The evolution of Captagon

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Captagon was originally the trade name for a pharmaceutical preparation containing fenetylline, a synthetic stimulant. Today, Captagon accounts for a significant amount of seized amphetamine-type stimulants in several countries, particularly in the Near and Middle East region. However, the drug has experienced a number of transitions since it was first developed for paediatric and geriatric use and given its trade name in the 1960s

The original Captagon product contained fenetylline, which is metabolized in the human body to amphetamine. Fenetylline essentially exerts the same effects as amphetamine and misuse of fenetylline started as early as the 1970s. Diversion from legitimate trade constituted the main source of fenetylline, and as a result of reports of increasing misuse, the substance was placed under international control in 1986. No licit manufacture has been reported since 1987.

Similar to what has happened with other ATS that have been placed under control, counterfeit or fake products started to appear. In the case of Captagon, pharmaceutical companies are reported to have been approached to produce counterfeit Captagon tablets. Subsequently, clandestine operators moved to the production of entirely fake products that did not contain any fenetylline but combinations of substances that mimic the effects of the original product. Such fake products are today predominant on illicit markets.

Throughout this transition, the original brand name Captagon and the original physical appearance of tablets has continued to be used in an attempt by illicit manufacturers to build on the reputation of the original product.

The primary market for Captagon has traditionally been countries in the Near and Middle East, where it is popular among the younger, affluent population and where it has also enjoyed a reputation as sexual stimulant since the beginning of the 1980s.

Today, despite increasing seizures of Captagon, there is still a lack of information on its chemical composition. What seems to be clear is that while until the early 1990s seized Captagon was found to contain fenetylline, there have not been any such reports since. The few forensic studies available from that time suggest that fake Captagon then consisted mainly of combinations of caffeine, ephedrine and quinine, usually mixed with sugars such as lactose. Amphetamine was also occasionally encountered.1 2 3

1 Dimova, D. and Dinkov, N. (1994), Psychotropic Substances of the Amphetamine-Type Used By Drug Addicts in Bulgaria, UNDCP SCITEC Publication Series, SCITEC/10.

2 Al-Gharably, N. and Al-Obaid, A-R. (1994), Journal of the Forensic Science Society (now: Science & Justice), 34 (3), 165-167.

3 Al-Hussaini, SR (1996), Counterfeit Captagon: an analytical study,

More recent studies of Captagon seized in Jordan4, Tur-key5, Serbia6 and Iraq7 demonstrated the presence of amphetamine and caffeine in most Captagon tablets analyzed. Tablets that did not contain amphetamine, contained caffeine, ephedrine and/or a quinine. Fenetylline was not identified.

The most recent laboratory data (2008/09) come from an analysis of tablets from countries in the Near and Middle East mainly as part of a feasibility study initiated by Interpol aimed at assisting countries in that region in the identification of Captagon manufacturing and trafficking trends. The results from a very limited number of tablets from Jordan and Yemen confirm published data in that the main active ingredient is amphetamine. 8

From the above it is clear that the Captagon market has experienced a number of transitions, characteristic for many transitions of a legitimate pharmaceutical to an entirely clandestine product. The limited forensic data available show that Captagon today does not contain any fenetylline, but mainly caffeine and a range of other controlled and non-controlled substances. Amphetamine is the ATS most typically associated with today's Captagon. The amount of amphetamine found in Captagon, however, is generally low (below the standard transformation ratio of 30mg per dose, used in most calculations to convert tablet seizures into units of weight).

The presence of many of the other ingredients cannot be explained easily based on their pharmacology and that of the original drug fenetylline, and remains open to speculation. Synergistic effects, reputation (for example as sexual stimulant), or contamination from the production process are all possible explanations.

Regardless of why Captagon tablets nowadays contain such a variety of ingredients, their systematic forensic examination and the collective results, that is, from analysis of the physical appearance (tablet design), the chemical composition (both active ingredients and tableting aids), and the impurity profile of the amphetamine, provide a wealth of valuable information for drug intelligence. So far, this tool remains heavily underutilized.

