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Afghanistan Tops In Narcotics Production

27 October 2004 -- The head of the United Nations drug agency says Afghanistan has supplanted Colombia as the world's top narcotics producer.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said in Bogota yesterday that there has been a sharp rise in Afghan drug production three years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.

Costa's agency will release a survey next week detailing the rise in Afghan opium production, which reportedly brings in some $2.3 billion a year, or half the country's gross domestic product.

In Washington, the former head of international peacekeeping forces in Kabul warned that drug trafficking threatens to undermine stability in Afghanistan.

But Lieutenant General Rick Hiller, chief of staff of the Canadian Army, said it would be hard for Afghans to curb the drug trade because it is so profitable.