Iraqi security forces smash three drug trafficking rings

Iraqi police display men arrested for drug smuggling in Baghdad on February 11, 2012. [Saad Shalash/Reuters]

Iraqi police display men arrested for drug smuggling in Baghdad on February 11, 2012. [Saad Shalash/Reuters]

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Iraqi police and army units arrested suspected members of three drug trafficking rings in Baghdad, Basra, Diyala, and Diwaniya provinces, the Ministry of Interior announced Wednesday (February 15th).

The three rings consisted of 32 members, including six women and one pharmacist, Maj. Gen. Adel Dahham, the ministry's spokesperson, told Mawtani.

Dahham said 11 gang members were wanted by Iraqi courts on various terrorism charges between 2008 and 2011.

He said the gangs are suspected of involvement in trafficking and distribution of 187 kilograms of drugs in 2011, most of which was smuggled into Iraq from neighbouring countries.

Dahham said the arrests were made during the past two weeks following continued surveillance by Iraqi police and the organized crime unit. The families of some young men who became addicted to drugs co-operated with police, he added.

He said the largest gang was detained last Saturday in the eastern part of Baghdad.

"An initial interrogation revealed that this gang is linked to the terrorist al-Qaeda-linked 'black banners' group, which supplies drugs to suicide bombers and gunmen before they carry out terrorist operations," he said.

Dahham said interrogations also revealed that the gang "was trying to establish a permanent market so it can promote its poisons and provide financial support to terrorists".

He said 20 middlemen were also arrested during the campaign.

Col. Raad Mahdi, director of the counter-narcotics office at the Interior Ministry, said some of the drugs police seized were being smuggled inside children's toys, wall paintings and electrical appliances.

Mahdi told Mawtani that the pharmacist who was arrested was smuggling sedatives that are usually given to patients after major surgeries and individuals suffering from epilepsy.

"Efforts are being made to arrest four other gangs in Baghdad by employing intelligence resources and relying on co-operation from civilians," he said.

Col. Salam al-Ibadi, an official with the Interior Ministry's directorate of information, said police used 37 police drug-sniffing dogs and advanced electronic devices, which were used by 70 security personnel who received training in Australia and Egypt.

Al-Ibadi said the Iraqi government agreed to allocate enough funds within this year's budget to boost this effort by importing detection devices and police dogs, as well as recruiting experts and new members for the drug prevention office.

Maj. Gen. Jameel al-Shammary, commander of the Diyala police, called on citizens "to not make any distinction between terrorists and those who are destroying lives through drugs".

"Iraq is being targeted by a multi-faceted terrorist attack, and the car bombs and explosive charges are not the only method being used by the nation's enemies," he said. "Co-operation from citizens is an essential part of eliminating this phenomenon."

He said drug gangs "target mostly university students and teenagers in particular".

Hassan al-Sunaid, chairman of the Iraqi parliament's defence and security committee, said, "The fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups should not cause us to forget the criminal gangs that try to promote the use of drugs and prohibited materials."

Al-Sunaid said the government intends to encourage neighbouring countries to intensify their security measures along their borders with Iraq to curb smuggling operations.

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  • READER COMMENTS

    همام

    2012-3-14

    I call upon al-Maliki to issue extremely strict laws against everyone who deals with drugs. Drug dealers should be sentenced to death and all of their properties should be confiscated as well in order for them to know that their fate will be death and that their families will be rendered homeless as a result of the confiscation of their properties. I hope that the borders will be controlled because the continuing flow of drugs from Iran will destroy the Iraqi social structure. Therefore, the government should consider this issue a top priority.

  • معاد

    2012-3-14

    I encourage all the youth to fear God and stay away from these poisons, which inevitably lead to their death. Drugs will not benefit you. They will not solve any problems or make you forget about your concerns. On the contrary, they will cause more problems for you. Therefore, you should try your best to stay away from them. Do not forget that drugs are religiously impermissible. So, do not harm yourself and do not lose your faith because of these drugs.

