Police in Greece have seized a massive consignment of amphetamine pills from a drugs factory in Athens that investigators believe was destined to be shipped to Daesh fighters in Syria and Iraq.
The huge haul of Captagon tablets, which are made up of a combination of theophylline and amphetamine and are popular with jihadi fighters in the Middle East, were recovered from a factory on the outskirts of the Greek capital following a tip-off from US drug enforcement agents.
The 500,000 pills, which had an estimated street value of around €10 million, represented the first major seizure of locally-produced Captagon on Greek soil.
Two Greek nationals, an Albanian and a Turk were arrested in connection with the raid and are currently being questioned by officers from Greece’s Financial Crime Unit (SDOE).
Speaking with reporters yesterday, SDOE drugs investigator Loukas Varnavasis said officers targeted both the production compound and a depot used as a distribution hub for the drugs.
“The load would have been transferred to Turkey… the final destination was possibly countries in the Middle East,” Varnavasis commented.
The seizure dealt a major blow to an international Captagon production and trafficking ring which produced large quantities of the drug at a property just outside of Athens, before shipping it to Turkey in a speedboat for onward distribution to Daesh militants, Varnavasis said.
As well as being the preferred stimulant of Islamist fanatics looking to stay alert on the battlefield, Captagon was also popular among Nazi fighters during the Second World War.
Originally produced to combat the symptoms of conditions such as depression and attention deficit disorder, the drug is widely considered to be inferior to amphetamine, and is often categorised alongside stimulants such as caffeine.
Despite its relative low level of potency, Daesh fighters are said to have praised the drug for bestowing upon them the ability to fight without fear.
Speaking with the Times in January 2016, a fighter with the Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki brigade in Syria said the Captagon helped jihadi militants “fight crazily” and battle on even when wounded.
Other fighters have described how the pills allow them to stay awake and keep the alert.
Imaduldin Hneithel, former head of the Revolutionary Council in Manbej, told the Times that use of Captagon is widespread among Daesh fighters, despite their hardline views on the consumption of drugs.
According to data published in 2010, one-third of the entire global production of Captagon is consumed in the Middle East.
In November 2015, police in Turkey seized 11 million Captagon pills weighing nearly two metric tons in raids along the country’s border with Syria. Back in April 2014, police in Saudi Arabia impounded Captagon tablets worth an estimated €252 million that had been smuggled into the country from Bahrain.