A new study by the U.S.-based think tank The Sentry has deemed Libya as “an integrated hub for intercontinental drug trafficking,” with the illicit narcotics business being the country’s fastest-growing trade.
The report, titled “Kleptocracy in Libya,” found evidence suggesting some Libyan officials are abusing public resources and authority to actively participate in or facilitate the unlawful trafficking of drugs – especially cannabis, cocaine, and the synthetic opioid known as captagon.
Most cannabis originates from Morocco, cocaine from Latin America, and captagon from Syria, the study noted. Syria’s captagon industry alone is estimated to be worth $10 billion annually for regional smuggling routes. However, the analysis highlighted India as another key starting point for captagon, indicating manufacturing facilities may already operate on Libyan soil.
Meanwhile, Libya reportedly sees a burgeoning cannabis trade given recent seizures of shipments. Historic smuggling paths fuel tensions among coastal towns per the study. The northwestern city of Ajailat was a strategic hub under former ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Cannabis streaming northward from Morocco can traverse Algeria or enter Libya directly through the Ghat border crossing after transiting Mauritania, Mali and Niger.
Alongside cannabis, cocaine and captagon, other drugs like Tramadol, Pregabalin and Clonazepam also flow freely with Libya now acting as a gateway between European suppliers and booming illicit markets across North Africa and the Sahel.