Captagon in the Middle East

in Substance Abuse, Transnational Crime

Various criminal justice programs across the Middle East have seen a rise in the amphetamine market in recent years. The trade name of the drug is called Captagon, which was originally created to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The drug was banned from most countries back in 1986, yet cheaper versions containing amphetamine are easily produced and trafficked.

The pills costs pennies to manufacture in factories located in Lebanon, and can be sold for up to $20 in Saudi Arabia. Each year, Saudi security agencies seized nearly 55 million Captagon pills each year on average, with security officials estimated that the seized amount only represents 10 percent of all pills being trafficked into the country. Three-quarters of all drug treatment patients in Saudi Arabia are addicted to methamphetamine and Captagon.

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In a single month in 2013, government security agencies in Lebanon confiscated over $200 Million worth of Captagon pills in the country.

In December 2012, government forces in Syria seized a factory in the city of Homs that was storing 18,000 Captagon pills. Intelligence officials believe that proceeds from the illegal drug trade is helping to fund both anti-Asaad rebels as well as Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militia who is fighting on behalf of President Assad.

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Source:  Aryn Baker, “Syria’s Breaking Bad: Are Amphetamines Funding the War?,” Time, October 28, 2013.

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