AfPak Border a Haven for Drug Smugglers

AfPak Border a Haven for Drug Smugglers AfPak Border a Haven for Drug Smugglers

The psychedelic drug methamphetamine is being smuggled into the country from Afghanistan and Pakistan mainly through the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, said Alireza Jazini, deputy secretary general of Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters.

“While 185 meth production labs in the country have been destroyed so far this calendar year (ends March 19), however, 120 kilograms were smuggled through the border areas of Sistan-Baluchestan,” said Jazini, quoted by ISNA.

Over the last few years, there has been a sudden increase of seizures of high purity crystalline methamphetamine (locally known as ‘shisheh’).

Around 70% of narcotic discoveries are made in the eastern regions bordering Afghanistan, the top producer of opium in the world, and Pakistan.

Drug trafficking is a major challenge for Iran. Its geographical location, particularly the porous 1,923 km-long eastern border with Afghanistan - the world’s opium capital - and Pakistan, has turned it into a major transit corridor for illicit drugs. In response to the challenge, Iran has built one of the strongest counternarcotics enforcement body in the region. According to the UNODC World Drug Report 2014, Iran accounted for 74% of the world’s opium seizures and 25% of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures in 2012.

Preparations have also been made in the eastern regions for improving border patrols and the issue will be further discussed with senior executive officials, said Jazini.

In the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, 540 tons of narcotics were confiscated, a 16% rise compared to the same period in the previous year. Of this figure, 144 tons were seized from Sistan-Baluchestan, marking a 45% increase.

In addition, 300,000 people nationwide, members of the drug mafia and organized crime, were arrested on charges of smuggling and distribution in the same period, of which 4,200 were pushers from Sistan-Baluchestan. The province has seen a 26% rise in drug trafficking.

  Sealing Borders

Jazini stressed the importance of sealing the eastern borders of the country.  

According to Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Police Chief Ali Moayedi, narcotics smuggling continues through the unstable Iran-Pak frontier. The border barrier under construction to replace an intermittent tattered fence, is a 3 feet (91.4 cm) thick and 10 ft (3.05 m) high concrete wall, fortified with steel rods, that will span 700 km from Taftan to Mand, border cities located in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province.

Iran’s former police chief, Brigadier General Esmayeel Ahmadi Moqaddam, said last October that the country’s eastern borders will be fully secured by 2015 to stop the penetration by terrorists and drug traffickers

President Hassan Rouhani’ government has approved allocation of $118 million for further securing the eastern borders, to help check smuggling of contraband drugs, fuel smuggling and human trafficking.

Iran spends millions of dollars annually on border control, including construction of barriers and barricades. More than 3,700 members of the Law Enforcement Forces have been killed and over 12,000 were maimed in counter-narcotics operations over the last three decades. The LEF says its priority is to round up drug traffickers as well as addicts.