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Narcotics Trade Could Soon Dominate Afghanistan

berna namoglu/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Already known for rampant corruption, Afghanistan's government is also in jeopardy of falling into what's described as a "narco-criminal state" due to an abundance of opium production.

That dire assessment was delivered by John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, who told Washington lawmakers Wednesday that the U.S. presence in the country has done virtually nothing to keep Afghan farmers from growing opium poppies.

In fact, Sopko suggested the $7 billion effort to convince farmers to grow other crops has been a dismal failure with more poppies grown now than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion in October 2001.

The $3 billion annual poppy growing trade accounts for a seventh of Afghanistan's gross domestic product.  About ninth-tenths of the world's heroin supply is produced there.

Sopko told the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, "The narcotics trade is...undermining the Afghan state's legitimacy by stoking corruption, nourishing criminal networks, and providing significant financial support to the Taliban and other insurgent groups."

He said that without action, the weak central government is doomed to fall under the sway of narcotics traffickers and other criminal networks once U.S. and coalition forces leave the country later this year.

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