25 October 2005

UNODC Executive Director Hails Extradition of Afghan Trafficker to United States

Calls Cooperation by Afghan Officials a Strong Signal to Traffickers and a Victory for Rule of Law

VIENNA, 25 October (UN Information Service) -- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa called the extradition of alleged Afghan drug lord Baz Mohammed to the United States "a victory for the rule of law, and clear evidence that the Government of Afghanistan intends to cooperate in fighting international drug trafficking." The United Nations has played a central role in negotiating and adopting twelve international anti-terrorism treaties, and is currently advocating a comprehensive convention outlawing terrorism in all its forms.

Baz Mohammed, an Afghan citizen reportedly affiliated with the Taliban, is accused of leading an international cartel responsible for smuggling more than US$25 million into the United States and other countries. Authorities also reported that Mr. Mohammed had characterized his smuggling operations as an act of "jihad," or holy war.

"The arrest of Baz Mohammed means the rules of the drug game have changed in Afghanistan. Nations victimized by narco-terrorism are fighting back with democracy's most powerful weapon -- the rule of law," said the UNODC Executive Director.

According to a UNODC report, in 2005, opium production in Afghanistan generated 410 metric tons of heroin (4,100 tons of unprocessed opium), the bulk going to Europe and Russia. While UNODC also recorded a 21 per cent decline in cultivation, with a record decrease of 96 per cent in the Nangarhar province alone, Mr. Costa has spoken openly about the need for sustainability, and the challenges involved in turning a single year's decline into long-term, structural change.

"UNODC has proposed five specific goals to the Afghan Government, and extraditing major traffickers was one," said Mr. Costa. "Now we have to keep the pressure on traffickers and focus on realizing the goals that remain: a strong justice system that will allow the Government to prosecute traffickers on its own; regional cooperation to control the spread of trafficking and corruption; enhancing government capacity in outlying regions, and providing alternative development to communities where drug cultivation, the only source of income for many Afghan farmers, is disappearing," he added.

UNODC specializes in helping Governments institutionalize the rule of law, and in the construction of effective judicial systems. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime also recognizes the need for a balanced approach in regions dominated by criminal economies, and is pushing for a simultaneous infusion of law enforcement and development measures.


For more information concerning the role UNODC plays in combating international terrorism, visit http://www.unodc.org/unodc/fr/terrorism.html

Or contact:

Kathleen Millar
Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 26060 5629
E-mail: kathleen.millar@unodc.org