Afghan security personnel destroy an illegal poppy crop.
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The Taliban, which banned poppy cultivation when it ruled Afghanistan, now appears to wield significant control over the war-torn country's heroin production line, providing insurgents with billions of dollars, officials have told AFP. In 2016 Afghanistan, which produces 80 percent of the world's opium, made around 4,800 tons of the drug, bringing in revenues of $3 billion, according to the United Nations.The Taliban has long taxed poppy-growing farmers to fund their yearslong insurgency, but Western officials are concerned it is now running its own factories, refining the lucrative crop into morphine and heroin for exporting abroad.Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said that between January and June, 46 clandestine drug factories were closed down by anti-narcotics officers compared with 16 in the first half of last year.A senior Western official who asked not to be identified was adamant that the Taliban have their own laboratories, describing the southern province of Helmand, where an estimated 80 percent of Afghan poppies are grown, as a "big drug factory".
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