TEHRAN — There are 100,000 drug addicts on the streets of Iran, the country's Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli estimated Wednesday, saying that his agency had a "legal duty" to "pick them up" and send them to obligatory rehabilitation centers.

He said $3 billion was being spent every year on illegal drugs in the country, and that users were being supplied with an increasingly "diverse" selection of synthetic drugs, the reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd reported. 

Resolving addiction can't be handled by families alone, he said. With synthetic drugs, he added, "Families do not realize their children are addicted ... because industrial drugs are odorless and have no special signs."

Iran is a neighbor to two of the world's primary drug producing and trafficking areas, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Drug traffickers face the death penalty in Iran.

Another official commented on the social cost of drugs, naming "theft and drugs" as the country's two most prolific categories of offenses. Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, deputy head of the judiciary, told the semi-official Mehr news agency that 45% of Iran's prison population was jailed for drug-related offenses.

— Ahmad Shayegan

Photo: Crystal meth — Source: Psychonaught