Drug Dealing Afghan Soldiers Supplying U.S. Troops With Heroin, May be Contributing Overdose Deaths

Army Probes Drug Use by Soldiers in Afghanistan

Officials claim cases ‘sporadic’ even as drug toxicity deaths and related offenses continue rising at record pace

by Lolita C. Baldor
Associated Press, April 21, 2012

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has investigated 56 soldiers in Afghanistan on suspicion of using or distributing heroin, morphine or other opiates during 2010 and 2011, newly obtained data shows. Eight soldiers died of drug overdoses during that time.

While the cases represent just a slice of possible drug use by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, they provide a somber snapshot of the illicit trade in the war zone, including young Afghans peddling heroin, soldiers dying after mixing cocktails of opiates, troops stealing from medical bags and Afghan soldiers and police dealing drugs to their U.S. comrades.

Army drug toxicity deaths and prosecutions for drug-related offenses have increased at record rates. The Army reported 11,200 drug cases in 2011 compared to 9,400 in 2010. More than 300 Army deaths have been classified as 'drug toxicity' overdoses since 2006. The other services have refused requests to release similar data. (Reuters)

In a country awash with poppy fields that provide up to 90 percent of the world’s opium, the U.S. military struggles to keep an eye on its far-flung troops and monitor for substance abuse.

But U.S. Army officials say that while the presence of such readily available opium – the raw ingredient for heroin – is a concern, opiate abuse has not been a pervasive problem for troops in Afghanistan.

“We have seen sporadic cases of it, but we do not see it as a widespread problem, and we have the means to check,” said Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman.

The data represents only the criminal investigations done by Army Criminal Investigation Command involving soldiers in Afghanistan during those two years. The cases, therefore, are just a piece of the broader drug use statistics released by the Army earlier this year reporting nearly 70,000 drug offenses by roughly 36,000 soldiers between 2006-2011. The number of offenses increased from about 9,400 in 2010 to about 11,200 in 2011.

The overdose totals for the two years, however, are double the number that the Defense Department has reported as drug-related deaths in Afghanistan for the last decade. Defense officials suggested that additional deaths may have been categorized as “other” or were still under investigation when the statistics were submitted.

Read the rest of this story:



RESPOND... Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: