Making excellence a habit
Authorities in Jordan raided a hangar in an industrial area in east Amman used by drug traffickers as a laboratory for the production of captagon, an illegal amphetamine-type stimulant and common drug of abuse in the Middle East. Security officials said that the raid was the first of its kind in Jordan. Authorities began investigating the trafficking operation several months ago based on a tip, and said that officials discovered that the drug smugglers had imported chemical precursors from abroad in order to manufacture the captagon. Police arrested eight suspects in connection with the case, and also seized two million captagon pills during a raid on an apartment in Amman utilized as a storage center by the trafficking gang. Authorities said that the seized precursors were sufficient to manufacture over 100 million pills of captagon.
BSI reported a similar incident in Lebanon in January 2017, in which Lebanese security forces raided a captagon production facility in Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley. BSI regularly records seizures of captagon from cargo shipments originating in Jordan and Lebanon, with these shipments most frequently destined for users in Saudi Arabia. Traffickers utilize a variety of modalities to ship the drug, although most shipments recorded by BSI originating in Jordan are introduced into cargo trucks aboard ferries departing the port of Aqaba and destined for the Red Sea port of Duba in Saudi Arabia.
Authorities in Jiangsu, China fined and suspended the operations of a pharmaceutical firm for illegally disposing of its industrial waste using modified city cleaning trucks. The firm used the trucks in order to spray over 3,000 tonnes of waste water onto city streets. According to authorities, the truck had been painted to resemble a city street cleaning services vehicle, and would spray a strong smelling liquid waste along roadsides late at night. The firm had been disposing of waste in this manner for at least one year. Samples of liquid indicated high concentrations of contaminants unacceptable for sewage water. An investigation is now ongoing, and authorities have detained the responsible parties.
Workers at the Paradip Port in Odisha, India halted all operations and caused delays in sea freight transportation. The workers began their strike after attending an unsuccessful meeting with port authorities, where they demanded a raise in the minimum monthly wage to approximately $282 for an eight-hour workday, stricter implementation of labor laws, and prior notice before layoffs. If the strike continues, it will likely cause further delays for sea freight transiting the facility. The striking employees have threatened to continue the strike if their demands are not met.
An ongoing outbreak of listeriosis, caused by the foodborne bacteria listeria, has killed at least 67 people in South Africa, although authorities say that the true death toll from the outbreak is likely much higher. Officials have recorded at least 727 confirmed cases of listeriosis to date, with 61 percent occurring in the province of Gauteng. Authorities said that they had not yet traced the source of the outbreak despite analyzing samples from food production and processing facilities as well as the homes of listeriosis patients, and therefore cannot issue any product recalls or recommendations to avoid consumption of particular food items. A health department spokesman said that poor recordkeeping practices at South African hospitals contributed to the difficulty of both tracing the outbreak to a particular source and accurately estimating the number of infections and deaths associated with the outbreak. The South African shadow minister for health noted that the outbreak could affect food exports, with Rwanda already banning the import of multiple foods from South Africa. BSI reported on the outbreak in South Africa in December, when authorities had recorded only 36 deaths connected to listeriosis.