A recent report highlights the EU’s crucial role in supplying Captagon pills from the Middle East to the Gulf region.

Europe has become a key transit point for Syrian-made amphetamine called Captagon, which is being transported from the Middle East to the Gulf region, according to a report.

The report published on Wednesday by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the German Federal Criminal Police Office found that significant quantities of Captagon seized within the European Union (EU) were destined for diversion to the Gulf, primarily Saudi Arabia , definitely were .

Syria is by far the world’s largest producer of the addictive amphetamine-like stimulant pill, which is smuggled into countries across the region.

Although Captagon was banned worldwide after its initial production in Germany in the 1960s, it feeds party scenes in the Middle East. It has reportedly been a key financial lifeline for years for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has become increasingly isolated following his regime’s actions during Syria’s civil war that began more than a decade ago.

According to the report, smuggling operations involve the direct redirection of shipments or the forwarding of shipments after repackaging within the EU.

Some Syrian and Lebanese nationals residing in EU Member States were often involved in these operations.

The report also alleged that Lebanese and Syrian armed groups affiliated with the Syrian government played a role in the Captagon trade, which provided financial benefits to the al-Assad regime.

Despite the significant quantities of Captagon transported across the EU, member states have not reported significant domestic use of the drug.

Aside from Captagon tablets being smuggled into the EU, the report states that some of the tablets are also manufactured in Europe, mainly in the Netherlands.

Dutch police have uncovered large production facilities producing Captagon tablets from amphetamine powder.

A Saudi customs official opens imported pomegranates as customs thwart a 2021 smuggling attempt of more than five million Captagon pills [File: Saudi Press Agency/AP]

Increasing seizures

The report finds a steady increase in Captagon tablet seizures in the EU since 2018.

EU member states collectively reported the seizure of 127 million tablets and 1,773 kg (2 tonnes) of the drug during the data collection period for this report. The largest single seizure of 84 million tablets occurred in Salerno, Italy in 2020.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported seizing a staggering 73 tonnes of amphetamine in 2021, compared to just 18 tonnes in 2016.

The report, which collected information from seven EU member states, underlined the urgent need for a coordinated response to curb the trade and transit of Captagon across the EU.

Source : www.aljazeera.com

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