The overall world production of heroin is centered in the narco-state of Afghanistan, which has the world’s largest opium poppy plantations, tightly controlled by the Taliban. Reliable statistics on world opium production do not include Pakistan as a major source of opium, plus opium grown in Pakistan is more expensive. Occupational military forces by the US have done very little to deter the opium farmers in Afghanistan, which experienced peak levels in 2017. The highest growth of opium poppies comes from the southern provinces of Afghanistan adjacent to the Pakistan border. For the manufacture of heroin, Afghanistan has the world monopoly of export-grade heroin with over 500 estimated manufacturing facilities. Although the heroin from the historic seizure is said to originate from Pakistan, it was likely grown and manufactured in Afghanistan in the southern border provinces for cheap shipment into Pakistan for further distribution through a criminal network of Islamic gangs there. The area of Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan is known as the Golden Crescent in the illegal opium drug trade.
Sri Lanka as a distribution hub in the world drug trade is a relatively new phenomenon, so there is not much-supporting data aside from some recent massive drug seizures. However, the expected shipping route is by water from the coast of Pakistan through the Arabian Sea to the busy port of Colombo. Major shipments of heroin are often transported through shipping containers and the heroin may change ships in the ocean after leaving the port in Pakistan, as one seizure from a Sri Lankan fishing boat revealed.
Pakistani spy agency Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) has been dealing with drugs and counterfeit Indian currency notes for many years, which is one of the main sources of ISI’s fund which goes to various jihadists and militancy groups. International known infamous drug cartel Dawood Ibrahim is one of the key operatives of ISI in running this nefarious trade throughout the world.
ISI buys heroin from the Afghanistan-based Taliban at a fixed rate, which is several folds lower than the international market price. Taliban prefer selling drugs to ISI instead of individual buyers as they get the payment in advance. After buying the consignment from Afghanistan, heroin in packs of 500 grams each are transported to Pakistan in military vehicles as well as vehicles of the Pakistani spy agency. In Pakistan, the consignments are handed over to Dawood Ibrahim’s men with specific instructions on how and where the sales proceeds should be distributed. Accordingly, Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company men send the consignment to different nations and once the drugs are sold, cash received from the sale is distributed amongst various jihadist and militancy groups as per ISI’s directives.
Dawood Ibrahim is the notorious godfather of illegal drug dealings and is Number 3 on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List since 2011 as the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai bombings which killed 257 people and injured 1400. He has links with Al Qaeda, AQIS, Lashkar e Toiba, Jamaat e Islami as well as other jihadist and Islamist outfits in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Dawood also maintains links with Philippine’s Abu Saiyyaf militancy group.
For many years, Dawood Ibrahim has been living in Karachi, Pakistan under the direct assistance of ISI. In Karachi, he has properties and investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Sitting in Pakistan, Dawood Ibrahim, as per directives of ISI, operates global drug trade as well as distributes funds to several jihadist and militancy outfits. He also has investments in the Indian film industry.
According to newspaper reports, Dawood Ibrahim had provided the fund to the 2008-Mumbai terror attackers while has financed Islamic terror in the Gujarat region through L-e-T, being a large terror group centered in Pakistan. In 2003, Dawood Ibrahim was declared a global terrorist by the US and Indian governments. From 2017, as per directives from ISI, Dawood Ibrahim has started providing funds to Jamaat e Islami’s chapters in India and Bangladesh.
Dawood Ibrahim has established a small group of individuals from Bangladesh (mostly females) who are responsible for overseeing the trafficking of narcotics from Pakistan to Sri Lanka and the coordinate sending the consignments to several Western destinations. Dhaka’s largest vernacular daily Prothom Alo has already revealed the name of one of the key aides of ISI-Dawood nexus in Bangladesh. A Bangladeshi female named Shahina Akhter is one of the key figures of the nexus in Bangladesh. She coordinates with another Bangladeshi living in Australia for ensuring the smooth transportation of narcotics to various countries in the West.
Read next installment: Another conglomerate of Islamic terrorists and Uyghur Muslims