Syrian army unit oversees massive drug trade, NYT says

127 bags of Captagon seized from the Islamic State before being destroyed. May 31, 2018. U.S. army.

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SULAIMANI — An investigation by the New York Times revealed an elite unit of the Syrian army has been managing the production and distribution of an addictive amphetamine popular in the Middle East.

Workshops in Syria produce and prepare captagon for export, an addictive stimulant that became popular in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in the 1980s, the Times said.

The fourth division of the Syrian army, commanded by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brother Maher al-Assad, oversees much of the trade. Businessmen with ties to the government, family members of Assad, and Hezbollah are also involved in the trade, according to information obtained by the Times from drug experts, U.S. officials and Syrians knowledgeable about the drug trade in the country. Hezbollah has denied the accusation.

The investigation said most of the shipments come from Syria’s Mediterranean port of Latakia and major shipments have been seized in Greece, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia is considered the most significant market for the drug, which was banned internationally in the 80s.

(NRT Digital Media)