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Jordan arrests dozens in crackdown against drug smuggling from Syria

Dozens of people were arrested inside Jordan, as the kingdom ramps up efforts to fight drug smuggling attempts mainly on the border with Syria.
A picture taken during a tour organized by the Jordanian army shows soldiers patrolling along the border with Syria to prevent drug trafficking, Feb. 17, 2022.

Jordan’s security forces foiled several drug smuggling attempts across the kingdom in the past days, in the latest crackdown against the trade that has flourished in recent years.

The Public Security Directorate announced in a statement on Tuesday that the Anti-Narcotics Department has launched nationwide operations against drug smuggling, arresting 23 people allegedly involved in drug trafficking, distribution and smuggling.

One of the most prominent cases involves an attempt to smuggle 1.5 million narcotic pills to an unnamed neighboring country. The directorate said security forces seized the drugs that were found in a shipping vehicle and arrested six people involved in the case. The directorate did not specify where this operation took place.

Security forces also conducted raids in the northern town of Ajloun and Mafraq governorate in the north, in the capital Amman, as well as in the governorates of Mafraq and Maan in the south. Several people were arrested and various types of narcotic pills, cannabis, methamphetamine, as well as firearms were confiscated.

The directorate continued that a person was arrested during an operation at the Jaber border crossing with southern Syria, after 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of methamphetamine were found in his possession. Security forces also apprehended an individual who attempted to smuggle 70,000 narcotic pills in the same area.

Jordan ramps up fight against drug trade

Jordan has seen hundreds of drug smuggling attempts in recent years, mainly along its 375-kilometer (233-mile) desert border with Syria. Smugglers in the neighboring country have taken advantage of the civil war to boost the drug trade and used Jordan as a main corridor to smuggle drugs, including highly addictive Captagon amphetamines, out of Syria, mainly to Arab Gulf states.

Jordanian authorities accuse members of the Syrian government and its allied Iranian militias of involvement in smuggling operations across the border, while Damascus denies any involvement in the trade.

In a statement in January, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry vowed to “completely” eliminate drug smuggling, which it says threatens the country’s national security.  

Jordan has occasionally struck Syria and clashed with alleged drug smugglers on the border numerous times in the past year as part of its efforts to fight the growing trade.

In early January, suspected Jordanian airstrikes hit farms and houses suspected of being used by drug smugglers in Syria’s southern province of Suwayda. A few days later, at least four airstrikes believed to have been carried out by Jordan against suspected warehouses used by Iranian-backed drug smugglers were reported in the same area. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said back then that at least one drug dealer was killed in the strikes.

At least nine people, including civilians, were killed in another suspected Jordanian airstrike in the village of Orman in Suwayda on Jan. 18, according to the SOHR.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry at the time condemned the apparent Jordanian strikes, saying there was “no justification for such military operations.”

Last week, five suspected drug smugglers were killed and four others injured as they attempted to smuggle narcotics into Jordan from Syria. The Jordanian army said in a statement that border guards also seized large quantities of drugs during the operation.