Months ago when Italian authorities seized what is believed to be the world’s biggest-ever amphetamines haul, they initially thought it belonged to the Islamic State group.
After deeper investigation, they have linked this bust, and a wave of others that have occurred across the world, back to the Syrian regime and its ally Hezbollah.
According to BBC’s Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville, the trade of the drug Captagon is a major source of funding for Syria and Hezbollah’s militia.
14 tonnes, including around 85 million amphetamine pills worth more than $1 billion in street value, came from the Syrian port of Latakia and was destined for Libya before it was seized by Italian authorities.
Not only is the counterfeit Captagon popular in the Middle East as a recreational drug, but it is also largely consumed by militants for its ability to shake off fear and tiredness.
“It brings the illusion of invincibility, easing the terrors of the frontline,” says Sommerville, who had exclusive access with Italian authorities as they destroyed the massive haul of drugs in an incinerator.
Italian Finance Police said to BBC that, judging by the amount, this haul would have flooded the entire market. Italian security forces have taken the proper measures to dispose of the drug.
Hezbollah was recently accused of using European countries for money laundering operations.