Iraq seizes 3 million boxes of expired medicine in latest drug crackdown

Weak security system, corruption and unemployment increases the smuggling and consumption of illegal substances

Iraqi authorities seize more than three million boxes of smuggled and expired medicines in Baghdad. Courtesy: Iraqi National Security service Twitter account.
Iraqi authorities seize more than three million boxes of smuggled and expired medicines in Baghdad. Courtesy: Iraqi National Security service Twitter account.

Iraq seized three million boxes carrying expired and smuggled drugs on Monday in a warehouse located in the capital.

Iraqi health officials have raised concerns over the unregulated sale of medicines, some of which are out of date, smuggled and are potentially dangerous, for a number of years.

Photos of the seized goods show small pill boxes of various medications stacked on a table.

Authorities have launched various operations to crackdown on the practice.

The country’s National Security Services, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, said in a statement that it obtained “judicial approval” for the operation based on intelligence information to seize the expired medicines in the Mansour district of Baghdad.

"The items were handed over to the competent authorities for destruction and violators were referred to the judiciary to ensure necessary and legal actions are taken against them,” Iraq’s National Security Services said in a statement.

Last month, the country's Federal Commission of Integrity said it caught an illegal shipment of medicines on their way into the country via the southern city of Basra.

The shipment was intended to treat coronavirus patients.

"The medicines were seized at Basra's International Airport, were intended to treat coronavirus patients and consisted of seven boxes containing approximately 2500 ampule,” said a statement by the Commission’s Investigation Department at the time.

The statement said the seized drugs had no certificate of origin or an import license and have not obtained the approval of the health ministry.

“There are attempts and pressures to smuggle medication and bring them into the country without a customs transaction,” it said.

The findings of the investigation were referred to the judiciary.

Earlier this year, Iraqi authorities arrested 20 members of a criminal network in the capital and other provinces, seizing drugs and unlicensed weapons in Baghdad.

About 7 kilograms of drugs were seized, including crystal meth, hashish and marijuana, authorities said.

These drugs are prohibited under Iraqi law.

The country's weak security system along with rampant corruption and unemployment has increase the smuggling and consumption of drugs.

Published: June 7, 2021 04:40 PM

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