Italian police on Friday seized more than 24 million tablets of the painkiller Tramadol that they said were bound for Islamic State fighters in North Africa and the Middle East, according to media reports.
The batch of drugs was caught in the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro with the help of agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the head of a southern Italian court said on Friday, Reuters reported.
Italian police suspect the haul is part of a narcotics trafficking ring destined to be sold by ISIS to its fighters for about €2 a pill, according to the Guardian, making the total quantity worth close to €50 million.
The port is said to be a well known site for discoveries of huge quantities of drugs, the Guardian reported.
“Everything passes through Gioia Tauro, so it comes as no surprise to find a trafficked substance of this kind there,” Gaetano Paci, a prosecutor for the anti-mafia district directorate in Calabria, told La Repubblica.
Tramadol is a synthetic opiate, used by Isis fighters to suppress pain and boost resilience, the Guardian said. Similar shipments of Tramadol were previously intercepted in the northern port of Genoa in May and in Greece last year.