An officer in the anti-drug department, Major Hossam Azar, said that the number of drug dealing cases in 2018 reached 6,599 while the number of accused was 8,409.
Azar told Al-Watan that last year, the department was able to seize 5,167 kilograms of hashish, 163 kilograms of cannabis seed, and 47.6 kilograms of cannabis and more than 12 million captagon pills. It also seized 587 psychological pharmaceutical pills, and 1.3 kilograms of heroin, 84.5 kilograms of cocaine, and 392 grams of crushed pills, 67 grams of marijuana and 43 kilograms of raw materials to manufacture drugs, as well as three cannabis plants.
Azar attributed the spread of drug use in areas under the control of terrorist groups to the fact that these activities usually accompany terrorist activities, because these groups have an interest in spreading drugs and smuggling them to other areas. He added that the reasons vary, but are generally for financial gain, as they work with drug smugglers to bring these shipments through these areas to fund terrorist activities. They also increase their control in conscripting people and attracting them in these areas to carry out terrorist acts, as drugs are used as a tool of terrorism.
Azar said that the most heavily targeted people in the country were young men. He said that they are targeted through international films and some dramatic works that are shown on Arab satellite channels and show drug users as rich and beloved people. He said that social media has dozens of pages which have the names of drugs with the aim of popularizing these terms to become known among society’s members.
Azar said that the department always tried to protect people, which happens on three levels. The primary protection is to prevent young men from using and dealing drugs, the second is helping people who are using drugs but haven’t yet become addicted, and the third is help for the addict to recover.
Azar denied that Syria had turned into a manufacturing or consumer country for drugs, saying that the international categorization for Syria, according to UN reports and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, was as a transit country, not manufacturer. He said that the geographic location on several north, south, east and west axis made it an ideal transit country.
He denied that there were drugs being grown in areas that were restored by the Syrian Arab Army to the country’s embrace. He added: “We have seized items, but have not found evidence of production or manufacturing.”
Azar said that there were no statistics about the rate of dealing in the country, but that there were many shipments and quantities seized that were destined for other countries, but were being smuggled through Syrian territory.
Azar denied reports that those who were arrested were forced to either reveal 10 names or be charged with dealing, describing it as incorrect information. He said that people are investigated on the information that is available, which is then passed on to the public prosecutor.
Azar revealed that a committee comprised of a number of bodies, including the Interior Ministry and the Justice Ministry, have studied and revised some items in the drug law to accord with contemporary developments in terms of the use and dealing of narcotic substances and their distribution in order to keep pace with the changing social and living situations.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.