The drug trafficking movement across the Iran-Iraq
border has been active over the last period due to the security chaos that
prevailed Iraq following the change of the political system.
Basra police chief Lieutenant General Rashid Falih said earlier that at least 80 percent of the drugs were smuggled across the land border between Iraq and Iran, adding that there were parties and militias standing behind the smuggling operations.
Falih affirmed the need to amend the laws on drug control and to sentence traffickers to death.
A source working at the Shalamja crossing with Iran, who asked not to be identified, said that drugs are hidden within foodstuffs or medical supplies to be smuggled, adding that militias secure the drugs until they are officially taken to the country, Arabiya.net reported.
The source added that the plants and agricultural seedlings that are a source of drugs are smuggled into the country mixed with the rest of the agricultural seedlings, especially that the leaves and forms of some plants do not look very different from the rest of the healthy plants.
Poor oversight, administrative corruption, the dominating militias loyal to some parties, and the spread of bribes all contributed to drug trafficking.
Mahdi al-Tamimi, director of the human rights office in Basra, told Al-Arabiya that the number of convicts and detainees pending investigation over drug charges is increasing, adding that about 2,000 were convicted in Basra with their ages ranging between 18 and 25 years.
Drugs in Basra
Tamimi called on the judicial and legislative authorities to amend the anti-drug laws to give a chance to rehabilitate and monitor drug abusers, saying that making them feel safe will be more effective than imprisonment.
He stressed the need to separate ordinary prisoners from those imprisoned over drug abuse charges in order not to learn to commit other crimes.
In December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani predicted a "deluge" of drugs, refugees and attacks on the West if US sanctions weaken Iran's ability to contain them.
"I warn those who impose sanctions that if Iran's ability to fight drugs and terrorism are affected ... you will not be safe from a deluge of drugs, asylum seekers, bombs and terrorism," Rouhani said in a speech carried live on state television.
Drug trafficking is a serious challenge for Iran as it borders Afghanistan - the world’s largest opium producer - and Pakistan, a major transit country for drugs.
In 2012, Iran accounted for two thirds of the world’s opium seizures and one fourth of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures, a UN report published in 2014 showed.