Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Death Penalty

Top Anti-Drug Official Ayubi: Judiciary's Lax Conduct Weakens Drug War

Fars News Agency
Fars News Agency / Translation by ABC
June 22, 2005
Newspaper article

The Head of the Police Force’s Center for the Fight against Illicit Drugs said: “We are deeply concerned by the Judiciary Branch’s treatment of drug traffickers: We arrest the principal drug traffickers with very large loads and they are freed a short while later and go back to their activities.”

According to Fars News Agency’s Social Reporter, on the occasion of the Fight Against Illicit Drugs Week, Mehdi Ayubi appeared before reporters and added: “Unfortunately, the majority of the principal drug traffickers who are arrested after difficult police chases resulting in the injury and martyrdom of law enforcement personnel, are released a short while thereafter and reprise their drug trafficking activities. The Judiciary’s treatment [of drug traffickers], uncoordinated [with law enforcement], is the primary flaw in the fight against drugs in the country; in most cases, the Judiciary’s authorities don’t even report the traffickers’ escape to the police force and it is only after we apprehend them again that we realize that they are not in jail.”

He stated: “For example, Esmail Azadi who is one of the country’s major drug traffickers and is active in cargos over a ton, was arrested in 2003-04 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. After less than two years, however, he went on prison leave and never went back. This year, we apprehended him again with 320 kilos of drugs but we are not too hopeful that he will be punished.”

Ayubi added: “Mehdi Arbabi, another drug trafficker who used gas tankers to transport and distribute drugs, was also arrested in 2003-04 but did not spend even a single year in jail; he was released on bond and ran away. He was apprehended again this year with 670 kilos of drugs. He had hidden the drugs in a secret compartment in a fish transportation vehicle in such a sophisticated way that the drug sniffing dogs could not detect them because of the fish odor. It took three months of pursuit from [the town of] Chahbahar to Tehran, and he was apprehended after he had unloaded the fish cargo and wanted to unload the drugs. But we are not very hopeful that he will be dealt with in a serious manner.”

Ayubi stated: “Eskandar Behnamfar is another one of the country’s principal drug trafficker who had been engaged in the business since 2002-03. His arrest finally took place after years of effort: we apprehended him in the vicinity of Shiraz with 700 kilos of opium which had been hidden in secret compartments in 9 gas tankers. He was unloading the gas from the tankers. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment but went on leave a short while later and ran away; we are certain he is now engaged in drug trafficking activities.”

He added: “Another individual by the name of Dadshah was apprehended in [the town of] Birjand in 1995-96 with a 600-kilo cargo. He was initially sentenced to death, which sentence was then reduced to life imprisonment, and he was eventually pardoned and released from prison.”

Ayubi said: “During the last ‘Ten Days of Fajr’ (anniversary of the Islamic revolution) celebrations, 700 drug traffickers went on leave from Tehran’s prisons and never went back.”

The Head of the Police Force’s Center for the Fight against Illicit Drugs said: “Last year, we arrested a major drug trafficker [in the city of] Kermanshah, dressed in a Revolutionary Guards uniform and in a vehicle with Revolutionary Guards tags, with 220 kilos of opium. But he was released on bail last February-March and never went back. Judiciary authorities did not inform us of his flight, until he was apprehended again this year dressed as a cleric in a Revolutionary Guards vehicle in Kermanshah.

Ayubi stated: “We must emphasize that the way drug traffickers are treated and punished [by the Judiciary] renders the police force’s strenuous and tremendous efforts in fighting drugs ineffective. Last year, 271 tons of all types of drugs were discovered in the country, 50 tons of which, comprised mostly of hashish and heroin will be destroyed in Tehran on June 26, the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and the rest, including opium, morphine and some of the heroin, will be put at the disposal of the Ministry of Health for pharmaceutical use.”

Regarding the definitive number of drug addicts in the country, Ayubi said: “The number announced by the police force has always been two million, 1.2 million of whom are professional addicts and 800 thousand are recreational addicts, using at least once a week. These numbers were officially announced by the Minister of Health, Medical Treatment and Education at the last meeting of the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs in the presence of [then-President] Khatami, and were therefore officially confirmed by the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs; there is no difference of opinion in this regard.”

Criticizing the long delays for convening the meetings of the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, he stated: “Generally speaking, the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs barely has one or two meetings per year and unfortunately, does not actively confront the huge issue of drugs and drug addiction in the country.” Abuyi also provided information on advanced heroin production facilities in Afghanistan and said: “Recently, these laboratories have been producing a high purity type of heroin which is known in Iran as ‘crystal’, most of which is, of course, transported to Europe through Central Asian transit routes.”