intro: a u-n drug board says the number of secret heroin labs in afghanistan is increasing and many of the facilities are close to the central asian border. v-o-a correspondent douglas bakshian has more on the story from islamabad.
text: a report by the international narcotics control board, or i-n-c-b, reviews the illegal drug situation worldwide during 1995. the document says secret heroin labs are increasing in afghanistan, with many concentrated in the north of the country. the labs are near the border with the central asian states of tajikistan, turkmenistan, and uzbekistan, making it easier to obtain chemicals needed in the manufacture of illegal drugs. acetic anhydride is used in processing heroin. the chemical is available in central asia where it has long been employed to make fertilizer and other items. the i-n-c-b singles out kazakhstan, saying large amounts of acetic anhydride are made there and used illegally. the i-n-c-b report says former soviet republics should take measures to prevent the diversion of the chemical for use in the drug trade.
concerning pakistan, the i-n-c-b, credited authorities with seizing large amounts of narcotics. but the board also expressed concern drug seizures are often not followed by punishment. the board blamed, what it called, political influence of criminals and corruption.
the board also said large amounts of morphine base and heroin have been smuggled out of afghanistan and pakistan, particularly in turkey. the i-n-c-b cites another u-n study saying that illegal opium production in afghanistan was estimated at about 23-hundred tons in 1995. that is a one-third decrease from last year.
but a western drug official says afghanistan remains one of the world's leading opium producers along with burma. the report says afghanistan and pakistan continue to be important suppliers to illegal drug markets in europe.
the report also acknowledges both countries face difficulties in the fight against drugs. the report lists un-stable conditions in afghanistan, a reference to the civil war, and the non-enforcement of federal law in pakistan's tribal areas. pakistan says in 1995 it stepped up its crackdown on the illegal narcotics industry through drug raids and the extradition of several accused drug lords.
one of the most notable targets of the crackdown was ayub afridi. he was not extradited, but actually fled pakistan in december and surrendered himself to u-s drug agents. pakistani authorities earlier seized some of his property and said they were hunting him down. he faces charges of heroin trafficking in the united states. (signed)
28-feb-96 7:38 am est (1238 utc)