United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Opiate Trafficking Through Iran

            On October 11, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime released a report showing that Iran is the only Western/Central Asian country to make more heroin seizures every year since 2004. Over the last decade, Iran built extensive infrastructure on its 600 mile eastern border with Afghanistan and deployed additional security forces to stop trafficking. But the report concludes that smugglers are now abusing licit trade routes for opiate trafficking in the wider region. The following are key findings with a link to a full report at the end.

·Most drug seizures have taken place at the main hubs along the trade and transit trade routes in Central Asia and within Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan. This suggests that traffickers have been misusing these trade routes to smuggle opiates from Afghanistan to the global market.
 


Misuse of maritime transportation

             In recent years, drug traffickers have become increasingly reliant on maritime transportation to smuggle opiates from Iranian and Pakistani seaports to the global market. By abusing trade routes from Afghanistan, traffickers can smuggle opiates to the Iranian seaports at Bandar Abbas and Chabahar, as well as to the Pakistani seaports at Gwadar, Karachi and Port Qasim.

Dry ports along transit routes
             A number of years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran effectively enhanced law enforcement efforts to combat heroin trafficking. Of all the heroin seizures made worldwide in 2009, 32 per cent were made in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The country thus made the largest number of opiate seizures of any country in the world. The Islamic Republic of Iran has also implemented extensive border protection measures along its border with Afghanistan. It has constructed a 688 km canal, a 477 km embankment and an 85 km wall, and installed 120 km of barbed wire. Most of the border protection was erected in the vicinity of Islam Qala and Zaranj. In spite of rigorous Iranian border controls, it is nevertheless difficult to monitor the entire 1,000 km border between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan. It is still possible for traffickers to circumvent border controls in areas in the Afghan Nimroz province.

 

Click here for the full report.

 

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