Crime Justice

Herat governor decries Iran's role in illegal drug trade

By Ali

The smuggling of narcotics from Iran has led to an increase in drug addiction in Afghanistan, say Afghan authorities. [Ali]

HERAT -- Narcotics and precursor chemicals used to manufacture illegal synthetic drugs have been smuggled into Afghanistan from Iran, Herat Governor Sayed Wahid Qatali announced earlier this month.

More than 95% of addicts in Herat consume chemically produced narcotics that have been smuggled into the country from abroad, rather than opium, Qatali said at a January 3 news conference in Herat city.

Security forces have seized narcotics such as "Tablet K", a street drug with stimulant effects, as well as precursor chemicals such as ammonium nitrate, which are used to make synthetic drugs, at legal and illegal border crossings.

The use of synthetic drugs has become commonplace in Afghanistan in recent years, Qatali said.

Herat police November 17 incinerate more than 60 tonnes of heroin precursor chemicals smuggled in from Iran. [Ali] 

Herat police November 17 incinerate more than 60 tonnes of heroin precursor chemicals smuggled in from Iran. [Ali] 

A group of men take drugs together on a Herat city street on November 17. [Ali]

A group of men take drugs together on a Herat city street on November 17. [Ali]

"All the ingredients and essential [raw] materials needed for the manufacture of chemical narcotics come from our neighbour, the Islamic Republic of Iran," he said, noting that these drugs are widely available in Herat.

This influx of drugs has fueled a rise in addiction among the local population.

"Afghanistan has been accused of exporting narcotics, but now that things have changed, the blame falls with neighbouring countries," he said, referring to the country's troubled history with opium production, often linked to the Taliban.

"A small amount of synthetic drugs is smuggled through legal border crossings, but most of them are smuggled into the country through illegal crossings," the governor said.

Cross-border drug smuggling

Counter-narcotics police in Herat Province say they have seized and destroyed more than 34 tonnes of precursor chemicals since last March.

Police have their hands full interdicting both the precursor chemicals and finished drugs.

"All synthetic drugs that are detected and seized in Herat Province in recent years have been imported through the Islam Qala crossing from Iran," said Nizamuddin Bahawi, chief of counter-narcotics at the Herat Police Department.

Three years ago, he said, 1 kilogramme of amphetamine or crystal had a street value of 500,000 AFN ($6,480). But now it would fetch less than 30,000 AFN ($389).

This is because "chemical ingredients that are used in manufacturing amphetamine and heroin are now imported from Iran in bigger volumes", he said.

Last year, Herat security forces conducted more than 300 counter-narcotics operations, during which they arrested more than 360 suspects in connection with charges of smuggling and hoarding narcotics, Bahawi said.

"Among those arrested, 67 were medium-scale and large-scale drug traffickers," he added.

Employers accused of exploitation

When 29-year-old Muhammad Zubair first started taking drugs, he used opium and hashish. But for the past three years, he has been using synthetic drugs.

"My addiction started with cigarettes and hashish, but now I take heroin, crystal and sheesha, and sometimes I inject drugs as well," Zubair said.

The Dari term "sheesha", which directly translates to "glass", is a common street name for methamphetamine in Afghanistan, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

More than 70,000 addicts live in Herat Province, according to official data. Many reportedly travelled to Iran for work and became addicted while living there.

Muhammad Ewaz, 30, said he moved to Iran from Herat city five years ago for work. His employer in Iran had pressured him to take drugs, he said.

"Employers in Iran encourage Afghan youths to use narcotics so that they can exploit these young people [to work long hours without feeling fatigued]," he said. "I did not even smoke in Afghanistan, but after living for a few months in Iran, I even started taking heroin."

"I was very tired every day after work," he said. "My boss would come and offer me something to smoke so I would -- according to him -- not feel tired anymore."

"I rejected his offer a few times, but after he threatened to fire me and to turn me over to police, I had to use the drug," he added.

Disrupting lives of Afghan youth

Some employers in Iran tell Afghan workers that if they refuse to use narcotics they will lose their jobs, said Herat native Shah Muhammad.

"In the beginning, before they tell the workers what to do, they mix drugs in their tea," he said. "I became so addicted to drinking the tea my boss gave me every day, only to find out later that it had drugs in it."

Smuggling drugs into Afghanistan disrupts the lives of the new generation of Afghan youth, as it impacts the economy and all aspects of social life, said Herat city social activist Sayed Ashraf Sadaat.

He called on the government to crack down on the smuggling of synthetic drugs into Afghanistan, to prevent the destruction of the future of the country's youth.

