HIRMAN, Iran — Sitting next to the half-open door of a Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter, the general who leads the Islamic Republic’s antinarcotics department pointed toward the rugged landscape of Iran’s volatile southeast, where its border meets those of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“This is where the drug convoys for years crossed into our country, almost with impunity,” Brig. Gen. Ali Moayedi said in Persian. Below him, sharp-edged mountains gave way to desert lands scarred for mile after mile by trenches nearly 15 feet deep and concrete walls reaching a height of 10 feet.
Nearly a decade ago Sistan va Baluchestan Province was an active battlefield, where more than 3,900 Iranian border police officers lost their lives fighting often better-equipped Afghan and Pakistani drug gangs along nearly 600 miles of Iran’s eastern border.