  • وعيد نوري

    2012-3-14

    It is necessary to punish them severely in public. In addition, the media should play a significant role in offering extensive awareness programs that galvanize the youth, encourage Iraqi families to monitor their children’s behavior and inform everyone of the necessity to report those who deal with drugs in Iraq. Also, government institutions, especially medical centers, should intensify their efforts to spread awareness among the youth of the dangers of drugs, and how they lead to the destruction of their health and reputations and even their families’ reputations. I’m also for granting financial awards to anyone who provides information about those who deal in or use drugs in order to reduce this dangerous phenomenon. Also, schools and universities should include in their curricula information about the dangers of drug use. It is necessary to exert cooperative efforts in order to protect our youth from this fatal danger.

  • غانم

    2012-3-14

    It is necessary to issue deterrent laws because I think the danger of drug dealers is no less than that of terrorists.

  • عاطف رؤوف

    2012-3-14

    It is obvious to everyone that drugs pose high risks and very dangerous consequences to communities because they are such a scourge that destroys communities and make them reach the nadir, especially when it spreads among people who use these deadly toxins, which destroy communities because they are the main reasons behind the spread of diseases, crime and problems in the countries that are infested with the scourge of drugs. I see that it is necessary to fight this danger and prevent the corrupt from spreading drugs in our community which is one of the conservative communities that reject such pests. That is such a good point which we can build on by raising awareness of the dangers of these drugs. The main reason behind the spread of drugs is the borders; that is why it is necessary that security forces control them effectively in order not to allow criminals and traffickers to bring these toxins into our country. In addition, I see that the programs aimed at educating the community in this area through the media are not effective in combating the danger surrounding us. We often hear that security forces arrest drug dealers and catch a lot of narcotics, such as pills and narcotic herbs, but we never hear that these criminals are punished with harsh sentences, which would make them an example to others, as well as to those who seek to link our people to these deadly toxins.

  • أحمد الشنواني

    2012-3-12

    Drugs are among the most dangerous things that can exist in the community. Unfortunately, this dangerous scourge has spread in Iraq, especially since the war, as the Iraqi borders became open and unprotected. Therefore, drugs can be easily brought into the country from Iran, in particular, to the south and then they are distributed to the rest of the Iraqi provinces. The blame, of course, falls on the Iraqi Government because it has not yet dealt with this issue in a serious and professional way, as if drugs are normal things that do not cause any harm to the Iraqi community. Not only do drugs destroy the community and ruin social and familial bonds, but they also kill addicts and cause damage to Iraq’s economy because a lot of money is wasted due to these lethal poisons. I urge the youth, in particular, to be aware of the dangers of drugs because the youth are the most susceptible to follow the path of drugs due to temptations, inattention of parents to their children’s behavior, as well as the huge pressures facing the Iraqi youth, leading them to resort to drugs as if they are the cure that will make them forget about their miseries resulting from unemployment and other problems.

  • سعيد صباح

    2012-3-12

    I see the risk of the spread of drugs in Iraq as a great danger with dire consequences which will ultimately cause a lot of problems. It will destroy the community and undermine our young people and their future, which will be eliminated by drugs and drug abuse. Drugs are fatal poisons that must be faced together by everyone. Those who promote drugs should be punished as well as all the criminals who are working to supply these toxins to Iraq. The law must be applied on them and they must meet the firmness that cuts the roots of these criminal gangs. I am with the intensification of awareness programs in satellite channels, newspapers and radio in order to familiarize the public with the dangers of drugs and the possible diseases for those who abuse them, that may also bring death. However, the damage and the danger that we suffer from drugs is a threat to the young people. We must work to avoid this danger by all means in order to thwart the schemes of the criminal and terrorist gangs, which began trading with such toxins in order to kill our youth who are in dire need to increase their awareness to avoid such toxins and risks that threaten their lives. Our security services must pay attention to this issue which has become a large occurrence in Iraq. They should hit with an iron fist and set the limits in order not to allow drug dealers to practice such a dirty business and thus preserve the young from drugs.

  • هشام انور

    2012-3-12

    Drugs are among the greatest threats to Iraqi society. These drugs are among the deadly toxins that destroy our youth in this country. Iraq was a country that was safe from this mortal threat and scourge, which infected our country and our young people. Drugs are the origin of deviation suffered by some of the addicts, which brought them to commit crimes and work with terrorism. However, the terrorist organizations have a hand in drug abuse in Iraq and the reason for this is the financing of their criminal operations from the proceeds of drugs that come into Iraq from outside the border. Also, these terrorist organizations use this deadly scourge in order to seduce the young people and push them to practice crime and work with terrorism.

