The Jordanian Border Forces have released a statement early on Sunday morning stating four drug smugglers were killed on their border with Syria. The smugglers were said to be trafficking a large quantity of captagon, a popular amphetamine pill in the Middle East before they were engaged by the Jordanian Border Forces.
The statement said the smugglers were supported by an ‘armed group’ the nature of which is not specified. Along with the four killed, others are said to be injured and a number of the smugglers fled back into Syria.
This comes months after the Jordanian Border Forces announced new rules of engagement which implement a shoot on sight rule of engagement for all smugglers. This new rule was in response to an increase in captagon being smuggled into Jordan before reaching the Gulf countries, large captagon markets. The fall of Lebanon as a transit route came after Saudi Arabia banned all Lebanese exports, since then Iraq and Jordan have become key transit states. Many believe Jordan and Iraq also have growing consumer markets.
A few days ago, a senior figure within the Jordanian military stated these smugglers have direct support from the Syrian army, who are “cooperating with drug smugglers and their gangs”. The senior figure offered no evidence of cooperation, his claims are built across a growing consensus of regime complicity in the trade. A recent report by New Lines Institute revealed the vast majority of captagon production sites are located in regime held territory, see map below.
This recent clash reflects Jordan’s self-proclaimed “iron fist” policy towards captagon smuggling. This clash alone saw 637,000 captagon pills seized. The question is therefore will smugglers continue to traffic captagon through Jordan, or will they turn towards Iraq, which is yet to have any clashes of this nature.