TER­ROR NET­WORKS CASH IN ON PILLS

Nar­cotics sum­mit told of wor­ry­ing rise of cap­tagon

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali Al Shouk @alial­shouk ali.shouk@7days.ae

Ter­ror groups in­clud­ing ISIS and Hezbol­lah are mak­ing mil­lions of dol­lars by flood­ing the Mid­dle East with the ad­dic­tive am­phet­a­mine known as cap­tagon, a ma­jor drugs sum­mit has heard.

The He­maya In­ter­na­tional Fo­rum on Drug Is­sues in Dubai was yes­ter­day told of a huge rise in pro­duc­tion of the nar­cotic since the war in Syria broke out five years ago.

Michelle Spann, a Li­ai­son Of­fi­cer at the US Con­sulate in Dubai and a speaker at the event, said that cap­tagon smug­gling to Gulf states has in­creased re­cently be­cause of the con­flict.

She said: “Syria has be­come the main pro­duc­tion point for the drug and the money com­ing from smug­gling strength­ens ter­ror­ist groups like ISIL and Hezbol­lah.”

Spann said one kilo of cap­tagon pow­der can pro­duce 5,800 pills at a cost of just $1,680 to the sup­plier. She con­tin­ued: “The street value for one pill is be­tween $3 to $33. The profit from one kilo can reach $60,000.

“And now our re­ports are show­ing that some fac­to­ries pro­duce two mil­lion cap­tagon pills per day.

“These are big num­bers and all the money goes to the ben­e­fit of ter­ror­ist groups like ISIL.”

Across the globe, law en­force­ment agen­cies seized 310 mil­lion cap­tagon pills in 2015.

“Those num­bers are only 10 per cent of the pro­duc­tion of cap­tagon world­wide,” Spann added.

An­other ex­pert, Hatem Fouad Ali, from the United Na­tions Of­fice on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told 7DAYS: “In the Mid­dle East and GCC we have no­ticed an in­crease in drug con­sump­tion in coun­tries like UAE, Jor­dan, Qatar and Kuwait. There is also a big in­crease in seizures in Saudi Ara­bia, Le­banon and Ye­men.”

Ali added that tack­ling drug use among young peo­ple is one of the great­est chal­lenges that coun­tries in the Mid­dle East face to­day.

He said: “We have re­ports that chil­dren as young as 10 years old con­sume drugs and it’s a wor­ry­ing fig­ure. The po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion and con­flict in the Mid­dle East is a key rea­son for the spread of drugs.”

‘The money com­ing from smug­gling strength­ens ter­ror­ist groups like ISIL and Hezbol­lah’ – US con­sulate of­fi­cial Michelle Spann

THREAT: Pic­tures of ISIS sup­port­ers in Iraq. The sum­mit heard the cof­fers of ter­ror groups are be­ing boosted by drug sales

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