4 Alabdalla, M.A. (2005), Chemical characterization of counterfeit Captagon tablets seized in Jordan, Forensic Science International, 152, 185-188.

5 Turkish Drug Report, 2001

6 Nevescanin, M., et al. (2008), Analysis of amphetamines illegally produced in Serbia, Journal of the Serbian Chemical Society, 73 (7), 691-701.

7 Intelligence alert, Captagon mimic tablets (containing d,l-amphet-amine, caffeine, theophylline, and other components) in Al Anbar province, Iraq, Micogram Bulletin, 42 (3), March 2009; Note: Amphetamine calculated as sulfate; diphenhydramine and quinine calculated as hydrochlorides.

8 Rainer Dahlenburg, Forensic Expert, Bundeskriminalamt, Germany, personal communication.

Amphetamine Smuggling Routes

Poland

Yemen

Map 19: Notable Near and Middle East Trafficking Routes of Amphetamines-group Substances

Sources: Lebanon Drug Enforcement Central Bureau, presentation at the Working Group Meeting on Captagon Smuggling to the Middle East Region, Beirut, Lebanon (December 2008); Turkish National Police, Department Of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime (KOM), presentation at the Working Group Meeting on Captagon Smuggling to the Middle East Region, Beirut, Lebanon (December 2008); Policies Achievements Ongoing programs and Future Plans. Drug Control Headquarters Islamic Republic of Iran (Tehran, 2008); World Customs Organization (WCO), Customs and Drugs Report 2007 (June 2008).

Captagon (amphetamine) trafficking routes

Unspecified ATS trafficking routes

Known source manufacturing/ " tableting areas

Note Tf\e boundaiies and nam« show&tfKiJiie designations used on tl^is map do not imply officia^ endorsement i^rcceptant^by tjreTjrutedJv

Fig. 88: Captagon (amphetamine) tablets reported in the Near and Middle East, with selected countries'2: 1998-2007

Source: UNODC, Annual Report Questionnaire Data/DELTA; Government reports.

S 15

Near and Middle East Amphetamine-group tablets ¿i Jordan Amphetamine-group tablets • Syria Amphetamine-group tablets

European amphetamine seizures continue to grow

Historically, global amphetamine manufacture and trafficking have been concentrated in Europe. Considering amphetamine and non-specified amphetamines together,13 since 1990, there has been an increase in combined amphetamine and non-specified amphetamines seized in Europe, with a total of 8.9 mt for 2007.

Over the last decade, 10 European countries have accounted for more than 90% of seized amphetamine and non-specificd amphetamines in Europe, and 38% of global seizures. The United Kingdom intercepts the most amphetamine in Europe. Since 1998, the UK has seized a total of 17.8 mt. The Netherlands in 2007 reported the largest single year seizure total (2.9 mt) of any European country in the last decade.

12 Although seized, not all countries provide seized tablet data in units, therefore this should be viewed as the minimum number of tablets seized. In some cases Member States report seized tablets already converted in kilograms, often using unknown transformation ratios (if any). When tablets/ pills/ doses are reported to UNODC, a standard transformation ratios of 30 mg per dose of psychoactive ingredient for amphetamine of methamphetamine is used.

13 Very little methamphetamine is reported in Europe, and it can be assumed that "non-specified amphetamines" are amphetamine. Tab-leted ATS with an imprinted logo without forensic confirmation is likely reported as "ecstasy" by law enforcement.

Fig. 89: Amphetamine (with non-specified amphetamines) seized in Europe, 1990-2007

Source: UNODC, Annual Reports Questionnaire Data.

Fig. 89: Amphetamine (with non-specified amphetamines) seized in Europe, 1990-2007

Source: UNODC, Annual Reports Questionnaire Data.

