Saudi Arabia has banned the import and transit of fruits and vegetables from Lebanon after Saudi customs got hold of 5.3 million captagon pills and 2.4 pills of amphetamine smuggled in through the imported fruits, state-run SPA reported. The ban will come into effect from April 25 and falls on all foodstuffs that are of Lebanon origin or that have passed through the country.
Captagon is a pep pill or amphetamine, used to bout tiredness and has widely been made and exported illegally from Lebanon. Saudi authorities have confirmed that the ban will be effective until Lebanese authorities offer sufficient and reliable guarantees that they will take the necessary steps to end overall drug smuggling operations.
The General Directorate of Narcotics Control's (GDNC) spokesperson Captain Mohammed al-Nujaidi, said five were detained in the incident and that they are to first go through legal procedures before put forth to public prosecution.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry confirmed that smuggling drugs are punishable by national law and that drug trafficking harms the state's reputation, farmers and economy. It called on the Lebanese authorities to work hard to control all smuggling operations by intensifying the activity of security and customs agencies at border crossings.
Abbas Mortada, Lebanon's agriculture minister, said the Saudi ban on imports of vegetables and fruits is a major loss, and that the value of these Lebanese exports to Saudi Arabia is $24 million a year. Mortada told Reuters that it may negatively affect exports to other Gulf countries that may take similar action.