow this stuff are not the ones reaping the benefits. So where's all the money going? You have to think that if we're guarding it and protecting it, and it's still finding its way onto the streets of America, it doesn't take much to assume who making the most money off all of this.

FOX NEWS Report on Afghanistan's Opium Production

The Mainstream Spin

After 9/11, the US military quickly invaded Afghanistan with the full intention of facilitating the reinstatement of the country's heroin industry. According to the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), opium cultivation increased by 657 percent in 2002 and by 2006, that number had tripled.

The mainstream media has been spinning different stories to the American public as to why our military is guarding the same drugs that are killing their children. For instance, FOX News aired a story in 2010 claiming that US Armed Forces were protecting the poppy fields to keep the locals happy and to avoid a potential "security risk".

FOX News reporter Geraldo Rivera, blatantly lied when he said Afghan poppy farmers were being financially supported by the Taliban. When you consider it was the Taliban who had eradicated the poppy industry, why all of the sudden would it get back into the heroin business?

Even if this were the case, how would it be possible for the Taliban to allocate such vast resources into fighting a war, yet still have the ability to manage such a complex smuggling operation? Such complexity, that they were able to corner the world's heroin market in just 4 years.

For the critical thinker, It defies all reasonable thought to assume for one minute that the Taliban could suddenly become so successful heroin production and distribution that it could out smart our military forces who have constant watchful eyes on the poppy farmers at all times. Truth be told, the only way they could have the level of success they've had is if some very well-funded and highly organized partners were helping them facilitate their illegal enterprise.

The Truth About Mainstream Media

Renewing Old Interests

While tens of thousands of Americans continue harmful opium addictions, sadly thousands die every year from heroin overdoses. Not to mention the tens of thousands of addicts that are given lengthy prison terms for using it, selling it, or possessing it. Meanwhile, the illicit opium trade in Afghanistan continues to flourish. In a direct interview with an Army Staff Sargent who requested to remain anonymous, after serving 2 tours in Afghanistan and witnessing first-hand, he informed that the reality of this situation is, "that American soldiers are being used as guardians to protect the illegal poppy fields". A crop that fuels an annual 800 billion dollar global opium trade.

The fact of the matter is, that the CIA had interests in Afghanistan's heroin production long before 2002. Prior to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1983, opium production in Afghanistan and Pakistan was distributed on a very small and localized scale. However, within two years of the CIA becoming involved in the conflict, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands had become the world’s number one producer of heroin, supplying 60 percent of the demand in the US alone.

When the Mujahideen guerrillas took over parts of Afghanistan, they ordered farmers and peasants to plant opium as a war tax. Across the border in Pakistan, leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistani Intelligence operated hundreds of labs which processed poppy into opium and heroin.

During the 1980's, the DEA in Islamabad reported widespread heroin and opium trafficking along with open drug dealing in the region, yet failed to carry out any major drug seizures or arrests. In 1995, Charles Coogan, who was the former CIA director of operations in Afghanistan, admitted that the CIA had used drug money to fight and end the Cold War.

In an open statement, Coogan explained, "Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets. We didn’t really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade. I don’t think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout".

The history of the drug trade in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Afghanistan are intimately related, in that all three operations required a well-funded, extremely organized and highly sophisticated partner to help transport and then distribute the drug. I mean think about it... How could the Taliban take over the world's heroin market in just under four years? Furthermore, all three countries in question experienced dramatic increases in opium production and distribution, and those increases just so happened to coincide with American military involvement and a CIA presence in that country. It doesn't take rocket science.

Who else would have the ability to expedite such massive illegal drug smuggling operations? Who else could supply such vast financial resources? Who else could be so organized that they could provide a sophisticated and covert network with the ability to transport billions of dollars worth of illegal drugs halfway around the world, remain undetected while doing it and not get ever get caught? Then, if they did caught, who else other than the CIA would have the power to cover it up? Seriously, when was the last time you heard anything on the news about the war on drugs? The most addictive and deadliest drug on the planet (heroin) has become the number one drug of choice among teenagers. You've got hundreds of overdoses everyday but the news media doesn't seem to care. Proven by their failure to report the facts. Fact of the matter is that the United States is the country that has been most affected by the heroin trade. The US is also the country with an entire news media of well-known and respected journalist's that are either being forced to lie, or are complicit in covering up the government's illegal operations.

Are you starting to get the picture? If not, I know the best eye surgeon in the country. You might want to make an appointment because he can probably cure your blindness.

Are you Convinced Our Own Government is Involved in the Heroin Trade?

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    • James Gaskins profile image

      The Daily Conservative 2 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Thanks for your comments. It's always good to hear someone who's aware of things. We need more concerned citizens. Thanks for your support.

    • profile image

      oothee 2 years ago

      Great article. This really exposes the inclination we have for going to war. The spoils that we reap are sewn back here in the states in the effect of illegal drug smuggling proceeds. What many people don't understand is that during Vietnam, one of the reasons people were protesting was because they knew that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a lie just like they knew heroin was being smuggled into Harlem via the CIA. It's a game that our government likes to play, showing once again how little they actually care about us. The funny thing is that some of the same people that their actions have affected are some of the same people who still refuse to believe that their government would ever do such a thing.

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      Mark Kelley 2 years ago from Arizona

      I will say this James, you have done your homework The CIA has done everything you wrote about. I think its good that there's people in the world that still investigate things to try and find the truth behind cover-ups. So many people believe that conspiracy theories are based on speculation from the delusional. They couldn't be more wrong and would know it if they simply stopped for a second to look up some facts rather than have a opinion based on assumption. like the fact that you know why things don't get reported when they should. It sounds like you've been around the block a few times and you get it. Great article James! Keep searching, there's plenty to uncover out there.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Cape Wind Girl 2 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      Nicely researched. Reading flows smoothly. And it's as Smedley Butler said-war is a racket. Only way to stop it is stop signing up! So rare that military force is used for good.....I can think of one now: Putin stopping the CIA/Mossad-created ISIS.

      Heroine and an oil pipeline......for this, children lose their moms and dads. Booooo