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Pasdar general is tabbed as drug kingpin by US.

For the first time ever, the US government has named an Iranian government official as a drug kingpin, saying he moved narcotics out of Afghanistan and across Iran in his official capacity.

The United States has usually praised Iran's counter-narcotics program, the only area of Iranian government policy that Washington has found worthy of praise. The announcement last Wednesday completely changed that.

The US Treasury Department named Gen. Gholam-Reza Baghbani, chief of the Pasdaran Qods Force in Zahedan, as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker for helping Afghan smugglers move drugs into Iran in exchange for weapons for the Taliban.

The US treasury alleges that Gen. Baghbani conducted the smuggling as "part of a broader scheme to support terrorism."

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Gen. Baghbani is accused of "allowing" Afghan traffickers to smuggle opiates into Iran "in return for assistance," which involved allowing traffickers to supply weapons to the Taliban "on behalf of Baghbani." The general is also accused of supplying Afghan drug laboratories with special chemicals used to produce heroin.

There are more than 1,000 organizations and individuals on the Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker list, with Gen. Baghbani being the first Iranian.

The designation means that all of Gen. Baghbani's assets in the US, if any, will be frozen and all US persons and organizations are prohibited from conducting any financial transactions with him. As a practical matter, that is not likely to mean anything. But the assertion that a senior government official is trafficking in drugs as part of his official job is a major shift in the US view.

The US designation has not been reported inside Iran.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Mar 16, 2012
Words:269
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