Saudi authorities have busted an attempt to smuggle over 8 million Captagon pills hidden in shipments of onions and silicon barrels, as the smuggling of narcotics into the kingdom and other states in the region continues to pose a problem.
The bust was conducted at Jeddah Islamic Port on Friday when the Saudi Customs Authority discovered 3,054,000 of the Captagon pills amongst a consignment of onions and a further 5,281,250 in silicon barrels.
Three people were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the attempted smuggling operation and were detained by the General Directorate of Narcotics Control.
The trafficking of Captagon pills, a synthetic amphetamine widely distributed and consumed throughout the Middle East as illegal narcotics, have increasingly come to light following a series of huge seizures over the past few years.
Significant smuggling operations that were intercepted include 33 million pills captured by Greece in 2019 and another shipment of over 44 million pills caught by Saudi authorities in April 2020. The following month, Italian authorities seized the largest shipment ever recorded, numbering over 84 million pills.
Such operations were initially suspected of being carried out by terror group Daesh. However, it was then proven that the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad was the one producing and smuggling the narcotics to circumvent international sanctions imposed on it due to its war crimes in the ongoing Syrian conflict.
Last year, Saudi Arabia announced that it had seized an overall amount of at least 600 million pills over the past few years and implemented a ban on the import of fruits and vegetables coming from Lebanon, which is used as a hub for smuggling operations.