Iran heroin shipment busted in biggest haul in 20 years

Italian authorities found 270 kilograms of heroin disguised as beauty product

Source: The National

 

Shipping containers are stacked up at Melnik port on the Labe river in Melnik, Czech Republic. REUTERS

Italian authorities have seized a shipment of 270 kilograms of heroin that was being trafficked from Iran to Europe, in what they described as the biggest drug bust for at least 20 years.

The shipment had set sail from the Iranian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas and stopped in Hamburg, Germany and Valencia, Spain before reaching the Italian port of Genoa on Oct. 17, carrying heroin disguised as bentonite, a clay powder used in skincare products.

The documentation related to the shipment indicated a company based in the Czech Republic as the alleged recipient of the goods.

Italian authorities seized the shipment but allowed part of it to continue on. Its contents were monitored as they proceeded through Switzerland, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Belgium, before arriving at an abandoned warehouse in Roosendal, Netherlands, on Nov. 2.

Italian and Dutch police raided the premises and arrested two men of Turkish origin. The driver of the truck was apparently unaware of the true contents of his cargo.

An inquiry into the senders of the shipment is ongoing.

Iran and its Lebanese proxy group Hezbollah have long been known to use drug trafficking and money laundering as a source of revenues, as some pointed out on Twitter.

The US has made efforts to undercut Hezbollah funding from illicit drug sources through its Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the DEA, Hezbollah and Iran have progressively become enmeshed in organized crime as a way of funding their activities.

Iran geographical location, particularly its porous border with Afghanistan, the world’s largest illicit opium producer – means the country is a major transit point for illicit drugs.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2014 Iran accounted for 74% of the world’s opium seizures.