A man was hanged in northwestern Iran on Tuesday after being convicted of smuggling less than one kilo (2.2 pounds) of heroin, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The man, who was carrying 676 grams of heroin, was executed at the central prison in Zanjan, the capital of the like-named northwestern province, IRNA said.

Iran, where 676 executions were documented in 2011, was No. 2 in the world in carrying out death sentences last year, trailing China and leading Saudi Arabia, human rights groups say.

Iranian territory is used by smugglers moving opiates produced in Afghanistan to Europe, the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region, Russia and the central Asian countries that were part of the former Soviet Union.

Iran has also become an important drug consumer, analysts say.

The Iranian government follows Islamic law, or Sharia law, which calls for executions of murderers, rapists, drug traffickers and all those who violate the laws of Allah and the Islamic Republic of Iran. EFE