BEIRUT — The United Kingdom announced this week that it has sanctioned Syrian and Lebanese individuals involved in the trafficking of captagon, in a coordinated action with the United States.
In a statement released Tuesday, London emphasized that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is "closely involved" in trafficking, which constitutes a "financial lifeline worth [for the Assad regime] approximately three times the combined trade of the Mexican cartels."
"The production and trafficking of captagon enriches Assad’s inner circle, militias and warlords at the expense of the Syrian people, who continue to face crippling poverty and repression at the hands of the regime," the statement added.
The sanctions mean the targeted persons will have their assets frozen and be banned from traveling to the United Kingdom.
London announced that it had sanctioned ten people, with a slightly different list than the one announced by the US Treasury one day earlier.
Washington sanctioned two Lebanese drug barons — Hassan Dekko and Nouh Zeaiter, both accused of trafficking drugs under Hezbollah's protection — as well as four Syrians, including Imad Zoureik, an officer in the Free Syrian Army; Khaled Kaddour, a businessman close to Assad's brother; and two of Assad's cousins.
The British sanctions also target Assad's two cousins, Imad Zoureik and the two notorious Lebanese traffickers, but do not target Kaddour.
The British sanctions also target Syrian businessmen Abdellatif Hamid, who is accused of contributing to the packaging of captagon pills; Taher el-Kayali, who is linked to "several seizures of captagon, especially in Europe;" and Mohammad Shalish, "involved in the shipping sector in regime strongholds."
The politician Ahmad Khiti is also targeted by the sanctions, as well as two commanders of pro-regime militias: Mustapha al-Masalmeh, who operates in the South, and Raji Falhout, in Sweida.