  • مبين تحسين

    2012-3-11

    Illegal drugs are very dangerous and cancerous, and they destroy the life of the youth, who become slaves to the drugs. Addiction to illegal drugs has many negative aspects and results, as it spreads evil everywhere. The purpose behind the spread of drugs is to control the youth and to destroy the country and its ability to survive, especially given that its youth will not be able to lead their life correctly and naturally. Hence, it is extremely important to eliminate all those who smuggle drugs and bring them into the country, because they spread them among the people secretly and run the criminal networks that smuggle and sell these poisonous materials to the citizens. Hence, the security forces are required to play a significant role that would help in getting to the masterminds and drug lords who are behind all of this, to arrest them and bring them to justice, in order to protect our youth from any of the dangers of addiction. This issue is vital and essential to the survival of the communities. That is because the addicted youth can commit all vices easily, because they are unaware and because they need to get the drugs any way they can. May God protect us from all evils.

  • حبيب المولى

    2012-3-7

    What about the promises they have made and the nonsense they have talked? Here are the results: the Iraqi youth have started to commit suicide while the government is watching passively. It is very sad that Iraq has reached this miserable condition under this government which is derelict in executing its duties. They ignore their people while running after their personal interests. It is a shame for the government to see the Iraqi youth commit suicide and do nothing. This indicates the current government’s failure, dereliction and negligence, which has caused the Iraqi youth to commit suicide. What can you say to such a government? When will it contribute to solve these issues and the problems facing the youth? And when will they put an end to unemployment, poverty, hunger, corruption, drugs, alcohol and all the problems which drive the Iraqi youth to commit suicide. God is the only One who can rid us of all that happened.

  • ابو فراس

    2012-3-5

    It is possible to reduce the phenomenon of drugs easily. This issue requires the Iraqi government’s intervention because the open borders with neighboring countries facilitate the smuggling of these destructive goods for the youth to use and therefore commit illegal acts. Wine makes youth lose their nerves and commit the evilest wrongdoings, but drugs are more dangerous because they cause youth to be addicts and therefore unable to stop using afterwards. In my opinion, the phenomenon of drugs is very dangerous and it is necessary that doctors and clerics advise the youth in order to get rid of this fatal, cancerous disease. Drug abuse blocks one’s mind. Al-Qaeda’s cowardly terrorists are among those people who use drugs the most because they plant them in their homeland and commit their dirty acts while they are out of their minds and narcotized; that’s why no one can stop them. I pray to the Almighty God to rid us of these cowardly and despicable groups. Drugs should be removed from Iraq because they waste money and destroy human health.

  • عقيل بشار

    2012-3-2

    The opening of borders with the neighboring countries has had a profound impact in the flow of drugs into Iraq. The border ports of these countries are growing and trafficking narcotics by exporting them to other countries. The top drug-producing countries that we can find are Iran and Afghanistan. These countries have taken advantage of the fragile security situation in Iraq, where they saturateded the Iraqi market with this lethal substance at a cheaper price so that the people, including the Iraqi youth, will get used to it and then become involved in the process of addiction. Then, their prices will be raised in order to force the addicts to buy it as they cannot do without it. These countries have targeted the Iraqi youth for the purpose of corrupting and disabling its national role through these malicious and evil means, and to make Iraq a way station to transfer narcotic and toxic substances for the purpose of exporting them to various countries around the world. This happens because of the lack of security in the country. Thus, the required security controls should be placed in order to reduce the spread of this dangerous phenomenon and work with the legal system through which severe penalties on those who trade in drugs or who uses drugs would be set.

  • طه

    2012-3-1

    May God protect our youth from drugs. In the recent period, the problem of drug abuse has spread significantly. Thus, all the governments must seriously track down drug traders. They must prevent them from bringing these deadly substances to their countries. That is why they must control the borders in order to prevent the smuggling operations. This is also in order to track down and punish all the sellers and traders, especially in Iraq. Unfortunately, this country has witnessed the spread of drugs after being the first country which was free of this substance. During the previous years, this country did not witness any addiction case because this substance was banned. In my opinion, all those who have manipulated the youth’s destiny and who have destroyed the country’s future deserve execution. In fact, many people have exploited the country’s conditions in order to spread the drug trade in Iraq. Therefore, I advise the government to solve this phenomenon as quickly as possible before it spreads in a larger way. Besides, the government must raise the youth’s awareness by organizing programs and conferences. It is also important to open specialized clinics in order to provide treatments for addicted people and to get rid of the drugs in their system. Believe me, if this continues in the country, it will destroy the whole generation, especially with the spread of unemployment and misery. Thus, these problems will encourage the youth to become addicted to this substance as a refuge to escape from their bitter reality.

