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Sen. Feinstein Says DEA Needs More Helicopters to Fight Drugs in Afghanistan


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, renewed her call Monday for the State Department to cough up more helicopters for the DEA in Afghanistan.

The public call comes in wake of last week’s major airborne drug raid that netted more than a ton of high-grade heroin in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan, Feinstein said in a press release.

“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.”

Feinstein noted that on July 29 the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control issued a report, titled “U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy in Afghanistan,” that stated that the Taliban’s transformation into a drug cartel can’t be ignored.

The report concluded that the number of helicopters dedicated to counternarcotics missions in Afghanistan is insufficient.

Feinstein said in her press release that the DEA is scheduled to receive two of the Sikorsky Model S-61 helicopters next year.


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