More than 17,000 people accused of drug use and drug trafficking have been arrested in Iraq in the past twenty-two months. This was stated by the director of the drug department, Ziyad al Qaisi, in a press conference on November 18. Over 900 kilos of drugs and 19 million pills were seized.
The most popular substances were “methamphetamines, hashish, opium and heroin”. Al Qaisi confirmed that more drug dealers and consumers were arrested this year than in 2020, and attributed this increase to the government’s determination to pursue the phenomenon. But Iraq’s borders are still open to traffickers because armed groups control areas close to the border.
In addition, traffickers exercise their control with weapons and clashes with the police often occur. For example, last October 19 in the southern city of Basra a shooting broke out between a gang of drug dealers and the police, which resulted in the killing of an officer and the wounding of three security men.
Some observers estimate that drug trafficking constitutes at least 28 percent of the militia’s revenues. This is why the armed groups are determined to defend their trade. With unchecked borders, Iraq has become a transit point for the infamous Balkan route of drug traffickers.
(Translation by Francesco De Lellis)