Photo: IRNA

Iranian Authorities Confiscate Over a Ton of Narcotics Near Afghanistan Border

TEHRAN, IRAN – Many have praised the Taliban’s ban on poppy cultivation. Yet, the region says they have not seen any decrease in the amount of drugs smuggled out of Afghanistan. In the most recent instance, Iranian border guards intercepted more than one ton of narcotics at the Malik crossing region between Iran and Afghanistan.

The Iranian state news agency, IRNA, reported that the shipment, 1,230 KG of Hashish, was confiscated in Faraja, a border region in Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran that borders the southern provinces of Nimruz and Helmand in Afghanistan.

According to Iranian news sources, one smuggler had also been arrested along with the shipment.

“The border guards skillfully uncovered the hiding place of the drugs, which were embedded in the car’s cabin, and also apprehended the smuggler,” Iranian border authorities told the news agency.

For nearly two decades, Afghanistan was the largest producer and global supplier of heroin, claiming up to 80% of the global market shares. Products from the landlocked country find their way to consumers across the globe via various trafficking routes, including through Central Asia, Iran, and Pakistan.

The Taliban who financed their insurgency against the former government of Afghanistan and its international allies by drug revenues promised to eradicate poppy cultivation after it returned to power in 2021.

In April 2022, Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada issued a decree strictly prohibiting the cultivation of poppy, the primary source of opium used in the production of heroin. “Anyone violating the ban would have their field destroyed and be penalized according to Sharia law.”

After the Taliban decree, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported a significant decrease in drug cultivation due to the ban.

“Opium cultivation fell across all parts of the country, from 233,000 hectares to just 10,800 hectares in 2023. The decrease has led to a corresponding 95 percent drop in the supply of opium, from 6,200 tons in 2022 to just 333 tons in 2023,” According to the UNODC report.

While the UN and the regime in Kabul report a substantial decrease in drug cultivation in Afghanistan in recent years, the country’s neighbors say they have not observed any decline in the volume of drug trafficking originating from Afghanistan.

Last year in November, the Iranian Director General of the International Relations Office of Drug Control, Amir Abbas Lotfi, called the UN report about the reduction of drug cultivation in Afghanistan unbelievable, emphasizing that “traditional drug trafficking, such as opium and psychotropic substances, from Afghanistan to Iran, is still occurring.”

Afghanistan’s northern neighbor, Tajikistan, also rejected the UN report last month, saying that opioids like heroin and opium, along with Afghan-made methamphetamine, continue to be smuggled into Tajikistan and are later transported to other countries.

A Tajikistan Presidential Drug Control Agency (DCA) official told the Russian News Agency, TASS, that Tajikistan has not received any information regarding counter-narcotics efforts being undertaken by the Taliban.