Jordan says it intercepted drone carrying drugs from Syria

Nationwide operations against narcotics trade led to 31 arrests, say officials

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A drone carrying narcotics from Syria was intercepted by Jordan on Tuesday, the kingdom's military said.

The interception came a day after Jordanian officials announced 31 arrests in a nationwide sweep against dealers. It was the first reported attempt by drone to smuggle drugs across the border from Syria since Damascus was readmitted to the Arab League last month, after promising to help counter the trade.

The drone was spotted as it was heading to Jordan and “brought down inside Jordanian territory”, a military official said.

It was carrying half a kilogram of crystal meth, which the authorities seized.

Jordanian authorities said last week that customs and border forces had foiled an attempt to smuggle 67kg of Captagon pills from Syria through the Nasib border crossing between the two countries.

Narcotics in the kingdom are mainly sourced from areas in southern Syria under the control of the Syrian military and pro-Iranian militia, Jordanian officials say.

Curbing the drug flow from Syria has been a primary objective of a rapprochement between Jordan and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad over the past two years.

Jordan supported the decision to restore Syria's membership of the Arab League, which was suspended in 2011 in response to the Assad government's violent suppression of protests.

Syrian political commentator Ayman Abdel Nour said co-operation from Syria in the drug war appears to be “verbal”.

“The regime would not make any significant commitment unless it receives something big in return,” Mr Abdel Nour said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said after an Arab League summit in Riyadh last month that other nameless countries must show their intentions towards Damascus.

He said they should “contribute in a renewed renaissance of the Syrian people”, in an apparent reference to funds the government wants for reconstruction.

Jordanian authorities say security forces have been increasing their anti-narcotics operations across the kingdom.

Late on Monday, police announced the arrest of 31 suspected drug dealers in an extensive anti-narcotics operation.

About two-thirds of the arrests were made in areas bordering southern Syria.

“Anti-narcotics personnel have been continuing their extensive campaigns to persecute all forms of dealings in all narcotics,” a police spokesman said.

One of the suspected dealers was apprehended in Irbid with 23,000 packs of hashish and 2,000 “narcotic pills”, a reference to the amphetamine known as Captagon.

Security forces also raided a shop in the area that was thought to operate as a dealing centre and detained four suspects.

In the neighbouring governorate of Ramtha, two people were found with 3.5kg of crystal myth in their possession.

In the northern Badia region, two men were apprehended along with 15,000 packs of hashish and 20,000 pills with another dealer, the police spokesman said.

The authorities did not release the names or nationalities of those in custody.

Iraq seizes 1.8 million Captagon pills near Syrian border

Iraq seizes 1.8 million Captagon pills near Syrian border

Northern Badia contains parts of the Black Desert, a plateau covered with volcanic rock that stretches between Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Its slopes and paths serve as a main conduit of Captagon from Syria to Jordan to inner Arabia, as well as hashish that for decades has been produced in areas controlled by Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley, Arab security officials say.

The drug flows have marred Jordan's relations with Saudi Arabia.

Over the last year, Jordanian officials have described the channels as a national security threat.

Captagon smuggling across the 360km border separating Jordan and Syria has surged since 2018.

In that year, the Syrian military, with support from Russia, regained control over most of the southern part of the country, from rebels who were fighting Mr Al Assad.

Updated: June 13, 2023, 12:57 PM