On December 11, Syrian and Lebanese authorities seized two large drugs shipments which were destined to Saudi Arabia.
The first shipment was seized by Syrian security forces during a raid that targeted a hideout located on the administrative border between the southern Syrian governorates of Daraa and al-Suwayda. The shipment included dozens of kilograms of cannabis as well as hundreds of thousands of Captagon tablets.
A security source told the state-run Syrian News Agency that the shipment was about to be smuggled across the border to Jordan. From there, it was likely going to Saudi Arabia. According to the official, several traffickers who are linked to the shipment were arrested.
The second shipment was seized by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces from a warehouse located in the area of Bir Hasan to the west of the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Two individuals linked to the shipment were apprehended.
According to an official statement, the shipment included four million Captagon tablets. The drugs were supposed to be shipped to Jordan via Syria and from there to Saudi Arabia.
Captagon, scientifically known as Fenethylline, is a is a codrug of amphetamine and theophylline. The drug is widely abused in the Middle East, especially in the Arabian Peninsula.
The border area between Syria and Lebanon is known to be the hub for Captagon production in the Middle East. The illegal production and trade of the drug grew significantly in the past few years as a direct result of the bad economic situation and instability in both countries.
While many recent media reports blamed the Syrian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon for the recent growth in the Captagon trade in the Middle East, no one is talking about the main importers of the drug.
Saudi Arabia remains one of the largest, if not the largest, consumer of Captagon tablets produced illegally in Syria and Lebanon.
As for now, there are no reports on who is importing and distributing these drugs in the tightly controlled Kingdom. Saudi authorities are known for only arresting small time traffickers, most of them are usually foreigners.
In 2015, Lebanese authorities arrested Saudi Prince Abdel Mohsen Bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz after seizing two tones of amphetamine and cocaine from his privet jet in Beirut International Airport. Abdel Mohsen became later known as the “Prince of Captagon”.
While drug traffickers in Syria and Lebanon are not known to use violence, recently clashes related to the illegal trade were reported on the border between the two countries as well as in Syria’s southern region.