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How do you expect them to leave that amount of money because of killing a number of you? Even if you were in their place, you would prefer war on peace. Note: Do not forget that this calculation is done much more superficially than it actually is. In practice, the trade is with heroin, and the price of a kilo of heroin in the European market is tens times higher than that of opium. If I tell you the real prices, it will be basically difficult for you to accept this fact. Part Five


Now the powerful figures may have taken a little more and the weak ones less, but in general, it was greed of this amount of money that has not let the war stop, and it is the greed of this amount of benefits that will not let the people of Afghanistan see stability for the next 20 years. I made this calculation based on the price from 2002 to 2003 and the lowest average production per year to show you the minimum benefit. If you really take the average prices of twenty years and multiply the benefits of the last twenty years, the figure that is obtained will be very terrible. This is much more serious than what you think, but unfortunately, no one in the country deals with this issue. Some, who have tried to deal with this issue, have been faced with the fate of Ajmal Naqshbandi. This is the reason for all the misfortunes that people die for every day, and you ask yourself what causes our killing? Why doesn’t stability come to the country? Why do they kill us every day? And finally, why doesn’t peace come? You are preoccupied by Pakistan, which is our enemy so that you never look for the main cause of the war. As long as their trick seems logical to you, you will pay the price with your life. Don’t forget! The most expensive human life in Western countries is estimated by insurance companies $ 6 million. In backward countries, the price of human life is much lower than this. Now, if we count the life of each of you equal to the tenth of the life of an American or a European,


5,000 metric tons equal 5 million kilos of opium in the country at least in one year. $ 15,200 profit per kilo is the amount of money that is left to smugglers, or better say the warring parties in Afghanistan. We do not count $ 300 per kilo that goes to the farmers and $ 500 per kilo that goes to shopkeepers of Sangin District of Helmand. 5 million kilos of opium per year multiplied by fifteen thousand two hundred dollars becomes seventy-six billion dollars in one year. To compare in order to let you know how much money this amount is, I must say that the entire budget of the country in the past years on average was 7 billion dollars a year, of which 5 billion was paid by the foreigners and about 2 billion was domestic revenues; therefore, almost 11 times the total budget of the country pours into the pockets of the warring parties in Afghanistan from the opium cultivation every year. Now, Afghanistan's pure opium benefit has been $ 1.5 trillion in the last twenty years. Do you know what I mean? To know how much this amount is; I must say that the total cost of Afghanistan's mines’ reserves is estimated about $ 1 trillion. In other words, the Afghan warring parties have put one and a half times all of Afghanistan's reserves in their pockets in the last twenty years. Now, if we estimate the total number of Taliban leaders, who have taken a share of this money, to 1,000, and estimate all the first-class drug traffickers in Afghanistan about 2,000, and estimate all the high-rank


A few days ago, an article was posted on Facebook and other virtual networks about opium cultivation. Now I have nothing to do with its truth and untruth. I just wanted to reflect the issue through this news network. People! Wake up, as your sweet selves are insignificant against the benefits of this war, and every politician will simply ignore your life. Don’t you believe? Let’s make a brief calculation for you to find out why the benefits of this war seem more valuable than the lives of Afghans. You might ask how? At the beginning of Mr. Karzai's rule, a kilo of medium-quality opium was sold by a Helmand's farmer for $ 300 to shopkeepers of Sangin District. The shopkeepers sold it to drug traffickers for about $800 a kilo. The price of a kilo of Afghan opium in European markets at the time was $16,000. This huge difference between the market of Sangin and the European market has been the main driver of all the killings, murders, corruptions and failures of Afghanistan over the past twenty years. The main reason for the war between the government and the Taliban is because of the control of this market, where there is pure profit of about $15,200 for per kilo of opium. In 2019, according to United Nations figures, Afghanistan produced about 6,700 metric tons of pure opium, but it can be said that our country, on average, has produced at least 5,000 metric tons of opium over the past twenty years. To understand why the war does not stop. Let us make a brief calculation on how


First of all, it should be said that addicts are also considered as human beings or humanity, and once they also had intellect wisdom and intelligence like us. They also had families, wives, children and relatives, and they still have, but unfortunately this disease is incurable unless the person has strong decision and confidence to leave the addiction. The addict must be treated as a human being, and the government must provide clinics and conditions for them to quit drugs. Undoubtedly, for now the government cannot address this issue, and is not taking action even 1%, because there are so many other worse problems than this in the country. Healthy, sound and clever people are killed every day. The government has taken no measures for them and it is very weak in this regard. So how it can take care of the addicts. However, it must be said that the words of 90% of addicts who say that someone forced me and threatened me to smoke opium are mere lies. No Iranian, Afghan, Pakistani or citizen of any other country force other people to smoke drugs. No one is to blame if one turns to this deadly and cancerous drug gradually out of ignorance or distress.