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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Lawless Iraq is 'key drug route'
US marines secure the Iraqi border with Jordan
Iraq's borders are hard to police
Drug smugglers exploiting internal chaos in Iraq have turned the country into a transit route for Afghan heroin, an influential drug agency says.

High levels of insurgent violence and porous borders have drawn traffickers to Iraq, according to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

The board says Jordan has seized large quantities of drugs on the Iraq border.

Authorities in Afghanistan say their drug problem is so severe the country's existence could be threatened.

Drugs are transported through Iraq and into Jordan, where they are moved onto traditional trafficking routes into Europe.

Apart from heroin and other opium-based drugs, Jordan has seized significant amount of cannabis resin and amphetamine-type pills on its borders.

Growing alarm

The president of the INCB, Hamid Ghodse, said the pattern of drug-trafficking in Iraq was similar to that observed in other post-conflict situations.

"You cannot have peace, security and development without attending to drug control," Mr Ghodse said.

"Whether it is due to war or disaster, weakening of border controls and security infrastructure make countries into convenient logistic and transit points, not only for international terrorists and militants, but also for traffickers."

The INCB is an independent body set up to monitor implementation of United Nations drug control initiatives.

Mr Ghodse conceded that no concrete figures existed for the amounts of drugs smuggled through Iraq. But he said the INCB was "alarmed" at evidence of a growing problem.

Newly established authorities in Iraq were co-operating with drug control bodies, but lacked resources, he added.

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