Captagon: Syria’s Most Valuable export?

Captagon also labelled the “Jihadi Drug” a drug barely known outside the middle east region, where its proliferation is considered an epidemic. Furthermore, it is now Syria’s most valuable export. The escalation of the Syrian civil war saw many different actors producing it to generate funds. Some say that Syria is increasingly seen as a Narco State. The US is increasingly taking notice of its spread and the smuggling networks required are causing Syria’s neighbours to become increasingly hostile to the Assad regime. 

KJ-1: It is likely that the production of Captagon in Syria will remain undiminished or even grow in the next 12 months.

  • The smuggling network for Captagon is so entrenched that it will be tough to crack down on it. (Source)
  • The escalation of the Syrian Civil War has seen groups such as the Islamic State turn to the manufacture of Captagon to generate funds. (Source)
  • Islamic State is involved in the production of amphetamines in the region. (Source)
  • Members of the Syrian Regime are also turning to drug trafficking to support themselves. (Source)
  • The Captagon trade in Syria was estimated to be worth at least $3.5 billion in 2020. (Source)
  • Syria’s GDP has shrunk from $67 billion in 2011 to $21 billion in 2018 making lucrative narcotics trading attractive. (Source)
  • Captagon is used frequently by fighters on all sides in Syria to improve their endurance. (Source)
  • The Syrian Fourth Armoured Division oversees much of the production and distribution using troops to guard factories. (Source)
  • Hezbollah also views Captagon as a venture and plays a large role in trafficking it abroad. (Source)
  • In 2020 the value of seized Captagon was worth three times Syria’s legal exports. (Source)
  • Captagon is incredibly simple to produce not requiring advanced machinery. (Source)

KJ-2: It is likely that Western nations will take action to hamper the distribution of Captagon in the next 12 months. 

  • Members of Congress are pushing for the US administration to provide support for its allies combatting the Captagon trade. (Source)
  • 6th of October 2022 the US ambassador to Jordan announced US support for Jordan in countering drug smuggling. (Source)
  • The US recently conducted missions in Syria against high-level Islamic State leaders. (Source
  • The US sanctioned many high-level members of the Syrian regime suspected to have been involved. (Source)
  • Jordan and the US carried out joint military exercises in September 2022 based on securing Jordan’s border. (Source)
  • Frequent high-level Captagon busts occur in Italy with the police admitting it is a growing problem. (Source)

KJ-3: It is likely that the Captagon trade will continue to worsen relations with Syria’s neighbours in the next 12 months.

  • In the first three months of 2022, the Jordanian army killed over 30 smugglers and seized over 16 million pills on the Syrian border. (Source)
  • The state-sponsored drug smuggling is abusing Jordan’s attempts to normalise relations. (Source)
  • Jordan attempted to reconcile with the Assad Regime in 2021. (Source)
  • Captagon use in Jordan is considered an epidemic with a high cost to human lives. (Source)
  • As a result of the Captagon trade, relations between Syria and Jordan are rapidly deteriorating. (Source)
  • Saudi Arabia foiled four attempts to smuggle over 750,000 pills in the last month. (Source)

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 20th of October 2022

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