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Thu, 08 Mar 2012 12:06 - Updated Thu, 08 Mar 2012 12:06

US says Iranian general key in Afghan heroin trade

Washington

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Washington - Washington on Wednesday named a general in Iran's elite al-Quds force as a key figure in trafficking heroin from Afghanistan.

The US Treasury designated Gen. Gholamreza Baghbani, who runs the Revolutionary Guards' Quds force office in Zahedan near the Afghan-Pakistan border, as a narcotics "kingpin" for facilitating Afghan drug runners to move opiates into and through Iran.

In return, the smugglers helped move weapons for the Taliban from Iran "on behalf of Baghbani," the Treasury said in a statement.

It said that Baghbani had also aided the smuggling of chemicals used to make heroin through the Iranian border into Afghanistan.

He was the first Iranian to be officially named as a "specially designated narcotics trafficker" under the US "Kingpin Act", which allows the Treasury to prohibit any US citizens or entities from engaging in commercial or financial transactions with the named individual.

Treasury said that the designation of Baghbani "exposes (the Quds force's) involvement in trafficking narcotics, made doubly reprehensible here because it is done as part of a broader scheme to support terrorism."

The Quds force is the shadowy special operations unit of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and often operates outside of Iran.