The trafficker also said he had sold a large consignment of heroin last year that had yet to be smuggled into Iran from the southwestern province of Nimruz. Premium Afghan heroin going to the West through Iran fetches a higher price and is less likely to be seized.
"The more restrictions, the more the business will boom," the trafficker said. "The price will go high, the number of dealers will go down, and my income will go up. The professional businessmen will remain. They have good connections. Whoever works hard in a business wins."
No matter where Afghan narcotics are headed, most of them pass through Kabul, a transit point on the main route linking poppy fields and labs in east and north to border smuggling routes.
Each day, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., police set up checkpoints on the edge of the capital. They ask drivers the "Seven Golden Questions," taught by British advisors, which include where are they coming from, where are they going and who owns the vehicle. They try to form a hunch about whether they should conduct a search.
A sniffer dog named Warsola, a German shepherd trained in Kazakhstan to take commands in Pashto, stands by in a cage, eager to root out hidden drugs. The police also have a camera probe, a long black hose with a tiny lens on the tip, which allows them to peer into gas tanks and radiators.
But at the end of the day, the outmatched police, paid $60 a month, lock up their weapons, go home and wait for death threats. They worry about their families.
"When I leave my house I tell my children, 'Please don't go out.' And I tell them, 'If you need anything, please tell me. I will bring it to you,' " Mohammed Nazir said. "We are afraid.
"Even if a cat jumps into my house, I get scared and I think that there is somebody in the house to kill me."
Nazir's 13-member team has arrested more than 30 suspected drug traffickers since it started work nine months ago. The team's first bust was of uniformed police officers armed with hand grenades and guns. They were caught with 24 pounds of opium in a knapsack in a civilian car. They said they had no idea that the drugs were there, Nazir said.
One of the unit's most dangerous arrests was last summer, when it discovered more than 400 pounds of opium concealed in the cabin of a gas tanker coming from northern Afghanistan. The smuggler had tried to mask the musky opium smell with piles of melons.
When police confronted the driver, he used his cellphone to call for help. Then he offered a bribe, and when that didn't work, he invoked the name of Gen. Haji Mohammed Almas, a Northern Alliance warlord, whose forces are suspected in many robberies and killings in the capital.
On the way to jail with their suspects, the police noticed that they were being followed by two SUVs full of gunmen. They kept their distance when the drug squad officers pulled into the jail, said Shamsuddin, a member of Nazir's unit. Like many Afghans, he uses only one name.
That night, about 1 a.m., a phone call woke him. Lying next to his wife, Shamsuddin began sweating in anger as a voice on the phone threatened him, he recalled.
"I was sweating just because he wasn't next to me," the cop snarled. "Otherwise I would have beaten him to death."
A few days later, when Shamsuddin was sitting with other officers at the drug squad's headquarters, the same man called and repeated the threat.
Nazir said traffickers had no trouble finding phone numbers to harangue counter-narcotics police at any hour. "All of these people have friends inside the government," he said.
A week after their arrest, the truck driver and his assistant walked free and drove off in their tanker.
Almas, the warlord, denied that he trafficked in drugs and declared that the police were hopelessly corrupt.