Dutch police have reported yesterday on a drug raid in April. The pending investigation indicated the pills are probably being used by Islamic State combatants.

This is the first time we have found pills with the Captagon-logo in a drugs lab in the Netherlands, with caffeine and amphetamines being the real ingredients. We haven’t discovered a direct line between the suspects and the Middle East, but we are looking into it.

Consequently, police have found a drugs lab producing ‘Captagon’, a mixture of caffeine and amphetamines. Many tens of thousands of pills were found, with an amphetamine supply sufficient to produce another three hundred thousand more pills.

Police have arrested two suspects: a 40-year-old man and his 39-year-old girlfriend from Brunssum. The man lived next to the barn in a house on the Titus Brandsmastraat at the edge of the village in Limburg. During the raid two suspects got away, who are still wanted by the police.

Normally, drugs labs of this kind produce XTC, using MDMA, which gives a “pleasant and festive mood.” Captagon, however, has an altogether different effect:

No matter how tired you are, it makes you wake up. Your senses become very sharp. Sometimes you don’t sleep for 24 or 48 hours, depending on how many pills you take. If you shoot someone on Captagon, they don’t feel it. And if someone takes many pills, like 30 or so, they become violent and crazy, paranoid, unafraid of anything. They’ll have a thirst for fighting and killing and will shoot at whatever they see. They lose any feeling or empathy for the people in front of them and can kill them without caring at all. They forget about their mother, father, and their families.”

Because of this, they are a favourite of IS. According to Reuters, use of Captagon was already a serious problem in Syria in 2014, and that both consumption and production of the war drug was more and more centred on that country.

The question is, whether or not this is still the case. Reuters saw “nascent markets” in Northern Africa and for the last two years, Captagon has been found and seized in multiple ports in Europe. This month, a shipment was discovered in Genua, while Greek police intercepted millions of pills in 2016 and 2017. Detective work by international law enforcement agencies led to information that Captagon was also produced in the Netherlands.