By Aynur Jafarova
Iran's minimum annual damage from narcotic drugs abuses stands at 100,000 billion rials (around $3 billion), IRNA News Agency quoted Sistan and Baluchestan Province Governor Ali-Owsat Hashemi as saying on June 27.
He noted the narcotic drugs trafficking damages not only the individual addicts, but also the foundations of families and social and value systems of the country.
Hashemi also criticized the international community for not paying its share in the campaign against narcotic drugs trafficking, but taking advantage of it to pursue its own interests.
"Furthermore, if the whole world really supports the campaign against narcotic drugs trafficking, uprooting the malicious phenomenon will not be a tough job," he said. "It is necessary to draw the attention of the international community to this fact that the western countries' presence in Afghanistan is the main reason behind the increased production of narcotic drugs in the country."
He went on to say that the narcotic drugs are the root cause of the birth of many types of insecurity; different groups of anti-social elements in Sistan and Baluchestan Province are fed by narcotic drugs trafficking income.
He appreciated the provincial residents for their contributions to the campaign against narcotic drugs trafficking. The campaign has decreased the damages of the malicious trade drastically in the province that is at the fore-front of the anti-narcotics campaign.
Hashemi also appreciated the efforts made by the Iranian border guards, military and police forces in their cooperation against narcotic drugs trafficking.
Drug trafficking represents a major challenge for Iran. Iran lies on a major drug route between Afghanistan and Europe, as well as the Persian Gulf states, and shares about 900 kilometers of a common border with Afghanistan, through which about 74 percent of opium is reportedly smuggled.
Iran's location has made the country a favorite transit corridor for drug traffickers who seek to smuggle their cargo from Afghanistan to drug dealers in Europe.
Iran has been actively fighting drug trafficking. According to official estimates, the fight against drugs annually costs Iran about $1 billion. The statistics also say that there are about 2 million drug users in Iran.
In response to these challenges, over the years the country has built one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capabilities in the region and beyond. The UNODC World Drug Report 2013 showed in 2011, Iran accounted for the highest rate of opium seizures (80 percent) in the world, as well as heroin seizures (30 percent).