Friday, May 25, 2007

the needle, and the damage done

Not depressed yet? You soon will be. Iraq is already a drugs transit route, but now it's becoming a heroin producer.

I'd cry, but in fact things are already so bad it's hard to see how this makes anything in Iraq that much worse. The Iraqi insurgents do not seem to be constrained by money in any obvious way - after all, there's that other addictive substance whose production is often associated with violence and criminality that Iraq exports. And, given the agricultural problems referred to, it's not as if it's going to be a second Afghanistan in terms of production.

But it probably will mean more turf wars and blood feuds, not to mention more heroin addicts and more AIDS cases. Purple fingers.


Anonymous said...

The Independent is really frustratingly confusing about whether they're a heroin producer, an opium producer or a producer of morphine base. My guess is that if they're growing the poppies around Basra, they'll be shipping the opium over the border into Iran where there are loads of heroin labs, but I'm not sure at all and it makes a big difference.

Alex said...

They seem to refer to poppy growing specifically. But I see no reason, given Iraq's unique conditions (no effective government, private armies, but a substantial scientific-technical intelligentsia as the Russians say, and reasonably good transport links) why it shouldn't move up the valuechain.

Anonymous said...

certainly could happen - to be honest, you don't even need much in the way of technical nous to run a backwoods heroin lab, just a few gallons of ether (or whatever solvent it is, memory fails me) and a distinct lack of concern for your own wellbeing, which casual empiricism reveals that a lot of Iraqis have.

Vertically integrated heroin gangs are quite rare though (I've been meaning to do a post on CT about this for a while because it's a quite interesting contrast with cocaine gangs which are almost always integrated from grower to wholesaler, mainly because cocaine is a perishable product whereas heroin isn't). And what the Iraqis lack at the moment and their Iranian mates have is export connections. If you're right, then some enterprising squaddie is going to get very rich back in civvy street. Are there any particular towns in the UK whose local regiments have been particularly thick on the ground in Basra, so we can keep an ear out for a new heroin channel opening up to the UK?

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