Lebanon seizes 142 kg of illicit drugs in major bust with help from Saudi authorities

Lebanon’s police said Saturday it has seized more than 800,000 pills of the amphetamine-type stimulant captagon worth around $12 million in a bust coordinated with Saudi authorities. (AFP)
Updated 14 April 2019
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Lebanon seizes 142 kg of illicit drugs in major bust with help from Saudi authorities

  • Captagon is classified by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as an “amphetamine-type stimulant” and usually blends amphetamines, caffeine and other substances
  • The drug is commonly used in the Syrian war, where fighters say it helps them stay awake for days and numbs their senses

BEIRUT:  Police in Lebanon have seized more than 800,000 pills of the stimulant Captagon worth about $12 million in an operation coordinated with Saudi authorities.

Police stopped a refrigerated truck containing 142 kilograms of the illicit drug on April 9, Lebanese authorities revealed on Saturday.

The operation followed a tip-off from Saudi Arabia’s Directorate of Narcotics Control that drug smugglers planned to transport a large shipment of Captagon to an unidentified Arab country by land, they said.

The truck was seized near the town of Chtaura in the Bekaa Valley, and a 32-year-old Syrian national was arrested, a security source told Arab News. The drug was professionally hidden and would not have been found by a scanner, the source said.

Captagon is commonly used in the Syrian war, where fighters say it helps them stay awake for days and numbs their senses.

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

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

A source said there had been an escalation in the smuggling of Captagon in Lebanon.  “Captagon factories do not need large areas and the security forces in Lebanon have seized many Captagon factories on their territory.”

Gangs also used different smuggling methods. “There was an attempt last week to smuggle Captagon pills inside furniture, and before that inside motorbikes and trucks.”

Cooperation with Saudi security services was “continuous and distinctive and always has positive results,” the source said.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.