UK investigates drug peddling charges against troops in Afghan

The UK government is investigating allegations that British soldiers stationed in war-torn Afghanistan are working as drug peddlers, smuggling heroin out of the nation, the Ministry of Defence said.

Updated: Sep 13, 2010, 18:25 PM IST

London: The UK government is investigating
allegations that British soldiers stationed in war-torn
Afghanistan are working as drug peddlers, smuggling heroin out
of the nation, the Ministry of Defence said.

The inquiry focuses on British and Canadian service
personnel at airports in Camp Bastion and Kandahar as there
are "unsubstantiated" claims that troops were using military
aircraft to ship the drug out of the country.

"We are aware of these allegations. Although they are
unsubstantiated, we take any such reports very seriously," a
defence spokesperson was quoted as saying by BBC.

After the reports of drug-peddling, security has been
tightened, with additional sniffer dogs being used as part of
the crackdown at the bases.

"We have already tightened our existing procedures both
in Afghanistan and in the UK, including through increasing the
use of trained sniffer dogs."

A narcotic dealer recently claimed that military
personnel were the second largest buyers after foreign drug
lords.

"The soldiers whose term of duty is about to finish, they
give an order. They can take it to the USA or England," Aziz,
the dealer who uses single name, was quoted as saying the UK
Mirror.

Regretting the allegations, the ministry said "Any of our
people found to be engaged in trafficking of illegal narcotics
will feel the full weight of the law."

As per media reports, a team of detectives from the
Ministry of Defence`s special investigations branch is
believed to be heading the investigation into the claims.

Afghanistan produces 90 per cent of the world`s opium
with annual exports worth up to USD 3 billion. The trade
fetches funds for the insurgents to continue their fight
against international forces in the country.

According to an UN report, 98 per cent of Afghanistan`s
opium is grown in the seven provinces where there are
permanent Taliban settlements.

PTI