Syrian Opposition Media Report: Assad Regime Runs Domestic Drug Market; Captagon Factories Owned By Parliament Member Produce Over 20 Million Pills Monthly; Profits Aid Lebanese Hizbullah

July 1, 2024

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On June 24, 2024, the Istanbul-based network, which supports the Syrian opposition, published[1] an article about the Syrian regime's drug production and trafficking methods. This report is based on the article.

Syrian Regime Increases Domestic Drug Trafficking After Decline In Smuggling

The article reports that the Assad regime's network for producing and selling the Captagon drug, which is managed by the Syrian army's 4th Division, has turned to the Syrian local market following "internation and Arab pressures" since May 2023, which resulted in a decrease in drug smuggling operations to Arab and international markets.

It claims that in recent months, Syria's Rif Dimashq governorate surrounding the capital of Damascus, controlled by the Syrian regime and its "allied militias," has seen a significant increase in drug trafficking operations, overseen by officers and officials close to Maher Al-Assad, brother of President Bashar Al-Assad and commander of the 4th Division. It explains that following years of bombardment by the regime, which led to the destruction of the governorate's infrastructure and the displacement of thousands of families, the difficult economic situation of the area's residents makes them susceptible to drug trafficking.

Captagon Factories In Rif Dimashq Owned, Managed By Syrian Parliament Member, Produce Over 20 Million Pills Per Month

The article contends that according to "exclusive sources," the 4th Division has appointed 'Amer Taysir Khiti, a member of the People's Assembly of Syria, to oversee Captagon factories and trafficking networks in the area. The sources added that Khiti had established a "broad network of relations" with military and security officials during the Syrian opposition's control of Eastern Ghouta, when he supervised foodstuff trading and the smuggling of prohibited materials for the 4th Division.

According to the sources, Maher Al-Assad granted Khiti "broad authority" to establish Captagon factories in Rif Dimashq and connected him with high-ranking security officials to facilitate Captagon trafficking in the area.

The article lists three Captagon factories in Rif Dimashq owned and managed by Khiti in partnership with Lebanese Hizbullah officials and additional figures "close to the Syrian regime and its security services." The factories are situated on the outskirts of Madira, in Eastern Ghouta; in the mountains between 'Assal Al-Ward and Al-Jebbah, near the Lebanese border; and along the road connecting Jaramana and Al-Malihah. The factory near 'Assal Al-Ward is described as the largest Captagon factory in the governorate.

It further quotes a "security source" who claims that the three factories produce over 20 million Captagon pills per month, most of which are smuggled out of Syria through the Jordanian border.

Drug Trafficking Profits Benefit Lebanese Hizbullah

The article details that Captagon is sold in Rif Dimashq by "local militias" linked to the 4th Division "militarily or by trade," which sell it in quantities of at least three jars of 1,200 pills per client, and also trade cannabis on behalf of Lebanese Hizbullah. Most of the profits from cannabis benefit Hizbullah, which assists the 4th Division in smuggling operations from Lebanon to Syria for Captagon production. One Captagon pill is sold for 10,000 Syrian pounds (about 0.77 USD), while 215 grams of cannabis is sold for one million Syrian pounds (about 76 USD), or at retail for 350,000 Syrian pounds (about 27 USD) per 50 grams.

In late May 2024, Syrian opposition websites published reports about a drug and weapons smuggling network connecting Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, and involving Iran-backed Iraqi and Syrian militias, Lebanese Hizbullah, and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).[2]

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