UN survey finds opium production on the rise in Afghanistan

The survey found the area under opium poppy cultivation has jumped by 8 per cent over the last year, to 80,000 hectares from 74,000 hectares. Now there is opium cultivation in 28 of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces, up from 18 in 1999.Production has also increased, rising by 6 per cent to 3,600 tons from 3,400 tons, and about 1.7 million people – or 7 per cent of Afghanistan’s population – are involved in the industry.The annual survey, which took in fieldwork and analysis of satellite images, was conducted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Office said the results confirm that Afghanistan is responsible for about three-quarters of the world’s output of opium.Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow on the launch of the report, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa issued a dire warning about the situation.”The country is clearly at a crossroads: either major surgical drug-control measures are taken now, or the drug cancer in Afghanistan will keep spreading, metastasise into corruption, violence and terrorism,” he said.Mr. Costa praised anti-drug efforts by the administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, including a ban on opium cultivation and trafficking, and the setting up of a counter-narcotic directorate.But he warned that drug cartels threaten to undermine President Karzai’s efforts to promote democracy and the rule of law.UNODC says it estimates that total income from the farming and trafficking of opium this year may equal about half of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product.The value of the opium harvest declined this year to $1.02 billion, down from $1.2 billion, but that was due to a sharp drop in the price of fresh opium to $283 per kilogram this year, down from $350 per kilogram, because of the increased amount of opium flooding the market.UNODC says opium production has been a serious problem in Afghanistan since the late 1990s, when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan. read more

Moped gang armed with zombiestyle knife jump on car bonnet after stealing

One of the robbers kicking the windscreen Tim Loughton, a Tory MP and member of the home affairs select committee, said: “There is a role for intelligence-led policing here. If gangs are targeting Range Rover-driving parents going to private schools, there need to be sting operations”.Mr Khan told The Telegraph: “Moped crime is frightening and intimidating and will not be tolerated on the streets of London – but tackling the rise in crime across Britain is getting increasingly difficult as a result of huge government cuts to the police and preventative services.“The Home Secretary must walk the walk and give our police the funding they desperately need to do their job.”A senior Tory MP also found himself caught up in the crime wave this week as he stepped in to tackle a man who was racially abusing a shopkeeper. Moped crime is “out of control” and police are not doing enough to tackle it, senior Conservatives have warned, as footage emerged showing armed gangs targeting drivers stationary in traffic.Stephen Greenhalgh, the former deputy mayor for crime in London, said criminals were targeting parents picking up their children from private schools and officers were failing to stop them.It comes days after Michael McIntyre, the comedian, had his watch stolen while in his Range Rover with his son.Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, told the Home Secretary to “walk the walk” and hand over extra cash as a police video showed men being robbed of their watches while waiting at a junction in London.The footage, filmed on a dash-cam, shows four men pull up alongside the car on two scooters before threatening the occupants with a hammer and a knife, stealing their watches and stamping on their windscreen.​ It happened on Saturday evening in north London while the car was stationary in traffic on the North Circular Road in Finchley.McIntyre had his watch stolen by a gang armed with a hammer while he was picking his son up from school in the same area.On both occasions, the watches stolen were worth thousands of pounds, suggesting gangs may be deliberately following members of the public. Experts warned the gangs were targeting parents as they picked up their children from private schools in the capital, and called for police to be stationed at known hotspots. Mr Mercer told the Daily Mail: “I simply did what anyone else would do when faced by a man throwing bottles and being racist towards a shopkeeper earning a living.”It also emerged on Thursday that a moped gang used “drill” music to boast about stabbing their rivals. A court heard Micah Bedeau, 19, Yonas Girma, 21, Isaac Marshall, 18, and two 17-year-olds, who cannot be identified, had an array of weapons when they were arrested in Notting Hill, west London.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A robber near the Mazda during the attack One of the robbers kicking the windscreen Johnny Mercer, a former Army captain, wrestled the man to the ground outside a shop in London on Wednesday evening. The man was reportedly trying to steal alcohol from the shop, said to happen on a regular basis. A robber approaching the car A robber near the Mazda during the attack Mr Greenhalgh, who was the deputy mayor for policing and crime under Boris Johnson, told The Telegraph: “This is organised moped crime. It is happening in a small number of streets but I don’t get any sense of a plan or priority given to tackling it by the police. It is out of control. “These gangs are targeting drop-offs at wealthy private schools, so police need to be there and be visible to stop this.” A robber approaching the car They were planning an attack on a rival gang from Shepherd’s Bush in retaliation for an incident involving the grandmother of two of their members.A YouTube video had reportedly been posted showing a Snapchat broadcast of the grandmother being harassed, abused and threatened by members of the rival gang.Detective Superintendent Adam Lowe said: “The lyrics referenced several real and often violent events.“Their aim was purely to glorify gangs and violence.” read more