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Dubai Police seize $1 billion worth of Captagon pills, known as the ‘poor man’s cocaine’

The 13 tons of pills were hidden in a shipment of doors and home décor panels


By Sahim Salim Khaleej Times

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Authorities in the UAE have foiled an international gang’s bid to smuggle narcotic pills worth Dh3.87 billion in the largest-ever haul of banned Captagon tablets.

The gang tried to smuggle 13 tonnes of Captagon pills in 651 doors and 432 home décor panels. In the operation codenamed “Storm,” the Dubai Police seized over 86 million tablets.

Lieutenant-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, said six suspects were arrested red-handed as they tried to smuggle the drugs in five shipping containers. With this, the police have dismantled an “international criminal cartel.”

A video shared by the Minister of Interior showed how the police monitored and tracked the suspects and arrested them one after another.

According to the police, the gang concealed the pills in doors made of iron and wood and wooden home decor furniture panels. The police had to break open these panels to extract the drugs — a process that lasted “several days,” according to the interior ministry. The ministry’s video footage showed officers drilling through the wood to recover the powdered drug.

What is Captagon?

Captagon (generic name: fenethylline) was initially produced in the 1960s as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It was banned a couple of decades later because of its addictive nature.

While commercial manufacturing of the drug has ceased, illegal production continues. Also called the “poor man’s cocaine,” the pill in its current form combines several highly addictive stimulants that “compound the destructive effects of Captagon’s amphetamine and theophylline combination,” according to the Dubai Customs.

Prepare your agency today for this potential new epidemic

Criminals try to smuggle the pills by concealing them in different consignments. In May, the Abu Dhabi Police arrested a gang of three who attempted to smuggle 2.25 million Captagon pills in boxes of apricots. In February, 4.5 million pills hidden in food cans were seized. In another operation, authorities in Dubai found the drug tablets concealed in food and medical equipment.

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