12 Afghans jailed for 155 years for opium trade
Afghan courts have sentenced 12 drugs smugglers to a total of 155 years in jail after their arrests led to the seizure of heroin and opium valued at 97 million dollars, a British team said. Read on...world Updated: Jan 16, 2009 17:48 IST
Afghan courts have sentenced 12 drugs smugglers to a total of 155 years in jail after their arrests led to the seizure of heroin and opium valued at 97 million dollars, a British team said on Friday.
The men were all from the southern province of Helmand, the heart of Afghanistan's illegal drugs production, and were convicted in the past six months, the British-run provincial reconstruction team said in a statement.
"A bonus is that more than half of the 19 tons of opium, and 206 kilos (450 pounds) of heroin, that were seized when those men were arrested would have been heading for the United Kingdom," it quoted British police adviser Dave Wright as saying.
Police said the drugs would have a street value in Britain of at least 65 million pounds (97 million dollars), an official said.
The men were sentenced in the capital Kabul to between 10 and 17 years each, reaching a total of 155, and ordered to pay nearly 247,000 dollars in fines.
The convictions were a "significant increase" on those of previous years, it said.
Britain is among several nations helping Afghanistan to fight the drugs trade including by improving the country's policing and justice system and urging farmers to grow other crops.
About 93 percent of the heroin that reaches Britain comes from Afghanistan, and two-thirds comes from Helmand, said the statement from the reconstruction team.
Helmand is the main producer of the country's huge crop of opium, an ingredient of heroin. It is also a stronghold of Taliban insurgents who are said to fund their activities in part through the drugs trade.
The bulk of nearly 9,000 British soldiers in Afghanistan are stationed in the province, where some work on the reconstruction team -- a military and civilian mission to usher in development.