A recent case coming out of Beirut shows that there’s no money out there like drug money. Even if you are royalty, apparently, the lure of quick cash from the drug trade is irresistible. An unnamed member of the Saudi royal family was busted yesterday, along with four others, at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut trying to smuggle a staggering two tons of Captagon pills.
The bust is reported to be the biggest smuggling operation uncovered at the airport. The “huge quantity” of Captagon was being moved in 40 bags. The pills were believed to be headed for to the Saudi capital of Riyadh.According to reports, the five Saudi natives are being held for questioning. It is being determined if the Saudi royal detained was actually involved with the massive pill haul.
Captagon is produced in Syria and is described by The Guardian as “an amphetamine widely consumed in the Middle East but almost unknown elsewhere.” The pills have generated millions, as it is consumed heavily by fighters on both sides of the Syrian conflict that has claimed 100,000 lives and displaced more than two million. The Guardian elaborates on what the drug is:
Captagon, the trademark name for the synthetic stimulant fenethylline, was first produced in the 1960s to treat hyperactivity, narcolepsy and depression, but was banned in most countries by the 1980s as too addictive. It remains hugely popular in the Middle East; Saudi Arabia alone seizes some 55m tablets a year, perhaps 10% of the total thought to be smuggled into the kingdom.
The drug is cheap and simple to produce, using ingredients that are easy and often legal to obtain, yet sells for up to $20 a tablet. A Lebanese psychiatrist, Ramzi Haddad, said that Captagon had “the typical effects of a stimulant”, producing “a kind of euphoria. You’re talkative, you don’t sleep, you don’t eat, you’re energetic.”