Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said recently his country had the highest record of fighting drug traffickers despite receiving the least international co-operation in the effort.
Speaking at a conference to mark the United Nations-initiated International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Tehran on Saturday, Fazli said that Iran was forced to deal with drug-trafficking because they were a neighbor of Afghanistan, a high producer of narcotics.
He said that being a neighbor to Afghanistan, where a substantial amount of the world’s conventional drugs are produced, “has made Iran a transit route and poses most of the threats against the country. Iran has the highest record of fighting and discovering narcotics in the world while it has been offered the least co-operation in this regard.”
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Tehran, Iran accounted for 74 percent of the world’s opium seizures and 25 percent of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures in 2012.
At the conference, a video link was set up to show 100 tons of different drugs seized from smugglers set on fire in the Iranian city of Mashhad.
As well as the fight against trafficking, the country itself is a victim of drug abuse.
According to the national authorities, there are over 1,3 million opiate dependents in the country (2.26 percent of the adult population), placing Iran among the countries with the highest prevalence of opiate use worldwide.
Just last month, a grim picture emerged when William Brownfield, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, released the results of the Afghanistan World Drug Use survey which revealed that one in nine Afghans are drug users.
Based on the survey – which is prepared in cooperation by both the Afghan ministries and the U.S – three million Afghans are using drugs, of them 1.4 million are addicted to drugs.
The survey illustrates that the number of drugs users has increased three-fold since 2006 – when there was an estimated number of 900,000 drugs users across Afghanistan.
The figure reached one million in 2010 but it saw a sharp increase in 2012 when the total number of drug users was reported to be 1.6 million.
The survey follows closely on the heels of a U.S. Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report that stated recently that drug production in Afghanistan was on the rise despite Washington having spent $8.4 billion dollars in recent years on fighting drugs in the war-torn country.
According to SIGAR, millions of dollars from drug income was being pocketed by drug cartels.