Arab Coalition seizes massive drugs shipment in Yemen linked to Hezbollah

Half a tonne of cocaine and heroin linked to Hezbollah smugglers intercepted on way to Houthi-held territory

FILE PHOTO: Houthi militants ride on the back of a truck as they withdraw, as part of a U.N.-sponsored peace agreement signed in Sweden earlier this month, from the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, Yemen December 29, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo
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The Arab Coalition supporting the Yemeni government said on Tuesday it had seized a Hezbollah-linked shipment of drugs destined for the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen.

A security source in Aden told The National  that the coalition, in co-ordination with the security authorities in Aden, foiled drugs smuggling to the Houthi-held areas in Yemen's north.

“The shipment was sent by a smuggling network linked with Lebanese Hezbollah,” Saudi news channel Al Arabiya reported, quoting a coalition source.

Col Mohammed Al Qommaly told The National  that coalition forces "seized a half tonne of cocaine and heroin hidden within sugar sacks shipped in containers".

“Based on the intelligence we received, we kept tracking the ship for more than a month until it docked in Aden harbour carrying tonnes of the sugar bags in which the drug shipment was hidden,” Col Al Qommaly said.

“The drugs shipment was entirely collected and officially handed over to the Public Prosecution in Aden to carry on the investigation process."

Security officials in Yemen have thwarted several similar attempts to smuggle large quantities of drugs to Houthi-held territory in recent years.

According to a report issued by the Yemeni Interior Ministry in July 2019, massive drug smuggling operations were under way in the northern provinces of Al Jawf, Hajjah, Marib and Al Baydha.

There, pro-government security forces have captured hundreds of smugglers and seized large amounts of cannabis and other drugs.

The ministry report said most of the confiscated drug shipments were heading to Houthi-held areas.

In June 2019, the security forces in Marib seized a shipment destined for the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.

Later, in March 2020, the ministry said the authorities in Marib province had seized 200 kilograms of cannabis from a vehicle travelling on the road linking Marib with Sanaa.

Experts say smugglers use the Yemeni routes to smuggle drugs northwards to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

“Not many Yemeni smugglers target the Yemeni market," said Fernando Carvajal, a former member of the UN panel on Yemen. "There is really no money in Yemen.”