Report: Iran is a Major Transit Point for the Global Meth Trade

Iran’s role as a key node in the smuggling routes for methamphetamines from Central and South-East Asia to Europe has left the country with a significant drug problem, a recent EU report found.

More than 111 processing factories were shut down in the country in 2019 and 2020 alone, but several more are believed to still be in operation. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)More than 111 processing factories were shut down in the country in 2019 and 2020 alone, but several more are believed to still be in operation. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)“Iranian Drug Control Headquarters (DCHQ) reported that in 2019, an estimated 2.8 million Iranians (5.4 % of the adult population aged 15-65) were living with substance use disorders,” the report said.

Hundreds upon hundreds of tons of the drug have been seized by Iranian authorities as it has been passing through the country. It nevertheless keeps coming. 

“Over the past decade, Iran is considered to have been an important source country of methamphetamine for domestic consumption and trafficking to external markets,” read the report.

While in recent years the drug is largely produced elsewhere, it is in Iran that it is processed into its final form and converted from liquid into crystalline form. More than 111 processing factories were shut down in the country in 2019 and 2020 alone, but several more are believed to still be in operation. 

The U.S. withdrawal from the so-called “Iran Nuclear Deal” under the Trump administration hasn’t helped matters either. As international sanctions were re-imposed, the country’s economy has become more and more reliant on cross border smuggling especially by Kurdish couriers known as Kolbars. They ferry goods, both legal and illegal, through the mountainous region on Iran’s western border to Iraqi Kurdistan in exchange for essential supplies for their villages such as fuel and food.

“Given the reliance of the Iranian economy on cross-border smuggling and the reported transformative impact of smuggling on ethnic minorities in Iranian borderlands, it is likely that the country will continue to face challenges in its efforts to address the flow of drugs across its international borders,” the report said.