The Drug Enforcement Administration is beefing up its presence in Afghanistan, sending dozens more agents to go after opium that is a main source of money for Taliban insurgents, says National Public Radio. The DEA is drawing up a list of the top 10 or 20 narco-traffickers in Afghanistan, and plans on working with Afghan officials to track them down and arrest them. DEA strength in the country will be up from 13 to 81 by year’s end, says Jay Fitzpatrick of the agency’s Kabul office.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the Taliban takes in as much as $400 million from the opium trade that helps buy weapons and pay Afghan citizens, who need a job and might not necessarily agree with Taliban ideology. Military officers call them “$10 Tabies” because they are only in it for the money. The DEA’s increased presence is part of a U.S. effort to move away from poppy crop eradication, which was seen as unduly harming farmers, and moving to mid-level drug operators, drug labs, and high level traffickers.