Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia cracks down on drug smuggling | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Kingdom’s Interior Ministry yesterday revealed that Saudi security forces had arrested a total of 978 people on charges relating to drug trafficking since March of this year. Riyadh also announced that it had seized drugs worth an estimated 1.7 billion Saudi Riyals [SR] over the past four months.

Saudi Interior Ministry security spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki claimed that this vast drug trafficking ring aimed to flood the country with illegal drugs in order to reduce the price of drugs and make them more accessible. He stressed that “there can be no doubt that we are facing a true threat [to Saudi Arabia].”

In response to an Asharq Al-Awsat question as to who is behind this operation, Major General al-Turki said that he could not name any specific party or country at this time. He added that the Saudi security forces interrogation of those arrested has, so far, failed to uncover the true party behind for this drug trafficking operation. The Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman stressed that “those people we have been arrested are nothing more than pawns…they do not possess much information that can help us to reach those who are truly behind this.”

In a press conference held Monday in Riyadh, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki stressed that Saudi Arabia has exerted great effort to prevent drugs from being smuggled into the country. He also revealed that some of these drug traffickers had “violently resisted” the Saudi security forces, resulting in the death of Corporal Majed Bin Mubarak al-Rahmani, and the wounding of 8 other Saudi security personnel. In addition to this, one drug smuggler was killed in these operations, whilst three others were injured. Major General Mansour al-Turki also announced that the Saudi security forces had seized a number of weapons from the drug trafficking ring, including a number of AK-47 rifles.

Revelations by The Interior Ministry included that 475 people were arrested between June and September on charges relating to drug trafficking, including 204 Saudi citizens, 72 Yemeni citizens, and 199 citizens of other countries. Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki announced that Saudi Arabia seized 15.9 kg of raw heroin, 1 kg of processed heroin, 25 kg of cocaine, 12 million “Captogen” pill [a type of amphetamine], 8 tons of hashish, and 1.6 million drug tablets, during this period. Security forces also seized more than 6.63 million SR in cash from the suspects.

Major General Mansour al-Turki also revealed that the Saudi security apparatus had arrested 503 suspects on charges relating to drug trafficking between March and May this year, including 252 Saudi citizens. He revealed that the remaining 251 arrested were from other countries, including “Yemen, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestine, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Jordan, Somalia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Sudan, Syria, India, Ethiopia, Tunis, Djibouti, Lebanon, Chad, Iraq, Turkey, Mali, and Nigeria.”

He also announced that Saudi security apparatus had foiled a number of drug smuggling operations into Saudi Arabia over the past months, including an attempt by drug smugglers to bypass security checkpoints along the Saudi – Iraqi border by using gliders to illegally enter country.

In late September, a criminal, using a glider and flying at low altitude, was able to bypass the security fence that separates Saudi Arabia and Iraq by flying over it. However the Saudi border guards were able to track the glider and deal with it in a timely manner, in a security operation resulting in the arrest of the pilot and 9 others who were awaiting the drug shipment inside Saudi Arabia. This led to Riyadh taking a decision to suspend gliders from operating in the country.

Answering a question put to him by Asharq Al-Awsat regarding whether this decision was a temporary or permanent one, al-Turki said that the Saudi authorities had decided to suspend such activity until mechanisms to monitor and control gliders could be put in place to ensure that they could not be used to transgress Saudi Arabia’s national security.

Major General al-Turki also revealed that the Saudi security apparatus had arrested 6 figures, including two pharmacists, for illegally selling narcotics, seizing approximately 1.2 million illegal pills. In addition to this, the Saudi security apparatus seized more than 4 million amphetamine tablets hidden inside construction equipment.

Saudi security apparatus was also able to capture a “money laundering ring” affiliated to this drug trafficking ring. A total of 8 people were arrested, whilst 2 million SR was seized.

Major General Mansour al-Turki praised the cooperation between Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus, including the drug enforcement agency and the Saudi Customs Department, to prevent the attempts to smuggle drugs into the country.