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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Iran nets major drugs haul
Afghan poppy field
Police said the drugs came from Afghanistan
Iranian police have seized four tonnes of opium after clashes with drug traffickers near the border with Afghanistan, Iranian security officials have said.

Several smugglers were killed and two were arrested in the operation in south eastern Kerman province, according to Iranian sources.

This is the biggest blow delivered in Kerman against international drug- traffickers

Mohammad-Rez Jorkesh, Iranian police
Police said the drugs had a street value of $4.5m and were destined for Turkey and Europe.

It was the largest haul in the province's history.

"Both in monetary and logistical terms this is the biggest blow delivered in Kerman against international drug-traffickers," said Mohammad-Rez Jorkesh, commander of Iranian security forces in Kerman province.

Commander Jorkesh said the traffickers were also attempting to smuggle arms and other drugs in three cars, one of which was destroyed in a shoot-out.

Drugs crackdown

Last week police killed a smuggler and seized 750kg (1,650lbs) of opium and heroin in neighbouring Yazdi province.

Iran has stepped up operations against drug smugglers, spending nearly $20m in 2000 in the fight against narcotics.

Police recovered 180 tonnes of opium that year, accounting for 85% of the world's drug seizures.

Iran is a major smuggling route for traffickers peddling drugs produced in Afghanistan and Pakistan for sale in Europe and Gulf Arab states.

See also:

26 Jun 01 | Middle East
Iran clamps down on drugs
25 Jun 01 | Middle East
Iran 'losing war on drugs'
06 Jul 00 | Middle East
Drugs and prostitution 'soar' in Iran
19 May 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Border patrol with Iran's drugbusters
17 May 00 | South Asia
Iran seals border in drugs war
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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