1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
■ Amphetamine ■ Amphetamine+Non-specified Amphetamines ■ Non-specified Amphetamines

Table 21: Top European Countries (rank ordered) in combined amphetamine and non-specified amphetamine seizures (mt), 1998-2007

Source: UNODC, Annual Reports Questionnaire Data/DELTA

County (Top 10)

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Total

United Kingdom*

1.81

1.30

2.03

1.85

1.55

1.78

1.49

2.23

1.64

2.07

17.75

Netherlands

1.46

0.85

0.29

0.58

0.48

0.88

0.59

2.03

0.63

2.85

10.64

Belgium

0.45

0.34

0.08

0.08

0.50

0.21

2.54

0.18

0.12

0.48

4.97

Germany

0.31

0.36

0.27

0.26

0.36

0.48

0.56

0.67

0.71

0.81

4.80

Bulgaria

0.00

0.09

0.21

0.06

0.18

0.59

1.46

1.12

0.88

0.12

4.71

Sweden

0.13

0.12

0.10

0.25

0.33

0.33

0.44

0.42

0.42

0.29

2.83

Turkey

0.01

0.04

0.01

0.03

0.26

0.16

0.35

0.27

0.73

0.46

2.32

Poland

0.05

0.05

0.14

0.19

0.16

0.19

0.24

0.46

0.33

0.42

2.25

France

0.20

0.23

0.52

0.06

0.15

0.27

0.08

0.11

0.08

0.31

2.00

Norway

0.21

0.05

0.09

0.09

0.21

0.22

0.23

0.12

0.32

0.39

1.93

Subtotal

4.64

3.43

3.75

3.46

4.18

5.11

7.96

7.60

5.86

8.21

54.20

* England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

* England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Trafficking in methamphetamine

Methamphetamine markets are concentrated in East and South-East Asia and North America, but more countries are reporting seizures

Although the total amount of methamphetamine seized in 2007 has decreased in comparison with previous years, the increasing number of countries reporting seizures suggest that the market is expanding geographically. The amount of methamphetamine seized in 2007 (18.2 mt) represents about half of the amount seized at its peak in 2000. In 2007, several countries reported methamphetamine seizures to UNODC for the first time, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kyrgyzstan.14 While the amounts reported were relatively small, they illustrate the geographical spread of methamphetamine.

14 Kyrgyzstan's seizure was reported in 2008. See UNODC, Global SMART Update 2009, Volume 1 (March).

Fig. 90: Methamphetamine seizures, by subregion, 2007 (18.2 mt)

Source: UNODC, Annual Report Questionnaire Data/DELTA; UNODC Drug Information Network for Asia and the Pacific (DAINAP); Government reports; World Customs Organization (WCO), Customs and Drugs Report 2007 (June 2008) and previous years.

Oceania

East and South-East

1.0%

Asia

L )

56.0%

All others

0.4%

West & Central

Europe

2.0%

North America

Near and Middle

40.4%

East /South-West

Asia/ North Africa

0.2%

Table 22: Top countries (rank ordered) in methamphetamine seizures (mt), 1998-2007

