More than 14 million Captagon pills seized at Saudi port

The hidden drugs were passing through Jeddah Islamic Port

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Saudi Arabia's Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority on Friday thwarted an attempt to smuggle a large amount of Captagon pills.

The contraband, amounting to 14,976,000 pills, was found hidden in a consignment that entered the kingdom through Jeddah Islamic Port.

The authority revealed that a “concrete block-making machine” arrived in via Jeddah Islamic Port and the pills were found hidden in the machine's cavity during the inspection process.

After co-ordinating with the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, the authority said it was able to arrest the planned recipient of the shipment.

Captagon — a synthetic amphetamine first developed in the 1960s as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — has become one of the most widely used drugs among young substance abusers in Saudi Arabia.

Reliable data on the scale of drug use in Saudi Arabia is scarce, but researchers in 2016 estimated that as many as three quarters of Saudis being treated for drug addiction had become addicted to amphetamines — mostly Captagon.

The synthetic amphetamine has long been associated with the Syrian civil war. Many fighters on all sides are believed to used the drug.

While huge quantities of Captagon are still being produced in Syria, experts, law enforcement and officials warn it is spreading over borders to Lebanon and Jordan, risking destabilising the region and flooding the Middle East with cheap but dangerous drugs.

The Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority confirmed that it is continuing to tighten customs control over the kingdom’s imports and exports, and called on citizens and residents to contribute to the fight against smuggling by reporting any suspicious activity directly to the authority.

Updated: July 22, 2022, 1:39 PM