Jordan seizes six million Captagon pills smuggled from Iraq

Drugs weighing 1,000kg were hidden in two shipments

Jordan is fighting to curb the flow of Captagon into its territory. AFP
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Jordanian authorities have seized six million Captagon pills at the Iraqi border in one of the kingdom's largest hauls of the drug.

Weighing nearly 1,000kg, they were concealed inside shipments of date paste and seized at the Karameh crossing, a spokesman for Jordan Customs said in a statement on Sunday.

“During inspection of two shipments coming from a neighbouring country, the Captagon pills were found hidden in boxes of date paste,” the spokesman said.

The Karameh crossing from Iraq is about 300km north-east of the Jordanian capital Amman. An Iraqi Interior Ministry official confirmed to The National that the drugs had passed through the Treibel crossing, on the Iraqi side of the border, but said no further details were available.

The Jordan Customs spokesman said 509kg of Captagon were found in one shipment and 483kg in the other.

In the past few weeks Jordan has stepped up security operations across the kingdom in efforts to curb the illegal trade of the highly profitable drug.

Jordanian authorities last month seized 250,000 Captagon pills buried near the Syrian border in the north of the kingdom.

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

Most of global Captagon production originates in Syria, where it has become a $10 billion industry, according to estimates drawn from official data by AFP, making the drug the country's largest export by far.

A Lebanese court this month sentenced a man known as the “Captagon King” to seven years' with hard labour for producing and trafficking the illegal drug.

It was the first time a major drug baron has been convicted in a Captagon case in Lebanon.

Trade in Captagon in the Middle East grew exponentially throughout last year to top $5 billion, posing an increasing health and security risk to the region, a report said this year.

Research by the New Lines Institute paints an alarming picture of the impact booming Captagon production is having on the region.

"The Captagon trade is a rapidly growing illicit economy in the Middle East and Mediterranean," said the report, written by analysts Caroline Rose and Alexander Soderholm.

Updated: December 25, 2022, 12:31 PM