British soldiers ‘smuggle heroin from Afghanistan’
Detectives investigate UK troops thought to be smuggling drugs on military planes
Military police are investigating allegations that some British troops returning from duty in Afghanistan are involved in drug trafficking, bringing heroin home with them on flights coming into RAF Brize Norton.
The MoD is taking the claims seriously, increasing the use of sniffer dogs and body and luggage searches on flights which bring 700 troops a week back from Helmand. The checks are so rigorous the MoD has apologised to innocent troops for the inconvenience.
The Hampshire-based Special Investigations branch of the MoD’s military police started their investigation after receiving a tip-off that a network of UK soldiers is buying drugs from dealers in Afghanistan. The investigation centres on British and Canadian troops based at Kandahar’s Camp Bastion.
An MoD spokesman said: “We take any such reports very seriously and we have already tightened our existing procedures, both in Afghanistan and in the UK, including through increasing the use of sniffer dogs.”
Robert Fox, The First Post's defence correspondent, said the revelation was, if anything, somewhat overdue: "If it's true, it comes as no surprise. The use of heroin - and the peddling of it - were rife in the Red Army when the Russians occupied Afghanistan.”
There is also a long tradition of profiteering among soldiers – as portrayed, fictionally, in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 where mess officer Lt Minderbinder buys and sells his way around the globe.
Opium growing is worth £2bn a year in Afghanistan, which produces 90 per cent of the world supply. Of that, more than half is grown in Helmand province. One Afghan drug dealer spoke to the Sunday Times last year. Identified only as Aziz, he said: “Most of our other customers, apart from drug lords in foreign countries, are the military. The soldiers whose term of duty is about to finish, they give an order to our boss.
“As I have heard, they are carrying these drugs in the military airlines and they can’t be reached because they are military. They can take it to the USA or England.” ·
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