Lebanese authorities seize 8kg of cocaine at Beirut airport

Officials detain suspect who had previously served a six-year sentence for drug smuggling

Lebanese authorities have stepped up efforts to combat drug smuggling. AP
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Lebanese authorities said they had detained a man caught with about 8kg of cocaine at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport.

The man, a Brazilian national with Lebanese origins, had sought to conceal the drugs in a hidden compartment in his suitcase.

He had previously served a six-year sentence in a Lebanese prison on drug trafficking charges and was released in 2022.

Drug busts are relatively common at Lebanon's only international airport, with authorities stepping up efforts to crack down on the trade in recent years amid pressure from countries in the Gulf.

In January, airport authorities stopped two Brazilian travellers who had ingested 2kg of cocaine in more than 150 capsules.

In November, Beirut port authorities seized 800kg of drugs bound for Kuwait via the Netherlands. The narcotics had been hidden in wooden figures inside a box.

In the past two years, authorities have cracked down on the amphetamine Captagon, a popular drug in the Middle East.

The government in neighbouring Syria has been accused of significantly ramping up its production of Captagon, as it seeks to bolster its embattled coffers amid the 12-year civil war there.

In 2021, Lebanon's then-President Michel Aoun ordered authorities to step up their efforts to clamp down on drug smuggling.

Saudi Arabia had at the time banned the importation of fruit and vegetables coming or transiting through Lebanon, after seizing more than five million Captagon pills and more than two million amphetamine pills that were concealed in a shipment of pomegranates delivered to Jeddah from Lebanon.

The move by Riyadh had alarmed officials with the Saudi import of Lebanese fruit and vegetables worth more than $20 million a year.

Updated: December 30, 2023, 9:23 AM