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OFAC Sanctions People, Companies Shipping Syrian Commodities

The U.S. this week sanctioned 11 people and entities supporting the Bashar al-Assad-led government in Syria, including companies that ship illegal drugs. OFAC said the designations target traffickers of Captagon -- the brand name of a “highly addictive amphetamine-type stimulant” trafficked in the Middle East and Europe -- along with entities helping Syria evade sanctions.

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The agency said Syrian national Taher al-Kayali, who owns and operates Syria-based Neptunus LLC, buys ships used to smuggle Captagon and hashish, while Mahmoud Abulilah Al-Dj helps lead operations behind Captagon shipments by using Syria-based company Al-Ta’ir Company and FreeBird Travel and Tourism.

OFAC also sanctioned Syria-based Maya Exchange Company for facilitating “millions of dollars of illicit transactions, foreign currency transfers, and sanctions evasion schemes” for the Syrian government. The company works with Aleksey Makarov, vice president of sanctioned Russian Financial Corporation Bank, and Muhammad ‘Ali Al-Minala, an official with the Central Bank of Syria, to make payments that hide “Russian involvement” in those transactions.

Other designations target Limited Liability Company “STG Logistic,” which won a 50-year contract in 2018 with the Syrian government for certain exports and has earned “tens of millions of dollars’ worth of revenue” for the government. OFAC also sanctioned United Arab Emirates- and Switzerland-based Grains Middle East Trading DWC-LLC, and its CEO Yafi David, which has helped ship Syrian commodities to overseas buyers.