The U.S. and British governments announced sanctions against individuals and entities linked to drug trafficking and Captagon in Syria and Lebanon, including cousins and relatives of Syrian terrorist President Bashar al-Assad.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it had imposed sanctions on two of Bashar al-Assad’s relatives, Samer Kamal al-Assad and Wassim Badie al-Assad. Additionally, former leaders of the Free Army, who have now become agents of the regime and involved in drug trafficking in southern Syria, were also included in the sanctions.
The U.S. Treasury has announced that the sanctions imposed target Syrian producers and exporters of Captagon and other drugs. Under Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Syria has become notorious for the Captagon trade.
According to the U.S. Treasury, Samer al-Assad is the cousin of Bashar al-Assad and oversees the primary Captagon production facilities in Lattakia, which are controlled by the regime’s Fourth Division and some Hezbollah affiliates.
In 2020, 84 million Captagon pills produced at a Samer-owned factory in Lattakia, valued at $1.2 billion in the Italian port of Salerno, were seized.
Badie al-Assad, another cousin of Bashar al-Assad, has played various roles in support of the regime’s army, including leading the Baath Brigades militia, a paramilitary unit. He has publicly advocated for the creation of sectarian militias to back the regime.
Meanwhile, Wassim is a prominent figure in the drug trafficking network in the region. He collaborates with high-profile suppliers to smuggle contraband, Captagon, and other drugs across the region, with the implicit support of the Syrian regime.
The US Treasury has also applied sanctions to Imad Abu Zureik, the former leader of the Free Army and current leader of the Military Security militia, for his involvement in drug trafficking and smuggling operations to Jordan. Abu Zureik commands local militias in the southern governorate of Daraa, and his group controls a significant portion of smuggling activities that take place through the Naseeb/Jaber border crossing with Jordan.
Abu Zureik, who was once a commander in the Free Syrian Army, currently leads a Syrian military intelligence militia that actively facilitates drug production and smuggling in southern Syria. He leverages his position of authority in the region to sell smuggled goods, operates protection rackets, and smuggle drugs into Jordan.
The US also designated Khaled Kaddour, a Syrian businessman close to Maher al-Assad.
Along with Syrian individuals and entities, US sanctions have been imposed on Lebanese figures and companies that are associated with both Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.
Moreover, the British government has also imposed sanctions on Abdellatif Hamid, a notable businessman who utilizes his factories to package Captagon pills, as well as Taher Kayyali and Muhammad Shalich.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.