"Opium poppy cultivation and drug trafficking have become significant negative factors in Afghanistan's fragile political and economic order over the last 25 years. Afghan, U.S., and coalition efforts to provide viable economic alternatives to poppy cultivation and to disrupt corruption and narco-terrorist linkages succeeded in reducing opium poppy cultivation in some areas during 2004 and 2005. However, escalating violence, particularly in Helmand, and widespread corruption fueled a surge in cultivation in 2006 and 2007, pushing opium output to all-time highs. Cultivation has decreased in north-central Afghanistan and skyrocketed in the southwest. In spite of ongoing efforts by the Afghan government, the United States, and their partners, Afghanistan is now the source of 93% of the world's illicit opium. Across Afghanistan, militia commanders, criminal organizations, and corrupt officials have exploited narcotics as a reliable source of revenue and patronage, which has perpetuated the threat these groups pose to the country's fragile internal security and the legitimacy of its embryonic democratic government. […]. In addition to describing the structure of the Afghan narcotics trade, this report provides current statistical information, profiles the narcotics trade's participants, explores narco-terrorist linkages, and reviews U.S. and international policy responses since late 2001. The report also considers current policy debates regarding the counternarcotics roles of the U.S. military, poppy eradication, alternative livelihoods, and funding issues for Congress."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32686