Saturday, July 2, 2022
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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Assad: Godfather of captagon trafficking in the Middle East

Bashar Assad has developed the industrial production of this amphetamine in Syria, in order to circumvent international sanctions and consolidate his allegiance networks, Jean-Pierre Filiu of the French newspaper Le Monde begins his report that sheds light on the Assad regime being the main drug trafficking force in the Middle East region.

Typical captagon tablet; credit: UNODC

Filiu goes on to say that crimes against humanity, war crimes, organized massacres, systematic rapes, campaigns of enforced disappearances, expulsion of entire populations were just some examples on the long list of crimes already attributed to Bashar Assad.

“Convinced of his impunity, the Syrian dictator has now added the crime of mass production and aggressive marketing of narcotics,” the Le Monde report adds.

“Syrian territory under the control of the Assad regime has indeed become the main production area for captagon, an amphetamine of which Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest market. It is then the networks affiliated with the Assad regime that, especially from Lebanon, are responsible for transporting the shipments of this drug to the Arabian Peninsula,” the report further clarifies.

Filiu explains that Syria’s descent into the militia underworld was accompanied by the flowering of local captagon-making workshops, first to supply fighters with artificial stimulants, and then to provide foreign exchange resources for local forces. The captagon production workshops are protected by Syrian soldiers in uniform, or even installed in a military zone with restricted access.

The Le Monde report refers to an investigation published last month by The New York Times identifying two notorious war profiteers as the main “civilian” relays of such trafficking: one, Amer Khiti, was rewarded for his loyal service with a seat in the Syrian “Parliament” and the other, Khodr Taher, was decorated by Assad with the Order of Merit.

“The intimate ties between the Syrian dictatorship and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have been further strengthened by the need to export captagon destined for Saudi Arabia from Lebanon. The latter, exasperated by the growing number of amphetamine seizures, camouflaged in fruits and vegetables from Lebanon, decided, last April, an embargo on agricultural imports from that country,” the report goes on to say.

The report cites two incidents proving that the Assad regime is directly behind this illegal “industry.” The Jordanian border which, as soon as it reopened in August 2021, was the scene of attempts to infiltrate major loads of captagon. A drone loaded with amphetamines was even shot down as it left Syrian space. And last Sunday, a Jordanian officer was killed in a clash with Syrian traffickers. “Jordanian authorities estimate that one-fifth of the drug destined for Saudi Arabia could be consumed in Jordan during transit, a catastrophic prospect for a country previously spared from narcotics,” Filiu points out.

The report emphasizes that “more is needed to deter the Assad regime from continuing or even intensifying such lucrative trafficking.”

“The Syrian despot can in any case boast of having transformed his country into the first narco-state worthy of the name in the Middle East,” the French newspaper report concludes.

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