Iraq investigates smuggling of Captagon pills into Jordan

The amphetamine haul was one of the kingdom’s largest

A million Captagon pills that were seized as criminals tried to smuggle them into Iraq on Monday. Photo: Interior Ministry
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Iraq has launched an investigation following the seizure of six million Captagon pills by Jordan, confirming that the amphetamines had been smuggled through a major crossing between the two countries.

Iraq's customs chief Shakir Al Zubaidi ordered the probe on Monday, the state-run Iraqi News Agency reported.

Jordanian authorities announced the seizure of the Captagon pills at the Karamah crossing on Sunday, describing it as one of the largest drug hauls in the kingdom.

The amphetamines, weighing about 1,000kg, were hidden in two shipments of date paste, Jordan Customs said. One shipment contained 509kg and the other 483kg.

Mr Al Zubaidi suspended the director general of the Treibel crossing on Iraq's side of the border, as well as his deputy and five other employees.

Legal action will be initiated against the exporting company, with the investigation expected to be concluded by Thursday, Mr Al Zubaidi said.

Meanwhile, the intelligence department of Iraq's Interior Ministry thwarted an attempt to smuggle a million Captagon pills into the country on Monday.

The department did not mention the country of origin but said the amphetamines had been intercepted “at the Iraqi borders” in western Anbar province.

Four dealers — three foreigners and one Iraqi — were arrested in the border town of Qaim, the department said.

The town is about 400km west of Baghdad, near the Syrian border.

Iraq has long been considered a corridor for the smuggling of drugs to neighbouring countries.

Since 2003, when the US-led invasion removed Saddam Hussein's regime, drug use in Iraq has also greatly increased.

Security and health officials blame weak governments that followed, as well as widespread corruption among security forces, porous borders and a lack of co-operation between government agencies.

Captagon has become the second most widely used drug in the country, according to the Health Ministry, overtaking tramadol, heroin and hashish.

Iran is the main source of crystal methamphetamine found in the country while Syria is the source of most of the Captagon, Iraqi officials have said. Lebanon is also a source.

But drugs also come from Turkey or from Iran via the self-ruled Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

Last week, Iraq burnt about six tonnes of illegal drugs in what officials described as the largest haul to be destroyed in more than a decade.

Wearing white overalls and face masks, government officials piled Captagon, cannabis and cocaine in holes dug into the sand, doused them with fuel and set them on fire. Crystal methamphetamine and hashish were also destroyed.

Health Minister Saleh Al Hasnawi, who supervised the event outside a military base near the capital Baghdad, said it was the first “destruction operation of this magnitude” since 2009.

As is the case with Iraq, Jordan has stepped up security operations across the kingdom in recent weeks to curb the illegal trade of the highly profitable drug.

The border with Syria has become the main conduit for the trade of Captagon since Syrian regime forces retook the area from rebels in 2018 after a deal was reached between Russia, the US and Israel.

Updated: December 27, 2022, 11:36 AM
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