The Greek authorities announced on Thursday they had concluded the counting at Piraeus port of the largest global haul of Captagon – the so-called “jihadis’ pill” – hidden inside fiberboards stacked in three containers: over five tons.
The shipment’s seizure was initially announced on June 27 and authorities spent a week trying to extract the drug and measure the quantity.
On Thursday, they announced that the seized quality of pills is estimated at 5,250 kilos, equivalent to over 33 million pills, which would have fetched half a billion (USD 0.5 bln) dollars in profit if sold in the market, the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes squad (SDOE) officer Stavros Thomadakis said.
“It is an international success,” Thomadakis added at a Greek Police, Coast Guard and Financial Crimes Squad press conference the same day.
Referring to the operation, the head of SDOE’s Attica Drug Squad department Loukas Danatassis said that they had a tip-off from US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) representatives at the US embassy in Athens about containers which had arrived at Piraeus from Syria and were headed to China.
A search revealed three containers that arrived in Piraeus on June 19 and we set to be loaded to a ship that would sail for the Shekou port in Guangdong, China on June 23. The pills were hidden in the middle of medium-density fiberboards, stacked on 20 pallets per container.
“It took us 7 days and 20 officers from SDOE, Greek police and the Coast Guard to search 22,000 floorboards to find the drugs,” the SDOE official said.
The operational plan appears to have been to avoid approaching Middle East ports directly to avert suspicion, stopping over instead at Singapore before heading to China.
“China is one of the countries for which there is no evidence of use and production of Captagon,” Danatassis said, adding that “the cargo would then obtain a document of origination from China before ending up at a Middle Eastern market.”
Danatasis said that the highest production of such pills globally occurs in Syria, and the pill is known as “the jihadis’ drug” for its distribution to Islamic state fighters. The amphetamine pill suppresses a person’s ability to feel emotions and to think rationally, and its effects can last up to 4 days.