SOHR exclusive | Iranian-backed militias play major role in alarming proliferation of captagon and crystal meth in areas under their control in Deir Ezzor
SOHR warns against serious repercussions of escalating drug abuse in Deir Ezzor, which risks the future of young Syrian people
Drug abuse is one of the most worrying phenomenon which constitutes risks for entire societies, as the consequences of drug abuse is not confined to a specific age or gender.
With the dramatic escalation of narcotic business across the entire Syrian geography, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) would like to shed light on further details on drug business in Deir Ezzor and the repercussions of this rampant phenomenon, along with the frequent and numerous appeals by residents in areas under the control of Iranian-backed militias which run and dominate this business with the participation of regime-backed militias.
In an earlier report, SOHR provided shocking details about the illicit drug manufacture and planting of hashish in Deir Ezzor city and eastern countryside, as well as lists of all militias engaged in drug business and locations of narcotic-manufacturing laboratories in that region. While the following report concentrates on methods of promoting and trafficking illicit drugs in areas controlled by Iranian-backed militias.
Illicit drug business in areas under the control of Iranian-backed militias in Deir Ezzor is run by a broad network of Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen and commanders. These networks are led by senior Iranian-backed commanders and other figures known for their loyalty to Al-Assad’s regime and Iran.
After illicit pills are manufactured in primitive labs in Deir Ezzor city and countryside, they are promoted and sold to civilians by drug dealers who pay only 50 percent of the value of stuffs, while the remaining payments are paid after selling them, according to SOHR source.
After drug dealers get narcotics, they entrust the task of selling them to agents and subordinates working within networks they run. The selling of narcotics takes place secretly in some areas and publicly in some other; this depends on the level of security alertness in areas where illicit drugs are sold.
Drug dealers target young people and minors the most, where they lure young people by offering them tablets of captagon for free until they get addicted, then they start to ask for large sums of money in return for getting them the stuffs. The price of a captagon tablet reaches 4,000 to 7,000 SYP, equivalent to one to two USD.
SOHR activists have interviewed doctors who illustrated the effect of captagon, which is an illicit amphetamine-type substance. Taking captagon leads to the activation of nervous system, while abusers feel energetic, according to doctors. The doctors explain that theophylline, contained in captagon tablets, works on stimulating the brain and makes abusers be awake for long time. However, the effect of this type of illicit drugs droops gradually, forcing abusers to take larger doses to get the earlier feelings and effect. Medical sources have also told SOHR that captagon addiction leads to hallucinations, difficulty sleeping and mental breakdowns; this, in turn, leads to chronic depression which may lead the addicted to killing themselves; let alone of the aggressive or violent behaviours of abusers.
Drug business run by drug dealers affiliated with Iranian-backed militias in Deir Ezzor is not confined to captagon, where “ice,” aka “crystal meth” or “H-bose,” an illicit methamphetamine-type substance, has become readily available in the city and countryside.
“Ice” is a central nervous system stimulant, and it is purer and more powerful than other types of methamphetamine. It comes as little crystals that look like ice, or as a white-to-brownish, crystal-like powder with a strong smell and bitter taste. “Ice” can be injected, smoked, snorted or swallowed. It causes high levels of dopamine (a brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward) to be released, by nearly one thousand times higher than the normal level.
“Ice” produces an intense rush that can make abusers feel confident and so energetic, and it elevates heart rate substantially. “ice” abusers have an increasing sex drive and lose control of their actions which may lead them to involving in incidents of sexual harassment and rape. The effect of crystal meth lasts for hours, according to the dosage, before abusers “come down” and start to suffer from a sever headache, sleeplessness, breathing problems and feel very irritable and sad. Taking crystal meth doses irregularly, especially since some abusers have no financial ability to get the stuff all time, makes abusers very aggressive, which may make them harm themselves and harm others.
SOHR sources have confirmed that crystal meth is manufactured in specific labs belonging to Iranian-backed militias in Deir Ezzor, namely labs in Al-Mayadeen and Al-Bokamal cities in the east of Deir Ezzor countryside and a villa in Al-Qusour neighbourhood in Deir Ezzor city. Crystal meth is very expensive and provides a major source of income to Iranian-backed militias, where the price of a gram of “ice” ranges between 60,000 and 100,000 SYP, equivalent to 15 and 25 USD.
According to SOHR sources, the networks of illicit drug dealers in Deir Ezzor adopt different methods to sell their stuffs, the most prominent of which are as follows:
- Whatsapp: Dealers communicate with customers on Whatsapp, offering stuffs and identifying meeting points to deliver orders.
- Street stalls: Dealers sell illicit drugs at street stalls, which are strewn everywhere, along with selling free-duty oil and petrol as a cover for their illegal business. Such street stalls concentrated in the neighbourhoods of Al-Jawrah, Al-Qusour and Al-Ommal in Deir Ezzor city.
- Schools: Some dealers offer financial incentives to teachers and students to attract middle and high school students in Deir Ezzor city and countryside and sell them narcotics.
Serious repercussions of the rampant drug business in areas under the control of Iranian-backed militias has already started to emerge, with the most prominent of which are manifested in the break down of societal values, increase in crimes, social shunning, domestic violence and family breakdowns. SOHR has documented many incidents in which abusers offered their daughters and wives for being sexually abused by dealers in return for getting drugs. In addition, murders and acts of violence are documented in Deir Ezzor almost daily, with the latest incident of which taking place on August 21 when a civilian was killed in Deir Ezzor city because of indiscriminate gunfire during clashes between members of the National Defence Forces and others of Jaysh Usud Al-Sharqiyyah following disagreements over revenue-sharing of trafficking of hashish in Harabish neighbourhood.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights emphasises that the situation in areas controlled by Iranian-backed militias in Deir Ezzor province is too serious and warns against the considerable risks and unwelcome repercussions of the rampant narcotic business. SOHR confirms that Iranian-backed militias continue exploiting the extreme poverty and dreadful living conditions in areas under their control and recruit more agents to enlarge their business decimate Syrians.
SOHR also vows to continue monitoring and tracking the issue of rampant narcotic business in Deir Ezzor and to disclose all implicated figures and entities with the aim of curbing this business.
We, at SOHR, address a recommendation to all actors, all Syrian tribes in Deir Ezzor in particular, to launch local campaigns for raising the awareness residents, mainly young people and minors, about the perils of drug abuse.
We also demand all international authorities to intensify their efforts to curb Iranian-backed militias’ activities in Syria and put an end to their violations against civilians.