The Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA) is specialist force under the Afghan Ministry of the Interior. The CNPA is the lead agency for counter narcotics investigations in Afghanistan and has an establishment of some 3000 officers. Candidates for the 5-week long Counter Narcotics Course must have completed an 8-week basic police course and are carefully selected.
The busiest and most successful CNPA unit in Afghanistan is situated in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand Province. The United Kingdom funds a retired police officer to work in the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team to assist the CNPA with their training and development programme. The operations advisor for Helmand CNPA is a senior British military officer who provides guidance on intelligence-led operations and also accompanies the CNPA on interdiction operations throughout Helmand Province, providing direction on evidence gathering and intelligence exploitation.
The Director of the Helmand Counter Narcotics Police is Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Qadir. In addition to seizing drugs and arresting those involved in drug trafficking, Lt Col Qadir's team targets those involved in facilitating heroin production, including opium dealers and suppliers/distributors of precursor chemicals. Very often the CNPA officers and their families will live in the same neighbourhood as those involved in drug trafficking. This poses a huge security problem as the officers fear retribution if they take action.