Iran is starting to make a comeback on the black market after the country ended a decade-long embargo on its drug industry in 2008.
In fact, according to a new report from the International Narcotics Control Board, Iran’s trade in illicit drugs is estimated at $200 million a year, a 30% increase from 2009.
The report says that since the end of the embargo in 2009, the number of Iranian nationals involved in the production, trafficking and sale of drugs has increased dramatically, reaching a peak of 1,000 in the first half of this year.
In comparison, there were only 7,000 people involved in drug trafficking in the US in 2010.
“The Iranian government has clearly demonstrated that its hardline policies and its sanctions have led to a significant reduction in the level of drug trafficking,” said Iñaki Guillen, a senior adviser at the International Drug Policy Alliance.
The group says the increase in Iranian-produced drugs in the past few years is largely due to a combination of high demand and lower supply from neighboring countries.
Iran has been struggling to compete with China in terms of illicit drug trafficking, and the US has been a key player in this, providing significant support for Iran’s efforts.
While Iran continues to fight the drug war with its own military, the ICTB report says it is also using the crackdown on drugs to strengthen its economic power and the political stability it provides.
Iran’s new economy is also beginning to show signs of economic growth.
The country is expected to be the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2020, according the International Monetary Fund.