Customs inspectors in May 2019 thwarted a bid to bring 5.7 million illicit Captagon pills into Dubai.

The massive seizure, made at Jebel Ali Port, was one of 421 drug smuggling attempts foiled at air, land and sea border controls across the emirate in the earlier part of the year.

More than 5.7 million Captagon tablets, a kind of synthetic drug, were discovered in a shipping container carrying food products at Jebel Ali and Tecom Customs Centre.

The pills were found after the container in which they had been hidden was scanned and inspected by sniffer dogs.

Dubai Customs said the seizure increased the number of Captagon pills discovered by its officers over the previous four months to 10.715 million.

According to the agency, the top substances seized by its officers over the Q1 period were tramadol, Captagon, opium, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, cannabis seeds and khat.

Of the total number of drug seizures made across the quarter, 269 were made at airports, 98 at land entry points, 50 in “Air Customs Centres”, and three at sea entry points.

Perfect balance between trade, security

Commenting on the quarterly seizure figures, Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs, said: “The seizures reflect our firm stand against all attempts to smuggle toxic drugs into the UAE.

“Ridding our community of dangerous drugs and criminals is a mission we take very seriously at Dubai Customs.

“The major challenge facing us at Dubai Customs is to find a perfect balance between facilitating the movement of huge volumes of trade and passengers coming through Dubai, and protecting local society against the perils of smuggling.

“Thanks to our targeting and risk mitigation model, we are able to meet that challenge with great efficiency.”

Highly addictive

Captagon, which is a brand name for the synthetic stimulant fenethylline, was first produced in the 1960s as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, fatigue and narcolepsy.

However, it was later outlawed in the 1980s once its highly addictive nature had become known.

The psychostimulant was reported to have been popular among Daesh fighters prior to the fall of the group’s so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and was used by its fighters to improve their performance on the battlefield.

The jihadi group is also said to have derived a considerable part of its income from trafficking the drug and selling it to its own militants.

It is believed that a number of the terrorists who carried out the 2015 Paris attacks had taken Captagon before carrying out the atrocity.

Credit: Illicit Trade News Network

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Illicit trade is a global menace

The global economy loses more than US$2 trillion annually due to smuggling, counterfeiting, trafficking of humans and wildlife and other forms of illicit trade.