Monday, July 09, 2012

Iran Has A Horrendous Drug Problem--Yet Helps Hezbollah Traffick In Illegal Drugs

Back in June, Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi claimed the Jews are behind the spread of illegal drugs in the world:
Mr. Rahimi, second in line to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the Talmud teaches to “destroy everyone who opposes the Jews.”

The “Zionists” are in firm control of the illegal drug trade, Mr. Rahimi said, asking foreign dignitaries to research his claims. “Zionists” is Iran’s ideological term for Jews who support the state of Israel.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict,” Mr. Rahmini said. “They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade.”
One can certainly understand that illegal drugs are a major sore point for Rahimi, considering the fact that Iran is a world leader in drug addiction:
Drug addiction constitutes a major health problem. Iran is situated along one of the main trafficking routes for cannabis, heroin, opium and morphine produced in Afghanistan, and designer drugs have also found their way into the local market in recent years. Iran ranks first worldwide in the prevalence of opiate addiction with 2.8% of its population addicted. Initiation age for most Iranian addicts is their 20s. Hundreds of drug production laboratories have been set up in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Drug production in Afghanistan has multiplied by 40 times the previous output since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. Iran's police said in April 2009 that 7,700 tonnes of opium was produced in Afghanistan in 2008, of which 3000 tonnes entered Iran, adding that the force had managed to seize 1000 tonnes of the smuggled opium. Iran spent over 600 million dollars in just the last two years to dig canals, build barriers and install barbed wire to seal off the country’s crime-infested borders.

Iran discovers 3 tons of drugs daily. In 2005, estimates of the number of drug addicts ranged from 2 to 4 million (1.2 million according to the Government). Reasons for addiction include lack of economic prospects among the youth and lack of freedom. 40% of prisoners in Iran have been convicted on drug related charges. According to published figures, Iran has so far lost close to 3,500 police and security officers to the anti-drug campaign that annually costs the country almost $1 billion and inflicts an annual damage of about $8.5 billion on Iran's economy.
Here is a video from July 2008 that illustrates the extent of the drug epidemic in Iran:

While he admits that Iran has a fight on its hands with illegal drugs, Rahimi is less than honest about his concern for the spread of illegal drugs in other countries:
"We could receive money and allow drug cargos to pass through Iran as a transit route and end up in the western countries without leaking into the Iranian society, but our religious teachings do not allow us to do so because paving the ground for the transit of narcotics to the other countries is against ethical codes."
Apparently, Iran's "ethical code" only goes so far.

Iran controls Hezbollah, which is a major trafficker of illegal drugs around the world, and in fact there is evidence that Iran may even be supplying Hezbollah with some of these drugs.

Der Spiegel reported last year that Iran is smuggling heroin and cocaine into Lebanon:
Western intelligence agencies believe that they have identified a new Hezbollah income source: the drug trade. Iranian weapons shipments to the Lebanese were reportedly "enriched" with large quantities of heroin and cocaine. The drugs were then allegedly shipped to their final destination, Western Europe, through the Turkish Cypriot port of Famagusta. The Iranian representative of the Revolutionary Guard in Beirut, Hassan Mahdavi, allegedly mentioned, in a telephone conversation, a "drug tsunami" that could flush millions into Hezbollah's coffers.[emphasis added]
In fact, Hezbollah has been trafficking in illegal drugs for years. Back in October, 2005, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Director of the American Center for Democracy testified before the subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in the House of Commons in Ontario, Canada.

And as Dr. Ehrenfeld makes clear, Iran is a major force behind the trafficking of illegal drugs:
Since the mid 1980s, Hizballah has used illicit drugs as a major funding source and weapon against the West. An official Iranian fatwa ruled: “We are making these drugs for Satan America and the Jews. If we cannot kill them with guns, so we will kill them with drugs.”

Hizballah’s involvement in the illegal drug trade centers on a transnational triangle of illicit activity conducted from areas of Lebanon, the Balkans and the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The unstable, often corrupt, government structures, weak economic platforms, porous borders and largely unsupervised waterways and airfields in these regions are highly conducive to illicit operations.

In Lebanon’s Beka’a Valley, Hizballah controls approximately 13,000 acres that produce at least 300 tons of hashish annually, most of which is exported to Europe. This high-quality Lebanese hashish grosses Hizballah $180 million annually. Hizballah run laboratories refining tons of heroin, are estimated to bring in some $3 billion annually. Hizballah also smuggles arms. However, one smuggled Kalashnikov wholesales for $500, while one kilo of heroin wholesales for $3,000- $5000. [emphasis added]

Hizballah operatives have strong relationships with major Narco-terrorist organizations, criminal gangs and other Islamist organizations throughout Europe; Africa; South and Central America; the Caribbean and Mexico. [cached copy here]
The Washington Times confirms that Hezbollah "freedom fighters" and "leaders of the resistance" are heavily involved in illegal drugs:
Hezbollah is using the same southern narcotics routes that Mexican drug kingpins do to smuggle drugs and people into the United States, reaping money to finance its operations and threatening U.S. national security, current and former U.S. law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism officials say.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America's tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, however, it is relying on Mexican narcotics syndicates that control access to transit routes into the U.S.

Hezbollah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels," said Michael Braun, who just retired as assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

...His comments were confirmed by six U.S. officials, including law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism specialists. They spoke on the condition that they not be named because of the sensitivity of the topic.
Fox News reported on the threat of Hezbollah involvement with drug cartels near the US border:
A 2006 House Homeland Security Committee report further noted that Hezbollah members have already been caught entering the United States via Mexico, suggesting expanded activity. The report cited as one example the case of Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, the brother of a Hezbollah chief, who in 2005 pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah after being smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border and settling in Dearborn, Mich.
Bottom line, while we can sympathize with the misery that illegal drugs have brought to Iran, the fact that Iran is deliberately spreading that same misery to other parts of the world is just one more indication of the threat that Iran poses to the world, and not just to the Middle East.

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