- BANGKOK (Reuters) - Afghanistan
will take back its crown this year from the notorious Golden Triangle in
Southeast Asia as the world's top producer of opium, the raw material used
to make heroin, a Thai anti-narcotics official said on Wednesday.
- Afghanistan lost its top spot in recent years as a result
of strict Islamic rule by the Taliban regime and the U.S. led war which
toppled the movement.
- Chartchai Suthiklom, deputy secretary-general of the
Office of the Narcotics Control Board, said combined opium production in
Myanmar, Laos and Thailand -- which make up the Golden Triangle -- is estimated
at a total of 926 tons this year, compared with well over 2,000 tons in
- "When there was almost no supply from Afghanistan,
drugs dealers came to the Golden Triangle as a substitute and the supply
rose, but there is abundant supply in Afghanistan now," Chartchai
- Opium production in Afghanistan fell dramatically, to
about 74 tons in 2001 from about 3,656 tons in 2000, an annual report by
the State Department released in March shows. The United Nations estimates
Afghan production this year will reach 2,952 tons.
- Chartchai said relative stability, lax laws and drought
in war-torn Afghanistan would help raise its opium and heroin production
as farmers struggled to make a living.
- Chartchai said recent satellite images showed opium growing
areas had been contained in China and the Golden Triangle.
- He said opium production in Myanmar, the world's top
opium producer in 2001, had constantly declined in past years, estimated
at 700 to 800 tons this year from 900 tons last year and 3,000 tons almost
ten years ago. Ten tons of opium is enough to produce one ton of heroin,
- The U.N.'s anti-drugs agency said on Tuesday opium cultivation
in Myanmar had fallen an estimated 25 percent this year, but the battle
against the drug trade in the military-ruled nation was far from over.
- In Laos, Chartchai said opium production was estimated
to have declined to 120 tons this year from some 200 tons a year ago thanks
to intensifying suppression. Thailand is seen producing about six tons
of opium this year.
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