Britain's The Telegraph today reported that Iranian police have found 60,000 kilograms -- over 132,000 pounds -- of chicken stashed in different parts of the country over the last two weeks.
The cost of chicken has risen dramatically (along with pretty much everything else on the grocery shelves) as Iran reels from fresh international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear program, which Western countries fear is being used to make a bomb. Iran denies this.
A large-scale chicken smuggling ring was allegedly uncovered in the country's northwest with the discovery of more than 6,000 pounds worth of live chickens, reported The Telegraph's Robert Tait.
All the way on the other side of the country, in southwestern Ilam, authorities reportedly found the equivalent of over 50,000 pounds worth of live chickens kept in vehicles and believed bound for the black market, according to Tait. On top of those two, the country's semi-official news agency Mehr agency has reported smaller chicken hordes found located around the nation recently, said the Telegraph.
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The chicken crackdown is not limited to criminal activity, however, goes a sarcastic joke reportedly spreading in Iran. "If the police come round to your house don't worry," reported BBC Persian. "It's not your satellite dish they're after. They just want to know if you have any chicken in your fridge."
Chicken, it should be said, is crucial to Iranian cuisine. The meat is used in many of the country's special (mostly homemade) stews, known as khoresh, as well as for kebabs.
So discovering an underground chicken market operating wide-scale in Iran is, in a way, not that surprising. The country is in rather dire economic straits, the average Iranian household bringing in about $377 a month, according to Reuters.
When a couple pounds of chicken costs as much as five dollars, the money to be made by way of more illicit venues makes itself evident.
But not everyone is resorting to underground means. Two weeks ago, a couple thousand Iranians took to the streets the northeastern city of Neishabour to protest rising inflation -- emphasis on the chicken issue, reported The Wall Street Journal.