After a decade of bloody civil war that has decimated the population, destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, and ruined the economy, the Assad government has turned to the lucrative dirty business of narcotics dealing, turning Syria into a narco-state. 

The business involves the manufacture, sale, and shipping of Captagon, a cheap alternative to cocaine that is a stimulant with addictive characteristics. According to a detailed report by the New York Times, the distribution of Captagon involves people in the highest level of the Syrian government. 

Included in the business are members of the military as well as President Assad’s younger brother Maher Assad, who oversees much of the production and distribution of drugs. He uses his position as the commander of the 4th Armored Division to oversee and protect the drug trade.

The trade of Captagon has spread across the border into Lebanon. There, Hezbollah has quickly taken it up to fill its coffers.