The trafficking of narcotics from Syria into Jordan is becoming more “organised” through the use of arms, drones, and better vehicles, Jordanian military officers have revealed to AFP.
Speaking to reporters during a tour of the Jordanian border with Syria, Colonel Zaid Al Dabbas said that “the most dangerous thing we have noticed recently is the presence of armed groups alongside the traffickers.” They have also adopted “new tactics, like those of organised crime,” using “sophisticated vehicles…as well as drones.”
Those traffickers and their armed escorts operating in southern Syria now number around 160 groups, Dabbas said, resulting in a significant increase in the volume of narcotics being smuggled.
Since the beginning of this year, 17,348 packs of hashish and over 16 million Captagon pills have been seized coming from Syria by the Jordanian authorities, in comparison to 15.5 million pills in the whole of 2021 and 1.4 million pills in 2020. In addition to those seizures, the Jordanian military has killed 30 smugglers so far this year.
Colonel Mustafa Al-Hiyari, another senior Jordanian officer, told reporters that “anyone who tries to…smuggle drugs to Jordan will die,” emphasising that “Jordan is waging an undeclared war along the border against drug traffickers and those who back them up.”
He claimed that the Jordanian authorities are cooperating with the Syrian regime, which has given “a very positive response” to Amman’s efforts to prevent the influx of narcotics. Hiyari admitted, however, that some Syrian government and military elements are in fact helping the smugglers, citing “confirmed information that some Syrian checkpoints cooperated with some smugglers in some cases…and provided protection.”
He added that “we cannot be certain that this was done on instructions from the Syrian army — perhaps these are cases of corruption in these checkpoints.” When the wide-scale trafficking of narcotics such as captagon pills began to increase over the past few years, many initially thought that the terror group Daesh was responsible for their production and distribution.
It was later discovered, however, that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its affiliated militias produce the drugs and carry out smuggling operations across the Middle East and Europe in an effort to procure funds and circumvent international sanctions.
The issue has become increasingly serious to surrounding states in the region, particularly Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and the increasingly “organised” tactics used by the traffickers seems to signify that efforts to tackle them are largely failing.