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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 17:33 GMT
Pakistan makes huge heroin haul
Seized drugs being destroyed in Peshawar
Illegal drugs are routinely set on fire
Pakistani security forces have seized nearly a ton of heroin with a street value of more than $50m - one of the world's largest-ever hauls of the drug.

The raid outside the town of Turbat near the Iranian border in Baluchistan Province sparked a gun battle which left one trafficker dead and another wounded, Reuters reported.

Agents found 630 kg (1,386 pounds) of pure heroin and 250 kg of morphine, which they believe originated in Afghanistan.

Four alleged smugglers, who were using camels to transport the drugs, have been arrested.

"It appears to be the first large quantity of heroin seized with origins in Afghanistan," one officer told the Associated Press.

Another said it could be the biggest seizure of pure heroin in Pakistan's history.

Correspondents say the drugs haul is a strong indication that large-scale heroin production has resumed in Afghanistan.

The country was the world's biggest producer of the drug until the Taleban authorities destroyed all poppy fields in areas under their control two years ago.

The fundamentalist regime collapsed in December after intense US bombing.

Afghan origins

Poppy production flourishes in the "Golden Crescent", which takes in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.

poppy field
Pakistan has been declared poppy-free
Pakistan was a major heroin-producing country until 1998 when, with US backing, the anti-narcotics force clamped down on poppy farmers in the country's north-western tribal areas.

The United Nations declared the country poppy-free in 2000.

Pakistan has an estimated two million heroin addicts, more than any other country in the world.

The United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) estimates that Afghanistan produced 3,276 tonnes of opium, out of a worldwide total of 4,691 tonnes in 2000.

Heroin is synthesised from morphine, one of the main constituents of the sap of papaver somniferum - the opium poppy.

See also:

26 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
UN drugs warning for Asia
30 Sep 01 | South Asia
West fears heroin flood
15 Sep 00 | South Asia
Drought hits opium output
14 Jun 00 | South Asia
The Taleban's drug dividend
09 May 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
Afghanistan's opium harvest
04 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: The heroin trail
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