Italian police have made what’s believed to be the biggest ever seizure of amphetamines.
Investigators discovered €1 billion (£902 million) worth of the drug Captagon higgen in three container ships that were impounded after docking in the southern port of Salerno.
There were a whopping 84 million pills stashed away inside machinery and large cylinders in what customs police colonel Domenico Napolitano said was “the biggest seizure of amphetamines in the world”.
Footage shows agents from the Italian Financial Guard military force using electruc saws to hack their way into large paper and steel drums, revealing thousands of pills stuffed inside.
The 6.5ft cylinders, which were hollow, were made to be thick enough to evade customs’ scanning devices.
Captagon, a brand name for fenethylline hydrochloride, is popular in the Middle East and particularly in war-torn areas like Syria, where drug dealers have exploited the conflict.
An Italian police statement referred to Captagon as the “drug of the Jihad” as it has been discovered in some militant hideouts including those used by Islamic State ( ISIS ).
ISIS sells the drug to pay for its militant activities, police said.
Authorities believe Europe’s coronavirus lockdown has had a negative effect on the synthetic drug industry, halting both production and distribution.
This has forced traffickers to organised shipments of drugs from Syria as a replacement.
Police are now investigating whether the Camorra gangs in Naples may have ordered the enormous Captogan shipment in order to sell it internationally.
Two weeks before the bust a far smaller shipment of the drug had been seized in Salerno’s port, hidden in a shipment of coutnerfeit clothing. One million Captagon pills were found, along with 2,800kg of hashish.
Captogan, an amphetamine that can cause high levels of energy, was formerly used to treat narcolepsy and depression in the 1960s.
In 2016 it was reported that ISIS militants were taking large doses of the amphetamine in order to suppress pain, fear and hunger and make themselves feel as though they had super-human strength.