Tehran, Jan 1, IRNA -- Presidential Advisor and Secretary General of an Anti-Narcotics Headquarters Ali Hashemi said here Wednesday that over 5,000 people who had ingested narcotics -- drug mules -- were arrested in the last Iranian year which ended on March 20.
Despite the considerable resources expended on strengthening border security and greater pressure on the smugglers domain of operations, illicit drugs are still entering Iran, Hashemi said.
He said the high drug smuggling profits on one hand and an amalgamation of political, economic and international factors, on the other, have contributed to the continuation of the trend in drug trafficking.
He also referred to the costs borne by Iran in its fight against drugs trafficking citing 'rls 2,000 billion for beefing up border security'.
Hashemi said in the past two decades Iranian law enforcement organs have arrested over 2.5 million smugglers, agents and dealers who have stretched thin the resources of the country with adverse social ramifications for the nation.
He said the headquarters is facing some snags in securing the 60 billion rials or so of its allotted budget. "We hope with assistance of the president, these hurdles will be removed."
Referring to the latest development in Afghanistan in combating drug trafficking, he added if the international assistance is rendered to the war-torn country, then, 'the grounds will also be prepared for a ban on poppy cultivation in the country'.
He said the estimate rate of 2,500 to 3,500 tons of drugs production in Afghanistan this year.
The magnitude of drug menace was recently alluded to statements by Hashemi when he said in December that over 8,834 addicts have died due to drug overdose between 1996 and 2000.
"These figure indicate that on average 1,472 addicts -- four daily -- have overdose in Iran during the six year period," he said.
Hashemi also pointed to 16,000 addicts becoming afflicted with the AIDS virus, caused by sharing contaminated needles.
He blamed an array of factors in prevalence of drug use including: lack of a homogeneous socio-economic development, bordering Afghanistan, situation in the national borders and missing opportunities in regional and international affairs as being among weaknesses of the anti-drug campaign.
"Unless a serious solution is found for an all out-fight with drug addiction, the situation could pose a serious threat to the national security in the next decade," Hashemi underlined.
Also, Head of Police anti-Narcotics Organization Brigadier General Mehdi Abouei has been quoted as saying, "There are 1.2 million addicts and 800,000 who are social users of narcotics."
He termed the police anti-drug addiction program as successful, adding, "The police have taken effective steps in the past couple of years to rein in smuggling and distribution of drugs."
The police efforts have been led to 50 percent reduction in the prevalence of drug in the country in the past two years compared with the two preceding years, Abouei said.
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