Source: UNODC, Annual Reports Questionnaire Data/DELTA

Top Member State/Territory

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Total

China

1.61

16.06

20.90

4.84

3.19

5.83

2.75

6.76

6.07

6.09

74.10

Thailand

3.01

4.52

10.08

8.34

8.63

6.51

2.12

0.79

0.51

1.29

45.78

USA

0.00

2.64

0.00

2.86

1.11

3.86

5.74

6.24

7.61

4.89

34.94

Taiwan, Prov. of China

0.89

1.22

0.84

1.16

1.30

3.98

3.17

1.73

0.20

0.12

14.59

Philippines

0.00

0.94

1.02

1.71

0.91

3.12

3.73

0.10

0.77

0.37

12.68

Mexico

0.00

0.36

0.64

0.40

0.46

0.73

0.95

0.90

0.75

0.92

6.11

Myanmar

0.00

0.89

0.81

0.99

0.42

0.10

0.00

0.39

0.58

0.52

4.70

Japan

0.00

0.00

1.03

0.42

0.44

0.49

0.51

0.13

0.15

0.36

3.53

Indonesia

0.01

0.22

0.01

0.00

0.05

0.02

0.03

0.26

1.24

1.23

3.07

Canada

0.00

0.00

0.02

0.05

0.03

0.02

0.05

0.06

0.06

1.54

1.82

Subtotal

5.52

26.84

35.35

20.76

16.53

24.67

19.04

17.35

17.93

17.34

201.31

Percent of global seizures

100.0%

99.7%

98.8%

98.5%

98.5%

96.7%

96.9%

95.9%

95.3%

95.2%

The subregions of East and South-East Asia (56%) and North America (40%) continue to account for most of the world's seized methamphetamine, with relatively low seizures reported elsewhere. Over the last decade, 10 Member States (or their territories) accounted for more than 95% of all reported seizures.

Over the last decade, several changes have occurred. In 1998, 10 Member States (or territories) accounted for all global seizures of methamphetamine. In 2007, the same 10 Member States accounted for 95%, suggesting that other countries have emerged in the market. Canada increased its prominence in 2007, linked to increased manufacture and export by organized crime groups. The USA saw significant declines in methamphetamine seized in 2007.

Methamphetamine trafficking shifts quickly, with devastating effects

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS),15 where some of the largest single methamphetamine seizures in the world have occurred, is central to methamphetamine manufacture, trafficking and use. Thailand, the largest market in the GMS, significantly increased law enforcement efforts in 2003/04 in response to widespread methamphetamine use. As a result, illicit trafficking in the GMS has relocated from the Golden Triangle16 into neighbouring countries, including Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam.

Emerging trends can be more clearly seen when measuring the number of tablets seized, instead of the total

15 A region encompassing Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, and bordering provinces of south China.

16 The Golden Triangle is an area overlapping the borders of Lao PDR,

Myanmar and Thailand.

weight. In 2004, tableted methamphetamine (yaba) seizures began increasing in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam, suggesting that trafficking routes shifted to the Mekong River. These shifts have accompanied increased use in the general population

Trafficking outside the subregion has also increased. Historically, trafficking of methamphetamine was intraregional, with laboratories manufacturing for the nearby domestic market. However, over the last few years, organized crime groups have increased their involvement, bringing improved logistics, sophistication and production capacity, a more varied product line, and the ability to quickly move manufacture to geographic areas with weak control regimes.17 Interregional trafficking routes have been identified from Myanmar to Bangladesh and India; from Hong Kong, China, to Australia, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand; from the Philippines to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA; and from East and South-East Asia into the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Methamphetamine trafficked from Mexico drops in 2007, but may be temporary

Most methamphetamine trafficking in North America supplies demand in the USA. Methamphetamine manufacture in Mexico, and increasingly Canada, represent the bulk of methamphetamine trafficked into the USA. Following consistent increases for several years, 2007 marked the first decline in methamphetamine seized by the US authorities along the border with Mexico. This trend was reversed however in 2008, with a return to an increase in border seizures,18 probably due to increasing

17 Amphetamines and Ecstasy: 2008 Global ATS Assessment (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.08.XI.12).

18 USA National Drug Intelligence Center, National Methamphetamine

Fig. 91: Seized methamphetamine-related tablets, by select country, 2001-2007

Source: UNODC, Annual Report Questionnaire Data/DELTA; UNODC Drug Information Network for Asia and the Pacific (DAINAP); Viet Nam Country Report from the Joint Meeting of the Fourth Asian Collaborative Group on Local Precursor Control and Fourth International Forum on Control of Precursors for ATS Meetings (Tokyo, February 2008).

5,000,000 4,500,000 4,000,000 3,500,000 3,000,000 2,500,000 2,000,000 1,500,000 1,000,000 500,000

Source: UNODC, Annual Report Questionnaire Data/DELTA; UNODC Drug Information Network for Asia and the Pacific (DAINAP); Viet Nam Country Report from the Joint Meeting of the Fourth Asian Collaborative Group on Local Precursor Control and Fourth International Forum on Control of Precursors for ATS Meetings (Tokyo, February 2008).

