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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Increased Drug Trafficking from Iran

In the U.S., we tend to focus on Mexico when it comes to drug trafficking, but the fact is that drug production and trafficking is an important industry in the Middle-East. This article from the Middle East Forum discusses evidence of increased trafficking from Iran:

The growing border porosity and unchecked movement of people [between Turkey and Iran] has, however, kindled fears of serious security challenges, including an escalation in terrorism and transnational crime. Pointing to Iran's role as both a major production center of methamphetamine and a transit route for Afghan opiates, security experts have argued that economic integration and free movement could spur drug trafficking and increase collaboration between transnational organized crime syndicates.

... In 2009, Turkey's imports and total trade volume declined sharply due largely to energy supply disruptions (see Figure 1), yet Turkish law enforcement agencies seized a record level (16 tons) of heroin coming out of Iran. The authors studied six years: 2005-2007 (before entente) and 2008-2010 (after). During these years, 361 operations were classified as Iran-related, international drug-trafficking cases with at least one Iranian suspect arrested in each incident. In these operations, 1,294 people were involved in drug trafficking; of the traffickers, 578 were Iranians, 671 Turks, and 45 of other nationalities.
Heroin constituted the highest proportion of drug seizures (45.7 percent) while the second most frequently seized drug was opium, followed by cannabis and methamphetamine. (See Table 1.) Transnational crime syndicates used various concealment and transshipment methods. Seizures on the courier's body were most common, followed by seizures from residences and vehicles. Among the 361 interdictions, 23.5 percent were linked to organized crime groups while 76.5 percent were classified as individual-level drug trafficking attempts.

The volume of the trafficked drugs and the transportation methods used display the growing capabilities of drug-trafficking networks. In general, higher volume is a sign of a network's greater capacity. The amount of drugs found in each seizure also changed between the two periods: Seizures below 250 grams fell while seizures above 5,000 grams rose. In 2008-2010, traffickers tended to carry drugs in higher volumes, which in turn, required more space and carrying capacity.

... The amount of drugs carried is closely related to the methods of transportation available between production sites and consumption markets. In general, route longevity and border-control rigidity have an impact on drug shipment quantities. While drugs on couriers' bodies constituted the primary method of trafficking between Iran and Turkey in both periods, case file analysis shows this method decreased in the later post-entente period. As expected, due to eased restrictions, the use of motor vehicles for trafficking rose. There was a marked decrease in drug trafficking through concealment in goods (the personal belongings of passengers), which may, in turn, reflect the ease by which drugs could now flow in through vehicles and freight.
 (Footnotes omitted).

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