Skip to main content

Iraq: 'First' Captagon laboratory found in country, says ministry

Iraq has long been a transit country for the stimulant plaguing the Middle East and mostly produced in Syria, but Iraqi officials say it has also become a consumer market for the drug
This picture taken on July 27, 2022 shows a view of sacks of confiscated captagon pills at the judicial police headquaters in the town of Kafarshima south of Lebanon's capital Beirut
The vast majority of the region's Captagon is produced in Iraq's neighbour Syria and Lebanon (AFP)

Iraq said on Sunday it had found a site in a province bordering Saudi Arabia where Captagon was being produced, a rare discovery in a country that has become a transit route for the illicit drug.

"Today, and maybe for the first time, a laboratory where Captagon is produced was found," Interior Ministry Spokesman General Saad Maan said in a video posted online.

Iraq has long been a transit country for Captagon, the amphetamine-like stimulant plaguing the Middle East, but officials say it has also become a consumer market for the drug.

The laboratory was discovered in the southern province of Muthana, a statement from the ministry said.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is believed to be the largest market for the drug.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The ministry did not announce any arrests but said that the site contained machines capable of producing Captagon pills as well as 27.5kg of raw materials.

Game changer

The vast majority of the region's Captagon, which derives its name from a once legal drug used to combat narcolepsy, is produced in Syria - another Iraqi neighbour - and Lebanon.

Iraqi authorities have stepped up raids that have netted large amounts of Captagon.

Iraq seizes three million Captagon pills on Syria border
Read More »

But Sunday's announcement appears to be a game changer, according to Maan, who said finding the laboratory showed that there was a "bid by some to launch (Captagon) production in the country".

On Friday, Iraqi security forces said they had dismantled an "international drug trafficking ring" and arrested three of its members in Muthana province. Two million Captagon pills were also seized.

Syria said at an Arab foreign ministers meeting in May that it was ready to "strengthen cooperation" with Jordan and Iraq, "affected by drug trafficking and smuggling across the Syrian border".

Areas in central and southern Iraq bordering Iran have become major narcotic trafficking routes for drugs, including crystal methamphetamine.

In November 2022, Iraqi security forces announced the arrest of a man producing "large quantities of crystal meth" in Iraq with fabrication skills acquired abroad.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.