Many people know the “pomegranate shipment” imported from Lebanon, which contained drugs and caused a great stir and prompted Saudi Arabia to ban Lebanon’s vegetables, but few know that this drug was Captagon.
What is his secret and how did he turn Syria into a drug state?
Since the start of the “pomegranate shipment” crisis, which the Lebanese state tried to contain, the smuggling of drugs from Lebanon and Syria has been highlighted again after the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat revealed in late April that the seized Captagon shipment came from Syria.
In the past, over the past two years, Saudi Arabia has thwarted smuggling of this drug in the Middle East and Europe, estimated at no less than 15 shipments of Captagon. A number of police and intelligence officials in the Middle East and Europe stated that all shipments came from Syria or across the Lebanese border, where criminal gangs, militia leaders and border gangs were formed that manufacture and distribute large quantities of drugs on a large scale.These gangs are very dangerous,” said an official in Beirut. They are not afraid of anything. They are hiding but in plain sight.
The border between Syria and Lebanon is lawless and has become a hotbed for smuggling operations in which officials on both sides are involved. Smugglers transport hashish and Captagon through a road extending from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley and the Syrian border city of Qusair, and the roads north through the Alawites-controlled areas towards the ports of Latakia and Tartus
According to the Guardian newspaper, Latakia is under the heavy surveillance of American and European security and intelligence services. Despite this, some smuggling operations occurred at the source, and were later thwarted, and included five tons of Captagon pills found in Greece in 2019, two similar shipments in Dubai in the same year, and four tons of hashish that were found in the Egyptian port of Port Said in April 2020 that were wrapped in Materials belonging to the “Milkman” company, which at that time was owned by the Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf
The newspaper said that there was a shipment of Captagon, which was destined for Saudi Arabia, hidden in tea leaves, as well as confiscated packets that took place in Romania, Jordan, Bahrain and Turkey.
In July of last year, Italy announced the confiscation of the largest shipment of Captagon in the world, amounting to 14 tons and valued at one billion euros, in the port of Salerno, south of Naples. The drugs were contained in suspicious containers that included rolls of paper intended for industrial use and iron wheels
While the Center for Operational Analysis and Research, a research center that focuses on the situation in Syria, issued a report highlighting the role of Captagon and hashish in Syria, where the economy collapsed due to a decade of war, Western sanctions, rampant corruption, and the deteriorating financial and economic situation in Lebanon
The center said in the report that “Syria has become a drug state for two main types of concern, which are hashish and Captagon. Syria has become a global center for the production of Captagon, as it is now being manufactured and developed technically at a greater rate than before
The war in Syria not only caused the killing of hundreds of thousands, the displacement of 9 million outside Syria, the displacement of 4 million inside it, the injury of a million people and the complete destruction of cities and towns, but the war caused a complete collapse of the economy after the banking crisis in Lebanon, which was followed by the Corona epidemic and Caesar’s law (US sanctions) Which officially turned Syria into a drug country.and turned a few of the regime’s warlords into drug lords
At the beginning of the conflict, the dollar was equal to 50 Syrian pounds. The exchange rate has decreased significantly, but the price has remained between 3000-5000 Syrian pounds for the eight years since the outbreak of the war until the Lebanese crisis in 2021, after which we began to see the complete collapse of the two currencies (Syrian and Lebanese), which indicates the extent of their interdependence. Lebanon was on the occasion of the ventilator for Syria, and suddenly Syria lost this oxygen.