- Quentin Somerville
- BBC Middle East correspondent
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanese Hezbollah, has denied his group’s involvement in amphetamine production.
Nasrallah, a loyal ally of the regime in Syria, said, “There is no credibility” to such allegations.
Suspicions about Hezbollah’s role have risen after the confiscation of 14 tons of this drug in Italy in June 2020.
The shipment of this drug came from the Syrian port of Latakia, according to the Italian authorities.
Nasrallah said, “We contacted officials in Italy to track down the source of the shipment.”
He added, “The accusations are baseless in reality. On the contrary, they are investigating the role of the Islamic State, the Italian mafia, the Russian mafia and other criminal networks.”
He stressed that Hezbollah is being targeted by a torrent of “fake news,” noting that Western “propaganda” propaganda is behind these allegations.
American and European drug control agencies have long accused the Lebanese community of profiting from the drug trade.
In a televised interview, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah said, “Our position on drugs of all kinds is ‘clear.’ It is religiously forbidden to manufacture, sell, buy, smuggle and consume them. In some cases the penalty may reach the death penalty, according to Islamic Sharia laws.”
He added that religious scholars prohibit any involvement in the drug trade “even if it is intended to pass it on to the enemy.”
The Israeli police accuse the Lebanese Hezbollah of smuggling hashish to Israel. Lebanon is one of the largest producers of hemp resin in the world. The plant is openly grown and grown in areas controlled by the Iran-backed Hezbollah.
The shipment confiscated by the Italian authorities is the largest of its kind, containing about 85 million Captagon pills, which were hidden inside a shipment of spare machine tools and industrial paper rolls, in the Italian port of Salerno.
The drug shipment was burned under heavy guard in December last year, along with another previously confiscated shipment of hashish coming from Syria as well.
The Italian financial crime police team initially said the pills, valued at around 1 billion euros ($ 1.2 billion), were produced by Islamic State.
However, the level of mass production does not favor such an assumption, and it is suspected that it is produced by factories in the area under the control of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Captagon is also produced illegally in Lebanon.
After failing to determine the source of the drug, the Italian authorities declined to comment on: Who do they think was responsible for producing them?
The shipment was discovered after the authorities monitored a local criminal group, but it is believed that its role was only an intermediary, as the shipment was not destined for Europe, and it is believed that its final destination was Libya.
Previously, accusations were made against the regime in Syria and its allies of obtaining profits from drug production. The ongoing conflict in Syria and financial constraints from Western sanctions against it are believed to be behind the boom in illegal drug production there.
Captagon is one of the drugs that combatants use in conflict areas. It was originally developed to treat what is known as narcolepsy, a neurological condition characterized by the loss of the brain’s ability to regulate sleep cycles. Captagon keeps users alert and in touch with their surroundings, and fighters say it helps them overcome fear on the battlefield.
Captagon became popular in the Arab world for recreational purposes. Huge shipments of it have been seized in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan.
In Egypt, in November alone, it seized three separate shipments totaling millions of Captagon pills as well as tons of hashish, all coming from Syria.