In the mid-2000s, U.S. anti-opium policy intensified with a goal of reducing the resources available to Afghan insurgents. To achieve this objective, I show that opium suppression efforts must accurately distinguish between insurgent and non-insurgent suppliers. The required level of accuracy will be particularly high if demand for opium is inelastic and if the insurgents’ initial market share is large. Empirically, I show that demand for Afghan opium is relatively inelastic, that the market share of Taliban-heavy areas is large, and that enforcement has primarily impacted non-Taliban territory. Consequently, anti-opium efforts have significantly increased the drug-trade resources flowing to the Taliban.From the coclusion:
The most obvious explanation for ineffective targeting of Taliban poppy is territorial control. Afghanistan’s national government has the capacity to enforce the poppy ban in areas it controls, while enforcement elsewhere is difficult if not impossible. It follows quite directly that Taliban-loyal poppy farmers are less likely to be encountered by poppy-ban enforcers.Thas echoes really well the situation in countries like Mexico, where the war on drugs gives more power to certain groups that probably generate most of the violence.