According to US media, Saudi Arabia is becoming the center of drug smuggling and use in the whole Middle East, with Saudi authorities still grappling on how to deal with the growing challenge.
It was on this past Wednesday that Saudi authorities announced the largest seizure of illegal and very strong drugs in the country’s history. The Kingdom’s police in the capital Riyadh seized well over 47 million amphetamine pills that were hidden in a flour shipment at a warehouse, the Saudi Ministry of Interior said in a statement.
“The suspects were arrested and faced legal measures and were referred to the public prosecution,” the statement said, adding that this was “the largest operation of its kind to smuggle this volume of drugs into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Similarly, Saudi authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle more than 2 million amphetamine tablets into the Kingdom through the Jeddah Islamic Port last month in April, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported back then. “The security follow-up of the drug smuggling and promotion networks that target the Kingdom’s security and its youth resulted in thwarting an attempt to smuggle 2,250,000 million amphetamine tablets,” Spokesman for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control (GDNC) Major Muhammad al-Nujaidi said in a statement.
Also in this April and during another seizure operation, Saudi Arabian customs officials discovered more than five million Captagon tablets embedded in a shipment of pomegranates from Lebanon.
In recent years, Saudi authorities have tried to increase their efforts to fight against the smuggling of narcotics into the Kingdom. Reports from the Saudi authorities confirm that several shipments of Captagon and amphetamine tablets have been regularly seized since the onset of this year with mainly Syria and Lebanon as the sources of origin.
In response to the increased smuggling attempts, the Kingdom has restored to some measures since last year. However, the challenge is still continuing to exacerbate and the above-mentioned example are very well proof of it.
Saudi Arabia, the new capital of drug smuggling in Middle East
According to a new report by CNN this Wednesday, the unprecedented increase in drug smuggling in Saudi Arabia indicates that the Kingdom is becoming one of the largest and most lucrative regional destinations for drugs, or better say, the capital of drug in the whole Middle East region.
Saudi media has also been sounding the alarm recently over the rise in drug smuggling and use throughout the country. In this regard, one unnamed Saudi columnist described the drug shipments to the kingdom as an “open war against us, more dangerous than any other war.”
But not all the shipments are seized inside Saudi Arabia, and some big drug cargoes can even find their ways abroad. Earlier this week, for example, a US Coast Guard boat seized a shipment of more than 320 kilograms of amphetamine tablets and well over 3,000 kilograms of hashish worth millions of dollars from a fishing boat that was told to have come from the Gulf of Oman and originally exported from Saudi Arabia.
Captagon can be sold for between $10 and $25 a pill, meaning the latest Saudi haul, if it was the same drug, has a street value of up to $1.1 billion, based on figures from the International Addiction Review journal.
The CNN report also refers to the increase of drug use among young Saudis “as a result of boredom, lack of social opportunities, and unemployment”, indicating that with the growing market for drug smuggling, it is expected that the young population of the Kingdom tend even more towards becoming drug dealers.