Saudi Arabia seizes 1.2 million amphetamine tablets

Citizen was caught trying to distribute more than 790,000 tablets in Riyadh

Screengrab from a video published by the General Directorate of Narcotics Control shows a haul of amphetamine tablets. Photo: Saudi Ministry of Interior
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Saudi Arabia has said it thwarted attempts to smuggle in and distribute more than 1.2 million amphetamine tablets.

The haul comes amid expanded efforts to tackle drug smuggling, the kingdom's General Directorate of Narcotics Control said.

On Wednesday, authorities foiled an attempt by a citizen in Riyadh to distribute more than 790,000 amphetamine tablets, the department said.

Separately, a bid to smuggle more than 455,000 amphetamine tablets into the kingdom was also prevented in co-ordination with the border guards, said Maj Muhammad Al Nujaid, spokesman for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control.

He said the recipient of the drugs and their transporter in Tabuk, a Saudi citizen, were arrested.

Saudi Arabia seized more than 37 tonnes of illegal drugs last year, as well as 190 million 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 Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority operates 41 ports around the kingdom, using modern security techniques, sniffer dogs and other methods to detect contraband.

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 illegal factories that make it are in Jordan, where the authorities in 2018 dismantled a laboratory producing the drug.

Updated: February 17, 2022, 9:10 AM