Three tons of drugs seized in joint operations planned and conducted in the framework of the Triangular Initiative
6 March 2011, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan conducted joint operations against drug trafficking targets in March 2011 in the framework of the Triangular Initiative, an action plan brokered and supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). These operations, which resulted in more than three tons of drugs seized were planned and coordinated by a Joint Planning Cell (JPC), a unit established in Tehran with the support of UNODC. The Joint Planning Cell has been set up to facilitate information and intelligence sharing amongst the three countries, as well as to plan and coordinate joint operations against drug trafficking networks operating in the region.
On 6 March 2011, Afghan and Iranian drug control forces conducted three simultaneous operations in strategic border crossings of the two countries. These operations resulted in seizures of two tons of heroin, opium, morphine and hashish by Iranian and Afghan counter narcotics police. On 11 March 2011, Iranian and Pakistani counter narcotics forces seized 1,5 tons of opium and few kilos of morphine in other operations planned and coordinated by the JPC.
Emphasizing the importance of regional cooperation on counter narcotics enforcement, Mr. Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, in his inaugural speech at the 54th session if the Commission of Narcotics Drugs held in Vienna in March 2011, said that: "We are already seeing the first fruits of this enhanced regional counter-narcotic cooperation. These joint operations demonstrate the Triangular Initiative's success in building mutual trust and confidence among its partners."
Afghanistan's borders with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan are under attack from criminal groups that are smuggling precursor chemicals into Afghanistan and trafficking drugs out of the country. Above 70% of Afghan opiates are trafficked via Iran and Pakistan every year. Information sharing and coordination amongst anti-narcotics forces of the three countries are key tools for the achievement of successful counter narcotics results.
The Triangular Initiative, developed and brokered by UNODC, was launched by policy-makers from the three countries in Vienna in June 2007. This Initiative is made up of trust building measures and operationally oriented actions.
Periodic meetings of experts and policy-makers have been facilitated by UNODC since 2007, building trust amongst the three parties. The JPC, set up in 2008 in Tehran, serves as a platform for information exchange, planning and coordination of joint operations against drug trafficking networks. Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan have identified locations to place pilot Border Liaison Offices (BLOs) in strategic locations at their common borders. The three countries and UNODC are in the process of equipping four locations and carrying out needs assessments in two others. BLOs improve information exchange among the three countries, ensuring a concerted inter-agency and cross-border response against drugs and precursor trafficking. Counter-narcotics authorities of the three countries are also setting in motion a comprehensive cross-border communication plan to further improve information exchange.
The role of UNODC is to serve as the Secretariat of the Triangular Initiative, facilitate the implementation of technical assistance and mobilize financial support. UNODC's role as a neutral broker has been key in facilitating the partnership between the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.
The current results of the Triangular Initiative would have not been possible without the commitment of the three countries and the financial support provided to UNODC programmes of technical cooperation in the three countries, particularly in the Islamic Republic of Iran.