RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi authorities have seized more than 1.76 tonnes of hashish and 3.4 million capsules of a popular recreational drug and arrested 35 smugglers, the interior ministry said on Sunday.
The drugs including captagon pills were smuggled into the ultra-conservative kindgom over the past “several months” by four separate gangs, interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told AFP.
A total of 35 smugglers were arrested, including 13 Saudis and 22 foreigners, the ministry said in a statement carried by the SPA official news agency.
One of the gangs, including seven Saudi nationals, had formed a network inside the kingdom to distribute the drugs, it said.
Turki told AFP “there are large amounts (of drugs) coming from the southern border” with Yemen.
In October, Saudi border guards seized more than 1.2 tonnes of hashish following a shootout with traffickers on the border with Yemen.
Captagon, a popular recreational drug used by affluent youths in the Middle East, is a big problem in Saudi Arabia, Turki said.
“School students are using captagon.”
The 2008 UN World Drug Report report said that more than 12 tonnes of captagon were seized in Saudi Arabia in 2006 — more than anywhere else in the world.
The ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia imposes the death penalty on people convicted of drug trafficking.