On Wednesday, the Saudi Customs foiled 4 attempts to smuggle 74,860 Captagon pills into the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia in Prince Abdul Mohsin bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Yanbu province.
According to Prince Abdul Mohsin bin Abdul Aziz International Airport Customs General Manager Saad al-Buqmi, customs officers found 22,280 Captagon pills inside a wooden box hidden in a passenger’s bag, and when the customs officers inspected the passengers, 3 other batches of Captagon pills were found inside 3 other bags with 21,762, 17,200 and 13,618 pills. Al-Buqmi confirmed that the Saudi authorities arrested the suspects.
There are no accurate studies on the drug consumption in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi society is very conservative, but Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest consumer of Captagon pills.
The Saudi Customs seized more than 13 tons of Captagon in 2016 and 11 tons in 2011. This shows the growth of demand for the Captagon in Saudi Arabia. Some experts estimate that Saudi Arabia’s Captagon trade is worth 6 billion dollars, equivalent to the government budget of a country like Libya.
Captagon pills have spread widely among Saudi students in schools and universities in recent years, according to Saudi reports. The drug abuse is also widespread among Saudi Arabia’s wealthy class.
In 2010, a leaked document from WikiLeaks revealed that many Saudi officials and traders were involved in the smuggling and trafficking of drugs. The document also claimed that drugs and alcoholic beverages – also forbidden in Saudi Arabia – are always available at the rich class parties in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, poor Saudi citizens consume Captagon pills because of the high prices of alcoholic beverages, which are also smuggled into Saudi Arabia from neighboring countries.
The accusations of drug trafficking have reached the Saudi royal family. In 1999 reports accused Prince Nayef bin Sultan bin Fawaz al-Shaalan of smuggling 2 tons of cocaine from Colombia to France on a plane belonging to the Saudi royal family. Although the smuggling was revealed, Prince Nayef bin Sultan managed to escape to Saudi Arabia where he was not convicted by the Saudi authorities, although drug traffickers is punishable with death in the Saudi law.
The Saudi authorities are subjected to a lot of criticism as they apply the death penalty to foreign drug traffickers only, while the Saudis get reduced sentences. This raises the question about the seriousness of the Saudi authorities in its the war on drugs.
In 2015, a new drug trafficking scandal rocked the Saudi royal family again. Lebanese security forces arrested Saudi Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdul Aziz – son of a grandson of Ibn Saud founder of Saudi Arabia. Lebanese customs discovered 2 tons of Captagon packed in 40 boxes in the prince’s plane while he was trying to smuggle them from Beirut to Ha’al in Saudi Arabia. Security forces arrested the prince and four of his escorts.
Although two years have passed since the prince was arrested, no verdict has been issued against him so far, and the case has disappeared from the media, according to some claims this may mean that the prince may have been secretly released.
Syria and Lebanon are the biggest producers of the Captagon, according to several reports. The production of Captagon has increased significantly since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.
It’s believed that the Saudi drug traffickers exploited the Syrian war and created several super-labs that produce very large amounts of Captagon in order to ship them to Saudi Arabia mainly.
Due to the facts that Saudi officials are part of this big illegal trade it may be possible to conclude that Saudi Arabia is one of the few places in the world were drug trafficking and politics complete each other fueled by the hunger for power and money.