US House of Congress passes sanctions bill on Captagon trade by Syrian regime

US House of Congress passes sanctions bill on Captagon trade by Syrian regime
The US House of Congress passed a bill that would allow the country to impose new sanctions on the Syrian regime and allies involved in the captagon trade.
2 min read
17 April, 2024
Captagon is estimated to bring in some US$5 billion in revenue for the Assad regime on an annual basis. [Getty]

A bill passed the US House of Congress on Tuesday which would issue new sanctions against individuals and organisations affiliated with the Syrian regime, which produces Captagon, an amphetamine.

The Illicit Captagon Trafficking Suppression Act overwhelmingly passed the House with 410 votes in favour and ten against.

Captagon is an amphetamine which has surged in popularity after the Syrian civil war. It is widely believed that Bashar al-Assad's regime, along with Hezbollah and Iranian-allied militias, are the primary producers and traffickers of the drug in the region.

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The bill, which still needs to pass the Senate, grants the US government further powers to sanction the Syrian regime and others who engage in Captagon trade in the Middle East.

The sponsor of the bill, a Republican Congressman from Arizona French Hill, blamed the Captagon trade on Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

"Assad's murderous regime is propped up by his Captagon drug that generates billions in illegal funding and devastates families in the region," Hill said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Captagon trade is estimated to net the Syrian regime around US$5 billion annually. The Syrian regime and Hezbollah have denied all involvement with the drug trade and have claimed to be working to combat it.

Captagon trafficking has emerged as a significant stumbling block between Syria and the rest of the Arab world in the latter's attempts to rehabilitate the Syrian regime's image abroad.

In January, Jordan began carrying out airstrikes against Captagon dealers in southern Syria after repeatedly raising the issue with Syria. Jordanian authorities have said that they are facing a wave of smugglers on its northern border, shared with Syria.

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The Arab Gulf's efforts to normalise relations with the Assad regime have stalled, reportedly in part due to the Captagon trade. The Gulf is the primary destination for Captagon smuggling in the region, and its border authorities have struggled to stem the flow of the narcotic.

Tuesday's bill follows two prior laws that mandate the US government identify the Assad regime and affiliated networks' involvement in the Captagon trade and impose sanctions against them.