DOHA: With its massive wealth, Qatar and the rest of the GCC are becoming increasingly vulnerable to drug traffickers.
During the first five months of this year alone, some 275,000 narcotic pills, the deadly ‘Captagon’, have been seized by vigilant authorities in Qatar.
Known by its trademark name ‘Captagon’, Fenethylline (or Phenethylinne) is one of the most popular drugs of abuse among the young affluent populations of the Middle East.
The menace becomes deadlier given suspicions by experts and drug-fighting agencies that counterfeit ‘Captagon’ are available and sold on the illicit market aplenty.
Counterfeit ‘Captagon’ tablets have been reported in Saudi Arabia since the late 1980s, for example.
In Qatar, last year, ‘Captagon’ pills seized from drug pushers with active help from customs officials totaled an incredible four million. The last seizure of this quantum (1.4 million tablets) was reported in 2002 in Syria.
Quite recently, Qatar’s customs department unearthed a huge cache of ‘Captagon’ pills from a consignment of automobile spare parts which was being imported by an expatriate.
The deadly contraband was concealed inside the spare parts — in hollow tubes — in such a way that it was impossible to detect and bring them out without breaking these spare parts.
The recent cache comprised 57,000 ‘Captagon’ pills and the agile customs official who unearthed the dangerous consignment was felicitated by the higher-ups.
Colonel Ibrahim Issa Al Buanain, head of Qatar’s Anti-Drug Enforcement Directorate, recently told reporters that some four million pills of ‘Captagon’ were seized by his department last year.
And in the first five months of this year, the number of seized pills amounted to 275,000, of which 210,000 were seized by the directorate while 65,000 were seized by customs officials, he added.
Fenethylline was invented in 1963 and used for around 25 years as a milder alternative to amphetamines or anti-depressants. One of its main advantages was that like other amphetamines it did not raise blood pressure so could be used in patients with heart problems as well.
However, due to widespread abuse, legal production of ‘Captagon’ was stopped in 1986 but ever since it is being clandestinely produced in southern Europe and trafficked through Turkey to the consumer markets, mainly in the GCC where people have very high purchasing power.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait report that the use of ‘Captagon’ is prevalent among their younger, affluent citizens.
According to the International Narcotics Control Board, despite its ban the demand for Captagon has remained strong all these years. The pills are smuggled along a variety of routes from production areas in southern Europe through Syria and Jordan to the Arabian peninsula (GCC).
Monday, 02 August 2010
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