Illegal Alcohol Trade in Iran Results in Death of 17, Four Involved Sentenced to Death
Iran’s Deadly Bootleg Alcohol Trade
Illegal alcohol trading in Iran has led to a catastrophic event that has resulted in the death of 17 people and the hospitalization of several others. This tragic incident took place in June this year, with the authorities sentencing four individuals to death for their involvement in the sale of contaminated bootleg alcohol. The consumption and sale of alcohol are generally prohibited in Iran, leading to a significant increase in the illicit trade of smuggled or homemade alcohol, some of which is dangerously adulterated with methanol.
The Consequences of the Illicit Trade
Over the past year, Iran has experienced a 30% increase in deaths from counterfeit alcoholic beverages, with 644 people losing their lives. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, at least 210 Iranians died from consuming bootleg alcohol, mistakenly believing it could cure the virus. Despite the ban on alcohol, only religious minorities and foreigners are exempted, leading to a surge in the underground alcohol market.
The Sentencing of the Culprits
Four individuals involved in the sale of the deadly bootleg alcohol were sentenced to death following a trial involving 11 defendants. The remaining defendants received prison sentences ranging from one to five years. All of the convicts have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. The authorities seized more than 6,000 liters of bootleg alcohol during a raid on a cosmetics factory.
Alcohol and the Iranian Society
The sale and consumption of alcohol have been banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Only Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians are exempt from the alcohol ban. However, the prohibition has led to a massive illicit trade of bootleg alcohol, controlled by underworld mafias. Often, such alcohol is adulterated with poisonous methanol which cannot be smelled or tasted in drinks, causing delayed organ and brain damage. Symptoms include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness, and even coma.
A Nationwide Problem
The incident in June is not an isolated one. The nation is grappling with a significant problem of bootleg alcohol production and consumption, resulting in numerous deaths and hospitalizations. The situation was exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic when more than 200 Iranians died after mistakenly believing that bootleg alcohol could act as a cure for the virus. This highlights the desperate circumstances that drive some individuals to take such life-threatening risks.
The tragic consequences of the illegal alcohol trade in Iran underline the complex issues surrounding prohibition and the lengths some will go to gain access to prohibited goods. The incident also underscores the critical importance of public awareness and government efforts to combat the production and sale of dangerous bootleg products. It is hoped that such measures can help prevent further loss of life due to illegal substances.
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