Lebanon has detained two brothers suspected of being involved in a foiled attempt to smuggle amphetamines into Saudi Arabia that prompted the Saudi authorities to impose a ban on importing Lebanese produce, the caretaker government said on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia announced the ban on April 23 after the discovery of 5.3 million Captagon pills, a type of amphetamine, hidden in pomegranate shipments from Lebanon.
The measure compounds Lebanon’s severe economic problems.
Interior minister in the caretaker government, Mohamed Fahmy, was speaking in an interview with Lebanon’s MTV broadcaster during a tour of the border area from the north to the Bekaa valley where there is rampant smuggling across the border with Syria, of goods from drugs to fuel and subsidized food.
“We have uncovered those complicit and a follow-up of the case is ongoing,” Fahmy said.
Lebanon was in contact with Saudi authorities on the course of the investigations.
Fahmy said there was no evidence that Lebanon’s powerful Shia Hezbollah group was involved in the case. Hezbollah has long been accused by the Washington and its regional foes of links to a multi-million global drug trade in Lebanon and Syria to finance its military operations.
The pro-Iranian militia controls the border area and its fighters move freely across the frontier to fight alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Syria is believed to be one of the biggest producers and exporters of counterfeit Captagon, a popular drug among affluent youths in the Middle East particularly the Gulf.
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