  • Gharm

    2012-3-1

    Drugs constitute a big threat to the youth’s future and health. In fact, we all know that these dangerous substances have played a big role in increasing crimes, killing and stealing in society. Besides, drug addicts cannot get rid of this substance easily especially if it has significantly spread among the youth due to their lack of consciousness in the adolescence age. Thus, these youths have been involved in this bitter experience and they have been unable to get rid of this drug addiction. In fact, they have become like an obedient dog. The traders of these deadly substances have manipulated the youth as they want. That is why the youths have become obliged to steal and kill in order to buy drugs. Eventually, addicted people will lose their lives.

  • موسى ماهر

    2012-2-29

    Illegal drugs represent the most dangerous problem that threatens the health and safety of the members of society. Addiction may lead to deviance and vice as well as falling in the abyss of immorality, especially among the youth who are under psychological pressures that push them towards isolation in the light of the recent circumstances, security instability, and chaos everywhere. These conditions cleared the way for the criminals and drug dealers to move freely until they became organized gangs selling illegal drugs everywhere without any fear of the law of authorities. The result was that the illegal drugs are being sold everywhere publicly. We did not expect that this would happen to our youth in any time because Iraq used to be among the few countries in the world that were free from illegal drugs.

  • ابو زايد

    2012-2-28

    The phenomenon of drug addiction can be reduced as follows: raising a sound awareness among youth. It’s known that young adults are wild and rebellious; they refuse to abide by what is imposed and look for what is prohibited. It’s not surprising that youth, these flowers which are eager to discover the world can fall prey to drug dealers and the unscrupulous. It’s most likely that this young man who enjoys full health and strength will think about this spontaneous question “let’s try” and answers himself: “I will try. What can I lose?” Also, this phenomenon can be minimized by raising awareness within families, teaching them how to monitor their children especially at this critical age and offering awareness programs for them. This phenomenon can also be reduced through setting up educational programs and children and adulthood curricula at schools in order to warn them of the dangers of using these narcotic materials and falling victims to addiction. Also, addicts should be provided with free confidential treatment and full support for them and their families as well. These youths who fall prey to addiction should be monitored during the treatment period, especially in the recovery period, so that efforts and money won’t be wasted. Parents should know who their children’s friends are and make sure their children don’t misbehave.

  • حميد خان

    2012-2-28

    Media outlets play a real and effective role in combating drugs by spreading awareness among citizens in the community of the negative effects of drugs on the individual and community. Psychological, educational and medical means are very important in combating drugs and creating preventive measures through concentrating on the process of education and supervision within the family, school, and religion, as well as the different institutions in the community. It is important to create deterrent laws against trafficking, smuggling, planting, or using drugs. Harsh penalties should be inflicted on drug dealers and smugglers. It’s necessary to follow up with those imprisoned by security authorities over drug crimes after they served their sentences and take care of them in order to prevent them from returning to drug addiction. Also, it’s important to keep an eye on those who received sentences for trading drugs or committing any drug crime.

  • اياد جمال

    2012-2-28

    In order to minimize the phenomenon of drug addiction and abuse, we should be aware of the fact that it has social, economic, religious, educational and security dimensions. Therefore, different state institutions and services need to cooperate to explore the reasons for this phenomenon and find solutions to the problems that face the youth and push them to use drugs. Also, spreading religious awareness and strengthening religious morals among youth are very important because they give them intellectual and behavioral immunity that makes them avoid taboos and anything which is against the Islamic law (sharia) and causes them harm, diseases, corruption, loss of life, honor, money, mind and health. Hence, if youth realizes all the consequences caused by drugs, they will be galvanized and will avoid anything that causes them harm.

