Jordan forces thwart cross-border drug smuggling attempts

By Al-Mashareq

Jordanian soldiers patrol along the border with Syria to prevent drug trafficking on February 17. [Khalil Mazraawi/AFP]

Jordanian soldiers patrol along the border with Syria to prevent drug trafficking on February 17. [Khalil Mazraawi/AFP]

Jordanian security forces have thwarted two major drug smuggling attempts along the kingdom's border with Syria in recent days, seizing 30,000 Captagon pills and large quantities of other narcotics, local media reported.

Border guards at the Jaber/Nassib crossing seized 10,000 Captagon pills and one kilogramme of crystal meth hidden inside a truck coming from Syrian territory, the Jordan Customs Department said Sunday (November 27).

The illegal substances were found inside two cartons of cigarettes hidden in the truck's cabin, the Jordanian news agency, Petra, reported.

At dawn Saturday, Jordan's Eastern Military Zone thwarted an attempt to smuggle large quantities of narcotics into the kingdom from Syria, the news agency reported.

Border guard front-line surveillance patrols, in co-ordination with security agencies, tracked an armed group of smugglers crossing into Jordan, an official military source at the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) General Command said.

Rapid response patrols moved to the site, applied rules of engagement and injured a smuggler, forcing the others to retreat into Syria, the source said.

After combing the area, "564 palm-sized sheets of hashish and 20,000 Captagon pills were seized", Petra reported, in addition to a Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition.

The source said the JAF are continuing to deal "firmly" with any threats on Jordan's frontier, and will foil any attempts to undermine and destabilise the kingdom's security.

Last week, Jordan's Anti-Narcotics Department arrested eight suspected drug traffickers in possession of large quantities of illicit narcotics.

In a Thursday statement, the Public Security Directorate said five cases were in Amman, two were in Mafraq and one at Queen Alia International Airport, where illicit substances, including hashish, crystal meth and narcotic pills were seized.

Two firearms also were confiscated, Petra reported.

Cross-border smuggling

The Syrian state is at the centre of the global Captagon trade, which has spawned an illegal $10 billion industry that props up the regime of Bashar al-Assad and has turned Syria into a narco state.

Jordan has had a recurring problem with cross-border drug smuggling from Syria, where the southern provinces of Sweida and Daraa have become a hub for Lebanese Hizbullah's regional drug smuggling operations.

Earlier this year, a Daraa-based activist told Al-Mashareq that Hizbullah, supported by the regime's Military Intelligence Division and the 4th Division, has set up several new Captagon manufacturing sites in southern Syria.

The 4th Division is led by al-Assad's brother Maher.

Suwayda24 noted it had previously revealed the establishment of an armed group in Sweida, with the support of Hizbullah, which is supervising small Captagon factories with help from local groups.

Syrian researcher Turki Mustafa, who specialises in Iranian affairs, told Al-Mashareq that villages near the Jordanian border, especially those in southern Sweida, "are hot transit corridors for drug trafficking and smuggling into Jordan".

"Hizbullah and Syrian regime security elements employ smugglers from among Sweida province residents to infiltrate drugs into Jordan," he said.

Mustafa said his sources indicate the presence of "more than 20 groups specialised in drug smuggling, whose leaders enjoy social and security influence and have strong ties to officials of the Syrian security services and Hizbullah".

Jordan's King Abdullah in July denounced attacks on the kingdom's borders by Iran-linked militias, following deadly clashes with drug smugglers on the frontier.

Jordan, like other Arab nations, is being targeted by smugglers of drugs and arms, Abdullah told Al-Rai newspaper.

"Drug and arms smuggling operations are a threat to us and to fellow Arab countries," he said, noting that Jordan is co-ordinating with other countries to counter this threat, "and we are all aware that facing it is a shared interest."

"As for our borders, I am fully confident in the professionalism of our armed forces, who work efficiently to protect our society from this threat," he said.

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