Saudi authorities have thwarted an attempt to smuggle 403,000 Captagon amphetamine pills hidden in a shipment of fava beans inside plastic moulds, the state news agency reported.
The pills were seized in an operation in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, implicating a Saudi citizen and a Syrian resident, according to a statement by the General Directorate of Narcotics Control.
It was not clear where the shipment was heading and an investigation was begun after the arrest of the two suspects.
“The Ministry of Interior with its various security sectors, in co-ordination with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, continue to confront anyone who might be tempted to target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its youth with drugs,” a representative of the directorate said.
Trade in the amphetamine-type stimulant Captagon in the Middle East grew last year to more than $5 billion, posing an increasing health and security risk to the region, according to research by the New Lines Institute.
The figure is a jump from an estimated $3.5 billion in 2020 and reflects only the retail value of the pills seized last year, which the think tank said numbered more than 420 million.