14 Drug Rings Smashed in Western Province in 8 Months
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Law enforcement forces in the country’s western province of Ilam have managed to break up 14 rings involved in drug-trafficking activities since the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 21).
Commander of Ilam Law Enforcement Forces General Ali Dowlati told Tasnim on Saturday that those 14 bands were involved in smuggling opiates into the province, adding that the police not only thwarted their plot, but also arrested several active members of the networks.
General Dowlati also noted that the illicit drugs discovered in Ilam province over the past 8 months have risen by 13 percent compared to the corresponding period last year.
According to the commander, the local police forces in Ilam have also tightened the noose on drug traffickers by intensified anti-narcotics campaign and improved intelligence measures across the whole province.
Iran has been hit in recent decades by drugs smuggling because of its 936 kilometer border with Afghanistan which supplies over 90% of the world's opium, the raw ingredient of heroin.
Poppy cultivation and opium production in Afghanistan have been on the rise since the US-led occupation of 2001.
According to a survey released Wednesday, opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose 36% this year. The report, the 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey, was released in Kabul by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The report said the total area planted with poppies rose from 154,000 to 209,000 hectares, while potential production rose by 49% to 5,500 tons, more than the current global demand. But production was lower than the 2007 high of 7,400 tons as bad weather in southern Afghanistan affected crops.
Iran is on a major transit route for drugs being smuggled from Afghanistan to Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the country's war on drug-traffickers has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police forces over the past 34 years since the victory of the Islamic Revolution.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Iran is netting eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all other countries in the world combined.
Deputy head of Iran's Anti-Narcotics Headquarters said in early October that Iran seizes some 500 tons of illicit drugs every year. “No country in the world discovers as much illicit drugs as Iran does,” said Taha Taheri.