Senior official says warplanes have destroyed 25 drug-processing labs in the past month
The U.S. military on Tuesday touted its air campaign to destroy Taliban drug facilities in Afghanistan, saying it was impacting cash flow to the insurgents.
According to Air Force Brigadier General Lance Bunch, U.S. and Afghan warplanes have destroyed 25 drug-processing labs since the campaign started on Nov. 20.
“This equates to almost $80 million of drug money eliminated from the kingpins’ pockets, while denying over $16 million of direct revenue to their Taliban partners,” Bunch told Pentagon reporters in a video call from Kabul.
When General John Nicholson, who heads U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, announced the new strategy to go after Taliban drug revenue, he said 400 or 500 drug labs were active across the country. Bunch noted that among the aircraft that have been striking the small, rural processing facilities are the costly F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, that have been firing off small-diameter bombs designed to limit collateral damage.
The Taliban profits from the illegal drug trade by taxing poppy farmers and traffickers across the war-torn country, pocketing an estimated $200 million a year, official data shows.