Published on July 1, 2020 in News + Media

The Guardia di Finanza of Naples has seized nearly 84 million tablets of the drug Captagon and 14 tonnes of amphetamine pills, allegedly produced in Syria to fund terrorist activities related to the Islamic State.

According to ANSA, the Italian Associated Press Agency, on July 1, the Guardia di Finanza found the tablets and the pills inside three suspicious container ships docked in the Italian port of Salerno, in the South of Italy. In particular, they were hidden inside machinery and large paper cylinders for industrial use, so as not to be detected by scanners, and the estimated value of the discovered cargo was worth about one billion euros. As stated by the Italian officials, the drugs were likely to be bound to European markets “to finance terrorism”.

In this regard, the Neapolitan finance police also explained that the Captagon is usually sold all over the Middle East region, among both IS fighters, as fear inhibitor, and civilians, who used this drug not to feel tired. The amount of drugs seized was sufficient to satisfy the entire European market, police said. In the 90’s, the Captagon was manufactured mainly in Lebanon and exported to Saudi Arabia. Then, the controlled substance began to be found in terrorists’ hideouts, as, for example in the case of 2015 Paris attack. That is why Captagon has been named the “Jihad or the IS drug”. The investigative body also declared that Syria, in the past few years, has become the world’s largest producer of amphetamines and the seizure of July 1 is the largest in the world.

What happened in the port of Salerno derives from investigative activities carried out by Anti- Mafia units, which are still ongoing, whose aim is controlling the movements of members believed to be affiliated with some Camorra clans managing the international drug trafficking. This is a type of business that, during the recent lockdown period, declined but which is now rapidly increasing. However, the Italian police did not even suspect that the cargo of Salerno contained the largest quantity of amphetamines ever found in the world.

The Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, congratulated the Italian police, stating that its “big-operation” represents a serious blow for international terrorism and it has shown how Italy is always alerted. Actually, just two weeks ago, the Italian police of Salerno seized a container hiding 2,800 kilos of hashish and over a million amphetamine pills coming from Syria.


This article was firstly published on July 1, 2020

Piera Laurenza