Jordan intercepts millions of Captagon pills bound for Saudi Arabia

Hauls from operations in north and south of the country include 143 kg of hashish, security forces say

In August 2023, Jordanian authorities put drugs and weapons taken from criminal gangs in Amman and northern governorates on display to the public. Photo: Jordan Public Security
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Jordan's security forces confiscated more than 9.5 million Captagon pills, including more than three million hidden in a vehicle at the border with Saudi Arabia, authorities said on Wednesday.

The haul is the latest in Jordan's battle against the trafficking of drugs from southern Syria, a trade controlled by forces allied with the government in Damascus.

The Captagon, a type of amphetamine, was destined for markets around the Middle East, although there is significant demand for it in Jordan.

Jordan's Public Security Directorate said the most recent seizures were made in operations in the north and south of the kingdom.

“Investigations are continuing to reveal all of the circumstances and identify all the outside links” in the case, the directorate said.

The pills that were seized, together with 143kg of hashish, were handled by regional narcotics networks, it said.

Security forces intercepted an excavator at the Al Omari border crossing with Saudi Arabia and discovered 3.1 million pills in secret compartments.

In a separate operation, investigators found about five million pills hidden inside a road roller and arrested three people, leading to the arrests of two more and the recovery of 1.5 million pills and 143kg of hashish from a well in the northern Jordanian town of Ramtha, near the border with Syria.

Jordan has been tackling the drug trafficking problem with a mix of diplomacy and military action, strengthened in recent years by US assistance in fortifying its border with Syria.

The crisis, centred on Captagon, began after southern Syrian became a centre for drug production and smuggling following a Russian-backed takeover of the region by the Syrian army and militias allied with Iran.

Last year, a visiting Saudi official said that although Jordan had made advances in countering smuggling, major challenges remained.

He said Jordan's fight against drug and weapons trafficking was complicated by “smugglers who are now using modern and advanced methods”.

Authorities in Amman have not given any figures on the volume of drugs entering the kingdom or how much of it was believed to be destined for Saudi Arabia, widely seen as the main market for Captagon.

Updated: June 05, 2024, 12:32 PM