Drug trafficking declines in Iran
The entry of drugs into the country in the outgoing Iranian calendar year (ends March 20) declined by 30 percent, Commander of the border police Brigadier General Hossein Zolfaqari said, Iran Daily reported with reference to IRIB News.
"We see that the drug smuggling route has now shifted to the Sea of Oman, to some extent to the Persian Gulf region and also towards Central Asia," Zolfagari told. "This means that the risk of drug trafficking from our eastern borders is on the rise and if we further improve border controls the risk will become more evident."
Observers believe the reduction is due partially to strengthening border controls. Change in trafficking routes is also among the important issues that should be taken into consideration.
The second criterion is the change in the route for smuggling narcotics. Confiscation of drugs in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia indicates that the route is changing. According to Zolfagari "it must be added that the decline is also due to the reduction in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan."
He noted one key issue for securing borders is the coastal areas.
"Given the controls in the eastern borders, some illegal drugs were found in the Persian Gulf region. Given the developments in the past few months, entry of narcotics from Hormuzgan, Khuzestan and Bushehr provinces has to some degree changed compared to the previous year. This implies that we need to focus more on the Persian Gulf coasts," Zolfagari told.
"We have embarked on the task. Special sea commandos are undergoing training and we have added advanced vessels to our sea fleet," the general said.
For decades, Iran had been the main transit point for transporting drugs from Afghanistan to Turkey and further on to Europe (France and Italy), where the raw opium was refined into heroin. Transit through Iran was possible because of access to the sea, as well developed port and road infrastructure.
In 1989, the Iranian Parliament passed a law providing the death penalty for the drug trafficking. Also, some troops of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have been created and specially trained. Their primary purpose was preventing the transit of opium from Afghanistan to Turkey.
At present, Iran's eastern border with Afghanistan is equipped enough to prevent unauthorized crossing. In addition to regular measures of border control (a trace-control strip, barbed wire, surveillance technologies as well as air and ground patrols), this part of the border is blocked by deep moats, impassable both for vehicles and pack animals.