Italy seizes $80 million worth of ISIS 'fighter drug'

ROME (AFP) - Italian police have seized 50 million euros (S$79.19 million) worth of tablets of a synthetic opiate destined to be sold by ISIS in Libya to raise funds for attacks, a court said Friday (Nov 3).

Financial police discovered over 24 million Tramadol tablets, en route from India to Libya, at the port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy.

The painkiller has been described as the "fighter drug" as it is known to be popular among militants for its ability to dull pain and suppress fatigue.

The haul is estimated to be worth 50 million euros, and was found following a police crackdown sparked by the discovery of a similar shipment in Genoa in May.

Investigators believe the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria planned to sell the tablets to their foot soldiers for the equivalent of two euros a tablet.

"According to the information shared with foreign investigative sources, the traffic of Tramadol is directly handled by ISIS to finance terrorist activities planned and carried out across the world," the court of Reggio Calabria said.

Part of the money raised from the sales would also go "to subsidize terrorist groups and extremists operating in Libya, Syria and Iraq," it said in a statement.

The court said the catch had been possible thanks in part to the DEA, the US Drug Enforcement Administration.