BEIRUT ( Associated Press) – The United States and Britain on Tuesday imposed sanctions on four Syrian and two Lebanese countries that have been involved in the production and trade of Captagagon, the two governments said. Among the six are relatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad and key Lebanese figures.
Experts have noted that Captagon is mainly produced in Syria and Lebanon, where packages of millions of pills are involved in the Gulf countries, Europe and elsewhere. The business reportedly has ties to Assad and his allies, as well as a key ally, the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s statement announcing the sanctions notes that Captagon’s industry is worth $57bn to Assad, and has been the main source of revenue for the rebel-conflict in Syria for 13 years.
Assad’s brutal crackdowns in 2011 led to his global isolation and his forces are using uncontrolled artillery, bombing civilian infrastructure and using chemical weapons with the help of key allies Russia and Iran.
“Syria has become the world leader in the production of the highly addictive Captagon, much of which is marketed through Lebanon,” Andreas M. Gacki, director of the Office for the Government’s assets in the Syrian Arab Republic, said in a statement. from the United States Treasury Department.
Gacki added that the trade gain is due to the “continuous repression of the Syrian people” by the government. Among the four Syrians, two of Assad’s cousins, Samer and Wassim, were sanctioned.
According to the US Treasury statement, Samer oversees the production of Captagon in the northern coastal city of Lattakia, in coordination with Hezbollah and the Fourth Division, the elite Syrian army. For his part, Wasim, described as “a key figure in the country’s drug-trafficking network,” also leads a paramilitary group that supports the Syrian army in the conflict.