Afghan soldiers patrol outside a prison 390 (R).
(photo credit: Ahmad Masood / Reuters)
Russia's narcotics chief, Victor Ivanov, announced Wednesday that a joint operation of Russian, Afghan and the US special forces captured several tonnes of narcotics and destroyed four drug labs in Afghanistan last week.
The teams discovered four drug labs, arrested 67 people and seized drugs worth more than $110 million, in the course of a two-week operation that ended on Monday,
Summarizing the operation, Ivanov said, "In total nearly three tonnes of hashish were seized. As a matter of fact, it's more than we seize annually in the Russian Federation, so it shows that the concentration of efforts on drug production sites is dozens, or maybe hundreds, of times more effective than elsewhere."
Ivanov, who has criticized US and NATO strategies, saying they should focus more on eradicating poppy crops, hopes to discuss the need for radical changes in fighting drugs at the next anti-drug conference in Peru's capital Lima in June.
Afghanistan accounts for about 90 percent of the world's opium production and contributes heavily to deadly heroin and HIV/AIDS problems in Russia, the world's largest per capita heroin consumer.
Meanwhile, the Czech government approved plans on Wednesday to cut the number of its soldiers in Afghanistan in the next two years, before NATO withdraws foreign combat troops at the end of 2014.
The number of Czech troops in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force would fall to 539 in 2013 from 640 this year. That figure will drop to 340 in 2014, and would not exceed 150 after the NATO pullout.
The bill will now go to parliament.
A timetable agreed between NATO and Afghanistan in 2010 called for the withdrawal of foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, when Afghan security forces are supposed to have full control.
NATO leaders meet on May 20-21 in Chicago to try to agree on how to fund Afghanistan after the foreign combat troops leave.