Italian authorities accuse “Islamic state” in the sending to Europe of 14 tons of methamphetamine seized near Naples. Experts doubt that the cargo is of the IG, suspecting the Assad regime.
The operation carried out by the Italian police in the port Salerno, 40 kilometers from Naples, was one of the largest in the history of the country. Confiscated and as a result, the amount of drugs became an absolute record for Italy. In the video, released in early July by the Ministry of economy and Finance of Italy, shows how the members of the working group of the Investigative Department for combating financial crimes and smuggling of circular saws to cut apertures in the industrial paper rolls, and thence to the filled containers poured hundreds of thousands of pills.
It was later determined that the police confiscated 84 million tablets fenetilina – stimulant-based amphetamine. Their total weight was 14 tons, and the estimated cost of one billion euros. This amount would be enough to provide the methamphetamines almost all of Europe.
In the message to the media was told that over the production of methamphetamines confiscated party is a terrorist group “Islamic state”. Conclusion last but not least was made based on the fact that all tablets embossed the word “Captagon”, which is also called “drug Jihad”. It was under this name ISIS in Syria actively producing penicillin for sale abroad to Finance its activities and to use its fighters as a neurostimulator.
Doubts about the Italian police
Experts on Syria and the fight against terrorism, however, doubt that the “Islamic state” could produce such a huge amount of drugs. Since its expansion in 2014 IG almost completely lost control over the occupied territories, and the number of operatives declined sharply. Charles Lister, head of the Syrian program of the middle East Institute in Washington, expressed doubt about the involvement in the shipment of ISIS on his Twitter page. “This story absolutely does not add up”, – he wrote.
Skeptical about this version applies Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an expert on Syria from the University of Swansea. “Given the fact that currently have groups limited capacity for production, it seems highly unlikely that they could produce such a large quantity of the drug”, he said in an interview with DW.
The shipment to Italy came from Latakia
Employees of Department on struggle against financial crimes and smuggling believe that the Captagon could be sent from the city of Latakia, the main port of Syria on the Mediterranean sea. But this claim is questionable in that the cargo is of the IG. The Latakia is far from the areas controlled by “Islamic state”: with the outbreak of civil war in Syria, the city was controlled by the government forces of Bashar al-Assad.
DW asked for a comment to Colonel Giuseppe Forciniti, head of Department at the Italian Ministry of Finance, which is investigating the activities of organized criminal groups. In an interview with DW, he confirmed that the consignment of drugs is “Islamic state”. “At the moment we have no exact information about the fact that these drugs were manufactured in Syria, – said the Colonel. – The investigation is still ongoing”.
The title of the published press release Fornicate explained: “I don’t know why in a statement to the press said that amphetamines were manufactured by the “Islamic state”. Must be some problem with internal communication”.
The rapidly growing drug trafficking
Export of drugs abroad really is one of the main items of income of the “Islamic state” and brings the group a considerable profit. According to the UN report on world drug trafficking in 2020, the largest market for psychotropic substances based on amphetamines is Saudi Arabia.
But the “Islamic state” is not a monopoly in the drug business in the middle East. Captagon is produced and other criminal groups, and militias of the Lebanese radical Shiite movement “Hezbollah”. “In recent years the main production areas are certainly in Lebanon and Syria,” says Thomas Pitman (Thomas Pietschmann), senior researcher of the UN office against drugs and crime.
“The question of who is behind the drug production, the “Islamic state” or anyone else, has always been a subject of debate, says Pitman. – To produce and distribute them can be quite a large number of groups.”
The drugs can stand the Assad regime
A large portion of drugs produced in the middle East, shipped from Latakia. In February of this year, police found 5.6 tonnes of Captagon on the ship going to Dubai. The drugs were hidden in a consignment of electric conductors. And in June last year, Greek law enforcement authorities found 33 million tablets inside wooden pallets, shipped from Latakia.
The number of Captagon, point of origin and the methods that used to hide pills, suggest that drugs can stand the regime of Syrian President Assad, experts say.
German weekly Der Spiegel writes that uncle Assad, Samera Kamal Assad, owner of several enterprises for the production of Captagon, which is located in one of the villages to the South of Latakia and disguised as factories for the production of packages. Industrial paper rolls, of which the Italian police were sawed drugs, according to some, came off the Assembly line in the factory, recently built in Aleppo, the address of which has not yet managed to bring in sanctions lists.
The DW question whether the Assad regime to stand behind the consignment of drugs seized in port Salerno, representatives of the Italian authorities replied in the negative. According to them, is that it has no evidence.
Law enforcement officers