US concerned about Captagon trafficking in Iraq, Kurdistan Region, says top diplomat

He highlighted his country’s efforts to support regional countries, particularly Jordan and Lebanon to fight the widespread of narcotics.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United States is concerned about the rapid spread of Captagon, an illicit amphetamine-like stimulant, trafficking, and consumption in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, a top diplomat has said.

US Consul General Mark Stroh delivered his remarks on Sunday at the Conference on Combating Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, organized by the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Office of the Coordinator for International Advocacy as part of implementing its 2021-2025 regional Human Rights Action Plan.

“Although Captagon is not produced or widely available in the US, we are concerned about the impact of Captagon and other harmful drugs on the health, economy, and social welfare of communities across the Middle East, especially here in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan Region,” Stroh, who has recently been inaugurated in the position, said.

He highlighted his country’s efforts to support regional countries, particularly Jordan and Lebanon – as he described them to be on the “frontline” of the Captagon production and smuggling – in the fight against the rising threats from the illicit drug network.

In his speech, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Sunday reiterated his government’s efforts to combat narcotics, whose threats he had equivalated to terrorism, as he had called for a joint international strategy to fight what he described as an "epidemic". 

Read More: PM Barzani calls for ‘joint international strategy’ with KRG to tackle narcotics

Turkish and Iranian diplomats, whose countries are often cited as transit routes for illicit drugs, also underlined their respective nations’ fight against the rising threats from narcotics.

Community leaders, educators, local KRG officials as well and members of the security forces attended the conference in Erbil.

Captagon pills, a brand name for an amphetamine-like stimulant, are one of the most widely trafficked drugs in Iraq. It is believed that most of the low-cost drugs are produced in war-torn Syria and widely trafficked to the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among others.

Users feel mild euphoria after taking Captagon pills. The use of the drug leads to various health problems, including high blood pressure, hallucinations, and blurred vision. Irritability and fatigue are also the two most common withdrawal symptoms of Captagon.

In July this year, the Iraqi security forces found a Captagon lab in Muthana province "for the first time," an Iraqi interior ministry spokesperson said at the time. 

Iraq last year announced the confiscation of one of the largest batches of the pill, estimated to be over six million tablets. Paragliders, seized by the government, had been used to transport the drugs into Iraq’s neighboring countries.