Kabul DEA Boss, Mike Marsac
The New Colombia
In 2012, when President Obama ordered America begin its ‘drawdown’ from Afghanistan, a police operation was quietly launched in Kabul. Some say it was the most inspired investigation they’ve ever known. Others say it was the most futile. (You be the judge). The target: the Taliban Senior Leadership.
The accusation: they were an organised crime cartel, running a massive drug business exporting opium out of Afghanistan. Leading the mission: Kabul DEA Boss, Mike Marsac, a folksy ‘Fargo-like’ cop from Colorado. He calls the case Operation Reciprocity, and is doggedly determined to get the job done.
But with President Obama’s announcement, he’s now running out of time…
The Most Bizzare Bust. Ever.
We go back to where it began. A foundation stone of the DEA’s case against the Taliban’s suspected drug cartel was the Haji Bashar Noorzai investigation. The biggest trafficker in Kandahar - and the first man to finance the Taliban - Noorzai was a target even before the DEA arrived proper into Afghanistan.
He proclaimed to be a partner, even delivering 15 truckloads of Taliban weapons to US Forces in 2001/2002. But, indicted in 2004 and on the US ‘Top Ten Most Wanted’ list, Noorzai had disappeared. Then, incredibly, two mysterious ‘civilians’ called Brian and Mike managed to find him...
And then the really weird stuff started to happen.
Haji Bashar Noorzai, with the mysterious ‘Mike’ and ‘Brian’.
Episode Two coming in late 2023
DEA Special Agent
Keith Weis in poppy field,
Who's Making the Money?
The roots of Operation Reciprocity began here. In 2004, just three years after 9/11, a record-breaking poppy crop was harvested in Afghanistan. With such sobering figures, and the Noorzai case unfolding, big questions are being asked about the booming Afghan opium trade. Most critically: Who’s making the money?
Is it the Taliban? Is terrorism being funded by drug trafficking? With virtually no law enforcement ‘in country’, the US sends a handful of DEA agents to Kabul to investigate. Mike Marsac, John O’Rourke and Keith Weis are among them. Their task is immense, but the challenges back home soon become even bigger.
Warning signs are everywhere, but nobody in Washington is listening…
Episode Three coming in late 2023
The Trouble with Uruzgan
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban, was a prime target on the DEA’s Operation Reciprocity ‘hit list’. Hailing from a poppy rich province called Uruzgan, Mullah Baradar was the alleged mastermind managing the Taliban’s drug business - and their military operations, to boot.
Also from Uruzgan - indeed, its Governor - was Jan Mohammad Khan (JMK). A close friend of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, JMK was a key partner in the War on Terror, promising to help find and fight people like Mullah Baradar. But… Governor JMK was ALSO an opium kingpin. And a ‘War Lord’ as well.
So… what to do? Not just for the US Command, or the DEA, but the Australian troops sent to Uruzgan in 2005. Ally with Governor JMK, or arrest him?
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
Episode Four coming in late 2023