Senator Feinstein Renews Call for U.S. State Department to Provide More Helicopters to Drug Enforcement Administration in Wake of Major Heroin Seizure in Afghanistan
Nov 01 2010
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today renewed her call for the State Department to provide more helicopters to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in the wake of a major airborne drug raid that netted more than a ton of high-grade heroin in Nangarhar Province.
“This raid netted 2,056 pounds of the highest-grade heroin with a wholesale value of $56 million,” Senator Feinstein said. “That’s millions of dollars in heroin proceeds that won’t be going to the Taliban. This raid underscores the importance of helicopters to our counternarcotics effort in Afghanistan. Helicopters are critical to getting DEA agents and their Afghan partners to the drug processing facilities that are providing the Taliban with a ready source of cash.
“In July, the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control issued a report indicating the serious nature of the opium crop in Afghanistan and the need for dedicated helicopters for the DEA. Also that month, I specifically requested that the State Department provide DEA with six Sikorsky Model S-61 helicopters for use in the counternarcotics fight. The State Department has the money. It’s vital that we get these helicopters to the DEA. Our success in Afghanistan depends on it.”
On July 8, in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Feinstein specifically requested that the State Department purchase six Sikorsky Model S-61 helicopters for use by the DEA in Afghanistan.
On July 29, the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control issued a report, titled “U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy in Afghanistan,” that concluded that the Taliban’s transformation into a drug cartel cannot be ignored because it provides the terrorist organization with a massive source of financing. This financing, in turn, helps it attack and kill American and allied troops and the people of Afghanistan. The report also concluded that the number of helicopters dedicated to counternarcotics missions in Afghanistan is insufficient. The report can be found at www.drugcaucus.senate.gov.
The DEA is currently scheduled to receive two of the Sikorsky Model S-61 helicopters next year.
“I’m grateful to Secretary Clinton to acceding to the two helicopters. But in order to forward deploy sufficient resources to be able to move quickly, the DEA indicates it is necessary to have an additional four helicopters,” Senator Feinstein said.
The Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act includes $137.6 million for the State Department to make available to other federal agencies to support operations in Afghanistan. This is sufficient to cover the estimated $66 million required to convert four more Sikorsky Model S-61s for counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan, according to Senator Feinstein.
Last Week’s Raid:
In the early morning hours of last Thursday, DEA agents, elements of a multinational counternarcotics force and soldiers of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division flew on several helicopters to a suspected drug laboratory in Nangarhar Province. After landing without incident, the force discovered four illicit drug laboratories.
- 2,056 pounds of top-grade heroin;
- 343 pounds of opium;
- 10 liters of acetic anhydride, the key chemical used to process morphine into heroin;
- Two mechanical heroin presses; and
- Assorted clandestine laboratory equipment.
The narcotics and lab equipment were destroyed on-site by U.S. military demolitions specialists.