Iraq dismantles major drug network in Baghdad

Illegal drug sales have increased in recent years, posing a challenge to the country’s security forces

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Iraqi authorities arrested nearly two dozen members of an organised criminal network, seizing drugs and unlicensed weapons in Baghdad.

On Saturday, counterterrorism forces and the military intelligence service said they arrested 20 drug dealers running a network in Baghdad and other provinces.

About 7 kilograms of drugs were seized, including crystal meth, hashish and marijuana, authorities said. All are prohibited under Iraqi law.

They said that about 14,500 pills, five cars, four motorcycles, three machineguns, four pistols, four hand grenades and an unspecified amount of money were also seized.

The spokesman for the Iraqi Armed Forces, Brig Gen Yahya Rasool, described the criminal network as "the biggest" in Baghdad, with the materials seized laid out on display on a red carpet in front of him.

Illegal drug use and sales have been on the rise in Iraq over in recent years, posing a challenge to security forces.

Iraq was considered a corridor for drugs trafficking to neighbouring countries, but since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, drugs sales and consumption have increased owing to a deteriorated security situation, soaring rates of unemployment and corruption.

Crystal meth, the most popular narcotic in the country, is a white crystalline drug ingested through inhalation or injection.

Drugs have been mainly produced and smuggled from Iran, according to Iraqi officials, but recently narcotics made locally have been found by Iraqi authorities.