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Saudi Arabia, Iran Face Dueling Drug Epidemics

Both the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran announced Monday that hundreds of tons of illegal drugs had been smuggled into their respective countries, with record-breaking shipments of contraband making their way in.

Described by Arab News as “one of the largest drug hauls” in Saudi history, officials in Riyadh announced Monday they had seized more than five million amphetamine pills, arresting eleven individuals for attempting to smuggle the drugs into the country.

“The gang, comprising nine Saudis and two Sudanese, was about to hand over the contraband to their recipients in Riyadh,” said Saudi spokesman Maj Gen Mansour Al-Turki.

Authorities seized the 5-million plus amphetamine capsules, three grams of heroin, a machine gun and a pistol, Al-Turki added.

At around the same timeframe, Saudi customs officials at two separate border crossings stopped an attempt to smuggle a total of 394,000 Captagon amphetamine capsules into the country. Ibrahim Al-Inizi, who heads Saudi Arabia’s customs center, said the smugglers attempted to stash the capsules in vehicle tires and in the dashboard of a truck.

Saudi Arabia, a country with an estimated population of around twenty-nine million, is facing a drug epidemic inside its borders, according to drug bust data released by officials.

In November, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced authorities had seized 22.4 million amphetamine tablets within the last year, in addition to 28.8 tons of cannabis and over 57 pounds of heroin.

Iran also faces a surge in drug related incidents. Regime spokesman Parviz Afshar recently announced that authorities seized around 422 tons of drugs in the past eight months. Afshar said the numbers indicate a 21 percent increase from 2014 data, according to state-controlled Fars News Agency.

During this eight-month period, Iranian security officials seized over 325 tons of opium, 136-thousand pounds of hashish, 24-thousand pounds of heroin, almost 11-thousand pounds of morphine, and about 3-thousand pounds of methamphetamine, according to the report.

Iranian officials estimate that 42-percent of the world’s opium consumption occurs in Iran, and that the regime spends about $1 billion dollars a year to fight the drug war there. According to Azernews, statistics released by the government estimate that there are about two million drug users in Iran.

During this same time period, Iranian police killed 49 drug smugglers, and detained another 164,263 individuals on drug-related offenses. If caught, individuals deemed to have used or transported drugs in Iran may receive a death sentence

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