BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese authorities on Wednesday intercepted nine million pills of the recreational drug captagon inside a shipment of lemons, foiling an attempt to smuggle them to the Gulf, media reported.
Captagon – a mix of amphetamines also known as the “poor man’s cocaine” – is one of the more popular recreational drugs among affluent youth in the Middle East.
“We want to send a message to the Arab world about our seriousness and our work to thwart evil from harming our Arab brothers,” Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said as he inspected the shipment at Beirut.
In October, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain expelled Lebanese diplomats and recalled their own envoys following a Hezbollah-aligned minister’s critical comments on the Yemen war. Riyadh also banned all imports from Lebanon. The United Arab Emirates recalled its envoys.
During their meeting this month, Gulf Cooperation Council leaders called on Lebanon to tighten border controls and take measures to deter drug smuggling via exports into Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Dubai police said last week that they had uncovered around $15.8 million worth of captagon pills, also hidden in a shipment of lemons, and arrested four suspects.
(Reporting by Lilian Wagdy; Editing by Nick Macfie)