WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, Rep. French Hill (AR-02), joined by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-02), led a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting that the administration review if Syria meets the criteria of a “major illicit drug producing country” or “major drug-transit country” under the Foreign Assistance Act.
“In addition to its gross human rights violations and regularly committing war crimes against his own people, the Assad regime in Syria has now become a narco-state. The production and trade of the drug, Captagon, is not only a critical financial lifeline to Assad but it cripples local populations, serves to undermine families and local communities, and finances Iran-backed groups in the region.
“The U.S. government must do all it can to disrupt the industrial level of drug production currently taking place in Syria. This includes getting my bill for an interagency strategy signed into law and the Department of State determining that Syria is a major drug manufacturing and transit country. If we do not act, then we risk permitting the narco-state of Assad to become a permanent fixture in the region.”
Rep. Boyle is the Democrat co-lead of Rep. Hill’s bill, H.R. 6265, the CAPTAGON Act. Senator Marshall is the lead sponsor of the Senate companion of the same bill, S. 3392.
In 2021, Rep Hill designed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 to require the administration to develop a multi-agency strategy to disrupt and dismantle Syria’s drug networks. This amendment passed in the House but was removed during the conference committee negotiations.
The Joint Explanatory Statement for the FY2022 NDAA noted that “the Captagon trade is a cause of instability in the Middle East that has negative implications for the national security of the United States and its allies and partners. We support development of a strategy to guide appropriate action against narcotics production and trafficking and affiliated networks linked to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.”
Rep. Hill introduced H.R. 6265 the “Countering Assad’s Proliferation Trafficking And Garnering Of Narcotics Act” or the “CAPTAGON Act” on December 14, 2021.
The CAPTAGON Act was included as an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA, which passed last week on Thursday, July 14, 2022.