Egyptian authorities seized a shipment of drugs estimated to be worth $39 million after discovering a container which was transiting through Port Said with over eight million fenethylline hydrochloride (Captagon) pills and almost nine tonnes of hashish inside it. The shipment was said to be headed for Libya.
According to reports, the container originated from Lebanon and was loaded on 19 December in a warehouse belonging to a Lebanese exporting firm before being sent to the Port of Beirut. Egypt’s General Administration for Narcotics Control said that carton boxes found in the container were even labelled “Made in Lebanon”.
Although consumption of Captagon outside the Middle East is relatively minor in comparison, according to the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), it is a popular drug in the Gulf where it has been used for decades as a stimulant.
Lebanon and neighbouring Syria are believed to be conduit routes for the highly addictive amphetamine and it has become synonymous among Daesh fighters and various armed factions in conflict zones in the region, it has sometimes been labelled “the drug of jihad” as a result. Lebanon is also the world’s third largest supplier of hashish after Morocco and Afghanistan.
In July last year, Italian police intercepted three containers at the port of Salerno carrying 84 million Captagon pills worth $1.12 billion destined for Europe. Although previous reports suggested that they were produced and shipped by Daesh, later reports claimed that a Syrian businessman linked to President Bashar Al-Assad was more likely involved.