Kerbala- Clerics and responsible officials in Kerbala governorate warned of converting their city into a regional center for drugs dealing by Iranian, Pakistanis, and Afghanis traders.
Using the absence of security and the entrance of large numbers of visitors to the city in an unorganized way, have let them to establish permanent bureaus to trade narcotics. They have lately extended that to cover a barter trade with Iraqi stolen antiques and ancient monuments.
Cleric Hayder Al Musawi one of the servants of “Abbas” shrine in the city said, “Often we see visitors offering what they have of drugs after their visit”. He added, “At the start it was very astonishing for the people who had no experience in dealings with drugs. People of Kerbala were hitting and kicking them. But it became a bit normal as the time went on and the increase of relations between small and large traders with the hotel owners and smugglers among citizens”.
Most of Iranian visitors prefer “Hashish” and “Opium”, the later is widely used in Iran because it is not barred religiously, while the “Heroin” is not used because of its high price.
Haj Ali Al-Hindi, the owner of “Dur Al-Najaf” restaurant, the most famous and largest restaurant in Kerbala assured “Al Hayat” that “the drug dealings were finalized in his restaurant between Iranians and Kerbalaies “and confirmed that this trade is “flourishing in Kerbala”. He added, “Directly after the fall of Saddam’s regime, Iranians entered in large numbers for the ritual visit to the holy shrines. Some of them were carrying Hashish, Opium and other kinds of narcotics to sell, but their trade was weak at the beginning because Iraqis were not using it.
Kerbala is considered a boarder city with Saudi Arabia. The wide desert that separate the two countries, uncontrolled by boarder’s guards, helped to ease the smuggling.
General Karim Hajim Sultan, the police commander of Kerbala said: Kerbala has become a point of distributing the drugs in Gulf States. He mentioned that Kerbala traders buy the narcotics from Iranian visitors and smuggle it to the gulf across the open desert. He added that, two days ago the police forces arrested three people from Kerbala carrying 20 kilograms of Hashish.
This phenomenon has become more dangerous because of interlink between drugs trade with Iraqi antiques smuggling. Chief of the city police assured that there are barter trade of antiques carried on by Iranian traders by providing drugs to the local dealers in exchange to what they get of the ancient pieces.
Some dealers in this profession said that “the barter trade happened by accident when one offered an Assyrian kink head bought from a smuggler. The Iranian trader offered to barter with Opium”.
An Iraqi law issued in the nineties, punishes drug dealers and users by execution. Some political parties accused the previous regime by indulgence in this issue while some accusations to Oday, son of the late president show that he received shares of drugs trade and smuggling from Iran to the gulf across Iraq.