Syrian authorities said Tuesday they seized over 500 kilograms of amphetamine pills known by the brand name Captagon hidden in pasta packages in a van bound to leave the country. This is the second seizure of the kind within a week.
“Through extensive information and investigations about a group of smugglers and drug merchants, the competent authorities seized an Intra truck in Damascus countryside carrying bags of narcotic pills / Captagon / weights 525 kg in a shipment of pasta that was intended for export to Saudi Arabia,” state-owned news agency SANA reported.
During the past months, the Syrian authorities have repeatedly announced the confiscation of Captagon pills shipments, the latest of which was on the 24th of November, which also included 525 kilograms also hidden in pasta bags.
Last month, 180,000 pills were also seized inside sweets boxes in Damascus, and another in October, weighing 650 kilograms, or more than four million pills, were captured in a car on the Homs-Damascus highway.
Captagon pills are easy to manufacture and are sold at a low price in the market, and some see them as a cheap alternative to cocaine.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime classifies Captagon as “a type of amphetamine stimulant,” usually a mixture of amphetamines, caffeine, and other substances.
The Captagon industry is not new in the region, and Syria has been the most prominent source of this substance since before the outbreak of the war in 2011. However, the conflict made its manufacture more popular.
According to a report issued by the Center for Operational Analysis and Research (COAR), Captagon pills reached a market value of no less than 3.5 billion dollars during 2020.
This figure is five times the value of Syria’s legitimate exports.
Also, the Captagon industry is active in neighboring Lebanon, to which Syria’s expertise has also moved, especially during the war years. The drug is also manufactured in Iraq.