Afghan Narcotrafficking: Illicit Financial Flows

Policy Report | June 06, 2017

The EastWest Institute (EWI) today announced the launch of its latest report, Afghan Narcotrafficking: Illicit Financial Flows. The fifth in a six-part series, this report has been developed to assist policymakers and scholars to better comprehend the nature of illicit flows of goods and services from and into Afghanistan and their relation to drug smuggling. The report provides a comprehensive review and analysis of the opiate trafficking economy as well as recommendations and strategies to counter, control and reduce the supply-side of opiate narcotics around the world.

“Drug-related financial flows bear serious consequences for Afghanistan, which include funding terrorism, nurturing corruption, undermining the rule of law and depriving the state of desperately needed revenue and resources,” according to Dr. Nikos Passas, co-director of the Institute for Security and Public Policy at Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and co-author of the report. “Unfortunately, detailed information on the narcotics financing is scarce, and research rarely addresses the banking/finance-specific aspects of the narcotics trade. This report fills that gap by highlighting the missing information about drug-related financial flows and how it may be obtained or generated in order to inform future policy.”

Produced by EWI’s Joint U.S.-Russia Working Group on Afghan Narcotrafficking, the report was co-authored by Dr. Passas and Nicolas Giannakopoulos, president and co-founder of Organized Crime Observatory. It represents consensus assessments and recommendations by experts from the U.S. and Russia, two key stakeholders in countering Afghan narcotics, and includes a number of proposals on how these two countries could potentially work together on this issue.

“The onus rests on the global community to undertake systematic and comprehensive studies of financial flows in and around Afghanistan,” added David Firestein, EWI senior vice president for Strategic Trust-Building and Track 2 Diplomacy and project director of the working group. “This report will help pave the way for an evidence-based and thoughtful strategy by highlighting the magnitude and impact of the narcotics opiate trade on the Afghan economy and thus providing stakeholders with actionable recommendations to counter the supply side of opiate narcotics around the world.”

This report is the latest under EWI’s Afghan Narcotrafficking series, following Afghan Narcotrafficking: A Joint Threat Assessment (2013); Afghan Narcotrafficking: Post-2014 Scenarios (2015); Afghan Narcotrafficking: The State of Afghanistan's Borders (2015); and Afghan Narcotrafficking: Finding an Alternative to Alternative Development (2016).

The final report, a joint policy assessment, will offer an updated assessment of the Afghan drug trade and the role that the United States and Russia might be able to play in countering narcotrafficking as well as specific policy suggestions for key stakeholders to curtail the flow of opiates from Afghanistan and is expected to come out in the summer of 2017.