Italian police have seized 14 tons of drugs worth up to 1 billion euros and possibly linked to the Islamic State, in what is claimed to be the world’s largest seizure of amphetamines.
Investigators became suspicious of three containers that were due to arrive at the port of Salerno, 32 miles south of Naples, on the basis of evidence from previous seizures, the Italian financial crime agency Guardia di Finanza in a statement.
The containers were carrying giant industrial rolls of paper about 6.5 feet tall and 4.5 feet wide. When inspected police said it became clear the layers of paper were designed to conceal drugs with a capacity to carry about 771 pounds of tablets.
Police uncovered a total of about 84 million tablets.
The tablets bore the symbol of captagon — a type of amphetamine known as the “ISIS drug” or “Jihad drug” because it is used by fighters to inhibit fear and pain, the Guardia di Finanza said.
The drug is sold widely in the Middle East and is among the substances trafficked by the ISIS to finance their terrorist activities, police said, adding that captagon is produced mainly in Syria.
Wednesday’s seizure comes just two weeks after Italian authorities said they blocked another container at the port of Salerno which was carrying counterfeit clothing, more than 6,000 pounds of hashish and more than 400 pounds of amphetamine bearing the same captagon symbol.
The drugs were likely destined to supply a network of criminal groups around Europe, police said. Due to a halt in synthetic drug production across the continent during the coronavirus lockdown, police said ISIS was likely taking advantage of the shortage of supply in the drug market.