Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Saudi Interior Ministry yesterday announced the arrest of 762 suspects on charges of smuggling drugs worth approximately 1.9 billion SR [Saudi Riyals]. 247 of those arrested were Saudi nationals, while the rest were from different nationalities. The 762 suspects were arrested in security operations over a 5 month period.
In some cases, security authorities faced armed resistance, resulting in the death of Private First Class Yahya Bin Hamad al-Saan and Private First Class Badr Bin Rukhi al-Rashidi. In addition to this, ten security officers were injured in the operations, whilst 39 drug smugglers were killed and 18 wounded.
Speaking during a press conference yesterday, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki revealed that there has been a significant reduction in cases of drug smuggling in Saudi Arabia, adding that these have been reduced by approximately two-thirds. He stressed that what is happening in Saudi Arabia’s neighboring countries reflect this, without specifying a particular country or policy. He also lauded the efforts of Saudi Arabia’s security authorities in combatting drug smuggling over the past five months. He revealed that the relevant authorities have formed a committee to study the reasons for the decline in instances of drug smuggling, and this committee will publish its results at the end of the current year.
Major General al-Turki asserted that the Interior Ministry has stepped up its campaign to seize illegal drugs, pointing to a number of new procedures and measures that have had an impact on drug smuggling. This resulted in a number of large drug busts being made during the crackdown, including the seizure of 6.79 kg of raw heroin, 17 tons of hashish, 5,177,367 amphetamine tablets, as well as 11.15 SR million in cash. The Interior Ministry spokesman stressed that there had been a significant decrease in drug smuggling following the crackdown, resulting in drug smuggling attempts falling sharply with just 1 million amphetamine pills and 1 kg of heroin being seized the following month.
Major General al-Turki revealed that this operation had taken place in coordination with a number of other countries, and that a number of drug rings had been uncovered and arrested in collaboration with Turkish and Jordanian authorities. The Interior Ministry spokesman revealed that Riyadh has received information and intelligence regarding drug smuggling operations from a number of countries, whilst it is also seeking to increase cooperation with these states to eliminate drug smuggling once and for all.
As for cross-border drug smuggling operations, Major General al-Turki revealed that hashish is primarily being smuggled through Saudi Arabia’s southern and eastern borders, whilst 90 percent of all amphetamines are smuggled into the country via the northern passages. He stressed that investigations are still ongoing with suspects to uncover the extent of their involvement in other unsolved cases, if any.