More than three million amphetamine tablets seized in Saudi Arabia

Three Saudi citizens held after drugs discovered hidden in a lorry

Authorities in Saudi Arabia thwarted an attempt to smuggle over 3 million amphetamine tablets into the Kingdom, the General Directorate for Drug Control. SPA
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Saudi Arabia has thwarted an attempt to bring more than three million amphetamine tablets into the kingdom, officials have said

Three Saudi citizens were arrested in Riyadh in connection with an effort to smuggle 3,049,451 tablets of amphetamine, Muhammad Al Nujaidi, spokesman for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, said on Wednesday.

The tablets were hidden inside compartments of a lorry, said officials.

Preliminary legal measures have been taken against the suspects and they have been referred to the Public Prosecution.

Mr Al Nujaidi said security operations against drug smuggling networks targeting the security of Saudi Arabia and its youth had resulted in the seizure.

He said the operation was carried out in co-ordination with officers from the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority.

War on drugs in the kingdom

Parts of Middle East are facing a Captagon crisis, as production, trafficking and consumption of the drug has soared in the past decade.

The synthetic amphetamine was first developed in the 1960s as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

By 1986, manufacturing Captagon had been outlawed in almost every country, but illegal production of the drug, or variants, has continued.

Syria and Lebanon are among countries where the drug is produced.

Regional security officials say most of the drugs pass through Jordan to Saudi Arabia, despite massive efforts by Saudi authorities to intercept them, while a significant proportion is used in Jordan.

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 Saudi campaign against drugs is part of the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority's mission to “protect society, support the national economy and improve international trade”, a Saudi Press Agency report said.

The authority operates 41 customs ports around the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's GDNC publishes almost every month a round-up of drugs seized and arrests made.

Captagon Crisis: How Saudi Arabia is cracking down on drug imports

Captagon Crisis: How Saudi Arabia is cracking down on drug imports

Last year, the kingdom temporarily halted all trade with Lebanon after large quantities of drugs were found in shipments of fruits and vegetables.

In 2021, Saudi Arabia seized 190 million Captagon pills, as well as more than 37 tonnes of other drugs, official figures show.

Updated: January 05, 2023, 7:11 AM