A Lebanese court has sentenced a man they call the “King of Captagon” to seven years with hard labour for producing and trafficking the drug. Captagon is an amphetamine pill that has gained popularity in the Middle East. The sentencing of Hassan Dekko, the real name of the kingpin, is the first time a Lebanese court has sentenced a major captagon trafficker.
He was arrested in April last year and was said to be running a huge captagon trafficking operation out of the eastern village of Tfaïl. Tfaïl is located near the border of Syria, where the vast majority of captagon is produced. After several trafficking operations were thwarted in the early months of 2021 Lebanese authorities were able to track some of the shipments to Hassan Dekko. He was then arrested on April 9 at his home in Beirut. In an interview with the French outlet L’Orient-Le Jour, a resident of Tfaïl stated “Dekko is the man of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.” There is growing evidence of Syrian state involvement in the captagon trade, with collaboration with its ally Hezbollah.
The captagon trade in Lebanon has had damaging effects on its economy. The sheer volume of captagon being trafficked from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia led to Saudi Arabia banning all exports from Lebanon.