Lebanese army seizes thousands of Captagon pills from Syria

Lebanese army seizes thousands of Captagon pills from Syria
2 min read
22 February, 2022
The find is the latest in a series of large seizures made by authorities in Lebanon.
Lebanese forces uncovered captagon pills hidden in a tea shipment earlier this year [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty]

Around 200,000 Captagon pills were seized by Lebanese authorities on Monday after a man allegedly attempted to smuggle the shipment from Syria to Lebanon on a motorbike.

The pills were found in the Bekaa province, located on the border with Syria.

The suspect managed to escape but left behind the banned amphetamine tablets, the army said in a statement.

Lebanese forces have seized multiple Captagon shipments in the past year, with law-enforcement stepping up efforts to crack down on the illicit drug market.

Experts say the drugs are entering Lebanon, and other Middle East countries, via Syria, where the tablets are manufactured.

In January, Lebanese authorities seized a large quantity of Captagon hidden in boxes of tea bound for Saudi Arabia. A month earlier, around nine million Captagon pills were found inside fake oranges at the Beirut port.

Lebanon has been criticised by Arab governments for failing to prevent the transit and export of Syrian Captagon tablets through its territory.

Several Gulf states slapped devastating trade restrictions last year on Beirut after Saudi Arabia discovered a huge number of Captagon tablets concealed in pomegranates coming from Lebanon. Many analysts say the trade ban is politically motivated.

Captagon is one of the brand names for the amphetamine-type stimulant fenethyllin. Its production has flourished in Syria during the country's decade-long conflict, with the Assad regime accused of being behind the trade.

The drug is mostly smuggled from Syria, through Jordan and Lebanon, for illegal recreational use in Saudi Arabia - the top user of Captagon worldwide according to the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime.

Captagon smuggling is now among the region's main security and public policy problems. According to an AFP count, more than 25 million pills of Captagon have been seized across the region since the start of the year alone. Captagon exports from Syria reached a market value of at least $3.46 billion in 2020.