Punjab, Jan 11: The drug mafia in Punjab is worth an approximate Rs 60,000 crore. Investigations in the past have thrown up big names and allegations of them being involved in the drug trade too has surfaced.
In one of the probes conducted by the Enforcement Directorate, a kingpin had revealed that he was close to an Inspector General of Police, a Superintendent of Police and also a top politician in the state of Punjab.
The drug mafia is one problem that Punjab faces. The other one is that it is directly linked to the world of terror and that is what is proving to be a deadly cocktail.
The links between the drug mafia and terrorism needs to be looked at closely in the event of the investigations into the Pathankot attack suggesting that it could be members of this syndicate who helped the Jaish-e-Mohammad operatives cross over into India.
Terrorism and the drug mafia:
One of the leaders of the drug mafia is as well know, Dawood Ibrahim. He was cornered by the ISI to cough up a portion of his income earned from the drug trade.
Dawood had no option but to give in as a majority of the drugs he smuggles are routed from Afghanistan to Pakistan and then the rest of the world.
The drug mafia in Punjab too operates similarly. They have a lot of reliance on the drugs produced in Afghanistan.
Unless and until they share their proceeds with Pakistan and their agents, the drugs will not flow out of Afghanistan.
Steven C McCraw, Assistant Director, Office of Intelligence, FBI has documented this issue. In a talk before the Senate Judiciary Committee at Washington DC in the year 2003 he said that historically, Afghanistan has been a major source of heroin throughout the world.
Recently, al-Qaeda and Sunni extremists have been associated through a number of investigations with drug trafficking. We have observed elements of the Taliban shipping and selling illegal drugs into the US.
A joint FBI and DEA investigation resulted in the arrests of 16 Afghan and Pakistani subjects for involvement in a drug ring that was possibly linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The investigation determined that heroin, grown and processed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was being shipped to the U.S. Profits from the sale of the heroin were laundered through Afghan and Pakistani owned businesses and then sent back to associates of terrorist organizations.
Criminal and financial links to the Taliban regime and their involvement with al-Qaeda were established. The subjects were also involved in a number of other criminal activities including document/mail fraud, operating an illegal money transmitting business, and other white collar crimes.
Historically, Hizballah's direct involvement in narcotics trafficking has been limited, and the group's leaders have condemned the drug trade on religious grounds.
However, we have seen individuals with suspected Hizballah ties involved in drug related activities and we believe that funds from these activities eventually make their way to Hizballah coffers in Lebanon.
The FBI has investigated and continues to investigate, efforts by individuals and entities associated with Hizballah to traffic illegal drugs in the U.S.
Acts of terrorism attributed to Hizballah have little or no connection to narcotic issues. Rather, these acts were intended to further their political and terrorist agendas. Hizballah utilizes funds from drug trafficking as one of many methods to fund these agendas.
What the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime says:
According to the UNODC's World Drug Report 2007, the total potential value of Afghanistan's 2006 opium harvest accruiing to farmers, laboratory owners and Afghan traffickers reached about $US3.1 billion.
In addition, it is reported that in 2004, some 400 tons of cocaine was exported from one Latin American country, with an estimated domestic value of US$ 2 billion.
How much of this money is used for perpetrating acts of terrorism? Estimates vary. But even a small percentage would be more than sufficient for some individuals or groups to plan, finance and carry out terrorist acts.
Indeeed drug trafficking has provided funding for insurgency and those who use terrorist violence in various regions throughout the world, including in transit regions.
In some cases, drugs have even been the currency used in the commission of terrorist attacks, as was the case in the Madrid bombings.
Effective tools do however, exist which can chip away at - and eventually contribute to breaking - the links. For example, at the international level there is a common legal framework consisting of 16 universal anti-terrorist instruments, as well as relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Included in the latter is a series of UN resolutions imposing sanctions - such as the freezing of assets, a travel ban and an arms embargo, on members of the Taliban, Al-Qaida and their associates.
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