Special Captagon Trade Project

Lebanon’s Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi (R) gives a press conference about a seizure of a cache of captagon tablets, a codrug of amphetamine and theophylline, that was hidden in tea boxes to be smuggled, at the headquarters of the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on January 25, 2022. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)


In recent years, a spike in the production, trade, and consumption of the amphetamine-type stimulant, “captagon,” has introduced a new challenge to public health, stability, and human security in the Mediterranean- Gulf zone. The drug’s evolving formula, combined with participation from adversarial actors aligned with the Syrian regime and Iran, exacerbates existing power vacuums in the region. 

The decade-long civil war has enabled the profiteering of various illicit markets by armed actors including violent and organized crime groups, a dynamic similar to other contexts such as Afghanistan, Brazil, and Colombia. 

The Captagon Trade Report

Click to read the full report here

The forecast for the impacts of the Captagon trade is serious; the expansion of production and trafficking, coupled with the Syrian government’s intransigent treatment of people who use drugs and lack of public health provisions, paints a poor picture of Syria moving forward.

Captagon Trade Conference

The captagon trade has emerged as a major transnational challenge in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. Millions of pills continue to flood overland and maritime ports across the Middle East, southern Europe, and even as far as East Asia, pointing to growing production capacity, sophisticated smuggling tactics, and emerging demand markets. There is also growing evidence that actors aligned with the Syrian government, Hezbollah, Iran-backed militias, and others have participated in production and smuggling. These new realities have given rise to new concerns and questions about the captagon trade’s implications for regional law enforcement, healthcare, security, and geopolitics.

Captagon Working Group (Coming Soon)