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Jordan's army kills 27 drug smugglers on Syria border

Jordan has toughened its rules of engagement with traffickers after a spike in smuggling attempts over the past year
Trucks enter Syria through the Nassib/Jaber border post with Jordan on the day of its reopening, on 29 September 2021, after two months of closure due to fighting in southern Syria (AFP)

Jordan's army killed 27 drug smugglers as they attempted to infiltrate the border from Syria under cover of heavy snow with large quantities of amphetamines, an army spokesman said on Thursday.

Others, also carrying drugs, managed to flee back into Syria. The incident marked the latest in an increasing number of smuggling attempts over the past year that had led the Jordanian army to toughen its crackdown on smugglers.

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The army has also found large quantities of Captagon hidden in Syrian trucks passing through Jordan's main border crossing to the Gulf region.

Jordanian officials accuse Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group and militias who control much of southern Syria of being behind the surge in smuggling. Hezbollah denies the accusations.

Captagon is extremely popular in the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, the biggest consumer market for illegal recreational use in the region.

The stimulant drug is manufactured in Lebanon and Syria, which has become the region’s main production site according to UN drug experts.

In late December, nine million Captagon pills hidden in plastic oranges were seized at the Beirut port. The shipment was en route to Kuwait.

In April, more than five million off-white pills were found and seized by customs in the Saudi port of Jeddah. 

The pills, which were hidden in pomegranate fruits, originated from Syria and were exported from Lebanon.

In addition to Gulf countries, the Captagon produced in the region also has a market in Jordan Iraq and Europe.