Senator Feinstein Renews Call for U.S. State Department
to Provide More Helicopters to Drug Enforcement Administration
in Wake of Major Heroin Seizure in Afghanistan
November 1, 2010
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman
of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today renewed her call
for the State Department to provide more helicopters to the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration in the wake of a major airborne drug raid that
netted more than a ton of high-grade heroin in Nangarhar Province.
netted 2,056 pounds of the highest-grade heroin with a wholesale value of $56
million,” Senator Feinstein said. “That’s millions of dollars in heroin
proceeds that won’t be going to the Taliban. This raid underscores the
importance of helicopters to our counternarcotics effort in Afghanistan. Helicopters
are critical to getting DEA agents and their Afghan partners to the drug processing
facilities that are providing the Taliban with a ready source of cash.
July, the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control issued a report
indicating the serious nature of the opium crop in Afghanistan and the need for
dedicated helicopters for the DEA. Also that month, I specifically requested
that the State Department provide DEA with six Sikorsky Model S-61 helicopters
for use in the counternarcotics fight. The State Department has the money. It’s
vital that we get these helicopters to the DEA. Our success in Afghanistan
depends on it.”
On July 8, in a letter to Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Feinstein specifically requested that the
State Department purchase six Sikorsky Model S-61 helicopters for use by the
DEA in Afghanistan.
July 29, the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control issued a report, titled “U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy in
Afghanistan,” that concluded that the Taliban’s transformation into a drug
cartel cannot be ignored because it provides the terrorist organization with a
massive source of financing. This financing, in turn, helps it attack and kill
American and allied troops and the people of Afghanistan. The report also
concluded that the number of helicopters dedicated to counternarcotics missions
in Afghanistan is insufficient. The report can be found here.
The DEA is currently scheduled to receive two of the
Sikorsky Model S-61 helicopters next year.
grateful to Secretary Clinton to acceding to the two helicopters. But in order to
forward deploy sufficient resources to be able to move quickly, the DEA
indicates it is necessary to have an additional four helicopters,” Senator Feinstein said.
The Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act
includes $137.6 million for the State Department to make available to other
federal agencies to support operations in Afghanistan. This is sufficient to
cover the estimated $66 million required to convert four more Sikorsky Model
S-61s for counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan, according to Senator
In the early morning hours of last Thursday, DEA
agents, elements of a multinational counternarcotics force and soldiers of the
Army’s 101st Airborne Division flew on several helicopters to a
suspected drug laboratory in Nangarhar Province. After landing without
incident, the force discovered four illicit drug laboratories.
2,056 pounds of
343 pounds of
10 liters of
acetic anhydride, the key chemical used to process morphine into heroin;
heroin presses; and
clandestine laboratory equipment.
The narcotics and lab equipment were destroyed on-site
by U.S. military demolitions specialists.