"Across Afghanistan, regional militia commanders, criminal organizations, and corrupt government officials have exploited opium production and drug trafficking as reliable sources 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. The trafficking of Afghan drugs also appears to provide financial and logistical support to a range of extremist groups that continue to operate in and around Afghanistan, including the resurgent remnants of the Taliban and some Al Qaeda operatives. Although coalition forces may be less frequently relying on figures involved with narcotics for intelligence and security support, many observers have warned that drug-related corruption among appointed and elected Afghan officials may create new political obstacles to further progress. […] Afghan president Hamid Karzai has identified the opium economy as 'the single greatest challenge to the long- term security, development, and effective governance of Afghanistan.' […] However, escalating violence in Afghanistan's southern provinces, particularly in Helmand, and widespread corruption fueled a surge in cultivation over the last year, pushing opium output to an all-time high of 6100 metric tons. In response, Members may be asked to consider options for strengthening counternarcotics efforts during the first session of the 110th Congress. In addition to describing the structure and development of the Afghan narcotics trade, this report provides current statistical information, profiles the trade's various participants, explores alleged narco-terrorist linkages, and reviews U.S. and international policy responses since late 2001. The report also considers current policy debates regarding the role of the U.S. military in counternarcotics operations, opium poppy eradication, alternative livelihood development, and funding issues for Congress. The report will be updated to reflect major developments. For more information on Afghanistan, see CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32686