Voice of America
Voice of America 28 Nov 2020

Afghan Authorities Torch Drug Haul


Afghan authorities on Saturday burned about 25 tons of opium, heroin, hashish and hundreds of bottles of alcohol in a bid to show their commitment to fight drug smuggling.

Piles of drugs as well as bottles of alcohol were set on fire in the eastern city of Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar.

Police have detained 570 suspects in connection with the drugs, Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, governor of Nangarhar told reporters, adding the suspects would be put on trial.

Afghan forces regularly destroy illegally produced or smuggled drugs and alcohol.

Production and sale of alcohol is banned in Afghanistan, even as the conservative Muslim country remains the world's top grower of opium, producing more than 80% of the global supply.


Afghanistan, the heroin capital of the world, is rapidly becoming a major producer of another illicit drug, methamphetamine, commonly known as crystal meth.

According to a new report from The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, those involved in Afghanistan's drug trade recently discovered the mountain shrub ephedra could be used in place of over-the-counter drugs containing ephedrine, a key ingredient in methamphetamine. The report also noted the plant has been used in other parts of the world to create meth but not at the level of production currently seen in Afghanistan.

The discovery is seen as a potential gamechanger for drug traffickers, making meth cheaper, easier to produce and more profitable.

On this episode of The Stream we speak with the lead author of that report about this turning point in Afghanistan's drug trade, and the consequences, both global and domestic, that come with it.
COVID-19 is a menace to most people but drug lords in Mexico see it as an opportunity. While police and authorities are focused on battling the pandemic, the narco business is booming.

Toby Muse brings us the story from one of most dangerous cities in the country.
Afghanistan's security vacuum
Afghanistan is bracing for further security challenges following the US's announcement that it will nearly halve its troop presence in the country. The Pentagon says it will cut troops in Afghanistan from about 4,500 to 2,500 by the time President Donald Trump leaves office in January. And international donors are now pledging less aid to the country, as well as imposing strict conditions in order to receive it.

But as the US prepares to bring its troops home, civilians across Afghanistan are being killed with apparent impunity. There has been a sharp rise in targeted assaults against journalists, civil society activists and human rights workers this year. We'll look at what the expected exit of US troops means for civilians already living amid constant danger.

Peru's political disarray
Activists are calling for root-and-branch political change in Peru, following Francisco Sagasti's ascent to the presidency. On November 17 Sagasti became Peru's third president in the space of a week, following the impeachment of Martin Vizcarra by Congress and the resignation of Vizcarra's successor Manuel Merino amid popular street protests.

Sagasti is now focused on providing a semblance of political stability in the run-up to elections in April 2021. But people across Peru remain unhappy with Congress' removal of Vizcarra. Many of those of who joined street protests against Vizcarra's impeachment amid unproven corruption allegations consider his removal to be "a legislative coup", and are now pushing for constitutional amendments. We'll look at the mood in Peru and what people are calling for amid the political tumult.

Memorialising the enslaved
Memorials to enslaved people are often placed in public squares and museums, giving people a ready opportunity to remember and respect those brutally exploited by traders. But a new proposal by marine experts suggests mapping the Atlantic as a profound new way to honour those killed and abused in the transatlantic trade of enslaved people.

Placing ‘virtual' ribbons on maps of the Atlantic sea bed would memorialise Africans who died at sea during long voyages along transatlantic slave passages, a group of academics, researchers, and Michael Kanu, Sierra Leone's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, says in a report published in Marine Policy. Kanu will join us to talk about the report's proposals.

The High Court in England has ruled that children under 16 - who say they want to change gender - are unlikely to be able to give their informed consent to treatment with drugs that block puberty.

The case was brought by a young woman who regretted her decision to have treatment and argued that a court order should be needed for children to take the medication.

Transgender campaigners have criticised the decision and the only NHS clinic to offer the treatment to children says it will appeal against the ruling.

Huw Edwards presents BBC News at Ten reporting by social affairs correspondent Alison Holt.

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