The manufacture of the drug Captagon in the heart of the Syrian regime’s territory has become a story of a great commercial gain for an economy that is growing to compete with the gross domestic product of the Syrian economy, but in return it turns Syria into a country of drugs, according to a report from the British Guardian newspaper.
The newspaper pointed out that the “consignment of pomegranate” confiscated by Saudi Arabia once again shed light on drug smuggling from Lebanon and Syria, and how quickly they are turning into drug countries if they are not already within this definition.
At least 15 other shipments of drugs have been intercepted in the Middle East and Europe in the past two years, and six police and intelligence officials in the Middle East and Europe told the newspaper that all shipments originated from Syria or across the border in Lebanon, where cross-border gangs formed that manufacture and distribute quantities of Drugs on an industrial scale.
Captagon is one of several brand names for the drug compound phenethylene hydrochloride. It is a stimulant with addictive properties.
The newspaper said that the border between the two countries is lawless and smugglers operate with the complicity of officials on both sides. Smugglers transport hashish and Captagon along a road that extends from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, the Syrian border town of Qusayr, and the roads north through the Alawi stronghold of the Assad regime, towards the ports of Latakia and Tartus.
Latakia in particular has come under intense scrutiny by European and US police and intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, smuggling operations occurred and were later thwarted, including five tons of Captagon tablets found in Greece in July 2019, a similar amount in Dubai in subsequent months, and four tons of hashish that were discovered in the Egyptian city of Port Said in April 2020, packed in milk cartons. . At the time, the company was owned by regime tycoon Rami Makhlouf.
There was also a Captagon shipment bound for Saudi Arabia hidden in tea leaves, as well as shipments seized in Romania, Jordan, Bahrain and Turkey.
In July of last year, the largest quantity of drugs ever, with a financial value of more than one billion dollars, was intercepted in the Italian port of Salerno, and the Italian port was a stopping point on the way of the shipment before it was transferred to Dubai.
The newspaper said that a report by the research organization, the Center for Operational Analysis and Research, indicated that Syria is the global center for Captagon production.
According to the report, Captagon seized at least $3.46 billion in 2020.
Although trafficking in Captagon was previously among the sources of funding used by armed groups, consolidating territorial control has enabled the Assad regime and its key allies to further profit from the Syrian drug trade.