New US sanctions target Syria’s Captagon trade linked to Assad


WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled new sanctions targeting the Syrian production and export of Captagon, an illegal amphetamine that serves as a major source of revenue for the Syrian regime.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) named Khalid Qaddour, a Syrian businessman who is a close friend of Maher al-Assad, brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who commands the Fourth Division of the Syrian Arab Army. According to OFAC, the Fourth Division’s illicit revenue generation schemes include facilitating the production and trafficking of Kaptagan and Qaddour is responsible for managing revenue.

Also named was Samer Kamal al-Assad, a cousin of the Syrian president who allegedly oversees the Captagon facilities in the regime-controlled port city of Latakia in coordination with the Fourth Division and certain partners of the Lebanese military group Hezbollah. Assad reportedly owns the Captagon production plant in the Qalamoun region near the Syrian-Lebanese border, the Treasury Department said.

Both Qaddour and Assad were named under the Caesar Act along with other sanctions authorities. Named for the bugger who smuggled evidence of torture and murder out of Syrian regime prisons, the bipartisan Caesar Act was designed to choke the Syrian government’s financial lifelines and prevent reconstruction in government-held parts of the country.

“Syria is a world leader in the production of highly addictive Captagon, much of which is trafficked through Lebanon,” OFAC Director Andrea Gacki said in a statement.

“Together with our allies, we will hold accountable those who support the Bashar al-Assad regime with illegal drug revenue and other financial means that enable the regime’s continued oppression of the Syrian people,” Gacki said.

OFAC also named Hassan Muhammad Daqqou, a Lebanese-Syrian dual national known by the media as the “King of Captagain”. It is alleged that he is involved in drug trafficking operations carried out by the SAA’s Fourth Division. In 2021, Daqqou was arrested on drug trafficking charges related to a shipment of Captagon intercepted in Malaysia on its way to Saudi Arabia.

The Treasury also named the well-known Lebanese arms dealer Noah Zaitar and two companies registered under the name Daqqou in the Beka’a Valley region of Lebanon.

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