Fears Taliban could form alliance with deadly Mexican drug cartels

Fears are growing that Taliban and Mexican cartels could form an alliance as they are both financially dependent on drug trafficking and use extreme violence to expand their political power.

In 2009, experts presented evidence to the US Congress on the global perils posed by the Taliban and Mexico's cartels as "transitional drug-trafficking organisations" detailing the worrying similarities they share.

It is estimated that around 95% of the world's opium poppies are cultivated in Afghanistan, Mexico and Myanmar.

Now with the Taliban taking back control of Afghanistan again, experts fear they will further tighten their grip opium poppy cultivation, which will have an impact on the global drugs trade and in particular Mexico's powerful cartels.

In Mexico, the cartels are responsible for the illegal production and trafficking of heroin while in Afghanistan, the producers are in direct contact with the Taliban, according to US and UN documents.

It is estimated that around 50% of Afghanistan's economy is from the illegal drug's trade.

A US State Department report said that most opium production in Afghanistan was taking place in regions that were already under Taliban control.

The international drugs business has paved the way for many different cartels in Mexico – the Sinaloa Cartel is currently one of the fastest-growing groups in the country and controls land where poppy cultivation is profitable.

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This could suggest that the Mexican cartels are direct rivals to the Taliban, but serving different territories means they could actually compliment each other, DW reports.

There has been a large increase in opium cultivation in Afghanistan between 2019 and 2020, according to a UN report published in April.

Ahead of the elections in Mexico in June, multiple candidates running for office were killed by the cartels, which supported other candidates.

The United States spent more than $8 billion (£5.77 billion) over 15 years on efforts to deprive the Taliban from their profits from Afghanistan's opium and heroin trade.

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