The New Worry for Iran’s Intelligence Services: Drug-Laced Cakes

Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Already battling U.S. sanctions, regional isolation and unrest on the streets, Iran’s intelligence services are dealing with a strange new threat: medicine-laced sponge cakes.

Earlier this week, Iranian state TV reported that several cake factories in some of the country’s southern provinces had been forced to suspend production after pills, including the narcotic-like pain relief drug Tramadol, were discovered in packaged produce.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said Sunday that the security and intelligence services had been enlisted to track down what he called a “network” believed to have contaminated the cakes at some stage. The incidents are being handled as “a security matter,” he said, without speculating on the reasons for the sabotage.

“Fortunately there have been no deaths from the incidents of poisoning resulting from these cases,” Namaki told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Tehran, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported. “We’re working day and night with various teams in order to identify the network.”

A total of 12 companies have received reports of their cakes or cookies being found to contain various medicines, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. A university lab in southern Hormuzgan province discovered 30 different types of drugs in the cases it examined, IRNA said.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Michael Gunn, Mark Williams

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