Morocco finds hashish shipment disguised as orange juice

A handout photo released by the French customs (Douanes Francaises) on October 22, 2017 shows bags containing canabis resin, seized by the French customs on the nights between October 19 and October 20, 2017, in La Rochelle. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2018
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Morocco finds hashish shipment disguised as orange juice

RABAT: Moroccan customs officials said Tuesday that they had seized 240 kilograms of hashish squeezed into orange juice cartons destined for export at the port city of Casablanca.
Authorities said the stash was found after a check of the supposed shipment of fruit drink showed up some “discrepancies.”
After a search, bricks of cannabis resin totaling 240 kilograms (530 pounds) were found “carefully concealed inside cartons of orange juice from a local brand,” said a statement by the customs authorities carried by local media.
In a bid to outfox officials the smugglers had added sand to the shipment to make it weigh the same as a consignment of juice, it said.
North African nation Morocco is the biggest producer of hashish in the world and one of the major exporters of cannabis resin, which is mainly shipped to Europe, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Some 50,000 hectares of agricultural land were used for the production of cannabis, mostly in the impoverished northern Rif region, statistics from 2015 said.
In 2016, one of the world’s most wanted hashish smugglers was captured in Casablanca.
Ben Ziane Berhili, 57, the owner of a large dessert company in Morocco, was involved in smuggling 400 tons of hashish to Europe every year, according to Italian investigators.
His arrest was a major development in a multinational investigation into a lucrative new drug trafficking route to Europe that begins in Morocco and passes along the coast of North Africa to Libya, where it includes an area contested by several armed groups, including Daesh.


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
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Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.