Drugs are religiously forbidden, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech last Friday, in which he spoke about the political situation in the Middle East, denying his group’s involvement in drug trafficking.
“Our position on all kinds of drugs is clear,” he said, “it is religiously forbidden to manufacture, sell, buy, smuggle, and consume drugs, and in some cases death penalty is applied, according to Islamic law.”
“Religious scholars prohibit any involvement in the drug trade even if it is intended to smuggle it to the enemy,” he said.
The neighboring countries of Syria and Lebanon have repeatedly thwarted attempts to smuggle “hashish” and amphetamine, or the so-called “Captagon” pills, across their borders from Syria. They also stopped shipments at Mediterranean ports, coming from Syria and Lebanon. International reports said that Hezbollah and Assad’s regime are trying to prevent the collapse of the beleaguered economy through producing and smuggling drugs all over the world, by land and sea.
Lebanon is one of the world’s largest producers of cannabis resin. Reports say that this weed is being grown openly in areas controlled by Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon’s South and Bakaa.
In April 2020, the Lebanese parliament approved a bill that allows cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial use, so that Lebanon would be the first Arab country to carry out this step, trying to save its economy.
The Hezbollah-backed MPs, represented by the Al-Wafaa bloc, have supported the bill to be approved.
The Israeli police always accuse the Lebanese Hezbollah of smuggling hashish, through the areas in the south of Lebanon, controlled by Hezbollah. Dozens of hashish and Captagon shipments come out of south Syria, toward Jordan and the Gulf countries. Some of those shipments were caught while they were being smuggled inside milk bottles and yerba plant boxes that are produced by companies belonging to the Syrian regime.
Captagon is a kind of pills that is used by militants in conflict zones. It was originally developed to treat narcolepsy, a neuropathic condition where the brain is not able to organize sleeping cycles, Captagon makes those who take it alert and more able to contact their surroundings. Militants say, it helps them overcome a sense of fear on the battlefield.
Commenting about the shipment that was confiscated in Italy, the Hezbollah leader said: “We have contacted officials in Italy to trace the source of the shipment, there is no credibility.” In June 2020, 14 tons of Captagon pills were confiscated by Italian authorities, where officials said they were coming from Syrian Latakia port.
“The charges are baseless, and, on the contrary, they are investigating the role of ISIS, the Italian mafia, the Russian mafia, and other criminal networks, in such smuggling” he added, referring to “Western propaganda targeting his group with a torrent of fake news.”
The shipment, which was confiscated by the Italian authorities in Salerno, was considered the biggest of its kind, as it included about 85 million Captagon pills, hidden inside a shipment of spare machinery tools and industrial paper rolls. The shipment was burned under heavy guardiance last December along with another shipment of hashish that was previously confiscated, coming also from Syria.
Italy’s Financial Crime Police team initially said that the €1 billion ($1.2 billion) pills were produced by ISIS, but recent investigations have reported the involvement of Assad’s regime and Hezbollah.
Factories in Syria
MENA Research and Study Center’s source in Syria reported that many of the Captagon factories are in different areas controlled by the Syrian regime and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militias, and that recently militias and forces of the Fourth Division of the Syrian Army established a new drug factory in the western countryside of Damascus last December.
The sources said that the new factory was established 3 km away from the town of Sergaya near the border strip between Syria and Lebanon.
Hezbollah’s militias have brought chemical cooks from Lebanon. Local media quoted sources in the area by saying that members of the Fourth Division, led by Maher Assad, the brother of Syrian regime President Bashar al-Assad, secure the path to the new factory, amid preventing locals from entering the area.
Hezbollah militias control most of the border mountainous regions between Lebanon and Syria, in partnership with the Fourth Division, where the drug and weapons trade is active to finance militia operations.
From Land to Sea
After tightening the blockade on the land border by neighboring states after 2011, and due to the economic sanctions on Assad’s regime and Hezbollah, they have found a new line of drug trafficking by sea through Syrian and Lebanese ports.
In addition to Italy, – in December 2018 – Greece confiscated more than six tons of hashish and three million pills of Captagon. They were loaded on a Syrian ship, in eight containers hidden between a load of coffee, spices and sawdust. They worth more than 100 million euros, according to the Greek authorities.
A few days ago, Egyptian security captured what was called an “astronomical” amount of drugs: More than 8 tons of hashish, as well as more than 8 million Captagon pills in a container in Port Said port.
Libyan media quoted Egyptian security sources by saying that authorities seized a container, coming from Beirut port on its way to Libya through the Port of West Port Said with a big amount of narcotic substances inside it, amid news about Hezbollah’s involvement in the attempt of smuggling this cargo.
Security sources indicated that they received information about the seized container, especially about its date of passage, in addition to what it contains.
A security source said the container was directed from Lebanon to Libya, according to the initial investigations and the examination, explaining that investigations are underway by the public prosecution in Egypt to reach those involved in smuggling that cargo, indicating that they have not been determined yet.
Another security source confirmed that the container included tons of hashish and Captagon pills, and it was hidden inside a plastic bag shipment. The shipment had started from Beirut port. The source clarified that the cargo is likely to belong to Hezbollah militias.