Italian police have announced the seizure of 84 million amphetamine pills made from a narcotic linked to the Islamic State, saying it was a record haul.
The pills, weighing some 14 tons, were hidden inside paper cylinders believed to have been manufactured in Germany, the Guardia di Finanza customs and financial crimes police said.
"It is the largest seizure of amphetamine drugs in the world," police said. The value of the drugs was estimated at more than 1 billion euros (1.1 billion dollars).
They were intercepted at the port of Salerno, about 40 kilometres south-east of Naples, inside three containers. Each paper cylinder was hiding around 350 kilograms of illegal drugs.
The pills were marked "Captagon," the name of a highly addictive amphetamine-based drug used and trafficked by Islamic State members and informally known as the "jihadists' drug."
Produced in Syria
It is "well known" that Islamic State "finances its activities also and above all by trafficking synthetic drugs largely produced in Syria, which has become the leading world producer of amphetamines in recent years," Italian police said.
The Guardia di Finanza said it was likely that European drug traffickers had turned to Syrian suppliers after amphetamine drug production in Europe was de facto halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
It also said it was investigating the possible involvement of the Camorra, the Mafia organization that operates in Naples area, in the affair.
A smaller Captagon shipment - 190 kilograms and more than 1 million pills - was intercepted in Salerno two weeks ago, along with 2,800 kilograms of hashish, the Guardia di Finanza said.