Police in Italy have seized 37 million opioid tablets they claim were destined to be shipped to Daesh militants in Libya.
Officials said the jihadi group would have sold the Tramadol pills to its fighters and members of the public, and used the profits it made to fund Islamist terrorism.
Italian authorities said the massive haul would have made Daesh approximately €75 million, assuming it sold the tablets for €2 each.
The huge quantity of painkillers was discovered in the port city of Genoa, hidden inside containers labelled as carrying shampoo and blankets.
If the shipment was not intercepted, it would have been loaded onto a freighter and shipped to either Misrata or Tobruk in Libya.
As well as Tramadol, police also discovered a quantity of Captagon, an amphetamine-like substance popular among Daesh fighters on the battlefield, despite the terror group’s hardline position on the consumption of drugs.
Captagon has become the stimulant of choice among jihadi militants due to its ability to suppress the need to sleep, hunger and pain, while also boosting the energy of tired fighters.
It is suspected the terrorists who carried out the Paris attacks in November 2015 may have consumed a similar substance prior to striking multiple targets in the heart of France’s capital.
Tramadol addiction has become a serious social issue in countries such as Egypt and Libya, where investigators suspect the seized drugs would have been sold on the streets.
Used for pain relief in the west, synthetic opioid Tramadol is commonly taken as a narcotic in the Middle East.
Police said the drugs, which had arrived in Italy from India, might have been destined for onward distribution to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
“[Daesh] is making a fortune from this traffic, giving it to its fighters to make them feel no pain,” an Italian investigator is quoted as saying by the Times of London.
“The containers were… shipped to Genoa, ready to be delivered to two companies in Libya, which the US Drug Enforcement Administration has informed us are linked to [Daesh].”
Police said they had traced the shipment to Indian drug firm Royal International, which is said to have accepted €250,000 for the drugs before shipping them from Dubai via Sri Lanka.
In March, police in Greece intercepted a huge consignment of Captagon that investigators believed was destined to be sent to Daesh fighters in Iraq and Syria.
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.
Officials said the tablets were ready to be shipped to the Middle East via Turkey from the Athens drugs factory in which they were discovered.