A suspected drug smuggler, Marai al-Ramthan, and his family were reportedly killed in an airstrike near the Syria-Jordan border, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The strike has been attributed to Jordan, which has not yet commented on the matter. Al-Ramthan, believed to be the region’s most prominent drug trafficker, was responsible for smuggling drugs, including the highly addictive amphetamine Captagon, into Jordan.
The attack follows a meeting on May 1 in Amman, during which Syria agreed to cooperate with Jordan and Iraq in identifying and combatting drug production and smuggling across borders. The airstrike also comes shortly after the Arab League welcomed Syria back into the bloc after more than a decade-long suspension. Syria’s Captagon industry, which generates an estimated $10 billion, has become a major concern for its neighbouring countries, particularly Jordan, which has become a transit route for the drug trade.
According to the SOHR, another attack occurred in the southern province of Deraa, targeting a building that housed a drug factory. Opposition activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh confirmed that the pre-dawn attack killed al-Ramthan and his family, while another strike hit a facility used by Iran-backed groups to produce and store drugs for smuggling to Jordan.
Jordan has been increasingly concerned about the flow of drugs from Syria. In February 2022, the Jordanian army reported that it had killed 30 smugglers since the beginning of the year and thwarted attempts to smuggle 16 million Captagon pills into the country from Syria, surpassing the entire volume seized in 2021. Jordan has previously conducted airstrikes targeting drug smugglers in Syria, with some incidents dating back to 2014.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi recently warned that the country would take decisive action if drug trafficking from Syria continued, stating, “If we do not see effective measures to curb that threat, we will do what it takes to counter that threat, including taking military action inside Syria to eliminate this extremely dangerous threat.” The recent airstrikes highlight the ongoing efforts to tackle the Captagon trade and its impact on the region. As the situation develops, it remains crucial for neighbouring countries to cooperate in combating drug trafficking and its associated criminal activities.
Image Credit: AFP