Iran Busts Weapons and Ammunition Smuggling Ring

Two heavy shipments of weapons…were discovered.”

Iran has long had difficulty controlling illicit weaponry within its borders.  At the conclusion of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, there was little if any organized demobilization or disarmament: conscripts simply returned home, often with their weapons.  Over subsequent years, successive Iranian administrations offered amnesties to enable citizens to return weapons without penalty as gun ownership and possession is, in most cases, a crime.  The fact that they have had to do so repeatedly suggests the ineffectiveness of their efforts.

Beyond the war-related and unaccounted for arms making their way into the public domain, Iran has long faced weapons smuggling from neighboring states.  The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has found it difficult to operate in southeastern and northwestern Iran, two regions populated both by ethnic and sectarian minorities and with borders drawn through inhospitable terrain.  The conflicts and drug trade in both Afghanistan and Iraq have increased arms smuggling opportunities in these border areas.  The excerpted article from Iran news media outlet Fars New Agency suggests Iran faces a problem with loose weapons in Khuzestan, the oil-producing region of Iran at the top of the Persian Gulf and adjacent to southern Iraq.  It relates successful operations against two alleged arms smuggling operations in the refinery city of Ahvaz and Karun county in Khuzestan Province, where authorities seized 87 illegal weapons.

While the excerpted article alludes to smugglers’ efforts to create “instability” in Iran, the article does not address possible motives nor possible connections to active terror cells in the area (See: “Iranian Government Details Ahvaz Terrorist Incidents,” OE Watch, November 2018).  It is unclear if the weapons stay in Khuzestan or are smuggled deeper into Iran.  If the former, it could suggest a vulnerability that unknown cells are smuggling weapons into Iran’s chief oil-producing region that is responsible for the majority of Iran’s foreign currency earnings.  The weapons in the photograph accompanying the story appear to be short-barreled shotguns commonly designated as riot, as well as breaching or tactical shotguns not designed or intended for hunting or other more pedestrian uses.


“Anhedam Do Band-e Qacheq-e Salah va Mohemat dar Khuzestan (Destruction of Two Arms and Ammunition Smuggling Gangs in Khuzestan),” Fars News Agency (media outlet close to the Islamic Republic’s security forces), 3 January 2022.

According to the Fars News Agency in Ahvaz, the Khuzestan police commander issued a statement announcing: Police intelligence and security officers in the province, by means of superior intelligence, learned that two smuggling gangs had entered the cities of Ahvaz and Karun with the aim of creating insecurity in the country, conducted an operation, identified and destroyed them. In these comprehensive operations, two heavy shipments of weapons, including 87 weapons of war and hunting, and a significant amount of ammunition were discovered.