Iraq seizes more than 6 million Captagon pills in drug bust

Authorities say substance was to be distributed in Baghdad and nearby provinces

Captagon is an amphetamine-type drug that is almost exclusively produced and traded in the Middle East. AFP
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Iraqi security forces said they have broken up a drug trafficking ring and seized more than six million pills of the amphetamine-type stimulant Captagon, making several arrests.

Iraq's north-western neighbour Syria is the Middle East's main Captagon producer.

Iraqi forces seized "around 6.2 million pills" from a warehouse in the south-west of the capital, the national security agency said in a statement, with the drugs set for distribution "in areas of Baghdad and other provinces".

Three Iraqis and four suspects from other Arab countries were arrested in connection with the trafficking network, authorities said.

The statement said security forces had smashed a second drug ring after an Arab citizen was arrested "in possession of six kilos of hashish", while two accomplices were also detained.

All 10 "admitted to links with international drug trafficking networks", Iraqi forces said. Drug trafficking convictions can be punishable by the death penalty in Iraq.

Trade in Captagon in the Middle East grew exponentially in 2021 to exceed $5 billion, posing an increasing health and security risk to the region, a report said this month.

Captagon was the trade name of a drug initially patented in Germany in the early 1960s that contained an amphetamine-type stimulant called fenethylline used to treat attention deficit and narcolepsy among other conditions.

Captagon Crisis in Iraq: 'Drugs and terrorism two sides of the same coin'

Captagon Crisis in Iraq: 'Drugs and terrorism two sides of the same coin'

It was later banned and became an illegal drug almost exclusively produced and consumed in the Middle East.

The brand name has a trademark logo sporting two interlocked "Cs", or crescents, embossed on each tablet, for a drug that often contains little or no fenethylline and is close to what is known in other countries as "speed".

The sale and use of drugs in Iraq has soared in recent years. Security forces have stepped up operations and make almost daily announcements of seizures or arrests.

In the first three months of this year, Iraqi security forces detained 18 suspected drug traffickers in the largely desert province of Anbar, which shares a long border with Syria, an official source said.

More than three million Captagon pills were seized in the same period.

Updated: May 01, 2022, 7:38 AM