Saturday, November 5, 2011

Afghanistan heroin making its way into Arizona

By Crystal Cruz

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. -- One of the countries known for terrorism is also known for supplying most of the world's heroin -- Afghanistan.

"Look at all the poison that's sitting here; this is flat-out poison," said Chief Deputy Steve Henry with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office at a bust on Tuesday. He explained that nearly 90 percent of the world's heroin comes from Afghanistan.

"There's a high likelihood that some of this heroin could have come from Afghanistan," Henry said.

DEA Special Agent Ramona Sanchez has spent more than two decades fighting drugs. She knows how much of Afghanistan's stash really gets into the United States.

"Less than 10 percent makes it to American cities," Sanchez explained. "Most of the Afghan heroin makes it to west and central Europe including Russia."

While 10 percent may seem small, the Sanchez said profits fuel terrorist activities worldwide.

I asked if there were a chance Mexico and Afghanistan could be working together to move drugs in the U.S.

"We have no evidence of that in Arizona," answered Sanchez, although she admitted a relationship between Mexican drug cartels and Afghan terrorists is possible.

Another scary thought, the demand for heroin could be on the rise.

"A lot of people that could not afford Oxycontin or oxycodone could resort to heroine. Why? Because it's a lot cheaper," Sanchez explained.

While record amounts of Afghan heroin aren't being smuggled into the country, law enforcement is still on the lookout.

"Opium production is one of the major funding sources for the Taliban," Henry said.

We are told DEA agents are embedded in Afghanistan. Those agents are trying to destroy the poppy fields by burning them.

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