The intensified effort to block the Taliban's access to acetic anhydride comes as the Afghan war turns deadlier, with a record 236 U.S. and allied troops killed so far this year, according to icasualties.org, a Web site that tracks coalition fatalities. U.S. Army General John Craddock, supreme allied commander for Europe, is pushing to increase military involvement in countering the narcotics trade.
The chemical allows Afghanistan's drug lords to dramatically increase revenue by producing heroin in their own laboratories instead of shipping out raw opium to be processed elsewhere. According to Craddock, a kilo of opium fetches about $100, compared with $3,500 for heroin.
Many of the images and information in this post were taken from the following document:
Documentation of a heroin manufacturing process in Afghanistan. U. Zerell, B. Ahrens and P. Gerz. Federal Criminal Police Office, Wiesbaden, Germany [Link]