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The chain of opiate smugglers and the tangle of their routes across Central Asia lead back to the source of their product in Afghanistan. However, the difficulties of addressing the Afghan drug trade at its source are large and manifold, as the enduring instability and continuing production of opium in that country attest. The amount of money being spent in Central Asia on addressing opiate trafficking is further evidence that the returns to counter-narcotics funding are, unfortunately, higher outside of the pivotal country than within it.
However, the progression of goods from opium farmer to heroin consumer requires the early and inescapable addition of precursors. Crucially, Afghanistan does not produce these. The necessity of procuring large quantities of precursor chemicals in order to convert opium into heroin creates an opportunity for disrupting drug distribution early on in the production process. The effective detection and interdiction of precursor smuggling into Afghanistan would create immense pressure on opiate smuggling networks, choking them at the source of supply.

Precursor Control on Central Asia’s Borders with China, 2013

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