The inside story of Kuwait's largest drug bust

Initial investigation revealed presence of organised international gang behind operation

Kuwaiti authorities seize a large illegal narcotics stash from an international gang. Photo: Kuna
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Kuwait's largest ever drug bust, announced this week, was a raid on a makeshift factory in the process of producing more than 30 million dinars ($98.4million) worth of pills, local media reported on Friday.

Kuwait's Interior Ministry forces announced on Wednesday that they had seized 15 million illegally obtained Lyrica pills and half a tonne of the medicine in powder form during a raid on a farm in Al Wafrah, a town on the Kuwati-Saudi border.

Sources told local media on Friday that the farm was a drug processing factory to turn the powdered medicine into pills to be sold on the black market.

Lyrica is the brand name for pregabalin, a medicine used to treat epilepsy and anxiety. The drug reduces the number of pain signals that damaged nerves send out, however, it has become a popular party drug as it can induce a sensation similar to inebriation.

“The factory was under the control of two citizens in their fifties [who] were assisted by an Indian and a Sri Lankan,” a source told the local daily Al Qabas.

The paper said that the initial investigation appeared to show the defendants were part of an international organised criminal gang smuggling the Lyrica in powdered form from China to be stamped into pills in Kuwait.

The source also said that at least eight million pills were being prepared for smuggling to an unnamed neighbouring state.

They said that the 2,000-square-metre factory had been operating for at least a year.

Interior Minister and Acting Defence Minister Sheikh Talal Al Khaled said there was an increasingly professional effort by smugglers to “flood the country” with drugs.

“We must double our efforts and take a stand to confront this danger with full force, to fight it and to eliminate it in order to protect the youth of the country,” Sheikh Talal said.

Following the raid, the Kuwaiti parliament's educational affairs committee unanimously approved a draft proposal to require secondary schools and universities to carry out drug testing for staff, pupils and students as part of a wider crackdown on the use of narcotics.

Updated: February 03, 2023, 1:55 PM