The Billion-Dollar Drug Trade Controlled By Assad Keeps The Government Family “Flush With Money” While Spreading Havoc All Across

Jordan had 65 million pills seized, Saudi Arabia had 15 million pills seized, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had 86 million pills seized. The Gulf Arab countries have had to contend with a lot of these figures in recent times due to the smuggling of the narcotic Captagon throughout the area.

The Billion-Dollar Drug Trade Controlled By Assad Keeps The Government Family

Throughout the Middle East, captagon—a synthetic stimulant akin to an amphetamine and extremely addictive—has gained popularity. Maher, the brother of President Bashar al-Assad, leads the Syrian military’s elite Fourth Division, which produces the majority of it in Syria and Lebanon through networks of persons affiliated with Hezbollah.

The director of Fox News Digital’s Captagon Trade Project at the New Lines Institute, Caroline Rose, said that captagon appeals to a wide range of groups.

“The pill’s ability to induce a euphoric rush attracts recreational users as well as those seeking to repress trauma, while others seek out Captagon for its ability to improve productivity, stave sleep for hours at a time and reduce hunger,” Rose said.

“For this reason, Captagon has had a mass appeal across classes, generations and sectors. Captagon is a name known to both the wealthy clubgoer in Dubai, the university student [in] Riyadh, the cab driver in Beirut and those struggling to find their next meal in Aleppo.”

After being taken by fighters in the Syrian civil war, the drug has become popular in the Gulf as an affordable party drug that is comparable to low-grade cocaine.

According to Rose, the Captagon transaction is mostly done under the radar, making it challenging to estimate the precise amount of money the Assad regime makes from this illegal alternate source of income.

“The best estimate thus far that has been evaluated is from the Syrian Observatory for Political and Economic Networks, which assesses that regime-aligned networks have made at least $7 billion from the trade in the last three years,” Rose explained.

“It is known that the largest industrial-scale manufacturing centres are located deep within the regime-held territory, many of which are operated by individuals closely aligned with the Assad family, Fourth Division and/or Hezbollah.”

“Even with increased awareness, Western sanctions on producers and traffickers and pressure from regional stakeholders, it’s unlikely that these networks would shift production outside of Syria. Syria has the industrial-scale infrastructure, governmental complicity and demand for alternative revenue that is conducive for the Captagon trade to thrive.”

Captagon smuggling has increased in Riyadh, Amman, and Dubai in the last several years, but especially since Assad’s relations were restored in May 2023.

For the first time in over ten years, Syria was accepted back into the Arab League last spring, having been kicked out in 2011 for its violent suppression of nonviolent protestors.

“We shouldn’t have been surprised that Assad didn’t crack down on Captagon,” said Andrew Tabler, the Martin J. Gross senior fellow at the Washington Institute.

Because Jordan is so close to Syria, cross-border drug smuggling has affected it the most in recent months. Tabler clarified that because of its importance as a transit nation to Sunni Arab Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, Jordan makes it more difficult for Syrian smugglers to transport Captagon through unstable areas like Iraq.

“Jordan ends up being, you know, caught in the middle, literally,” Tabler told Fox News Digital.

Jordan’s army said at the end of December that it had shot Syrian traffickers who were trying to enter the border with hashish and captagon.

Sufian Qudah, a spokesman for Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, said to a state news outlet last month that further drugs and weapons had been found following an additional attempt at smuggling.

“Drug and weapons smuggling from Syria to Jordan, which claimed and injured a number of our brave officers, represent a direct threat to Jordan’s security, and it will continue to be confronted with all determination until it is completely defeated,” Qudah said.

Amman has retaliated against the surge in smuggling by allegedly targeting suspected drug traffickers with airstrikes in Syria. The foreign ministry of Syria denounced the strikes.

Tabler stated that Assad would need to be provided with incentives to cease or drastically reduce Captagon manufacture.

“You can do it with carrots, buying him off. That’s what he wants. He wants reconstruction money,” he explained. “The other way to stop this behaviour is through military force. The Jordanians have used that repeatedly over the last month and throughout the last year.”

“That’s the quickest way to stop anybody’s behaviour. But you have to be able to sustain it. And there’s just a lot more Captagon than there are bombs, so to speak, to knock them out. So, we’re really at an impasse in trying to figure out how to deal with this.”

Leave a Comment