5,000,000 4,500,000 4,000,000 3,500,000 3,000,000 2,500,000 2,000,000 1,500,000 1,000,000 500,000

2001 2002

Lao ATS-related tablets

2003 2004

Cambodia ATS-related tablets

2005 2006 2007

□ Viet Nam ATS-related tablets

2001 2002

Lao ATS-related tablets

2003 2004

Cambodia ATS-related tablets

2005 2006 2007

□ Viet Nam ATS-related tablets methamphetamine manufacturing capacity and sophistication in Mexico. Another reason for increases in the USA is related to growing 'smurfing' activity, where criminal groups obtain precursor chemicals used in manufacture through small purchases from multiple pharmacies, avoiding sales restrictions and law enforcement attention.19 In Mexico, drug cartels also utilize non-pseudo/ephedrine based precursor processes and have the capacity to shift operations further south to other Latin American countries in order to acquire traditional chemical precursors.

Canada-based organized crime groups' participation in the methamphetamine trade has grown significantly since 2003. By 2006, law enforcement intelligence noted that Asian organized crime and traditional outlaw motorcycle gangs operating in Canada had increased the amount of methamphetamine they manufactured and exported, primarily into the USA, but also to Oceania and East and South-East Asia.20 For example, Australia identified that methamphetamine from Canada accounted for 83% of total seized imports by weight, for Japan the figure was 62%.21 Although only 5% of domestically manufactured methamphetamine was exported in 2006, by 2007 that figure was 20%.

Fig. 92: USA seizures of methamphetamine near the Mexico border versus seizures of large to industrial scale USA clandestine methamphetamine manufacture, 2001-2008*

Source: USA National Drug Intelligence Center, National Methamphetamine Threat Assessment 2009 (and previous years); USA Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control. *Data as of November, 2008

3,000 300

2,000 200

1,000

Source: USA National Drug Intelligence Center, National Methamphetamine Threat Assessment 2009 (and previous years); USA Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control. *Data as of November, 2008

3,000 300

245

2,006

1,314

14

2001 2003 2005 2007 USA - Mexico border seizures (kg) USA based large to industrial sized laboratories

2001 2003 2005 2007 USA - Mexico border seizures (kg) USA based large to industrial sized laboratories o b

Threat Assessment 2009.

19 This phenomenon, also known as 'pill or pharmacy shopping'or 'pseudo-running', is also observed in other countries where over-the-counter pharmaceuticals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine are restricted (for example, Australia and New Zealand).

20 USA National Drug Intelligence Center, National Methamphetamine Threat Assessment 2009.

21 Australian Crime Commission (2009). Illicit Drug Data Report 2006-07 (Revised March 2009); Recent Illicit Synthetic Drug Smuggling Situation in Japan. Presented by the Customs and Tariff Bureau, Ministry of Finance, Japan at the 18th Anti-Drug Liaison Officials' Meeting for International Cooperation (ADLOMICO), (Pusan, Republic of Korea, 2008).

The geographic spread of methamphetamine increases

The increased reports of methamphetamine use outside East and South-East Asia and North America are also reflected in the growing number of countries and territories reporting seizures. In 2007, only 10% of reporting countries outside East and South-East Asia reported seizures of methamphetamine. This figure increased to 25% in 2007. Countries are also reporting larger average seizures than in the past. As trafficking routes shift into new countries, spillover drug use in the general population and subsequent uptake can quickly occur.

