Police in the United Arab Emirates have seized 13 tonnes of amphetamine pills smuggled in furniture.
More than $1bn (£810m) worth of the drug known as Captagon were found after officers were alerted to a suspicious looking shipping container.
Dubbed “the poor man’s cocaine”, Captagon is reportedly one of the most popular drugs among youths in the Gulf.
The police did not mention the suspected origin of the illegal shipment, but Captagon is believed to be produced in huge quantities in Syria.
At the height of the country’s civil war armed groups supplied the drug to fighters – which is highly addictive and often laced with caffeine – to boost their courage.
Deepening poverty is said to have forced many ordinary Syrians to become involved in the illegal Captagon trade, which is worth billions of dollars.
Although there have been denials from the Syrian government, reports have linked powerful figures in business and the military to the manufacturing and distribution of Captagon.
Dubai police said they seized five shipping containers holding the 13 tonnes of pills in a major operation.
Video footage they released showed officers tracking the containers and monitoring suspects, as well as dismantling 651 doors and 432 wooden panels to get to the narcotics.
An international gang planned to ship the drugs hidden in containers to the UAE and then transport them to another country, said Maj Gen Eid Mohammed Thani Hareb, head of the police’s anti-narcotics department.
An X-ray machine and a police dog unit helped uncover the haul, he added.
Six people were arrested during the operation.
It is believed to be one of the largest such hauls ever intercepted.
Source : BBC