By Susannah George, Joby Warrick - The Washington Post

Afghanistan’s fastest-growing drug industry operates from desert outposts in plain view.

One of its most bustling hubs, some five hours west of Kandahar, can only be reached by miles of dirt tracks that lead to a row of dusty shops topped with Taliban flags. Wholesalers like Abdulwadood work openly here, moving dozens of kilos of methamphetamine every week.

In the middle of his crowded shop, he casually tosses a half-kilo bag of long glassy shards onto the carpet. Its street value in Europe is tens of thousands of dollars. Abdulwadood will sell it for about $250.

“Every year, sales and production just increase and increase,” he said, speaking on the condition that only his first name be used to discuss the illicit drug industry. Behind him the rest of his stock was piled in a corner. He expected to sell the roughly 20 kilos of shisha — the Afghan term for meth — in just a few days.

For decades, the country has been a global hub for opium production, estimated to supply 80 percent of the world’s opiate users. Now its meth industry is growing at breakneck speed, stoking fears among Western experts and officials that, under the Taliban, Afghanistan could become a major supplier as demand rises globally.