Saudi Arabia foils attempt to smuggle 19 mln amphetamine pills in Syrian containers

Members of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control display amphetamine pills seized after foiling an attempt to smuggle more than 19 million amphetamine pills into Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle 19,264,000 amphetamine pills into the Kingdom and arrested four people involved, the General Directorate of Narcotics Control (GDNC) said on Tuesday.

The amphetamine pills were hidden in packages of Yerba mate herb on a shipment which passed through a number of neighboring countries to Saudi Arabia, GDNC said without specifying the origin of the shipment.

An official at the GDNC said that on February 9 the directorate detected that “one of the most dangerous drug smuggling networks outside of the Kingdom” was planning to smuggle a large quantity of amphetamine pills into the Kingdom through a shipment of commercial products.

“The shipment passed through one of the nearby ports and arrived at the port in King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh governorate,” a GDNC official said.

The authorities arrested the four individuals who were supposed to receive the shipment, a Saudi man, a Bangladeshi, and two Syrians.

Syria connection

The Saudi government did not declare the origin of the amphetamine shipment, however, the “Green Map” brand on the packages containing the pills is owned by the Syrian Kabour family.

A package containing amphetamine pills, branded with the “Green Map” label which is owned by the Syrian Kabour group. (SPA)

A package containing amphetamine pills, branded with the “Green Map” label which is owned by the Syrian Kabour group. (SPA)

Several Syrian news outlets reported on Thursday that the Kabour International Group issued a statement saying: “News has been circulating on social media regarding the smuggling of illicit substances among Syrian products exported to some countries, some of which are products belonging to our group.”

“Kabour Group calls on the relevant authorities to reveal the networks involved, and end this phenomenon which leads to the destruction of the national product's reputation,” the statement added.

Activists and journalists on Twitter also said the shipment came from Syria.

“Saudi Arabia captured a shipment came from Syrian government to Saudi Arabia as "Mate" and found 19,000,000 drug pills in it. Again, that's how the regime in Syria is funding his activities, and that's how he will never give stability to the region...” tweeted Asaad Hanna, a journalist at DC-based Al-Monitor.

Qutaiba Idlbi, a Syria Fellow at US-based International Center for Transitional Justice, said that over the period of the past 40 days, authorities in the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have seized $1 billion worth of amphetamine pills “coming from Syria and packaged by regime-owned businesses.”

He added that the value of the drugs was equivalent to 11 percent of Syria’s 2019 budget.

In the UAE, Dubai Police had announced on February 26 foiling an attempt to smuggle 5.6 tons of Captagon pills (an amphetamine drug) worth 1.8 billion dirhams ($490 million).

The drugs were hidden in containers which arrived in Jebel Ali port, coming from the Port of Latakia in Syria.

In Egypt, the authorities had announced on April 12 foiling an attempt to smuggle four tons of hash (also known as “Hashish”, a drug made from cannabis) hidden in milk cartons on a shipment which arrived in Port Said coming from Syria and was ultimately destined to go to Libya.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
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