Afghan commandos executed a nighttime raid against the Taliban’s “Red Unit” in Helmand province on Monday, seizing more than a ton of hashish valued at $3.4 million in drug trafficking revenue and freeing five captives held for their families’ connections to Afghan government forces.
The raid against the elite Taliban fighters, who have been seen outfitted with American and Russian-made tech in propaganda videos, is another in a series of operations meant to disrupt the insurgency’s increasingly narcotics-based methods of financing.
“We believe that the Taliban, in some ways, have evolved into a criminal or narco-insurgency,” Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said during a November press briefing. “They are fighting to defend their revenue streams. They have increasingly lost whatever ideological anchor they once had.”