Penetrating Every Stage of Afghan Opium Chain, Taliban Become a Cartel

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ZARANJ, Afghanistan — Shortly after sunrise, an Afghan special operations helicopter descended on two vehicles racing through the empty deserts of southern Afghanistan, traversing what has become a superhighway for smugglers and insurgents.
Intelligence showed that the men were transporting a huge cache of drugs and weapons from Helmand Province to Nimruz Province, a hub for all things illegal and a way station on the global opium trail. Hovering above, the troops fired tracer rounds into the sandy earth beside the vehicles, which skidded to a stop.