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.