RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi Arabia announced Friday (July 22) the seizure of nearly 15 million captagon pills, an amphetamine that is wreaking havoc in the kingdom as well as across the region.
The oil-rich Gulf state is estimated to be the largest market for the drug, where it is used for recreational purposes but also as a stimulant for workers.
The customs authority had "foiled an attempt to smuggle" the drug through the Red Sea port of Jeddah, said the official Saudi Press Agency.
As many as 14,976,000 of the pills had been found "hidden in a machine designed to manufacture concrete blocs" in a commercial consignment from abroad, SPA said.
Saudi Arabia regularly announces seizures of captagon. The drug usually comes from Syria and transits through Lebanon in cargo such as fruit and vegetables.
The kingdom's customs authority said it seized a total of 119 million pills last year, and figures so far for 2022 show trafficking of the drug is continuing to rise.
The vast majority of captagon, which derives its name from a once legal drug against narcolepsy, is produced in Syria and Lebanon and smuggled to its main consumer market in the Gulf.
It is used by the super-rich in Saudi Arabia as a party pill, by armed men for the feeling of invincibility it produces as well as by poorer people who need to work several jobs.