U.S. campaign destroys $80m of Taliban drug money in Afghanistan

By Daniel Uria  |  Dec. 12, 2017 at 10:15 PM
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Dec. 12 (UPI) -- American military officials said a U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan destroyed $80 million in narcotics money as part of a campaign to target Taliban revenue streams.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch, chief of the Resolute Support Mission's future operations division, said the campaign has eliminated 25 illegal drug-processing laboratories in Helmand province, denying $16 million of the $80 million in destroyed funds that was set to be "direct revenue" to the drug lords' Taliban partners.

Bunch said President Donald Trump's new South Asia strategy, which granted the U.S.-led coalition new permissions to target the Taliban's command-and-control nodes, illicit revenue-generating ventures, and logistical networks.

They were previously only able to conduct American airstrikes in defense of Afghan National Security Forces who were in close proximity to Taliban fighters

"This new air interdiction campaign directly strengthens the Afghan defense forces and their continued battlefield successes," he said.

Bunch added the Taliban receives about $300 million to $400 million a year with about $200 million of it coming from the production of heroin and two raids of Taliban narcotics bazaars resulted in more than 2 tons of heroin and more than 5.5 tons of opium being seized.

He promised a "long winter" for the Taliban "as we will continue to disrupt their revenue sources again and again and again."

"They have been completely unable to achieve any objectives from their declared Operation Mansouri during this fighting season," Bunch said. "In addition to their unrealistic goals, they have been unable to take a provincial capital or even a single city. This year the Taliban and have fared poorly."

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