Introducing Captagon factories to northeastern Lebanon kicked off in 2011, the year of the outbreak of the Syrian revolution and the insecurity that the Lebanese-Syrian borders witnessed, as operations for the manufacture of Captagon pills were active in places outside the control of the state within the lands adjacent to the Lebanese-Syrian border.
These areas are Al Qusayr and Rif Dimashq, where groups affiliated with the Syrian regime and the Lebanese Hezbollah have tightened control over the above mentioned areas. Until 2017, more than 60 large and small factories for the production of the Captagon pills with stimulant effects were counted, most of them in the northern Lebanese Bekaa Governorate and on the borders with Syria, areas known for being under the control of security forces belonging to Syria.
The production of these factories was being marketed under the de facto authority. The target market is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s market, where the Lebanese Security Forces have cooperated with the Saudi Security Forces to uncover dozens of smuggling gangs from Lebanon into the Kingdom.
In an interview leaked in 2019 about one of the chemical engineers working in these factories, in which he said that the factory is a pharmaceutical laboratory , its parts are imported from abroad under the heading of making medicines and medical and pharmaceutical supplies, and it only needs a doctor in biochemistry to produce pills with stimulant effects that keep a person awake for 48 hours.
As for the largest Captagon factories in Lebanon, it was discovered in 2014 under the Husseinieh of Zahraa in the city of Baalbek, north of the Lebanese Bekaa, and the market that has always been targeted to market its “production” is the market of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The aforementioned chemist revealed to a specialized website that the main substance used in the manufacture of Captagon is caffeine, corn starch and fumite acid, which are brought into Lebanon from Syria through illegal crossings.
He also revealed that the pills were being packed in boxes of 40,000 pills, sold at 5,000 dollars, and one of the largest smuggling operations was recorded in 2017 in Saudi Arabia, through potatoes pieces made from plastic that look like natural potatoes.
At the beginning of the current year 2021, a small factory was raided in the town of Yunin, near Baalbek, and more than 3 kilograms of Captagon pills have been seized from it.
Over the past years, the authorities have arrested many smugglers, most notably an Arab Prince in October 2015.
In April, more than 800 thousand Captagon pills, worth an estimated $ 12 million were seized. They were hidden in a refrigerator truck heading to an “Arab country”.
Captagon factories are active in several regions in Lebanon, most notably in the Bekaa (east) and in the north of the country. Captagon pills are being manufactured in Syria and Iraq and exported in particular to Saudi Arabia, according to a report by the French Narcotics Observatory.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) considers Captagon pills as “a type of stimulating amphetamine,” which is a mixture of amphetamines, caffeine and other substances, according to “Sky News”.