Saudi Arabia and Nigeria have foiled an attempt to import more than 450,000 Captagon amphetamine tablets into the kingdom through a network linked to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
The network, which Saudi authorities said were linked to the US-listed terrorist organisation, was trying to smuggle 451,807 tablets into Saudi Arabia by sea via Nigeria from Lebanon, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
The drugs were hidden inside mechanical equipment.
It comes just five months after the kingdom cut agriculture imports from Lebanon after finding a massive haul of captagon pills hidden in fresh fruit.
The packages were seized in co-ordination with authorities in Nigeria before they could be shipped to another country and from there sent to Saudi Arabia.
Colonel Talal Al Shalhoub, the security spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, praised Nigeria for co-operating with the seizure. He said Saudi Arabia continues to monitor criminals targeting the country's security.
He did not provide further information regarding the Hezbollah connection.
In recent years, officers in the kingdom have stopped millions of pills and tonnes of drugs from being smuggled in using creative methods.
In April, customs officers in Jeddah searched a shipment of Lebanese pomegranates and found more than 5 million Captagon pills hidden inside.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime released a report in June that showed a rise in smuggling of Captagon to the Gulf. It said Saudi Arabia seized almost 146 million amphetamine tablets in 2019.
Over the past few months, Lebanese security forces have raided several Captagon factories in the Bekaa region, an area dominated by Iran-backed Hezbollah.
The group, which has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces, has been accused of facilitating the drug trade with the help of the Syrian regime.
Hezbollah’s strengthening grip over the Lebanese government has strained the country’s ties with its traditional Gulf allies.