Anti-Money Laundering News and Information

Pomegranate used to smuggle amphetamine pills from Lebanon

A row has broken out between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia over a haul of millions of amphetamine pills smuggled in a shipment of pomegranates.

Lebanon appealed to Saudi Arabia this week to lift a ban on imports of fruit and vegetables, which have become an important source of hard currency amid a deep financial crisis.

Riyadh imposed the ban after drugs were repeatedly found hidden inside food shipments. Last Friday, it said it had discovered a stash of 5.3 million Captagon pills inside boxes of pomegranates that arrived at Jeddah port.

Captagon is the brand name of an amphetamine that has become wildly popular in the Middle East in the past ten years, used as a stimulant by fighters on all sides in the Syrian civil war.

The Lebanese government is appealing against the ban, saying intelligence work revealed that the shipment came from Syria but had been relabelled.

The theory would fit with similar discoveries of the drug across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

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By Richard Spencer, The Times, 28 April 2021

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