BEIRUT — The US Department of the Treasury on Tuesday announced sanctions on individuals involved in the production and trafficking of the amphetamine Captagon, including drug kingpins Nouh Zeaiter and Hassan Daqqou.
Other individuals the US national treasury targeted with sanctions on Tuesday included individuals supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his family allies, according to the statement.
According to a New York Times investigation, the manufacture and distribution of Captagon is overseen by the Syrian Army’s elite 4th Division, headed by Bashar al-Assad’s brother Maher, while Syrian businesspeople and Hezbollah are also players in the trade. Lebanese drug lord Nouh Zeaiter “links the Lebanese and Syrian sides of the business,” the New York Times reported, citing regional security officials.
Hassan Muhammad Daqqou "is a Lebanese-Syrian dual national dubbed by media as “The King of Captagon," according to the Treasury statement.
"He was arrested in Lebanon in 2021 on drug trafficking charges associated with a massive shipment of Captagon interdicted in Malaysia on its way to Saudi Arabia, though Hezbollah affiliates have reportedly facilitated Daqqou’s ability to continue to run his businesses while he was in prison," the statement added.
Zeaiter, on the other hand, is a known arms dealer and drug smuggler and is currently wanted by the Lebanese authorities for drug trafficking. He reportedly conducts his illicit activities under the protection of the 4th division.
On Thursday, military personnel and relatives of Zeaiter exchanged gunfire at a Lebanese Army checkpoint in Hrabta, in the Bekaa Valley. The army had set up a roadblock to ambush members of the Zeaiter clan, who refused to comply with military orders when they arrived, according to an army statement.
The Treasury statement indicated that "all property and interests in property of these persons that are in or come within the United States or in the possession or control of US persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked."
The statement warned that "persons who engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the targets designated today ... could be subject to US sanctions."