Although the Near and Middle East subregion has a well-established amphetamine market (fake Captagon), there is increasing evidence that methamphetamine (including the crystalline form) is also trafficked there. In 2008, the Islamic Republic of Iran reported its largest seizure of crystalline methamphetamine (150 kg), whereas in 2004, there were no reports of metham-phetamine. This is consistent with reports of increased use.22 Significant seizures have also been reported in Saudi Arabia,23 including a 23 kg methamphetamine shipment originating in the Syrian Arab Republic.24

Fig. 93: Islamic Republic of Iran: seizure of crystalline methamphetamine, 2004-2008

Source: Policies Achievements Ongoing Programs and Future Plans, Islamic Republic of Iran, Drug Control Headquarters (Tehran, 2007); Drug Control in 2008: Annual report and rapid situation assessment. Islamic Republic of Iran, Drug Control Headquarters (Tehran, 2009); UNODC, Field Office Report (2005).

Evolution Heroin
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

22 Drug Control in 2008: Annual report and rapid situation assessment. Islamic Republic of Iran, Drug Control Headquarters (Tehran, 2009).

23 Amphetamines and Ecstasy: 2008 Global ATS Assessment (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.08.XI.12).

24 World Customs Organization (WCO), Annual Customs and Drugs Report 2007 (Brussels, 2008).

Fig. 94: Global seizures of amphetamines(a), 1997-2007

g 30

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007

Year

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Metric ton eauivalents(b)

15

15

34

44

26

23

37

36

43

46

44

SEIZURES OF AMPHETAMINE-GROUP SUBSTANCES (a) in % of world total and kg equivalents(b) HIGHEST RANKING COUNTRIES - 2007

6,142

SEIZURES OF AMPHETAMINE-GROUP SUBSTANCES

(a) in kg equivalents (b) and in % BY REGION - 2007

Near and Middle East /South-West Asia

'' Amphetamine-group substances are amphetamine, methamphetamine and related non-specified amphetamines (excludeecstasy-group substances). '' 1 dosage unit is assumed to be equal to 30 mg; 1 litre is assumed to be equal to 1 kg. ' Data refer to England and Wales only.

'' Total seizures reported by national as well as state and territory law enforcement agencies which may result in double counting.

Fig. 95: Interception of amphetamines-group substances, 1997-2007

Fig. 95: Interception of amphetamines-group substances, 1997-2007

Map 20: Amphetamines trafficking routes, 2007

Captagon Pills
NewZ^nd

□ Stimulants seizures reported to UNODC (2003-2007)

□ No stimulants seizures reported to UNODC (2003-2007)

Main trafficking routes Other trafficking routes

Arrows indicate source and destination countries only Mode of transport can be by air, sea or overland, or a combination

* Seizures as reported (street purity); units converted into weight equivalents (30mg per unit) Source: UNODC Annual Reports Questionnaires data/DELTA.

Note The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations c tQ 30 m "O o 3-

Map 21: Seizures of amphetamines, 2007 (countries reporting seizures* of more than 1 kg)

& Centrai Ejaro|

•ast Europe inmar o M* Hong Kong, China Taiwan

frtted Al lllrates i men

0,4 Philippines lambodij

Indonesia 1.2

Australia

South Afri

Stimulants seizures reported to UNODC (2003-2007)

No stimulants seizures reported to UNODC (2003-2007)

United States of

* Seizures as reported (street purity); units converted into weight equivalents (30mg per unit) Source: UNODC Annual Reports Questionnaires data/DELTA.

Note: The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations

Seizures in 2007

Volume in metric tons

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Responses

  • ville
    What is captagon used for?
    8 years ago
  • sandra serrato
    Is captagon legal in america?
    8 years ago
  • Pirkko Kuparinen
    Is captagon drug legal in sweden?
    7 years ago
  • LENA
    Is captagon amphetamine?
    7 years ago
  • Eva Padovano
    Which countries are captagon legal in them?
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  • Andwise Labingi
    Is captagon illegal in uk?
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  • rhoda
    Can you buy captagon in australia?
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  • Veli-Matti Pekkanen
    Why do arabs use captagon?
    7 years ago
  • elanor
    Why drug abuse increases in beirut?
    4 years ago
  • IDRIS
    How to take captagon drug in bangladesh?
    4 years ago
  • Andrew Hill
    What is captengon yaba?
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