Police in Istanbul seized 320,000 Captagon pills bound for Saudi Arabia on Friday. Acting upon a tip-off that a cargo company in the Küçükçekmece district would be used for shipment, police raided the place. Searching a shipment of machinery pistons, police found packs of pills stashed in nine pistons. A search is underway for an unnamed suspect who delivered the pistons for shipment to Saudi Arabia.
Captagon, a synthetic drug made from amphetamine fenethylline, is cheap to produce, and its composition includes widely available legal substances. Several media reports had said the drug was mass produced in Syria by militant groups in the conflict-ridden country and also widely used by fighters as a stimulant in battles. In a record haul, police in Hatay, a town bordering Syria, seized 10.9 million pills two years ago in two operations. In January, Turkish security forces discovered a large amount of drugs during an operation against the terrorist group PKK's affiliates in Syria during the ongoing Operation Olive Branch. Reports say Captagon is recommended for militias by the PKK and its Syria affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), because it will keep them awake and prevent tiredness. The pill is also one of the biggest income resources for the terrorist organization.
Saudi Arabia is one of the main markets for the drug, where they are commonly seized. According to a Reuters report, experts estimate that some 40 percent of drug users between the age of 12 and 22 in Saudi Arabia are addicted to Captagon.
Official figures show 29.2 million Captagon pills were captured last year in operations across Turkey.