Islamic Republic of Iran

Drug trafficking and border control

Situation Analysis

Drug trafficking represents a major challenge for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The geographical location of the country, particularly its porous 1,923 km-long Eastern border with Afghanistan - the world's largest illicit opium producer - and Pakistan, has turned it into a major transit country for illicit drugs. In response to this challenge, the country has built one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capabilities in the region over the years. According to the UNODC World Drug Report 2014, Iran accounted for 74% of the world's opium seizures and 25% of the world's heroin and morphine seizures in 2012.

PHOTO.A.SCOTTIThe Islamic Republic of Iran reportedly spends millions of dollars annually on border control, including for the construction of expensive barriers along its borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan. More than 3,700 national law enforcement officials have been killed and over 12,000 have been maimed in counter-narcotics operations over the last three decades.

In addition to opium and heroin trafficking, the Islamic Republic of Iran also faces emerging trends of illicit production and trafficking in Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS). Over the last few years, there has been a sudden increase of reported seizures of high purity crystalline Methamphetamine (locally known as "Shisheh"). National authorities have also detected greater reliance on in-country production of ATS, mostly Methamphetamines. According to the 2014 Global Synthetic Drugs Assessment, Methamphetamine trafficking from the Islamic Republic of Iran to East and South-East Asia also appears to have spread to Europe.

Moreover, another rising challenge is represented by the increasing use of maritime routes for the trafficking of drugs and illicit chemicals from/to the region. Since the beginning of 2012, there have been an increasing number of reports made by the drug enforcement authorities of the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan and the Persian Gulf Arab states on the illegal use of maritime transport for the trafficking of drugs and illicit chemicals from/to the region.

Against this background, the UNODC Country Office in Iran has been supporting the national counter-narcotics and border management capacities through national, regional, and international initiatives. For more information on UNODC Iran action in this field:

Country Programme for Islamic Republic of Iran 2011-2014, Sub-Programme 1