Hezbollah denies links to tons of amphetamines seized in Italy

Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah would "fire any young man in the party if it becomes evident that he is using drugs in any way."

A customs officers displays confiscated Captagon pills (photo credit: REUTERS)
A customs officers displays confiscated Captagon pills
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah denied on Friday that the terrorist organization was involved in the drug trade from Syria including a shipment of amphetamines that was seized by Italian authorities in the summer, according to the BBC.
Italian authorities said they had seized about 14 tonnes (15.4 US tons) of the amphetamine Captagon arriving from Syria – about 84 million pills, worth around $1 billion – $12 per pill – in what they described as the world’s single largest operation of its kind.
The Italian police initially thought that Islamic State (ISIS) was behind the transaction. But after digging further, they pointed the finger at the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his close Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
"The issue of drugs in Hezbollah is a legal issue, and it is categorically forbidden to use, trade in, manufacture or help with this," said Nasrallah during a speech on Friday.
Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah would "fire any young man in the party if it becomes evident that he is using drugs in any way."
"We must find a solution for the media that deals with this issue, especially for the Lebanese media," added Nasrallah. "This Lebanese contribution to this false and fabricated case against the party is something that cannot be tolerated in any way, because you show that we are criminals and murderers, and we do not accept that anyone accuses us in this way."
The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar news attacked The Jerusalem Post for publishing a report on the alleged Hezbollah link to the amphetamines seized in Italy, calling it a "fabricated report" and claiming that Italian authorities did not even comment on the reports.
According to the BBC, Italian authorities refuse to comment publicly on who they believe is behind the production of the seized drugs.
Reports of Hezbollah's involvement in the drugs seized in Italy appeared as early as August, with The Washington Post reporting that intelligence officials had found that the Captagon had originated in areas controlled by the Assad regime in Syria, departing the country through Latakia, a known hub for smuggling operations by Hezbollah.
Although the investigation is ongoing, investigators believed that the Captagon seizure fits a pattern of drug cases in the Middle East and Europe that have been linked to Hezbollah, according to The Washington Post. Captagon has been involved in a number of drug seizures linked to the terrorist group.
“They have stepped up the whole business with Captagon – there is no doubt about that,” a Middle Eastern intelligence official told The Washington Post in August.
The European law enforcement agency Europol warned in June that Hezbollah operatives were believed to be "trafficking diamonds and drugs" in European countries.
A source in Italy's finance police the Guardia di Finanza in Salerno told Arab News that the Captagon seizure "could be linked to the Lebanese group Hezbollah, even though we are still investigating the case."
Used in the 1960s to treat depression and the sleep disorder narcolepsy that affects sleep-wake cycles, Captagon is one of several brand names for fenethylline hydrochloride, a drug compound belonging to a family of amphetamines that can inhibit fear and ward off tiredness.
The amphetamine is popular in the Middle East, and widespread in war-torn areas such as Syria, where conflict has fueled demand and created opportunities for producers. 
The agency said that Captagon was known as the “drug of the Jihad” after being found in terrorist hideouts, including one used by the Islamists who killed 90 people at the Bataclan Theater in Paris in 2015.
Reuters and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.