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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Drug smugglers exploit Iraq chaos
By Jon Leyne
BBC correspondent in Amman

US marines secure the Iraqi border with Jordan
Iraq's western borders are notoriously porous
A lack of security in Iraq is causing a big increase in drug smuggling across the region, according to a senior official in neighbouring Jordan.

The head of Jordan's anti-narcotics department, Tayel Majali, says there has been a string of substantial drugs hauls along Jordan's border with Iraq.

Iraq's other neighbours were recording similar problems as the security situation in Iraq worsened, he said.

Before the Iraq war, Jordan had few problems with drug smuggling from Iraq.

But now this year there have been a series of big drug finds on the Jordan-Iraq border as smugglers exploit the collapse of security.

New drug routes

Mr Majali believes the drugs are coming from Afghanistan, then being brought through Iran and the Kurdish areas of Iraq.

From Jordan they are mostly sent on to the rest of the Middle East but there is a fear that Jordan will also begin to develop a serious problem of addiction.

Anti-drugs agencies across the region, including in Iraq itself, have been sharing information and they all report the same story.

Jordan has invested in big new X-ray machines for its border posts, but the authorities here reckon that at best they only catch 20% of the smugglers.

Most of the drugs that have been found were hidden inside long-distance lorries.

The finds have included heroin, cocaine and cannabis.

It is another example of how the war in Iraq is causing major problems across the region.

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