Lebanon seizes 100,000 Captagon pills destined for Saudi Arabia

Three people were arrested in the operation, the Internal Security Forces said

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Three people have been arrested in Lebanon after police discovered 100,000 Captagon pills the trio planned to smuggle into Saudi Arabia, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said.

The bust is the latest in a series of drug raids by Lebanese security branches following a ban by Saudi Arabia in April on the import of Lebanese products after thousands of amphetamines were found hidden in pomegranates.

The ISF said on Tuesday it had seized 17.4 kilograms of drugs hidden inside medical equipment sterilisers.

Days earlier, Lebanon seized millions of Captagon pills that were about to be smuggled to Saudi Arabia, Interior Minister Mohamed Fehmi said.

Mr Fehmi has vowed to crack down on drug production and smuggling to win back the confidence of Gulf states, who have long provided crisis-hit Lebanon with financial support.

Saudi Arabia said its two-month-old ban on Lebanese imports will only be lifted when the country shows "adequate and reliable guarantees" that it is cracking down on drug traffickers.

Captagon is a synthetic amphetamine that usually comes in pill form and is popular with fighters in warzones, such as Syria, as well as partygoers.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime last week released a report showing the rise in smuggling of Captagon to the Gulf, saying Saudi Arabia in 2019 seized almost 146 million amphetamine tablets.

Lebanon has increasingly served as one of the main channels for the distribution of drugs across the region since the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011.

Lebanese security forces have raided several Captagon production facilities in the Bekaa region, an area dominated by Iran-backed Hezbollah.

The group, which has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces, has been accused of facilitating the drug trade in connection with the Syrian regime.

Hezbollah’s strengthening grip over the Lebanese government has strained the Mediterranean nation’s ties with its traditional Gulf allies.