However, Mr. Payne argues that the overall issue is the demand for illicit drugs.
“Obviously, global drug demand both here in the U.S. and elsewhere is what’s driving this,” he said. “We need to figure out how to reduce drug demand.”
Although drug usage overall has gone down in the U.S. about 35 percent since 1979, demand is still strong.
In January, the DEA assisted Afghans with a search warrant on a precursor storage compound in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A large amount of precursor chemicals acquired from Pakistan were being stored for heroin processing labs in southern Afghanistan. As a result of the operation, an arrest was made and over 12 metric tons of heroin precursor chemicals were seized and destroyed.
In February, the DEA and Afghan law enforcement seized and destroyed two heroinprocessing labs, approximately 20 kilograms opium, two opium presses, 415 kilograms of ammonium chloride, 154 liters of acetic anhydride, 415 kilograms charcoal, 50 kilograms soda ash, one generator, 50 55-gallon barrels, two scales, four hydraulic jacks, two vats, as well as additional miscellaneous lab equipment in the Sherzad District in the Afghan province of Nangarhar. Also seized were two AK-47 assault rifles, one bolt-action rifle and two assault rifle chest rigs.
Surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that heroin usage is on the rise across the U.S.