YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenian law-enforcement authorities reported on Thursday their biggest-ever seizure of heroin which they said was smuggled to Armenia by Iranian drug dealers through neighboring Turkey.
The Armenian police and the Office of the Prosecutor-General said about 7 kilograms of the Class A drug were discovered late on Monday in a car that was driven by a Russian citizen of Armenian descent and carried an Iranian national identified as Mostafa Advai.
A police statement said the heroin consignment was thrown by an unknown drug trafficker in Turkey over barbed wire stretching along the Turkish-Armenian border and picked up by Advai moments later. It said both Advai and the Russian-Armenian, identified as Hovannes Davtian, were arrested on the spot, near an undisclosed section of the closed frontier guarded by Russian troops.
Another Iranian citizen, identified as Hosein Tazeh Kand, was arrested in the same area earlier on Monday. The police and the prosecutors said law-enforcement authorities found about 5 kilograms of opium in his car. According to the police statement, the drug load was likewise tossed from the Turkish side of the border.
The prosecutors estimated the total black-market value of the confiscated drugs at around $2 million. “The investigation is continuing, and we will additionally report on its results,” read their statement.
The statement said a total of “about a dozen persons,” among them suspected drug dealers and users, have been arrested in an investigation jointly conducted by anti-narcotics units of the Office of the Prosecutor-General and the police. The latter reported only four arrests. Three of the detainees identified by the police are Iranians.
A number of Iranian nationals are already serving prison sentences in Armenia handed down on drug-related charges. Iran is believed to be the main source of drugs smuggled into the country from abroad.
Drug trafficking and addiction in Armenia, although still low by international standards, has increased since independence. According to the Armenian police, the number of officially registered drug-related crimes committed in the country nearly doubled to 539 last year. The police also recorded 690 instances of illegal drug possession, compared with 372 such cases registered in 2008.