The Italian police on Wednesday confiscated a massive cache (14 thousand kg) of amphetamines which they say was produced by ISIS in Syria to finance terrorism. The drug, worth over £1 billion, was found in the form of 84 million pills hidden inside paper cylinders, CNN reported Guardia di Finanza financial police saying in a statement.
Investigators called it "the biggest seizures of amphetamines in the world".
Police tracked organised crime groups to track drug shipment
Police say its officers tracked the shipment to the port of Salerno in southwest Italy where it was hidden inside three containers and the scanners at the port didn't detect them.
"We weren't able to see them but we knew it was arriving because of the ongoing investigations we have with Camorra (Italian organized crime group)," head of the police for the city said.
The police chief said that they intercepted phone calls and followed members, leading them to be prepared what to expect.
ISIS-made 'drug of jihad'
Video posted on the Italian financial police's Twitter page shows staff cutting into large paper and steel drums to reveal millions of pills hidden inside.
The pills carried the brand name Captagon to distinguish it for terrorism purposes. Captagon has become to be known as the "drug of jihad" after ISIS fighters started using it during combats, the police statement noted.
"It is known that ISIS/Daesh finances its terrorist activities in large part with the trafficking of synthetic drugs produced largely in Syria, which has become the leading world producer of amphetamines in recent years," police said.
Scientists in West first produced the drug Captagon
First produced in labs in the West to treat hyperactivity disorder-ADHA, narcolepsy, and depression in the 1960s. But the drug became illegal in 1986 for being highly addictive.
Experts say Captagon causes a surge of energy and gives a euphoric high so that can remain on high energy and awake for days without food: "It gives you a kind of euphoria. You're talkative, you don't sleep, you don't eat, you are energetic," CBS quoted Lebanese psychiatrist Ramzi Haddad saying it in 2014.
Captagon banned in US, Europe but produced by militants
Captagon is no longer produced or used in the US or European countries. However, its counterfeit versions continue to be available throughout the Middle East and are allegedly used by militant groups in Syria.
In 2015, the then chief of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov had said that the "Islamic State and Al Nusra Front are believed to facilitate the smuggling of chemical precursors for the production of Captagon."
Seized drug shipment was to be distributed in Europe
The recent shipment was likely to be distributed in Europe by various organized crime groups.
"The hypothesis is that during the lockdown, during the global epidemiological emergency, the production and distribution of synthetic drugs in Europe has practically stopped and therefore many traffickers with different organized groups have turned to Syria, where it does not have seen to slowed down," according to the Italian police statement.