According to the Tehran Times Daily Newspaper, since the passing of a new drug law early last month, Iranian law enforcement has come down hard upon the illicit crystal meth trade in that nation.
A statement released to the media
by the Iranian anti-drug police squad said that 129 crystal meth laboratories and 1,151 kilograms have been seized since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year which started March 21, 2010.
Hamid Reza Hossein-Abadi, the supervising officer of the anti-drug police squad also told reporters that 20,170 people have been arrested on crimes related to crystal meth.
According to Hossein-Abadi, his anti-drug police squad smashed a major crystal meth trafficking operation which smuggled batches of crystal meth from Iran to Malaysia and various Southeast Asian nations.
At least 42 kilograms of crystal meth and 12 suspects were arrested in the operation, Hossein-Abadi told reporters.
Under the newly passed anti-drug law, those apprehended for smuggling are fined and sentenced to prison for the first offense. A second offense could lead to a sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Crystal meth is a newly arrived drug in Iran, having appeared there only a few years ago. It is a largely homemade drug and is categorized as a stimulant.
The drug is exported regionally from Iran to nations throughout Southeast Asia.
The relatively harsh enforcement measures being taken by authorities would indicate that they are trying desperately to keep meth from gaining a foothold in Iranian society.
While Iran battles the domestic drug menace of crystal meth, it is also fighting a drug battle on a different front that originates from abroad.
It's a poorly kept secret to those whom even have a passing familiarity with Iranian society that it's populous is in the midst of a raging drug epidemic.
While crystal meth is rising in status as a public health and safety threat, Iran's current and most pressing drug problem is found in opiates and hashish, of which it is estimated millions of Iranians are addicted to.
A study on the epidemiology of drug use in Iran by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
reveals that in 1998 the estimated total number of Drug users in Iran as 2,000,000 with 1,200,000 addicts and 800,000 recreational users. Today, that number is believed to be as high as three million.
The U.N. has been very vocal in it's encouragement and support of Iran's drug war as well as trying to rally international aid for Iran through partnerships with law enforcement agencies globally. In the past the U.N. has gone on record as saying that Iran's public safety agencies, including it's police/law enforcement agencies are not capable of fighting it's own drug war and needs more assistance from the global community.
Opiates in particular pose the most significant public health and safety concern to Iran and have been a bane for the regime and it's law enforcement agencies.
According to the 2009 version of the U.S. State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
, Iran is a major transit country and consumer of opiates and hashish.
The report further states that much of the opiates entering Iran comes from Afghanistan. As much as 60 percent, passes through Iran to consumers in Iran itself, Russian and Europe.
Intensive anti-drug efforts are also documented in the report with it being noted that Iran uses over 50,000 police and Revolutionary Guard troops to patrol it's borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan to prevent drugs from reaching it's citizens.
Iran has apparently paid a heavy price in it's drug war as it claims that 3,500 law enforcement officials have perished over the past two decades in clashes with heavily armed drug traffickers.
However, Iranian law enforcement's war against drugs may actually be undermined by those within it's very ranks.
The State Department report reveals that some of the matters complicating Iran's drug fighting efforts are law enforcement officials accepting bribes to pass shipments and failing to enforce laws that prohibit the street sales of drugs inside Iran's cities.
Though the U.S. and Iran are currently locked in a Cold War against each other, that animosity apparently does not extend to law enforcement work.
The State Department report expressed support for Iran's battle to stem the follow of illegal drugs into that nation and urged regional cooperation with nations neighboring Iran in it's fight against the global drug trade.
The U.S. in particular could probably sympathize the most with Iran's efforts to stem the flow of crystal meth. The crystal meth issue is a matter that the American citizenry and it's law enforcement agencies are intimately familiar with.
While officials in Iran have pondered the cause and severity of the drug epidemic that has besieged their society with theories ranging from corrupt officials to a lack of global assistance from the U.N. and other nations, others believe a more sinister force may be at work.
According to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (RFERL), Ayatollah Mohammed Emami-Kashani said in a February 24, 2006, Friday prayers sermon
in Tehran, "Another instance of their conspiracy is narcotics." According to RFERL, he did not identify the alleged conspirators but continued: "They plot methods of importing drugs into our country and promoting such ugly deeds among our youth so as to destroy the backing of Islam and Islamic ideology . . . They hatched plots to ruin our young people."