Afghan farmers work on a poppy field in the Grishk district of Helmand province in this April 18, 2009 file photo. Once known as the bread basket of Afghanistan, the lush green irrigated fields of Helmand are the world's single largest source of opium. Credit: Reuters/Abdul Qodus/Files

By Andrew Stern
CHICAGO
Thu Nov 17, 2011

(Reuters) – U.S. efforts to eradicate Afghanistan’s opium poppy crops, which cover an area about the size of New York City, have been “unsatisfactory,” Russia’s anti-drug czar said Thursday.

Russia is the world’s largest per capita consumer of heroin and is coping with an epidemic of HIV/AIDS spread by dirty needles.

Afghanistan has long been the world’s leading producer of opium, used to make heroin, and one-quarter of its production traverses its porous border with former Soviet states and supplies as many as 3 million Russian addicts.

Viktor Ivanov, director of Russia’s Federal Service for the Control of Narcotics, in Chicago for meetings with his American counterparts, said he agreed with the dim assessment of U.S. poppy eradication efforts by some members of the U.S. Congress.

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