The fourth highest seizure of opium in 2018 was reported from India, after Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to the latest World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
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The maximum of 644 tonnes of opium was seized in Iran, followed by 27 tonnes in Afghanistan and 19 tonnes in Pakistan. In India, the figure stood at only four tonne in 2018. In terms of heroin seizure (1.3 tonnes), India was at the 12th position in the world.
Again, Iran reported the highest seizure of heroin (25 tonnes), followed by Turkey, United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Heroin is manufactured from the morphine extracted from the seed pod of opium poppy plants.
Opium is illicitly produced in about 50 countries. However, close to 97% of the total global production of opium in the past five years came from only three countries. About 84% of the total opium was produced in Afghanistan, from where it is supplied to neighbouring countries, Europe, Middle East, South Asia and Africa. A small percentage also reaches North America and the Oceania region.
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From Myanmar, which accounts for 7% of the global opium production, and Laos, where 1% of the opium is produced, it is supplied to East and South-East Asia and Oceania. Mexico accounts for 6% of the global opium production, while Colombia and Guatemala account for less than 1% of global production.
The report said that the global area under opium poppy cultivation declined for the second year in a row in 2019. It went down by 17% in 2018 and by 30% in 2019. “The global area under opium poppy cultivation is nevertheless still substantially larger than a decade ago and at similar level of the global area under coca cultivation,” the report said.
Despite the decline in cultivation, opium production remained stable in 2019, with higher yields reported in the main opium production areas. “Taking opium consumption into account, the estimated global opium production in 2019 would have been sufficient to manufacture 472-722 tonnes of heroin...,” said the finding.
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‘Heroin more widespread’
The opiates seized in the largest quantity in 2018 continued to be opium (704 tonnes), followed by heroin (97 tonnse) and morphine (43 tonnes). “Globally, 47 countries reported opium seizures, 30 countries reported morphine seizures and 103 countries reported heroin seizures in 2018, suggesting that trafficking in heroin continues to be more widespread in geographical terms than trafficking in opium or morphine,” the report said.
Quantities of seized opiates remained concentrated in Asia, notably in South-West Asia (70%). Most opiates seized were reported in or close to the main opium production areas. Therefore, Asia, which is host to more than 90% of global illicit opium production and the world’s largest consumption market for opiates, accounted for almost 80% of all opiates seized worldwide in 2018.
Outside Asia, the largest total quantity of heroin and morphine was seized in Europe (22% of the global total in 2018).
The main opiate trafficking flows originate from three key production areas: Afghanistan, Myanmar-Laos and Mexico-Colombia-Guatemala.