  • سالم قاسم

    2012-2-26

    Many people have spoken and many are still talking about the phenomenon of drug abuse as well as its negative impact on society and the individual. Hypotheses and theories have emerged that the phenomenon is the work of hostile states that aim only to destroy the country and its people. We cannot deny the role of anti-states in the emergence of drugs in our country in this terrible way, but there are still a lot of factors that are no less important and helped in the spread of this epidemic. Most important of these elements is unemployment. The high rates of unemployment in the recent time has helped a large segment of young people drift to the illusion that drugs are a magic solution to escape from problems and relieve their pain caused by their inability to achieve their needs. From here, the solution appears clear to all, which is youth employment and providing job opportunities for them. The elimination of unemployment would not only support the country's economy and society, but also the creation of a community that enjoys productivity and development of the potential of young people and usage of their mental and physical energies. Instead of the emptiness experienced by some young people who use drugs, work will fill the element of this emptiness and use their potential in improving mental abilities for themselves and their community. Unemployment leads to drugs and both are two sides of one coin, the currency of crime.

  • فياض صالح

    2012-2-26

    Drugs enter from Iran and their goal is the destruction of Iraqi youth. Iran and its government must be aware that Iraq today has become an important element in the region and has a big role to play in its influence on the stability of the region. Therefore, it had to stop and realize that Iraq and the government today has changed, and with it changed the hearts of the Iraqi people who now hate wars because of what they went through including the dark wars period. Iran should learn that the Iraqi people does not have a disagreement or hostility with their country, but Saddam and his Baathist regime are the ones who were carrying hatred and hostility towards Iran and its people. The Iraqi people and the Iranian people are bound together by strong and close relationships. The Iraqi people today are looking for peace and brotherhood co-existence with all the countries and without any problem, but at the same time refuse any interference regarding the rights and sovereignty of Iraq. That is all the Iraqis want and Iraq today does not represent or constitute any threat to Iran and its sovereignty as well as its people. Iraq and its government aspire for strengthening the relationship with Iran and building bridges of confidence between the two countries to always live in peace. This is what Iran must see similarly and treat the people of Iraq the way they deserve rather than continuing any attempts to support the instability of Iraq for their own interests.

  • سعيد عبد الله

    2012-2-25

    Drugs are the most dangerous things that we can talk about because they are a great threat, representing death and the destruction, which will have grave effects on anyone who is addicted to them. The problem now is that due to the lack of monitoring and the spread of drugs in Iraq, some people have started to trade in drugs and sell them in the coffee shops in secret and exploit these coffee shops so as to sell drugs in them to those who are addicted. The government should interfere rapidly to fight the spread of these drugs and arrest those who sell them in the coffee shops and everywhere else because this is very dangerous and it will destroy the future of many people in Iraq. Also, the spread of smoking the Shisha, which will harm a person’s health, will have a lot of negative effects and it may lead to cancer. The problem today is that it is widespread and many of those, even the non-smokers, went to the coffee shops so as to enjoy it only for fun, but they do not know its potential harms. This can be attributed to the lack of awareness from the health departments about the danger of smoking Shisha, its harm, negative aspects, and its side effects. Many people thought that it is void of nicotine or similar materials, but they are mistaken because it causes cancer as well.

  • فتاح عامر

    2012-2-24

    The issue of drugs is not a new problem in Iraq but it is not very old given that it spread in the late nineties among the deviant youth. In fact, the problem was aggravated after the overthrow of Saddam’s regime in Iraq and by the opening of the Iraqi borders as well as the lack of control of those entering and exiting Iraq. This has led to the boom of drug dealing in the country. In addition, the lax security situation at that time has also contributed to worsening the situation and increasing the number of drug dealers among the youth. The deviant youth are the largest social class which is consuming drugs given that they have lost their parents and relatives because of wars or terrorism. Indeed, the rate of drug dealing and addiction has increased and led to the aggravation of the problem, and to the prosperity of this kind of trade.

  • حازم يوسف

    2012-2-24

    There are a large proportion of Iraqi youth drug addicts. In addition, their rate is increasing considerably because of the lack of real control from the part of the security services and lack of real control of the Iraqi borders which would prevent the smuggling of these poisons into the country. In fact, this current issue of drugs has brought about a lot of other problems in Iraq since it has resulted in many criminal acts and the formation of drug-dealing gangs in the country. Indeed, we have become close to the mafia which exists in the world countries which are suffering from the problem of drugs. Therefore, the concerned security services and the Iraqi Government must put an end to this farce which is currently taking place in Iraq.