Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said Tuesday police had thwarted an attempt to smuggle large amounts of Captagon amphetamine pills around the world.
The minister said the drugs were on their way from Lebanon to the African nation of Togo, and from there they would have been sent to a Persian Gulf nation, most likely Saudi Arabia.
There have been many reports of the Lebanese Hezbollah being involved in the production and distribution of Captagon, through third countries to the Gulf Arab states. This has become a major source of income particularly after Lebanon fell into a serious economic crisis in 2019 and US sanctions put financial pressure on Iran, Hezbollah’s main financial backer.
The pills were hidden in 434 boxes, mixed in with seven tons of tea.
They were confiscated at sea after the smugglers sailed from Beirut’s port.
Captagon manufacturing thrives in Lebanon and war-torn Syria, which have become a gateway for the drug to the Middle East, particularly the Gulf.
Smuggling of Captagon pills has been at the heart of a spat between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, after over five million pills hidden in a shipment of pomegranate from Lebanon were seized in the kingdom in April.
In retaliation, the Saudis banned Lebanese produce from going to or even transiting through the kingdom, a blow to Lebanon’s exporters.
With reporting by AP