US imposes sanctions on Assad's cousins for drug trafficking

Published March 28th, 2023 - 02:27 GMT
Assad US Sanctions
The US on Tuesday forced sanctions on two cousins of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the dealing of the energizer drug captagon, a developing commodity for the state, which is rapidly normalizing ties in the area.

ALBAWABA - An investigation conducted by the AFP in November revealed that Syria has become a narcostate, with the $10 billion captagon industry outstripping all other exports and funding both Assad and many of his adversaries.

Two of the Syrian President's cousins, Samer Kamal Assad and Wassem Badi Assad, will be subject to sanctions due to their involvement in the drug trade, which was announced jointly by the United States and Britain.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Samer Kamal al-Assad owns a factory in the coastal city of Latakia that produced 84 million captagon pills in 2020.

Andrea Gacki, the senior Treasury official in charge of sanctions, stated, "Syria has become a global leader in the production of highly addictive captagon, much of which is trafficked through Lebanon."

She said in a statement, "With our allies, we will hold accountable those who support Bashar al-Assad's regime with illicit drug revenue and other financial means that enable the regime's continued repression of the Syrian people,"

Hassan Dekko, a Lebanese-Syrian drug kingpin with high-level connections in both countries and Nouh Zaitar, Lebanon's most famous drug lord who is on the run from authorities, are two additional individuals who are being targeted by the sanctions.

The alleged drug traffickers' assets will be blocked and all transactions with them will be criminalized as a result of the Treasury action.

Captagon, an amphetamine derived from a once-legal treatment for narcolepsy and attention disorder, has become the most popular drug in Saudi Arabia, attracting both wealthy partygoers and low-income laborers in the Islamic region where alcohol is forbidden.

"Fighters affiliated with Syria's Hayat Tahrir al-Sham rebel group display drugs seized at a checkpoint in the countryside of the northern Aleppo province in April 2022 - OMAR HAJ KADOUR "

The action by the United States comes as its pleas to other nations not to normalize relations with Assad are increasingly ignored.

In March, Assad went to the United Arab Emirates for the second time in as many years. Turkey, which has long supported the rebels, is now open to the Damascus government.

With assistance from Russian airpower, Assad has largely regained control of Syria following the conflict, which resulted in the deaths of half a million people, the displacement of half the population of the country prior to the conflict, and the rise of the Islamic State extremist group.

Written By Salam Bustanji

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