Medicine trafficking gang disbanded at eastern airport

May 9, 2021 - 19:0

TEHRAN – A gang that was trying to smuggle medicine to Afghanistan was disbanded at Mashhad airport in Khorasan Razavi province, IRNA reported on Sunday.

While eight tons of drugs worth 14 billion rials (nearly $333,000 at the official rate of 42,000 rials) were seized, three smugglers were arrested, Ebrahim Qorbanzadeh, a provincial police official, said.

Two of the suspects were foreign nationals, investigations are ongoing to find their accomplices inside the country, he further stated.

A pharmacy involved in the case was also identified and shut down, he also added.

Mohammad Reza Shanehsaz, head of the Food and Drug Administration, said in January 2020 that smuggling medicine out of the country has increased due to depreciation of the Iranian rial against foreign currencies which has lowered medicine costs inside the country.

From the beginning of the past Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2020) until November 16, 2020, smugglers of fuel and livestock were fined 24 trillion rials (about $570 million), representing a 47 percent increase compared to the same period last [Iranian calendar] year.

Out of a total of about 42,000 smuggling cases, about 28,000 were related to export smuggling, of which 20,000 are related to the smuggling of fuel and petroleum products, mostly to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent to Turkey and Iraq.

A number of these cases are related to livestock trafficking. Most of the cattle are smuggled to Iraq, and then to the Persian Gulf countries.

Every year, $20-25 billion are smuggled in and out of the country, which, if stopped, will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, Hassan Norouzi, a member of the parliament, has said.

In the Iranian calendar year 1396 (March 2017-March 2018), $12 billion was smuggled into Iran and $900 million out of the country, according to the Headquarters for Combating the Smuggling of Commodities and Foreign Exchange.

Iran, which has a 900-kilometer border with Afghanistan, has been used as the main conduit for smuggling Afghan drugs to narcotics kingpins in Europe.

Despite high economic and human costs, Iran has been actively fighting drug trafficking over the past decades.

In June 2020, the first phase of the national anti-smuggling plan was implemented with the priority given to customs, tobacco, and transit goods.

FB/MG

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