Lebanon seizes illicit drugs in major bust coordinated with Saudi Arabia

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Lebanese authorities said Saturday they have seized more than 800,000 pills of the amphetamine-type stimulant captagon worth around $12 million east of the country, in a major bust coordinated with the Saudi authorities.

Lebanese Internal Security forces stopped a refrigerated truck containing 142 kg (312 pounds) of the illicit drug on April 9, according to a statement.

Captagon is one of the most commonly used drugs in the Syrian war, where fighters who take it say it helps them stay awake for days and that it numbs their senses, allowing them to kill with abandon.

The bust came after Saudi Arabia’s Directorate of Narcotics Control tipped off the concerned Lebanese authorities on a plan to smuggle a large captagon shipment in a refrigerator truck with a forged Lebanese number plate to an unidentified “Arab country” by land, it said.

According to local media reports, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces unit in the Bekaa Valley, east of the country, discovered the truck and on April 9 arrested its owner, identified as a Syrian national.

The detainee has been transferred to the relevant judicial authoritiy for investigation, while the search for his accomplices is ongoing.

Lebanon has previously stopped several shipments of captagon to Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Captagon is classified by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as an “amphetamine-type stimulant” usually blends amphetamines, caffeine and other substances.

Captagon or Amphetamine drugs stimulate the central nervous system, increasing alertness, boosting concentration and physical performance.

Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria are usually assumed to be transit or production territories for illicit captagon, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Lebanese authorities have been clamping down on exports of the psycho-stimulant, which is produced in swathes of Syrian and Lebanese territory where government oversight is lax or non-existent.