The accounts give a rare glimpse into how some NATO personnel and contractors seem to have gotten ensnared in Afghanistan’s multibillion-dollar narco economy, which supplies 90 percent of the world’s opium, the raw ingredient of heroin.
Canada and other NATO powers have long been accused of turning a blind eye to a 15-fold increase in Afghan opium production since 2001 (according to UN figures) and cozying up to Afghan warlords and officials reputed to be involved with drugs.
But these new accounts suggest NATO’s presence helps fuel the gigantic Afghan drug trade.
The accounts are reminiscent of the Vietnam War, when U.S. forces befriended opium-dealing warlords in Southeast Asia and many U.S. soldiers became addicted to heroin, with some smuggling it back home.
A Canadian military historian said the notion that NATO soldiers are buying heroin in Afghanistan and smuggling it out is “completely plausible”.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all. That’s the way things are there,” Sean Maloney, associate professor of history at the Royal Military College, said by phone from Kingston, Ontario.
“In an environment like that, anything is possible.”