Saudi Customs caught the latest smuggling attempt when officials X-rayed several boxes containing oranges, revealing the haul of 4.5 million pills placed underneath the fruit. The kingdom did not initially blame anyone for the smuggling attempt or reveal the source of the shipment.
The drug, known within Saudi Arabia as Captagon, has become of increasing concern to officials in Riyadh, with customs data showing that, in the past year, the kingdom’s customs agents seized 54 million amphetamine pills.
It’s the third time in recent months that Saudi officials have prevented smugglers from getting amphetamine pills into the country. On Saturday, authorities said 14.4 million pills on route from Lebanon were found inside a shipment of iron plates, while pomegranate crates in April were stopped after it was discovered that they contained 5.3 million pills, also shipped from Lebanon.
The number of halted smuggling attempts from Lebanon resulted in Saudi Arabia implementing an indefinite ban on products from the country earlier this year. At the time the ban was announced, the Saudi Press Agency claimed the prohibition on Lebanese goods would remain in place until authorities in Beirut can guarantee that they can prevent drugs from being smuggled to the kingdom.
All drugs and alcohol are illegal in Saudi Arabia, with narcotic-related crimes punishable by execution, although Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has moved to end the death sentence for non-violent offenses, replacing it with life in prison.