A member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family was detained at the Beirut, Lebanon, airport over an alleged attempt to smuggle drugs out of the country on a private plane, a security source told CNN.
The prince was among five Saudi nationals arrested Monday after being accused of trying to transport 2 tons of Captagon amphetamine pills onto a plane bound for Saudi Arabia, according to the official Lebanese National News Agency.
It was the largest drug bust ever conducted at the Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport, the news agency reported.
The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime says that amphetamines are the most prevalent type of drug used in Saudi Arabia and that reports of amphetamine seizures in the Middle East “refer predominantly to tablets bearing the Captagon logo.”
According to the U.N. office, Captagon is the brand name for a pharmaceutical drug developed in the 1960s. Production was discontinued in the 1980s.
Pharmaceutical Captagon contained a synthetic stimulant called fenethylline. These days, narcotic manufacturers are producing counterfeit Captagon tablets, stamped with the Captagon logo, but containing amphetamine as well as other chemicals, the U.N. office says.
Terror groups profiting, U.N. official says
“The nature of the psychoactive ingredients in such tablets is not always clear, but reports suggest that amphetamine trafficked from South-East Europe is the main ingredient in Captagon tablets found in the consumer markets of the Middle East (notably Saudi Arabia), frequently alongside caffeine,” the U.N. office says on its website.
In June, the office’s executive director said terrorist groups were thought to be involved in the Captagon trade.
“ISIL/Da’esh (ISIS) and al Nusra Front are also believed to facilitate the smuggling of chemical precursors for the production of Captagon,” Yury Fedotov told a conference on drug smuggling.
SOURCE: Tamara Qiblawi and Susannah Cullinane