Security guards foil attempt to smuggle ‘Islamic State drug’ from West Bank to Gaza

Defense Ministry says Captagon amphetamine pills were hidden in doors of office refrigerators

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Captagon pills found in a shipment of office refrigerators from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, January 30, 2023. (Defense Ministry)
Captagon pills found in a shipment of office refrigerators from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, January 30, 2023. (Defense Ministry)

The Defense Ministry said security guards on Monday foiled an attempt to smuggle thousands of captagon pills from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip this morning.

The ministry said the pills were hidden in the doors of office refrigerators. The shipment — en route to the Gaza Strip — was found at the Tarqumiyah Crossing, in the southern West Bank.

The drugs were handed over to police for further inspection.

Captagon is an amphetamine-type stimulant manufactured mostly in Lebanon and Syria. Much of it has been bound for illegal recreational use in Saudi Arabia.

Israeli officials call it the “Islamic State drug,” as it was supposedly used by jihadists to prevent fear and fatigue during fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Captagon pills have previously been seized en route to the Gaza Strip.

Captagon is considered by far Syria’s biggest export, dwarfing all its legal exports put together, according to estimates drawn from official data by AFP.

More than 400 million pills were seized in the Middle East and beyond in 2021, according to official figures, with seizures last year set to top that.

Customs and anti-narcotics officials told AFP that for every shipment they seize, another nine make it through.

That means even with a low average price of $5 per tablet, and only four out of five shipments getting through, Captagon is at least a $10 billion industry.

AFP contributed to this report.

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