Jordanian security forces arrest 28 people in drug raids near Syrian border

Authorities say operation aims to restore rule of law in desert area where Captagon smuggling is rife

Military vehicles stand near a section of the Jordan-Syria border in the Jordanian governorate of Mafraq. AFP
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Jordanian security forces arrested 28 people on Sunday in raids on a lawless desert area near the Syrian border to curb drug flows, the official news agency said.

The area north-east of Amman is the main conduit for smuggling Captagon pills from regime-held areas of Syria into Jordan and from there to the interior of the Arabian Peninsula.

Jordanian officials said last May that the Syrian military and Iran-backed militias were behind the smuggling, abandoning a policy of avoiding direct criticism of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's regime and Iran, his second most powerful ally after Russia.

The official news agency quoted a Jordanian police spokesman as saying that "raid and investigation teams are continuing their work in the area as part of intensive search operations to arrest drugs and contraband suspects and to instil the rule of law".

The news agency said 23 vehicles and a similar number of weapons have been seized, as well as unspecified quantity of drugs.

Official photos showed an armoured gendarme column during the operation and members of the force next to a seized four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Captagon, an amphetamine derivative that is cheap to produce, has become the drug of choice in many parts of the Middle East.

Increased Captagon snuggling from Syria to Jordan in the past three years has strained relations between Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Although a proportion of the pills are distributed in Jordan, security officials say the bulk of the contraband flows to Saudi Arabia, with some going to Israel.

Updated: August 14, 2022, 5:56 PM