Saudi Arabia seized more than 37 tonnes of illegal drugs last year, as well as 190 million pieces of the highly addictive Captagon pills, figures released by the kingdom’s customs authority show.
The haul included hashish, heroin, cocaine, qat and other narcotics. In addition, authorities seized more than 234,000 bottles and 4,155 litres of smuggled alcohol.
The campaign against drugs came as 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, using modern security techniques, sniffer dogs and other methods to detect contraband.
"The record in 2021 demonstrates success in tightening customs control over imports and exports, as well as combating smuggling in all its forms,” the authority said in a statement.
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.
Lebanon and Syria are the biggest sources of Captagon tablets in the kingdom, but some of the pills that make it are manufactured in Jordan, where the authorities in 2018 dismantled a laboratory producing the drug.
Last April, Saudi Arabia issued a ban on fresh produce shipments from Lebanon after what it said was a surge in the number of attempts to smuggle drugs from Beirut and inadequate security checks by Lebanese security forces.
Soon after, other Gulf countries supported the Saudi move and threatened to impose similar measures.