The Italian Mob Is Peddling Pills to ISIS
Americans may love their fentanyl, a powerful opioid responsible for a public health crisis and countless accidental overdose casualties, including those of pop stars Prince and Tom Petty. But terrorists apparently prefer tramadol, a cheaper numbing opioid that is legal in the Middle East. And they are getting plenty of it on the black market thanks to Italian ‘Ndrangheta mobsters, according to Italy’s financial police. In the last year alone, the cops have confiscated nearly 100 million tramadol tablets meant for ISIS operatives in Libya.
Once in Libya, the pills are used to pump up fighters there, or they’re smuggled into Egypt and Syria, or they are sold to Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria, according to Marta Sarafini, whose recent exposé in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera unravels the tramadol trade. “They end up in the hands of the desperate in Gaza, the prostitutes in Amman, and child laborers in Turkey,” she says. “They are the drug for anyone who wants to escape misery.”
They may also find their way into the American market, and with a vengeance. The barriers are low.
On the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of “scheduled” drugs, or “controlled substances,” where heroin, LSD and, yes, marijuana are Schedule I; fentanyl is among those listed as Schedule II; ketamine and Tylenol with codeine are Schedule III, tramadol is only Schedule IV: a substance with “a low potential for abuse relative to substances in Schedule III.” Read more