Syrian Opposition Welcomes US Bill to Combat Captagon Trafficking

Опубликовано: 26 Апрель 2024

Captagon Syria USArmyDeadly Captagon pills seized by U.S. and Coalition partners in Southern Syria in May 2018. (Photo: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, License)

A U.S.-based Syrian opposition organization welcomed on Thursday a bill U.S. President Joe Biden signed a day earlier in order to combat the production and trafficking of a potent drug that has been funding the regime and military actions of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The Illicit Captagon Trafficking Suppression Act is part of a broader legislative package that includes military and other aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

Syria has long been recognized as the foremost producer and exporter of Captagon, a synthetic drug belonging to the phenethylamine family, which also includes amphetamine. Captagon is a potent stimulant widely consumed across the Middle East and Europe.

“This bill is both politically and symbolically important. It reminds the world that Assad is a narco trafficker in addition to a war criminal, it also puts sanctions based in the Captagon trade specifically and targets the Assad regime including his family members like [brother] Maher al Assad,” the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Mouaz Moustafa, told OCCRP.

The legislation allows the United States to target those involved in the production and trafficking of the drug with sanctions. They can be denied visas and their property can be blocked.

The SETF stressed that the bill “outlines a clear policy for the United States to target individuals, entities, and networks associated with the Syrian government to dismantle criminal organizations involved in narcotics trafficking.”

The organization believes that this legislation aims to disrupt the illicit Captagon trade and bolster regional and international security efforts.

The passage of the bill comes after U.S. authorities imposed sanctions on 11 individuals and entities less than a month ago for their involvement in financial crimes, drug trafficking, and the exploitation of Syrian resources by the Assad’s regime.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the illicit Captagon trade has become a significant revenue source for the Assad regime, the Syrian armed forces, and paramilitary groups.

Further, exploiting extractive industries with foreign assistance strengthens regime profits and Syrian money service businesses play a pivotal role in evading sanctions and facilitating financial transactions on behalf of the regime.