- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2004

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — Drug traffickers are targeting middle-class Americans with high-purity heroin that users can smoke rather than inject, a U.N. drug agency warns in a report to be released today.

The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board — an independent U.N. body that monitors the global drug situation — says producers are tailoring new narcotics products to meet the sensitivities of Americans who find injecting drugs repulsive.

“This shows how the illicit market operates in a very smart way by selling a drug to a new class of users by telling them, ‘Use it in a different way and you won’t become addicted,’” board member Rainer Wolfgang Schmid said.

A spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy declined to comment on the targeting issue, but said U.S. policy was to “disrupt the market” for narcotics as much as possible.

“We acknowledge that we need a smart drugs policy and we want to create a depression in the drugs market,” said spokesman Rafael Lemaitre, adding that teenage drug abuse has fallen by 11 percent over the past two years.

The report warns that political instability around the globe attracts narcotics producers.

Increasing levels of opium poppy production in Afghanistan eventually may make opium-based narcotics cheaper in the United States and Europe, the report warns.

“If supply from Afghanistan is increasing, it has an effect on prices and they will go down,” said board Secretary Herbert Schaepe.

A report released by the State Department on Monday also warned of near-record levels of opium poppy production in Afghanistan.



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