June 13, 2008 -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has announced details of the largest drug seizure ever, as the result of a multi-year investigation in Afghanistan.
The DEA and Afghanistan's National Interdiction Unit, along with the U.S. military and NATO forces, captured and destroyed 262 tons of hashish June 9 in a two-year operation dubbed "Albatross."
The DEA executed search warrants at five narcotics processing centers and discovered numerous underground bunkers in the Kandahar province, which is still under control of the Taliban. Afghanistan's National Interdiction Unit and the DEA arrested 12 suspects during the operation and seizure of the drugs, which had an estimated value of $400 million.
Some officials estimate that the drugs would have filled 30 double-decker buses. Hashish is resin derived from marijuana plants.
Drug production has increased sharply in Afghanistan since 2001, with estimates, for instance, that more than 90 percent of the world's heroin comes from the country. The DEA has been operating in Afghanistan since 2002 to train Afghan narcotic forces and gather intelligence.
"People have traditionally thought of Afghanistan having a vibrant heroin crop, but we're seeing more marijuana," DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney told ABC News.
Because local police don't enforce laws against the growing of marijuana, it has become more of a cash crop in the region. In late 2006, Canadian forces on patrol in Afghanistan encountered dense marijuana forests with plants at least 10 feet tall that the Taliban used for cover and protection.
U.S. forces, the DEA and Afghan forces destroyed the massive stash with explosives.