Italy seizes $58m worth of Daesh ‘fighter drug’

Italy seizes $58m worth of Daesh ‘fighter drug’
Italian police (AFP)
Updated 04 November 2017

Italy seizes $58m worth of Daesh ‘fighter drug’

Italy seizes $58m worth of Daesh ‘fighter drug’

ROME: Italian police have seized €50 million ($58 million) worth of tablets of a synthetic opiate destined to be sold by Daesh in Libya to raise funds for attacks, a court said on Friday.
Financial police discovered over 24 million Tramadol tablets being transported from India to Libya at the port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy.
The painkiller has been described as the “fighter drug,” as it is known to be popular among terrorists for its ability to dull pain and suppress fatigue.
The haul is estimated to be worth €50 million, and was found following a police crackdown sparked by the discovery of a similar shipment in Genoa in May.
Investigators believe Daesh planned to sell the tablets to its foot soldiers for the equivalent of €2 a tablet.
“According to the information shared with foreign investigative sources, the traffic of Tramadol is directly handled by IS (Daesh) to finance terrorist activities planned and carried out across the world,” the court in the southern city of Reggio Calabria said.
Part of the money raised from the sales would also go “to subsidise terrorist groups and extremists operating in Libya, Syria and Iraq,” it said in a statement.
The court said the seizure had been possible thanks in part to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“Everything passes through Gioia Tauro, we can’t really be surprised to uncover trafficking of this type of drug,” prosecutor Gaetano Paci told La Repubblica daily.
But investigators said it suggested ties between the mafia and Daesh: It is impossible to smuggle goods through the port without the agreement of the powerful ‘Ndrangheta organized crime group, which has a steely grip on the zone.
“We’ve known about dealings between the ‘Ndrangheta and organizations in the Middle East for a while,” Paci said.
“Although the port has become less of a ‘safe zone’ for clans due to investigative pressures, we have identified several different ‘Ndrangheta families that seem involved in trafficking with Middle East organizations,” he said.
Renzo Nisi, a financial police captain involved in the May operation in Genoa, said Tramadol, a powerful painkiller, “is produced extremely cheaply in India and Pakistan.”
“The pills are used by fighters, terrorists, but by others too because they lower fatigue levels. You need to take four to five a day to get the results,” he told Italian media.
Dependence on the drug, which is also used by Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria, has become a serious social problem in parts of Africa and the Middle East.